June 30, 2011


Omens and Inspirations

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Great Comet of 1811, observed by William Herschel (1738-1822), and the opening of its new Caroline Lucretia Gallery, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, in Bath, is hosting a major exhibition on comets (until 11 December). It considers comets as an inspiration for writers from Shakespeare to Tolstoy and displays many remarkable objects and works of art, notably the original manuscript of Byron's epic poem, Manfred, on loan from the National Library of Scotland. Herschel is perhaps best known as the discoverer of Uranus. The museum's new gallery celebrates the life and achievements of Herschel's sister Caroline (1750-1848), who was herself an important astronomer and expert on comets.


Double Pendulum

Created by the artist Faisal Abdu'Allah in the run-up to London 2012, the film Double Pendulum runs for 9 minutes and 58 seconds in tribute to the current world record of 9m 58s for the 100-metre sprint, set by Usain Bolt in 2009. Abdu'Allah brings together scientists and Olympic athletes to map the journey that air takes through the human body and illuminate the phenomenon of breathing in startling new ways. Location, economics and ethnicity, it reveals, are just some of the factors that affect lung development and function. The film's initial screening at the View Tube in East London was on a large outdoor screen, with the adjacent Olympic Stadium serving as a backdrop. It can now be seen indoors at the View Tube, daily until 17 July.


Hundreds and Thousands

Lorna is 44, desperate to start a family and pinning all her hopes on Allan. But is he really the kind of man for whom one should give up everything and go to live in his isolated farmhouse? Far from proving idyllic, it soon starts to seem deeply suspicious. What is that constant ringing in the corridor? Who is moving about in the cellar? And why is Lorna being warned about cannibals in tall hats? As the full horror of what she has got herself into becomes clear, she is forced to choose between doing what's right and doing what's right for her. Lou Ramsden appears in the shortlist for Most Promising Playwright at this year's Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. Hundreds and Thousands, which continues at the Soho Theatre, London, until 17 July, offers an unsettling examination of love, entrapment and hypocrisy.


United Artists of Italy

This exhibition assembles some 90 photographs of Italy's best-known artists by 22 of Italy's leading photographers. Figures such as Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana and Giorgio Morandi, of course, feature prominently. But the organisers also included leading foreign artists with close links to Italy (Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Sol LeWitt); leading lights of Italian literature (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italo Calvino and Alberto Moravia); and some of the country's most important gallery owners. Instead of conventional studio portraits, the subjects have been caught at work or relaxing in ways that are deeply revealing of their characters. United Artists of Italy continues at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art until 4 September.


Manchester International Festival

Manchester's globe-spanning "festival of original, new work and special events", which runs until 17 July, offers a typically breathtaking line-up. Music ranges from performances by Björk, Sinéad O'Connor and Malian duo Amadou and Mariam to an opera by Damon Albarn and Rufus Norris about the Elizabethan courtier Dr Dee and a new "dramatic prologue" to Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle by Gerard McBurney (featuring three actors as well as the Halle Orchestra, conducted by Sir Mark Elder). Staged events include a live Dr Who adventure for children, a new play by Victoria Wood and The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, in which the director Robert Wilson re-imagines the life and career of a woman often described as "the godmother of performance art".


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