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Pots with Attitude: British Satire on Ceramics, 1760-1830 - British Museum

John Bull guarding the toy shop

Exhibition preview

UNTIL March 13, 2018, the British Museum is presenting a selection of objects in a new display called Pots with Attitude: British Satire on Ceramics, 1760-1830. This focussed display offers a unique opportunity to enjoy 18th-century satire on both ceramics and prints.

Drawing on the British Museum’s rich collection of satirical and political prints as well as loans from a private collection, this exhibition reveals how political blunders and royal scandals were caricatured for the pleasure of Georgian society. This is the first exhibition at the British Museum to focus on the display of printed ceramics alongside their engraved counterpart prints.

Ceramics are rarely confrontational, yet when printed with political messages with a powerful agenda, they are transformed. The invention of fine creamware (cream-coloured earthenware) and the development of transfer-printing on glazed clay in the 1750s coincided with the great age of British printed satire.

Hand coloured prints parodied the political and social elite, and humour dissipates the uncomfortable truths in these single sheet works published in London between 1770 – 1830. While these were sold to the urban upper-classes, a more widespread audience in inns, taverns and cottages, enjoyed these same messages on common pottery.

This display will include 80 objects, some of which have not been on display for decades. They are primarily mugs and jugs, associated with hard drinking, ballad singing, public houses and other masculine spaces.

The impact of satirical prints however spread beyond ceramics, and other items included in the display are a cotton handkerchief with the “Peterloo Massacre” of 1819 and a grisly folding fan with hidden profiles of the executed French sovereigns, dated 1794. In all the objects, British values are on trial and any threat to social stability becomes a cause for ridicule.

Some entrepreneurs approached political controversies like the public reactions to the Papists Act 1778, allowing Catholics to own property, the campaign for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, and the threat of a French invasion during the Napoleonic War. British potters also printed ceramics for the American market during periods of tension. They frequently made printed pottery for both sides, and later even recycled these images for the domestic market.

The images became increasingly hard-hitting, especially during the threat to Britain and its empire from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803. Prints as government funded propaganda by James Gillray and others stirred up the populace and belittled the Corsican, a diminutive and vulgar tyrant.

Just weeks before the collapse of the Peace of Amiens in May 1803, the caricaturist Charles Williams captured a colossal ‘Boney’ with a foot firmly planted in Germany about to straddle the English Channel. A feisty, pint-sized John Bull with a blood stained sword has sliced off his toes, while exclaiming ‘Paws off, Pompey’, associating Bonaparte with the hero of a popular novel, a lap-dog, known as ‘Pompey the Little’. The image was immediately copied on ceramics by an unidentified pottery, perhaps in Staffordshire or Liverpool.

Few of the ceramic manufacturers marked their ware, perhaps preferring anonymity.

Pots with Attitude: British Satire on Ceramics, 1760-1830 unites political prints and transfer-print ceramics, two great British traditions that have rarely been displayed together. This free display is part of a one-year Monument Trust-funded curatorial project to research and champions links between 18th-century prints and ceramics.

Image: John Bull guarding the toy-shop. Bone china jug, Staffordshire, Spode factory, transfer-printed in black and painted in enamels, 1803. 165 mm. On loan from Private collection.

Note: (This matches print John Bull guarding the toy-shop, or Boney crying for some more play things and Cruce dignus, The grand menagerie).

Admission: Free.

Place: Room 90a, Prints and Drawings Gallery.

Opening hours: Saturdays to Thursdays, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Commonwealth Week at Westminster Abbey

Commonwealth Week at Westminster Abbey

Event preview

VISIT Westminster Abbey this coming half term and celebrate the Commonwealth during a week of special events for families.

Join the Abbey and the Royal Commonwealth Society to explore art and culture from across this unique partnership of 52 countries, which together represent a third of the world’s people.

Activities for children aged 3 – 13 start on Monday, February 12, 2018, and culminate with a special Family Day on Friday, February 16. All activities are free with entry to the Abbey.

