February 16, 2012


Camellia Festival 2012

The Chiswick House camellia collection is probably the oldest in the Western world. The second annual Camellia Festival, which runs from 18 February to 18 March, promises a spectacular set of pink, red, white and striped blooms on display in the superb conservatory designed by Samuel Ware in 1813. Many descend directly from the original planting in 1828, including the celebrated Middlemist's Red - brought to Britain from China in 1804 by a nurseryman from Shepherd's Bush - which is one of only two known to exist in the world. To complement the festival, the newly restored Italian Garden, at the cutting edge of horticultural fashion when it was created for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1814, has been replanted with an early display of spring flowers.


The Family in British Art

From Thomas Gainsborough to Tracey Emin, William Hogarth to David Hockney, family life and its impact on who we become has long provided rich inspiration for artists. Formal portraits of powerful dynasties from long before the dawn of photography may have been replaced by overt self-expression, yet the family remains an endlessly powerful theme. This exhibition, on show at the Millennium Gallery until 29 April, brings together paintings, photography, film and sculpture by a host of leading figures to illustrate centuries of changing and often highly revealing representations. Material from national institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery can be seen alongside work from the Sheffield institution's own collection.


'Tis Pity She's A Whore

In John Ford's violent and bloody drama, we watch a brother and sister's passionate descent into hell. Incest and the corruption of morality and religion make the play as shocking and controversial today as it was when it first staged almost 400 years ago. Following acclaimed productions of Macbeth (2010) and The Tempest (2011), director Declan Donnellan and his Cheek by Jowl company return to the Barbican Theatre from 16 February to 10 March for an equally bold and challenging production of a classic Jacobean tragedy.


Objects in Space

This exhibition showcases what is believed to be Britain's largest meteorite, never before seen in public. Found at a country estate in Wiltshire, it weighs in at over 90kg, about the same as a baby elephant. Although it has been known to scientists since the early 1990s, its origins are something of a mystery, which led investigators on an intriguing detective trail from Country Life magazine to the inventor of the spark plug, via the Druids of Stonehenge. It can be seen at the Royal Society until 30 March alongside a much smaller meteorite found at Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire, which was originally believed to be an Iron Age artefact. Also on display is a spot painting by Damien Hirst that incorporates an image of the Beagle 2 spacecraft. Entry is by appointment only; further details on 020 7451 2606 or at http://royalsociety.org/Events-Diary.

Stirling and touring

An Appointment with the Wicker Man

Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973) is widely regarded as one of the best horror films of all time. In this affectionate new adaptation and tribute by the National Theatre of Scotland, we find ourselves on a remote island, where the Loch Parry Theatre Players are mounting a production of the play. When their lead actor goes missing in mysterious circumstances, they call on the services of a television cop from the mainland to step in and help them out. Just what murky undercurrents will he discover lurking below the surface of village life? An Appointment with the Wicker Man opens at the Macrobert Arts Centre, University of Stirling (17-18 February) before going on tour to Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen (21-25 February), the Theatre Royal, Glasgow (28 February-3 March), the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness (6-10 March) and the Alhambra, Dunfermline (21-4 March).

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