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World’s earliest figural tattoos revealed

THE world’s earliest figural tattoos have been revealed on two natural mummies in the British Museum’s collection.

Dating to between 3351 to 3017 BC (95.4% probability), figural tattoos of a wild bull and a Barbary sheep were identified on the upper arm of a male mummy and linear and S-shaped motifs have been identified on the upper arm and shoulder of a female mummy; the oldest tattoos ever found on a female body.

The findings were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Entitled: Natural mummies from Predynastic Egypt reveal the world’s earliest figural tattoos.

Daniel Antoine, one of the lead authors of the research paper and the British Museum’s Curator of Physical Anthropology said: ‘The use of the latest scientific methods, including CT scanning, radiocarbon dating and infrared imaging, has transformed our understanding of the Gebelein mummies. Only now are we gaining new insights into the lives of these remarkably preserved individuals. Incredibly, at over five thousand years of age, they push back the evidence for tattooing in Africa by a millennium’.

These naturally mummified individuals are from Egypt’s Predynastic period, the era preceding the country’s unification by the first pharaoh at around 3100 BCE. All visible skin on these mummified individuals was examined for signs of body modification as part of a new program of conservation and research.

The male mummy, known as Gebelein Man A has been on display almost continuously since his discovery around 100 years ago. Previous CT scans showed that Gebelein Man A was a young man when he died (18 – 21 years of age) from a stab wound to the back.

Dark smudges on his arm, appearing as faint markings under natural light had remained unexamined. Infrared photography recently revealed that these smudges were in fact tattoos of two slightly overlapping horned animals. The horned animals have been tentatively identified as a wild bull (long tail, elaborate horns) and a Barbary sheep (curving horns, humped shoulder). Both animals are well known in Predynastic Egyptian art.

The designs are not superficial and have been applied to the dermis layer of the skin, the pigment was carbon-based, possibly some kind of soot. He may have worn the tattoos as symbols of power or strength.

Previously archaeologists had thought that tattooing was gender restricted and only applied to women. This was due to ‘tattoos’ being depicted only on female figurines of the period. But the discovery of tattoos on the male mummy now shows body modification concerned both sexes.

The female mummy, known as Gebelein woman, has several tattoos. A series of four small ‘S’ shaped motifs can be seen running vertically over her right shoulder. Below them on the right arm is a linear motif which is similar to objects held by figures participating in ceremonial activities on the painted ceramics of the period.

It may represent a crooked stave, a symbol of power and status, or a throw-stick or batons and/or clappers used in ritual dance. The S–motif also appears as an element of Predynastic pottery decoration, always in multiples. Both sets of tattoos would have been highly visible and may have denoted status, bravery, cult/magical knowledge or protection.

Seven mummies from the same site, Gebelein in the southern part of Upper Egypt (around 40km south of modern-day Luxor) were examined as part of the research, though tattoos were only found on two. Originally buried in shallow graves, the bodies were naturally desiccated by the heat, salinity and aridity of the Egyptian desert, preserving their soft tissues.

The radiocarbon results, supported by isotopic data on hair and bone, confirm all sevenmummies date to the Predynastic period with collective dates ranging from 3932 – 3030 cal BC, with the two tattooed individuals dating to 3351 to 3017 cal BC (95.4% probability). Bar one, these individuals had been buried in a crouched position on their left sides typical of the period (the other is on his right side).

The application of tattoos to the human body has enjoyed a long and diverse history in many ancient cultures. At present the oldest surviving examples are the mainly geometric tattoos on the Alpine mummy known as Ötzi (4th millennium BCE) whose skin was preserved by the ice of the Tyrolean Alps. Based on the radiocarbon dates, the Gebelein tattoos are, approximately contemporary with Ötzi (3370-3100 cal BC), and can therefore be considered amongst the earliest surviving tattoos in the world.

These finds demonstrate conclusively that tattooing was practised during Egypt’s Predynastic (c. 4000-3100 BCE) period and they push back the evidence for tattooing in Africa by a millennium. As the oldest known tattooed figural motifs, they add to our understanding of the range of potential uses of tattoos at the dawn of Ancient Egyptian civilization and expand our view of the practice of tattooing in prehistoric times.