Activities: Daily from Monday, February 12 to Thursday, February 15

Art in the Nave – 10am – 12 Noon and 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

Dance, Music and Storytelling – 11am and 2pm.

Commonwealth Family Tours – 1.15pm – meet at the Great West Door.

Commonwealth flag display in the Chapter House – 10am – 3.30pm.

Family Day Programme – Friday, February 16

Art in the Nave – 10am – 12 Noon and 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

Join the Abbey’s artist to create your own masterpiece celebrating the cultures of the Commonwealth.

Dance, Music and Storytelling

Enjoy 30-minute performances by Commonwealth dancers, musicians and storytellers in the Abbey and precincts.

Commonwealth Family Trails – 10am – 3.30pm.

Start at the Great West Door and explore the Abbey, site of the annual Commonwealth Day Service, with the Family Commonwealth Trail.

Commonwealth flag display – 10am – 3.30pm.

Discover the history and meaning of the flags of the Commonwealth nations, which will be on display in the Abbey’s beautiful medieval Chapter House.

RA celebrates 250th anniversary with a nationwide programme of exhibitions and events

IN 2018, museums, galleries and art institutions across the United Kingdom will take part in RA250 UK, a major nationwide programme of talks, exhibitions and events to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts, with support from Art Fund.

The Royal Academy is the world’s foremost artist and architect-led institution; it is run by a distinguished group of 80 artists and architects, the Royal Academicians. Since its foundation in 1768, the membership of Royal Academicians has included over 650 of the UK’s most eminent painters, sculptors printmakers and architects.

Although the RA is based in London, the Royal Academicians have come from far and wide; their homes, studios, works of art, exhibition spaces and educational experiences can be found across the British Isles and beyond.

This far-reaching and evolving programme will run throughout 2018, celebrating the Royal Academicians, past and present, showing the impact they have had across the UK. An interactive online map outlining the events and exhibitions taking place is now live: royalacademy.org.uk/ra250uk. Further events and exhibitions will continue to be added to the map as they are confirmed throughout the year.

For the first time, the RA and Art Fund have collaborated to create a series of 12 in-conversation events with Royal Academicians in 12 different locations across 12 months. These will include Gilbert & George RA at The New Art Gallery, Walsall; Alison Wilding RA at Leeds Art Gallery; Eva Rothschild RA at the Pier Art Centre, Orkney; and Christopher Le Brun PRA at The Munnings Art Museum, Essex.

RA250 UK also includes:

In the North West, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester – Annie Swynnerton Painting Light and Hope (February 23, 2018 to January 6, 2019), the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool – Sean Scully: 1970 (July 14 to October 14, 2018) and Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal – History of the Royal Academy (March 2 to June 9, 2018) and Women of the Royal Academy (May 11 to July 28, 2018).

In the North East, the Great North Museum, Newcastle – The Great Exhibition of the North (June 22 to September 9, 2018); Laing Art Gallery and Hatton Gallery, Newcastle – Sean Scully: 1970 (February 10 to May 28, 2018) and the South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, Newcastle – Capturing a Star: Dame Flora Robson and other works by Dame Ethel Walker (September 22, 2018 to March 2, 2019).

In the Midlands, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries, Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire – Harmonising Landscapes – Paul Sandby RA (June 16, 2018 to January 6, 2019).

In the South West, Castle Drogo, National Trust, Exeter – Peter Randall-Page RA at Castle Drogo (until September 18, 2018) and Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth – Making and Breaking the Rules: The Royal Academy 250 at the Russell-Cotes (May 4 to October 14, 2018).

In the South East, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – RA250 at the Fitzwilliam Museum (February 5 to December 31, 2018); Pallant House Gallery, Chichester – Cathie Pilkington RA (October 6, 2018 to TBC February 2019) and Leonard Rosoman: Painting Theatre (February 3 to April 24, 2018); and Southampton Art Gallery – Christopher Le Brun: Composer (September 15, 2018 to January 13, 2019).

