July 28, 2011


High Arctic

This remarkable installation, displayed in the new Sammy Ofer Wing at the National Maritime Museum until 13 January 2012, was inspired by a trip to the Svalbard Archipelago undertaken by Matt Clark of United Visual Artists. He travelled aboard The Noorderlicht, a 100-year-old Dutch schooner, and was accompanied by representatives of the climate-science foundation Cape Farewell. A response to a strange world of vast tundra, monochromatic rainbows and huge chunks of ice falling from glaciers, High Arctic predicts what the region might look like at the turn of the next century, using sound, light and sculpture to create a dramatic, immersive and interactive environment. An evocative soundscape also flows through the gallery, interweaving the voices of earlier explorers with the poetry of musician Nick Drake.


Staffordshire Hoard

In July 2009, on farmland close to his home near Lichfield in Staffordshire, Terry Herbert found the UK's greatest treasure hoard. Worth about £3.3 million, it consists of more than 1,500 pieces of beautifully crafted gold and silver from the 7th-century kingdom of Mercia, supreme examples of elite Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship. Many seem to have been stripped from the hilts of swords and daggers, although the collection also includes parts of a helmet and at least two Christian crosses. Some items are decorated with garnet, others covered in fine filigree work or interlacing animal patterns. A rotating selection of the artefacts is on display at the Birmingham Museum until 31 December.


Precious Light

The King James Bible, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, is probably the single most influential book in the English language. In this, his largest solo exhibition to date, the acclaimed Turner- nominated Scottish artist David Mach offers a characteristically bold interpretation of it through more than 70 works created from collage, sculpture and words. Many are cine-matic in scope, incorporate objects such as coat hangers and draw on the imagery of magazines and the mass media. Figures built from thousands of coloured matchheads representing Jesus and the Devil will be set alight in performance and the charred remains preserved. The show, which can be seen at the City Art Centre from 30 July to 16 October, will be accompanied by the publication of an artist's book incorporating essays on the 1611 Bible and its impact, alongside reproductions of all the artwork to be seen in Precious Light.


Gladiator Games

As part of its Festival of British Archaeology, on the weekend of 30-31 July, the Museum of London will be staging a re-enactment of an epic gladiatorial battle in Guildhall Yard, the site of London's only Roman amphitheatre. An hour before each show, ancient Londinium will be brought to life in street scenes featuring everyday Roman Londoners spanning the full social spectrum from soldiers and slaves to doctors and musicians. There will also be a guided walk with experts from the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre around Roman sites of the City, ending at the Guildhall. The gladiators' training sessions can be followed on a blog.



Journey's End

R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End, which premiered in 1928 with the young, unknown Laurence Olivier in a starring role, proved a huge hit and is still ranked among the most powerful dramas about the First World War. The play's events were closely based on the author's experiences and take place over four days in an officers' dugout, where the 18-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh finds himself under the command of Captain Stanhope, an old school friend. David Grindley's award-winning production was first staged in 2004, toured the UK and went on to a highly successful Broadway run. It has now been revived and continues at the Duke of York's Theatre until 3 September.

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