Image: Infrared image of the male mummy known as Gebelein Man. Lower left: Detail of the tattoos observed on his right arm under infrared light. Lower right: The mummy and tattoos under normal lighting conditions.

New and expanded events programme, inaugurating new spaces for debate and learning at the RA

THE Royal Academy of Arts has announced a new and expanded public programme of events for 2018, ahead of the unveiling of its transformed campus on Saturday, May 19, 2018 and as part of the celebrations of its 250th anniversary year.

The new 250-seat double-height Benjamin West Lecture Theatre will become a hub for conversation and lively debate, while the Clore Learning Centre will provide a permanent home for the RA’s ambitious Learning Programme of talks and workshops for schools, families and community groups, as well as courses and classes for adult learners.

The transformative redevelopment of the RA, led by David Chipperfield Architects and supported by the National Lottery, will link Burlington House and Burlington Gardens for the first time, uniting the two-acre campus.

This will provide 70% more space than the RA’s original Burlington House footprint, enabling the RA to increase its events and exhibition programme as well as creating new and free displays of art and architecture across the campus for visitors year-round.

Learning has been at the heart of the Royal Academy since 1768 with its founding principle to deliver a public programme that promotes the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.

Today, the RA’s programme of events engages with diverse audiences in the practice and study of art and architecture through creative, hands-on experiences, involving people in exploring and debating art of the past and the present, and working with community groups to bring the RA to new audiences, widening their participation in the arts. A range of academic programmes including courses and classes at the RA offer opportunities for learning from arts professionals and practitioners.

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director at the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “The new Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Clore Learning Centre and the Wolfson British Academy Room will enable us to significantly expand our public programming in 2018 and beyond, animating our new campus with a rich, diverse and inspiring programme of talks, festivals, tours and events for all ages.

“The RA has always been a hub for learning and debate and alongside consolidating our role as an institution for artists and architects, we have the opportunity to reach the broadest possible audience, helping us realise our mission to promote the understanding, appreciation and practice of art and architecture.”

Inaugural Lecture with David Chipperfield RA – May 21

To celebrate the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary and the launch of the new Royal Academy, Sir David Chipperfield RA will give the inaugural address in the Benjamin West Lecture Theatre.

The Successful Artist? – June 21 – 23.

This series of events, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will explore who and what defines a successful artist today. The series will feature panel discussions, roundtables, a creative surgery and an artist manifesto workshop with contributors including Head of RA Schools Eliza Bonham Carter, artist Yinka Shonibare MBE RA and artist-run organisation Auto Italia South East.

Architecture Awards Week – July 2 – 6.

A week-long public celebration of architecture will include the live announcement of the Royal Academy Dorfman Award winner on Wednesday, July 4, and an address on Monday, July 2 by Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa, recipient of the first Royal Academy Architecture Prize, generously supported by The Dorfman Foundation. The awards, alongside the new Architecture Studio within The Dorfman Senate Room and reinvigorated Architecture programme, will place the RA at the heart of a global discourse on architecture and the key role it plays in our society.

RA Festival of Ideas – September 7 – 16.

The 10-day festival will play host to a meeting of great minds from across the spheres of art, architecture, literature, design, dance and music for ten days of electric debate and discussion.

Headline speakers including musician and artist Goldie; artistic director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo; artist and designer Es Devlin; Charlie & Lola author and illustrator, and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child; artist and Royal Academician Gilbert & George; and Man Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson, will discuss their creative practice, and share ideas on current cultural, social and political themes.

Building on the RA’s heritage of rigorous debate, the festival will explore culture, creativity and critical thinking through a series of interviews, conversations and panel discussions as well as offering a range of family workshops in the Clore Learning Centre.

The Rothschild Foundation Lecture – September 17.

This year’s annual Rothschild Foundation Lecture will be with Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The Rothschild Lecture is the first in a series of annual lectures, generously supported by the Rothschild Foundation.

RA250 Birthday Party – December 8.