In London, the Royal Academy is partnering in an unprecedented collaboration with the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery to present three exhibitions of Royal Academician Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, PORTRAIT, STILL LIFE.

In Scotland, the Scottish Maritime Museum, Glasgow – William Lionel Wyllie RA: War and the Sea (May 31 to September 25, 2018) and The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture, Edinburgh – Barbara Rae RA RSA – Any Ordinary Journey: Following in the footsteps of Dr John Rae (August 4 to September 9, 2018).

In Wales, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth – Discourse: Reynolds to Rego, 250 Years of Royal Academicians in Print (June 11 to August 31, 2018).

In addition, The Space has commissioned Objects of Obsession, a series of filmed in-conversations with Royal Academicians and the RA’s Artistic Director Tim Marlow, which will be live streamed to a global audience. The series will explore the relationship between the RAs and the work of other artists who are important to their practice and will be hosted by the gallery or museum which houses the piece the artists have chosen.

It will feature Cornelia Parker RA at Bethlem Museum of the Mind, February 16; followed by Sonia Boyce RA at Manchester Art Gallery, March 8; and Bob and Roberta Smith RA at The New Art Gallery Walsall, March. The events will be streamed on each gallery’s website, YouTube and Facebook, establishing a network of shared content for online audiences.

Further details and events will be announced online in due course. Royal Academicians can also be explored in public collections across the country via artuk.org/.

Mayfair Art Weekend

Event preview

MAYFAIR Art Weekend (June 29 to July 1, 2018), winner of Best Local Event 2017 by the Mayfair Awards, will once again be joined by the Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair and St. James’s art galleries, artists and auction houses to celebrate the area as a vibrant hub of creativity, craftsmanship and production.

The weekend provides an insight into this unique art district and a chance to experience the unparalleled artistic knowledge, quality and diversity to be found within Mayfair and St. James’s art community.

Programme to be announced in Spring 2018.

Entry is free.

Image: Mathilde Nivet, Bird Installation in Burlington Arcade is © David Parry, 2017.

The Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia - British Museum

Exhibition preview

THE BRITISH Museum’s Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia opened on December 14, 2017 after a full renovation and refurbishment. The display includes a new narrative for China and South Asia which brings the story up to the present day.

This renovation means the Museum can include and rotate different types of objects such as paintings, prints and textiles which need regulated conditions for display.

The gallery introduces new research that will enable visitors to engage with these extraordinarily important parts of the world. With new lighting and design, the display takes visitors through the fascinating histories of a large part of the globe.

China:

The gallery presents the histories of China from 5000 BC to the present with the space divided into bays that explore Chinese history through its material culture.

China’s unique and highly unusual culture provides new avenues of understanding of the rich and intricate history of a quarter of the world’s population. Research has now shown that early China was joined to the rest of Eurasia across the steppe and by sea, as well as along the famous Silk Roads.

The new environmental conditions means that China’s principal arts of calligraphy and ink painting can be shown in regularly changing displays. The spectacular modern work of the experimental calligrapher Gu Gan can be appreciated alongside the earliest scroll to reach Britain, which came at the end of the 1700s.

Materials unique to China, such as jade, silk and porcelain are of exceptionally high quality and are discussed in terms of their historical contexts.

A set of magnificent Ming dynasty dragon tiles is the first object that visiters see. These beautiful, large, high-relief tiles were made in sets to form a series of friezes showing blue-and-yellow dragons among lotuses. For many years, they were part of a garden screen, but originally they ran along the ridge of a building in Shanxi province, supposedly protecting it from fire, as dragons are associated with control of the water supply.

South Asia:

The South Asia displays are also presented chronologically, though regional variety is greater here than in China and some displays are entirely regional. The earliest material dates to 1.5 million years ago but amongst the prehistoric displays, the objects from the Indus Valley Civilisation are the most important. These include examples of the enigmatic seals with their un-deciphered script.

