Private View held by Richard Andrews
The London Parade Festival takes place throughout the festive period, with a series of free concerts featuring all kinds of music, and other events, at venues in and around the capital, culminating at mid day on 1st January with a spectacular procession. The 19th annual parade will include over 10,000 performers representing 20 countries, including 33 floats from each of the London Boroughs and the Capital's two cities. Among the participants will be dozens of award-winning marching bands, thousands of America's top cheerleaders and majorettes, Carnival Queens, theatrical groups, clowns, jugglers, stilt walkers, acrobats, Pearly Kings and Queens, and vintage vehicles from traction and fire engines to minis and motorbikes. There will also be 75ft high helium-filled cartoon character balloons of the kind featured in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The two mile route runs from Parliament Square to Berkeley Square, passing many of London's greatest historical sights. Further information can be found on the London Parade web site via the link from the Others: Festivals & Events section of ExhibitionsNet. City of Westminster on 1st January.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the world's biggest New Year party, with a four day programme of events indoors and out, many of which are free. On the menu are a torchlight procession and parade of fire through the Old Town; a funfair and ice rink in the Winter Gardens; street theatre and concerts with music from all over the world in George Street; a street party in Princes Street on the night itself, with stages in the gardens featuring all kinds of music and dancing, culminating in Britain's most spectacular firework display firing simultaneously from seven different sites around the city, with Castle Hill fireworks designed by Christophe Berthonneau, whose work includes the Millennium fireworks at the Eiffel Tower and the opening of the Athens Olympics; with a New Year's Day run from the Castle to the Palace, the Dogmanay dog-sled races, skateboarding and other urban outdoor sports in Holyrood Park, and street theatre in the Old Town to follow. The programme this year celebrates the links between France and Scotland and 'the Auld Alliance' with French food, cinema, music and the biggest ever assembly of French street theatre in the UK. Further information can be found on the Edinburgh's Hogmanay web site via the link from the Others: Festivals & Events section of ExhibitionsNet. Events across Edinburgh 29th December to 1st January.
Outside In is an interactive Christmas installation by Theatre-rites that explores the sights, sounds and magic of winter. Sophia Clist has created an enchanted environment, with a sound composition by Craig Vear, which takes visitors on a winter wonderland journey to the Antarctic and back. A series of simple white columns reveal hidden objects, emit frosty arctic sounds and whisper wintry poems, coaxing visitors into a multi-sensory adventure. This beautiful space invites visitors to see winter anew. You can come in from the cold and expose yourself to the elements without catching a chill. Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall until 16th January.
Faces In The Crowd - Painters Of Modern Life From Manet To Today turns on its head the presumption that all forward movements in 20th century art were through abstraction, by exploring modernity through realist art. Taking Edouard Manet as its starting point, and moving through figures such as Rene Magritte, Umberto Boccioni, Pablo Picasso, Eduardo Paolozzi, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and Cindy Sherman, this exhibition traces a history of avant-garde figuration. In doing so, it presents a story that is just as radical as that of the abstract. Manet's vividly realist scenarios or Jeff Wall's cinematic tableaux offer a compelling snapshot of the modern. By contrast, Edvard Munch or Francis Bacon present a tortured or exhilarated inner life. Whereas for Alexander Rodchenko, Joseph Beuys or Chris Ofili, the figure can be a harbinger of change: symbolic, revolutionary or transgressive. This exhibition includes not only painting, but also sculpture, photography and the moving image, with each work pivotal to the story of Modernism. Representations of the human figure are seen as expressions of modernity, becoming ciphers for the experience of modern life; as images of modern life, picturing both the epic and the everyday; or as agents of social change, where avant-garde realism proposes new world orders. Whitechapel Gallery until 27th February.
A Site For Un-building is Alec Shepley and Steve Dutton's take on urban geography, domesticity and architecture. Model rooms made of plywood stack up to create high-rise towers, in which propped up photographs of city landscapes, and looped video performance works, intermingle. Their constructions are deliberately disjointed - 'built and unbuilt' - reflecting the fact that nothing stands up or holds together any more. Shepley and Dutton's DIY nightmares are a 21st century version of the 19th century romantic folly, but instead of thinking of the ruin as the remains of something long gone, their idea is that the ruin might be of a site connected to a sense of change and renewal, of something in progress. They are interested in 'ruin' as something that is failing to keep a hold on itself - an on-going mistake or miscalculation that nevertheless reveals new formations. With their constructions, and the multitude of 'found' objects that appear amongst the installation, Shepley and Dutton are asking if the model domestic spaces that they have created are depictions of ruin, or merely the base material for the ruination of the space. Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown until 15th January.
Christmas Past: Seasonal Traditions In English Homes is a glimpse of the traditions, rituals and decorative styles of Christmases over the last 400 years, from kissing under the mistletoe to decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties. Twelve rooms in the Grade 1 listed group of fourteen almshouses, a chapel and their gardens that comprise the museum, from the 17th century with oak furniture and panelling, through the refined splendour of the Georgian period, and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity, seen in a 1930s flat, and a mid century 'contemporary' style room, sparkle with authentic festive decorations of their times. They reveal how relatively recent many of the supposedly ancient traditions are, and some forgotten ones that are worth reviving. Special events include workshops creating Georgian Christmas decorations with natural materials, and traditional Christmas card making; festive food and unusual gifts; and candle lit evenings of carols and storytelling. It all ends outdoors with traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, celebrated with carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake. The Geffyre Museum until 6th January.