To conclude the celebrations of the RA’s 250th anniversary, the RA250 Birthday Party will be curated in partnership with University of the Arts London. The festivities comprise artist installations, performances, creative activities, film screenings and immersive experiences across the campus.


Audiences will be able to connect with some of the world’s most celebrated artists and architects, through a series of In-Conversations, discussing their practice and career. Highlights will feature award-winning artist and co-ordinator of this year’s 250th Summer Exhibition, Grayson Perry RA in conversation with the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director Tim Marlow (Wednesday, June 13) and Philosopher Jacques Rancière in conversation with architect and Royal Academician Farshid Moussavi (Monday, October 8).

RA Learning Programme

The RA’s expanded Learning Programme will provide audiences with an in-depth insight into the RA, its Collection and buildings with free introductory tours to the new RA, along with thematic cross-campus tours focusing on the RA Collection and taster talks exploring individual works of art, objects or architectural elements, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

RA Schools

Visitors can learn more about the RA Schools and the UK’s only free post-graduate course through in-gallery talks and discussions in the Weston Studio, led by the RA Schools’ students.

Free events for Families, Schools, and Community Partners

A series of Clore Learning Centre free workshops for primary, secondary and SEND schools and FE colleges, supported by Boeing. Together with monthly family drop-in sessions and holiday family workshops, as well as workshops for the RA’s many community partners, these free events will enable all age groups to be inspired by the RA and enjoy the practice of making art.

RA Academic Programmes

An innovative programme of adult courses and classes includes the history of theory of art, art business and practice, led by world-renowned art world professionals, international scholars, RA experts and Royal Academicians. These will be held in the new Wolfson British Academy Room and activities will range from developing practical skills in life drawing, oil painting and new media, to learning about fundraising in the arts, collections management and connoisseurship.

There will also be a selection of six-day intensive summer courses on offer in July and September exploring curating today, teaching methods pioneered by the RA Schools, and the practice and theory of colour and light.

Exhibitions programme

A series of talks and events will also accompany the Royal Academy’s 2018 exhibition programme Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, Summer Exhibition 2018, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, Renzo Piano, Oceania and Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

Image: The Lecture Theatre in 2018. Image credit: David Chipperfield Architects.

DC Exhibition: Dawn of Superheroes comes to London's O2 Arena

DC: Dawn of Superheroes

Story by Jack Foley

FANS of superheroes and super villains should head over to London’s O2 Arena to check out the DC Exhibition: Dawn Of Super Heroes, which runs at the venue until September 9, 2018.

The exhibition offers the perfect day trip for all ages, displaying costumes, models, props, original sketches and iconic video scenes aimed at bringing you closer to the world’s most iconic characters.

Fans can take a look inside the world of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, The Penguin and Mr Freeze, and see how the iconic characters that make up DC super heroes and super villains started life and created cinema history.

Included among the displays are costumes worn by Heath Ledger (aka The Joker in The Dark Knight), Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck (current Batman) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin).

DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super Heroes also features more than 200 original comic pages, around 300 preparatory sketches and concept artworks for the cinema, together with 45 original costumes, models and props used in the iconic films.

Check out…

◾ Exclusive artworks from the highly-acclaimed Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins, that premiered in the summer of 2017.

◾ Costumes and props from more recent films such as; 1989 to 1999’s Batman franchise directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the acclaimed The Dark Knight trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and the recent Justice League by Zack Snyder.

◾ Original drawings of DC’s stable of famous Super Heroes and Super Villains.

◾ Original costumes from blockbuster DC films including the famous cape worn by Christopher Reeve in the Superman movies and Lynda Carter’s iconic Wonder Woman costume from the 1970s.

Money and Medals: mapping the UK’s numismatic collections - British Museum

MONEY and Medals: mapping the UK’s numismatic collections is the first of two British Museum exhibitions in Room 69a to be sponsored by Spink.

On display from March 22 to September 30, 2018, Money and Medals: mapping the UK’s numismatic collections celebrates the achievements of the Money and Medals Network, one of many subject specialist networks that provide help and advice to UK museums.