The birth, development and arrival of South Asia’s diverse religious traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity, are presented within a chronological framework through the Museum’s extraordinarily rich collections. Later arrivals such as Christianity and above all Islam are included.

Political and economic change is highlighted through revealing presentations of sculpture, painting, textiles and objects of everyday life. New display will focus on the Mughal period, the Rajput rulers, India under British rule and then South Asia since independence in 1947. Textiles and paintings from all these periods are also, for the first time, included.

At the far end of the new gallery are displayed the renowned stone sculptures from Amaravati, the most important group of sculptures from Asia housed in the British Museum and the largest group of early Indian sculpture anywhere outside South Asia. The Buddhist shrine at Amaravati was founded in about 200 BC, and more than 120 sculptures from the site are on display in the Asahi Shimbun Gallery. They are among the greatest treasures in the whole Museum.

Impressive newly-acquired works of art are on display in the gallery for the first time. These have come to the Museum through gift, bequest and purchase.

Amongst those from South Asia is the outstanding 6th-century sculpture of Lakshmi from Kashmir, given to the Museum by the Simon Digby Memorial Charity and the poignant installation work by the Bangladeshi artist Naeem Mohaieman, ‘Kazi in Noman’s Land’ which records the extraordinary story of the Bengali poet Nazrul Islam.

Meanwhile, new to the China displays and bringing the story right up to the 21st century is a beautiful contemporary porcelain butterfly robe.

This refurbishment has been made possible by a generous donation from The Sir Joseph Hotung Charitable Settlement. The Asahi Shimbun Gallery of Amaravati Sculptures and the Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery of Chinese Jade have also been refurbished as part of this major project.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: ‘The Museum is hugely grateful to Sir Joseph Hotung and his fellow Trustees for the opportunity to renovate this important gallery. The refurbishment will allow us to include other material from the collection and bring the story of China and South Asia up to the present day. Understanding Asia is crucial for all our futures and this gallery will help visitors to better understand the long and significant history of these regions.’

Image: 20 dragon tiles, ceramic. Shanxi province, Ming dynasty, 15th – 16th century. Height: 39.00 cm, Width: 244.00 cm. Donated by Sir Joseph Hotung © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Admission: Free.

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Website: www.britishmuseum.org/

Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour - final line up announced

Davood Ghadami. Photo credit: Ray Burmiston.

Event preview

THE celebrity dancers and their professional partners for the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Tour have been announced.

And they are: Gemma Atkinson and Aljaž Skorjanec; Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez; Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton; Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova; Joe McFadden and Katya Jones; Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice; and Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse.

The celebrities and professional dancers will be joining the tour judging panel of Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell. To round off the sparkling line-up, the tour will be hosted by the 2016 Strictly Champion Ore Oduba.

They will all be joined by more Strictly professional dancers, the Strictly singers and the Strictly live band.

EastEnders‘ heartthrob Davood Ghadami said: “Being on Strictly has been such a blast. The training has been stricter than my gym regime, so am excited to keep it up on the road and can’t wait to perform in the huge arenas all over the country.”

TV personality Debbie McGee said: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so fit in my life! This whole experience has been incredible and I can’t wait to get my dancing shoes back on for the 2018 tour.”

Actress and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson said: “Aljaž has really put me through my paces over the last few months, physically, mentally and creatively, so am thrilled we are being paired again for the Strictly tour! Come on the North!”

Singer Alexandra Burke said: “I cannot wait to get out on tour and connect with all the Strictly fans in their home towns. This is an amazing opportunity to perform some of my favourite routines in all these huge arenas – what better way to start the new year!.”

Debbie McGee. Photo credit: Ray Burmiston.

Holby City star Joe McFadden said: “I honestly didn’t think I’d make it past the first few weeks on Strictly, let alone get to go on the tour. It’s going to be a wonderful experience, which I’m really looking forward to – particularly dancing in my hometown of Glasgow!”