A Magical Christmas is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - and for the first time, there is an Ice Rink in front of the Temperate House; plus free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants; a Victorian carousel; the hop on hop off Kew Explorer travelling round the whole garden, which includes a commentary; and Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes for the first time, a laser show in the Palm House; plus performances by choirs and brass bands; a display of the various species of Christmas trees decorated in traditional styles, with advice on how to achieve the effects; carols and storytelling; and festive food and drink. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 3rd January.
Wonderful - Visions Of The Near Future is a collaboration between artists and scientists, working together to make new discoveries that develop industrial prototypes based on concepts taken from art, and test our responses to ethical questions. Among the weird and wonderful items on view throughout the building and at other venues in the city are: 'Rodentia Chamber Music' by Gail Wight with Kris Treanor, an ensemble of traditional chamber instruments made in Perspex, populated by mice that 'play' them by triggering small electronic switches, called whisker switches, as they scurry through the instruments; 'Jellyfish Lake' by Dorothy Cross, that reflects on the non-form of jellyfish, and how weird we must appear to them; 'CowBoard' by Richard Dedomenici, a demonstration of a prototype controller device that enables cows to access the Internet; 'Alter Ego' by Alexa Wright with Alf Linney, a mirror that interacts with the viewer's facial features, based on the use of computer imaging in facial reconstructive surgery; 'Staining Space' by Jane Prophet with Neil Theise, addressing the challenge of representing that which cannot be seen, inspired by stem cell theory; and 'Realtime' by Third Angel, an exploration into the effects of the contemporary acceleration of society in our daily lives, that culminates in Hurrysickness. Cornerhouse, Manchester until 9th January.
Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, covering 9,000sqm and capable of accommodating some 2,000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 11.15pm, and as darkness falls, the courtyard is transformed, with music playing, and illumination from flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades, together with a 40ft Christmas tree at the north end. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy the traditional fare of baked potatoes, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners, and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. This year London has gone skating crazy and there are also Ice Rinks at Hampton Court, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Marble Arch. Somerset House until 30th January.
G F Watts: Portraits - Fame And Beauty In Victorian Society is a rare exhibition of portraits by the Victorian painter, who was much feted in his time, but is now often forgotten. Watts was a central personality of the era: a friend of Tennyson, the Pre-Raphaelite artists, photographic pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron, and married (albeit briefly) to the actress Ellen Terry. Today he is best remembered for his large-scale symbolist paintings, such as 'Hope', and for the 'Hall of Fame' series of portraits of his eminent contemporaries, including Carlyle, Tennyson, Browning and Rossetti, yet he also produced some of the most glamorous full-length portraits of women of the Victorian period. As a portraitist Watts had an enormous output - over 300 images in oils and countless drawings - from the 1830s to 1904. Rich in colour and detail, these are little known and have never been seen together as a group, though they comprise the artistic and social elite of mid-Victorian London. Some of the most beautiful of Watts's paintings are portraits of his personal friends. This exhibition brings together over fifty works, including several showing the seven Pattle sisters; Mrs Nassau Senior; a double portrait of Ellen and Kate Terry known as 'The Sisters'; Violet Manners, later the Duchess of Rutland, a fellow artist; Blanche, Lady Lindsay, artist, musician, and co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery; Lillie Langtry; and several drawings and oil paintings of Mary Augusta, Lady Holland, which reveal the nature of their 'close friendship'. National Portrait Gallery until 9th January.
A Gentle Madness: The Photographs Of Tony Ray-Jones provides an opportunity to view a body of work rarely seen or discussed, by one of the foremost observers of 'The English'. Tony Ray-Jones produced his finest work between 1966 and 68 in the form of a sardonic and surreal portrayal of the seaside resorts, customs and festivals of England. The youngest son of the British painter Raymond Ray-Jones, he studied graphics and photography in London before gaining a scholarship to study at Yale. There he developed his vision and began working on assignments for magazines in New York. Ray-Jones returned to Britain in 1965 charged with the dynamic spirit of the New York photography scene, and employing a fresh viewpoint, set about his major project of documenting everyday English eccentricity. Rituals such as sunbathing on a cloudy day in Brighton, a beauty contest in Southport and daft carnival costumes in Skegness were exhibited in two of the earliest solo photography shows in London, and published posthumously as A Day Off. The series has become a landmark in the history of the medium, leaving its mark on a new generation of British photographers. Faking It: Between Art Photography And Advertising demonstrates the visual parallels that occur between art photography and advertising. Through a series of fabulous, staged images, it reveals the surprising crossovers between art and advertising photography, by identifying themes, props, poses and styles that are common to both kinds of studio practice. National Museum Of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford until 9th January.
Must-Have Toys features favourite toys from the last 100 years, brought together for the first time, in the most comprehensive collection of desirable toys ever assembled in the UK. The toys have been selected from both classics - like the teddy bear, which first appeared in 1903, through Meccano, and the Spacehopper, to Beyblades - and surprise best sellers of one particular year - such as Britain's Combine Harvester, the number one toy in 1978. The exhibition reflects how design and technology has influenced the toy industry, with plastic first used to make toys for babies in the 1930s, moving on to the creation of Mr Potato Head, Lego and Bob the Builder. Dolls have always been popular, but in the Swinging Sixties, Sindy and her arch rival Barbie were new and radical teenage dolls, who took their look from the fashion world around them. Sindy was the first toy in Britain to star in her own television commercial. Boys had to wait for Action Man who became popular in the 1970s. In more recent years the influence of film and television has revolutionised the toy industry, with the emergence of merchandise, which started with Star Wars, paving the way for Buzz Lightyear, Power Rangers, Tracy Island and Harry Potter. There are hands on opportunities for children (and adults) throughout the exhibition, including a giant snakes and ladders game and Twister, plus a programme of activities and events scheduled at weekends and during the Christmas holidays. Museum Of Childhood At Bethnal Green until 9th January.