Run by the British Museum, the Money and Medals Network promotes numismatics – the study of coins, medals, banknotes and associated objects – and enables the sharing of knowledge in this field. This exhibition will demonstrate the geographical spread of this work through of the display of objects from six participating institutions, many of which have never been loaned before.

A framed set of replica Greek coins, dating to the late 19th century, has been specially loaned from the Science Museum for the display.

In the past, the British Museum shared numismatic knowledge with other museums, in what could be seen as an early numismatic network, by making and distributing replicas of coins from its own collection. The examples chosen were considered by the Museum to be particularly fine examples of coins from different periods, and their distribution enabled other institutions to share the Museum’s collection.

The British Museum shares numismatic knowledge in different ways today, through projects like the Money and Medals Network.

Over 150 museums, country houses, libraries and universities from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are members of the Money and Medals Network. The objects in this exhibition represent the range of diverse collections that are available for visitors to UK museums to enjoy, including unusual objects such as badges, toy money and money boxes.

Exciting loans from the Magic Circle Museum will be displayed, including a Magic Money Machine which seemingly transforms a roll of blank paper into banknotes, and a boxed set of coin tricks which must be displayed closed to ensure that no secrets are revealed. The use of money in the performance of magic continues to fascinate today, demonstrating that while numismatic objects may be small, they are certainly not boring.

Representing the UK’s military museums, the exhibition will also include objects belonging to Henry Hook VC, from the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh, which have never been loaned to another museum before.

After winning the Victoria Cross for gallantry at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, Hook was helped to a position in the British Museum, dusting the books in its library collection, by a letter of recommendation written in 1881 by his former commanding officer Lord Chelmsford. This will be displayed alongside letters from John Chard and John Williams VC as well as Hook’s set of medal miniatures.

These objects illustrate Hook’s story and his connection to the British Museum, while offering a rare opportunity to see autographed letters from three important figures in the Anglo-Zulu War, which was fought between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom in 1879.

Representing Network activity in Northern Ireland are loan objects from Armagh Robinson Library, an institution founded in 1771 by Archbishop Richard Robinson. Robinson collected coins and medals and a selection of his Roman coins and replica medals of Louis XIV will be included in the display. A varied range of numismatic objects borrowed from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery will also feature in the exhibition, representing local history collections and the Network’s presence in Scotland.

Another example of the Network’s success will be told through objects from Knowsley Hall. A collection of mostly Roman coins was discovered at this Merseyside country house in 2013. This display will include a selection of coins and tokens from Knowsley and a copy of the Money and Medals newsletter that featured a request for help from local numismatists that led to the collection being fully identified and catalogued.

Money and medals: mapping the UK’s numismatic collections, sponsored by Spink, seeks to raise awareness of the work of this subject specialist network, which aims to make numismatics more accessible to museum staff and the public alike. The selection of objects on display reveals the wealth of collections held in UK museums and other public institutions.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: “The British Museum is delighted to be hosting this display, marking the beginning of a partnership with Spink. It is thanks to their generosity that we are able to bring this display to life”.

Olivier Stocker, Chairman and CEO of Spink, said: “After celebrating our 350th year of continuous business in London, we wanted to lay the foundations for our next century in Numismatics, a cornerstone of our operations globally, and this partnership with the British Museum is a natural fit towards that future. The first two exhibitions are fascinating and we cannot wait to welcome our friends and clients to the British Museum for some inspiration with the guidance of the curators from our august neighbour. It is an honour and privilege to be associated with the best museum in the world”.

Henry Flynn, exhibition curator at the British Museum, said: “The Money and Medals Network has been actively helping museums with numismatic collections since its creation in 2008. Activity has spread from England to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so it is now a truly national network. This exhibition celebrates this work as well as championing the subject of numismatics through the display of loan objects from six fantastically diverse collections. Numismatic objects may be small, but they can be used to tell big stories which is something this exhibition aims to demonstrate.”

Image: Obverse: Bronze medal depicting portrait bust of Archbishop Richard Robinson by John Kirk (1724 – 1776) after Isaac Gosset (1713 – 1799). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Admission: Free.

Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5.30pm, Friday from 10am to 8.30pm.

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


Trailer Park Boys announce September UK dates (2018)

Trailer Park Boys

Preview by Jack Foley

TRAILER Park Boys are Canada’s most beloved miscreants from a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada.

They have been making audiences laugh for the past 18 years with their madcap antics and hilarious adventures on screen.

Robb Wells (Ricky), John Paul Tremblay (Julian) and Mike Smith (Bubbles) have created loyal and loveable characters for their television series and their message has spread globally. For nearly two decades, The Boys have garnered plenty of positive press and gained a hardcore following of fans.

Now, Trailer Park Boys’ Ricky, Julian, Bubbles and Randy are coming to the UK in September with a new riotous live show that brings all the action and humour from the TV series to an army of audiences across the country.

What’s supposed to be an intimate evening with the Trailer Park Boys quickly goes off the rails when, after escaping arrest for ‘a simple misunderstanding’, the boys realize they have limited time to party before the cops inevitably track them down.

Under pressure to pack as much partying as possible into the evening, expect the boys to be at their drunkest, highest and greasiest for a hilarious night you’ll never forget!

Visiting Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall, London’s O2 Academy Brixton and Manchester’s Albert Hall, they will be creating humorous havoc in ways only they know how.

Tickets go on pre-sale on February 21 and general sale on February 23.

The dates are (all September 2018)

16 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
17 – Nottingham Concert Hall
18 – London O2 Brixton Academy
20 – Manchester Albert Hall

The Asahi Shimbun display: A revolutionary legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture

Jacob Lawrence

Exhibition preview

THE ASAHI Shimbun display at the British Museum, A revolutionary legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture, explores the legacy of the world’s first slave revolution, the Haitian Revolution, which led to the abolition of slavery and the formation of Haiti as an independent republic in 1804.

This display includes a selection of objects commemorating the man who emerged in the 1790s as the Revolution’s foremost leader: Toussaint Louverture. At the centre of the display will be a new acquisition of an imposing screenprint showing Louverture in military uniform, by the African American artist Jacob Lawrence.

Specially acquired for this display, Lawrence’s boldly-coloured image of Louverture is the first work by the artist to enter the British Museum’s collection. Artists like Lawrence emerged from the Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1930s which saw the rise of African American culture.

The history of Haiti was a touchstone in the struggle for equal rights and anti-racism. Against what he described as the ‘economic slavery’ of African Americans, Lawrence chose to honour Louverture as a powerful leader and the Haitian Revolution as an inspiring story of lasting significance.

Equally important as an example of continuing injustice for Lawrence’s contemporaries was the US occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Paired with Lawrence’s print is a Haitian Vodou boula drum (early 1900s), on display for the first time since entering the British Museum’s collection in 1930. Vodou is a diasporic religion with deep roots in West Africa. It played an important role in the Haitian Revolution by uniting diverse groups.

During the US occupation, sacred objects like this drum – which during ceremonies would have been whipped with two sticks in a continuous high-pitched rhythm to serve the spirits – were systematically suppressed. However, like Lawrence’s image of Louverture, for which the occupation formed an important context, it remains a poignant symbol of cultural resistance.

Vodou is also central to the work of Haitian-born artist and anthropologist, Gina Ulysse (b. 1966), whose poetic mixing of Vodou chant with words of anti-imperial protest can be heard in the display.

Ulysse has been specially commissioned to respond to the display and will perform at the British Museum on March 16. Her voice brings alive the urgency of the Revolution’s message and adds a contemporary layer to the responses across time presented here, including the work of the 18th century English poet William Blake, who celebrated slave revolution.

Standing alongside Blake’s poetry are heroic representations of Louverture made in London and Edinburgh in 1802.

Also on display is a newly-acquired Haitian banknote commemorating the bicentenary of Independence (2004). The banknote depicts Sanité Bélair, a woman who rose to become a lieutenant in Louverture’s army – a forceful reminder of the crucial role played in the Revolution by women, who acted as resistance fighters alongside men.