The Strictly tour will open at the Arena Birmingham on January 19, 2018 and will then visit some of the biggest entertainment venues across the UK, including a return to Belfast at the SSE Arena, following huge public demand.

It will also stop off at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, First Direct Arena Leeds, Manchester Arena, The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena and The SSE Arena Wembley (February 8-9), before culminating at The O2 Arena in London on February 11.

Read more about the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Tour.

Brand new Art Fair for Surrey bringing Real Art to Real People

Angela Brittain - Unconditional Love

Event preview

ONE of the most successful art events in the national calendar is coming to Surrey.

Contemporary Arts Fairs, who have put on successful art fairs in Windsor and Reading for over a decade, are bringing their popular event to Sandown Park Racecourse from February 23 to February 25, 2018.

Renowned for their informal, friendly and welcoming atmosphere, these art fairs have become known as events at which both experienced and new art collectors feel very much at home in.

Contemporary Arts Fairs have a well-earned reputation for helping match art lovers and artists over 13 years in Windsor and Reading, and now they are going to become a part of the essential calendar dates in Surrey.

Deborah James, fair director said: “We are passionate about art and artists, and have worked very hard for over a decade to bring real art to real people. It is one of our dreams to expand the opportunities for both art lovers and artists, and this feels right.”

There are over 160 artists, established favourites, galleries, emerging stars, and selected new talent, both national and European. There is a wide range of styles and media, from glass to sculpture to photography, from textural abstract to realism, from fields of flowers to architectural constructs, from the extraordinary in the ordinary to the avant garde.

“The accessibility to such diversity in one place is remarkable. It’s like walking through the pages of a story, many art stories in real time.” Said a visitor to Contemporary Art Fairs Reading, “There is everything from the familiar, comforting narratives to unexpected plot twists.”

Drop in any time over the weekend to a fair full of great contemporary art, by living artists, at affordable prices, in an accessible venue outside London. Enjoy the chance to speak with their artists one-to-one, for a unique insight and experience of art you are going to love to live with.

These events are known for being inclusive and participatory. There are live demonstrations by exhibiting artists, where you can pick up inspiration and get an understanding of how they create their individual style. There is an interactive art corner with artist-led workshops to try your hand, and discover your talent.

The art fairs, and their community of artists, support the Princes Trust with unique, collectable, small canvases, donated by the artists, which have raised more than £50,000 to date. All this, while being successful for their artists, and a truly great day out and an exciting shopping experience for the visitor.

You could enjoy the thrill of discovering a future star, or commission an artist to create a unique piece for you. You could become part of the community that forms around an artist, or enjoy the philanthropy of supporting an artist. You could invest in a work, or enjoy the social status of a conversation piece. Or, you could simply fall in love, and go home with a something that is forever a part of your story.

“There is nothing like speaking with the artists, setting your heart on a piece, going through the thrill in the pit of your stomach as you commit, and taking that baby home,” said a visitor to Contemporary Art Fairs Windsor, “the art work means so much more for the whole experience that goes with it.”

Whether you know what you are looking for or are browsing for inspiration, there is simply no substitute for walking the aisles and taking in all the art. With a winning mix of truly great art across a wide range of tastes and styles, an interactive art space, live art demos, creative workshops by Cass Art, the fairs are a one-stop event for all-day viewing of art from around the globe.

Sandown Park is one of the top exhibition venues in the country. This picturesque site is situated only 15 miles from Central London, in Esher; with ample parking, catering on site and excellent support facilities, it ensures an enjoyable event.

Official website.

Image: Angela Brittain – Unconditional Love.

The British Museum and Google Arts and Culture bring ancient Maya heritage to life

The British Museum

TODAY (November 29, 2017) sees the launch of the British Museum’s collaboration with Google Arts and Culture to digitise and share the ancient Maya collection of Alfred Maudslay, a 19th century explorer who brought the stories of the Maya to the world.

This important collection is made up of photographs, casts and other scientific documents created during archaeological excavations and research at Maya sites in the late 1800s. Now available to view online for the first time, these objects are also part of new resources which bring to life ancient Maya culture using the latest technology.

