January 19, 2012

Bury St Edmunds and touring

Block Party: inspired by the art of the tailor

Pattern cutting - whereby tailors transform flat blocks into three- dimensional forms - has long been a source of artistic inspiration. The Crafts Council asked curator Lucy Orta to put together a broad range of contemporary works that engage with this theme. Some explore how pattern lines can now be traced, layered and modified in virtual space, or how patterns can be used as templates for furniture, ceramics and sculpture. Others address issues as diverse as climate change, cultural identity and consumption. Currently on display at Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, until 10 March, Block Party will then travel to the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland (31 March-16 May), and the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester (16 June-2 September), with other dates to be confirmed.


Master Class

In 1971-72, when her stage career was already behind her, Maria Callas (1923-77) gave a celebrated series of masterclasses for 25 students at the Juilliard School in New York. These formed the basis for Terrence McNally's celebrated 1995 play in which the legendary soprano, as famous for her temperament and turbulent private life as for her mesmerising performances, coaches, supports and confronts the singers of a new generation. Recently revived on Broadway in a production starring Tyne Daly (best known for the television series Cagney & Lacey), Master Class will run at the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End from 21 January to 28 April.


Scott's Last Expedition

Although his second expedition to the Antarctic - the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-13 - ended in the death of his entire team, Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was for generations regarded as an authentic British hero. Subsequently opinion would grow sceptical, with his failure attributed as much to misjudgement as to bad luck, but in recent years scholarly opinion has been more nuanced. This major new exhibition at the Natural History Museum (from 20 January to 2 September) recreates the dramatic and harrowing story, bringing together scientific specimens, rare artefacts from the journey and a life-sized representation of Scott's surviving hut. It will be accompanied by a series of "Scott evenings" devoted to Antarctic exploration (20 January and 24 February), including "Exploring the human limit" (30 March) and the wider question of "Do we need heroes?" ( January).


Zarina Bhimji

Born in Uganda to Indian parents in 1963, Zarina Bhimji moved to Britain in 1974, two years after Idi Amin's expulsion of the country's Asian community. Her photographs and large-scale film installations often return to the landscapes and buildings of India and East Africa that remain haunted by their layered histories. This exhibition, which continues at the Whitechapel Gallery until 9 March, surveys 25 years of her work. Highlights include her ambitious new film Yellow Patch (2011), premiered here, in which desolate but beautiful images of abandoned Haveli palaces and colonial offices in Mumbai harbour give way to atmospheric footage of the desert and the sea, all accompanied by an evocative soundtrack.


Pip Dickens: New Work

The International Textiles Archive at the University of Leeds owns a celebrated collection of Kashmiri shawls, currently on display as part of a centenary tribute to the renowned vice-chancellor Sir Michael Sadler, who gave them to the university as a gift. Another exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery (until 14 April 2012) offers local artist Pip Dickens' personal response to these remarkable textiles, their weavers and earlier wearers. In both paintings and works on paper, for example, she explores the boteh or paisley motif. The motifs are placed in colourful environments where they seem to move across the surfaces and to interact with one another almost like human figures. She also uses shadow, translucency and relief to mirror the delicate and shimmering nature of the shawls.

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