A Senegalese coin commemorating the abolition of slavery and bearing the profile image of Louverture will also be on display, together with the cover of C. L. R. James’s influential account of the Revolution, Black Jacobins. Written the year Lawrence first created his image of Louverture (1938), and reissued in 1963 during the Civil Rights movement, the message of James’s book, like that of the Revolution itself, has never been more relevant.

Bringing a variety of objects together for the first time, this display highlights the reach of the Haitian Revolution across both time and space. The words on the walls spoken or written by Louverture and other prominent figures highlight that the struggles first begun in Haiti are still crucial in our world today.

Image: Jacob Lawrence.

Dates: Thursday, February 22 to Monday, April 22, 2018.

Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm; Friday, 10am to 8.30pm.

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


RA Lates: Night at the Palace

Event preview

ON MARCH 3, 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts will become King Charles I’s Whitehall Palace re-imagined for an immersive art night to coincide with the major exhibition Charles I: King and Collector, which reunites one of the most extraordinary and influential art collections ever assembled for the first time since the 17th century.

Night at the Palace invites guests to a spectacular court festival. Visitors will be able to partake in a classical club night combining baroque, hip-hop and contemporary-classical music, visit the King’s private apartments for political gossip, experience an experiential theatrical production and dance until late to live music by the Ceilidh Liberation Front.

Dress code: Courtly Decadence (think historical opulence with a contemporary twist, don feathered collars, extravagant ruffs, lace trims, jacquard capes, neck frills and plenty of gold).


‘The Celestial Triumph’; a reimagined Court Masque

‘The Celestial Triumph’ takes inspiration from Court Masques, extravagant performances for the King and his circle that combined poetry, music, dance, theatre and painting. Audiences are invited to experience live music and ritual dances through a tale of malignant spirits who threaten to disturb the King’s peaceful rule. Interactive performances, produced by Wilson & Hart, take place in a vibrant stage set installation by art collective Abby and Alice, inspired by the glittering and lavish sets of architect and masque designer Inigo Jones.

Banqueting House

Guests are invited to dine in a banqueting hall while listening to dinner speeches about political gossip and royal scandal, including Professor Jason Peacey on revolutionary politics and print culture during the English Civil War.

Ceremonial Hall

The RA’s grand entranceway will play host to Baroque Remix, a classical club night with composer and DJ Benjamin Tassie combining baroque, hip-hop and contemporary-classical music, with live lute player accompaniment.

Revelling Rooms

The finale of Court Masques were known as the ‘revels’, with wild and energetic social dances held late into the night. Guests to the RA’s revelling room can dance to live music and sip wine and cocktails accompanied by live performances by Ceilidh Liberation Front who will lead through 17th century English country dance steps.

Great Hall

Guests are invited to sketch in a life drawing class in a Paper Theatre, hosted by Art Macabre. Models pose under a Palladian arch in masque costumes.

Queen’s Chambers

Create your own Henrietta Maria inspired ruff and bejewelled courtly accessories at this drop in activity produced by artist Neelam Rehman.


Visit the RA’s marketplace for street food, wine, themed cocktails from The Ginistry, Libation Station, Christabel’s Champage Bar, craft beer and Gosnell’s pop up mead bar.

Tickets: £35-75. Includes entry to Charles I: King and Collector (7.30pm – 10.30pm) and access to the curated programme. To book, visit

VIP offer

£75 VIP offer includes:

• A complimentary glass of champagne on arrival.
• Private access to a secret VIP lounge bar with exquisite baroque harp performances by Aileen Henry.
• Exclusive after-hours private curator’s tour of Charles I: King and Collector.

Time: 7pm – 11.45pm.

Ocean Liners: Speed & Style - V&A

Exhibition preview

UNTIL June 10, 2018, the V&A is re-imagining the golden age of ocean travel with the major new exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed & Style, sponsored by Viking Cruises.

Co-organised by the V&A in London and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, it is the first ever exhibition to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale.

It explores all aspects of ship design from ground-breaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard.