Through a new dedicated page on Google Arts and Culture, interactive content focused on Maya sites in Guatemala has been created, with a series of online exhibits introducing the project, its activities and the British Museum’s Maya collections more broadly.

Alongside these, new immersive Google Street View tours are available, transporting people from their own living rooms to Guatemala – using Google Cardboard – to visit Quiriguá and Tikal, UNESCO World Heritage sites and two of the ancient Maya’s most recognisable cities.

A special Google Expedition aimed at schools is also available through the Google Expedition app, taking children on a virtual reality journey from the British Museum to Quiriguá. Street View capture of the entire publicly accessible area of these sites is also launched today as part of the collaboration.

The objects that have been digitised were created and collected by Alfred Maudslay, a technological pioneer who used the captured image to engage the public in Maya cultural heritage. He travelled extensively in Central America in the 1880s and 90s, often becoming the first visitor to scientifically document now famous ancient Maya sites like Tikal and Quiriguá using up-to-date recording techniques.

The collection consists of over 250 glass plate negatives from Guatemala, and in excess of 1000 pages of archives, including Maudslay’s personal diaries. All have been newly digitised to exceptional standards. It is hoped that this could reveal never previously observed details.

Over a hundred casts have also been 3D scanned, allowing for monuments to be re-assembled in digital form. These will represent an outstanding resource for scholars who will be able to tilt, zoom and manipulate the lighting of these models in order to achieve the best conditions to read the hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Many of these casts, in Maudslay’s own words ‘survive the originals’, which have suffered from environmental and human-induced damage in the intervening century and a half. They are a 19th century time-capsule and are therefore an invaluable resource for learning about this important civilisation. Examples of the casts can be seen on display at the British Museum, with the remaining casts forming part of the study collection at Blythe House.

This repository of casts, photographs, diaries and drawings is of global significance for the study of the ancient Maya, a civilisation that emerged in a geographical area encompassing Guatemala, Southern Mexico, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador.

Its apogee, known as the Classic Maya period, began in around 250AD and lasted until c. 900AD, and the culture’s most iconic ruined cities, like Tikal and Palenque, date to this period. Thanks to this partnership and the new technologies it brings with it, more people than ever before will have the opportunity to engage with landscapes and monuments of this fascinating culture.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum says: “The British Museum’s collection spans the globe, and I am delighted that through our partnership with Google Arts and Culture, we can bring the story of the ancient Maya to more people than ever before. Not only is it now easier to enjoy these fascinating objects from our collection, they can be experienced in new and exciting ways.”

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture says: “We’re excited to work with the British Museum in supporting archaeological research on the ancient Maya. Finding new ways to share academic research such as digital preservation and sharing lost stories online are critical to helping us connect the past to the present. We are delighted to have this unique look into Maya heritage on Google Arts & Culture.”

John Glen MP, Minister of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism says: “Our #CultureIsDigital project is all about promoting the use of technology to increase the accessibility of our world-class cultural organisations. This new collaboration between Google Arts and Culture and the British Museum is a great example of the tech and heritage sectors coming together to do exactly that.”

Jago Cooper, Curator: Africa Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum says: “The Maudslay photographs and casts, transported back across the Atlantic, brought with them a new understanding of a society which had created some of the greatest cities in the world. They demonstrated how successful the ancient Maya had been by creating a unique approach to urbanism, food production, water management and governance. By collaborating with Google the British Museum is continuing Maudslay’s legacy of technological innovation, digitising collections, making new discoveries and bringing exciting narratives to a global audience.”

The British Museum houses a world class collection of ancient Maya artefacts, a number of which are on display in Gallery 27: Mexico. In addition, extensive twentieth-century collecting has endowed the Museum with several thousand contemporary Maya objects including textiles, masks, basketry and ceramics. These collections join the 70,000 objects that comprise the British Museum’s encyclopaedic Americas collection. The casts which are not on permanent display are currently stored in Blythe House.

The Super Six Semi-Finalists to Star in The X Factor Live Tour 2018

The X Factor Live Tour

Event preview

THE X Factor’s super six semi-final acts will star in The X Factor Live Tour 2018. A seventh wildcard act will then be decided via an online vote from all the acts to feature in this year’s live shows.

The top six artists confirmed to go on the tour are: Rak-Su, Grace Davies, Kevin Davy White, Lloyd Macey, The Cutkelvins and Matt Linnen.

Rak-Su are the first ever X Factor act to have had two No.1 singles on iTunes whilst being on the show, riding high in the charts with Dimelo and Mona Lisa, which also won them the weekend vote in Week 4.

Grace Davies won the Prize Fight in Week 1 with her stunning and emotional performance of her original song, Too Young. The track also became the first song of this series to top the UK iTunes chart.

Kevin Davy White won the weekend vote in Week 2 with his incredible vocal and electric guitar for his rendition of Santana’s Smooth.

Lloyd Macey topped the weekend vote in Week 3 with his moving rendition of George Michael’s A Different Corner. As a result, he won the right to open for chart-topping superstars Little Mix on their arena tour in Manchester.

Also joining the line-up are The Cutkelvins, whose electrifying original song Saved Me From Myself was one of the stand out performances across Week 4, as well as Matt Linnen, who has been impressing the judges and audience with his raw and original takes on hits, including Alicia Key’s Falling.

In addition, one other act from this series’ live shows will join the line-up. They will be chosen as a wildcard by the British public, via a vote on The Sun Online. The most popular act will receive that all-important seventh and final spot on The X Factor Live Tour 2018.

The X Factor Live Tour – with each concert to be hosted by presenter Becca Dudley – kicks off in Belfast on February 16. It will travel across the UK and Ireland, visiting Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The X Factor Tour has been seen by more than three million people since it began 13 years ago, making it one of the UK’s most successful annual arena tours. Tickets are on sale now.

Read more about The X Factor Live Tour 2018.

The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show! - Christmas In Leicester Square

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SHOWSTOPPER! The Improvised Musical (Best Entertainment and Family Show Olivier Award winners 2016) are bringing a seasonal helping of their hit family show to London this Christmas.

The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show! will be presented in The Paradiso Speigeltent as part of Christmas in Leicester Square from December 16 to December 30, 2017. Tickets are on sale now.

In a Christmas grotto, the Showstopper Elves are ready and waiting to take kids’ ideas and suggestions and transform them on the spot into hilarious, magical, musical interactive adventures.

Pirates at the North Pole? Done! Harry Potter in Lapland? No problem! The Gruffalo singing carols with Peppa Pig? Just shout it out and The Showstoppers will bring it to life!

Kids (and only kids!) are in charge, and they get to decide everything from who the heroes are to what happens next. They can even join in!

No two shows are ever the same as The Showstoppers take audience suggestions and spin a brand-new comedy musical out of thin air – stories, characters, tunes, lyrics, dances, harmonies and all – with unpredictable and hilarious results. If you thought improv looked difficult before, try doing it in time (and tune) to music! Then try doing it in front of an audience of kids…

The rotating cast features some of the brightest minds in the world of comedy and musical theatre. The rotating company for The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show! will include Showstopper regulars – Ruth Bratt, Dylan Emery, Susan Harrison, Ali James, Sean McCann, Adam Meggido, Philip Pellew, Andrew Pugsley, Lauren Shearing, Lucy Trodd and Duncan Walsh Atkins (MD).

Ticket prices: £15 (£13.50 concessions); £52 Family Ticket (a group of 4 to include a minimum of one adult). £1.50 booking/transaction fees apply per ticket or per family ticket.

Times: 1.30pm (shows at 11.30am and 1.30pm on Saturday, December 23 and 30).

Running Time: 60 minutes.

The Paradiso Speigeltent, Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7DE