Ocean Liners: Speed & Style showcases over 250 objects, including paintings, sculpture, and ship models, alongside objects from shipyards, wall panels, furniture, fashion, textiles, photographs, posters and film. It displays objects never-before-seen in Europe, and reunites objects not seen together since on-board these spectacular vessels, which revolutionised ocean travel from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.

Highlights include a precious Cartier tiara recovered from the sinking Lusitania in 1915, as well as a panel fragment from the Titanic’s first class lounge, returning to the UK for the first time since its doomed maiden voyage in 1912.

Others include a stunning interior panel from the Smoking Room of the French liner, Normandie, created by leading Art Deco lacquer artist Jean Dunand, and Stanley Spencer’s painting ‘The Riveters’ from the 1941 series Shipbuilding on the Clyde. The Duke of Windsor’s sumptuous 1940s Goyard luggage is also on display in Europe for the first time since leaving the Windsor Estate.

As the largest machines of their age, ocean liners became powerful symbols of progress and 20th century modernity. The exhibition also features ground-breaking works by Modernist artists, designers and architects inspired by liners, including Le Corbusier, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth and Eileen Gray.

Beginning with Brunel’s steamship, the Great Eastern of 1859, the exhibition traces the design stories behind some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Beaux-Arts interiors of Kronprinz Wilhelm, Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic, to the floating Art Deco palaces of Queen Mary and Normandie, and the streamlined Modernism of SS United States and QE2.

It throws light on the famous passengers and the great couturiers who looked to ocean travel to promote their designs. On display is the Christian Dior suit worn by Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950, and a striking Lucien Lelong couture gown worn for the maiden voyage of Normandie in 1935.

The exhibition also showcases one of the most important flapper dresses in the V&A’s collection – Jeanne Lanvin’s ‘Salambo’ dress – a version of which was displayed at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. The dress belonged to Emilie Grigsby, a renowned wealthy American beauty, who regularly travelled between the UK and New York aboard the Aquitania, Olympic and Lusitania throughout the 1910s and 1920s.

Ghislaine Wood, exhibition curator, said: “The great age of ocean liners has long passed but no form of transport has been so romantic or so remarkable. Three years in the making, this exhibition will show how liners have shaped the modern world in many ways.”

Ocean Liners: Speed & Style reveals the largely forgotten history of leading artists and designers who contributed to their design, such as William De Morgan, Richard Riemerschmid, Jean Dunand, Edward Bawden and Edward Ardizzone. It also highlights the political shifts and the international rivalry that developed over 100 years, as liners became floating showcases of national ingenuity.

The exhibition considers the sociology of ships and shifting class structures on-board, as well as the democratisation of travel and development of leisure activities in the 20th century. It also investigates the shrewd promotional strategies used by shipping companies to reposition the on-board experience, as emigration gave way to aspirational travel.

The ocean liner has been appropriated into pop-culture, literature and films, including Ronald Neame’s dystopian The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), which remains one of the most successful films ever made. This, and the phenomenon of the modern cruise liner
is also be explored, demonstrating how nostalgia for the great ‘floating palaces’ of the past can still be felt today.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new V&A publication and a series of related events, courses and creative workshops.

Admission: £18 (concessions available). V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A, online at, or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies).

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL

Spring Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair 2018

Event preview

AN ORNAMENTAL Menagerie is the themed Foyer stand inspiring visitors to the Spring Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, which runs from April 17 to April 22, 2018.

The display directs a spotlight on designs, objects and works of art, taken from around the Fair, featuring creatures great and small, familiar and exotic.

Furniture decorated with carvings such as classical lions’ paws or chinoiserie Ho Ho birds; formal and folk art favouring beloved pets and domesticated beasts; decorated textiles; nostalgic toys; lamps in the form of carved or cast birds and animals – the kingdom of fauna provides truly endless possibilities, and past designers and artists have taken them all to heart.

All items offered in the Foyer display come from exhibitors and are for sale.

The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair runs three times a year in Battersea Park with more than 150 exhibitors from the UK and Europe. These specialist dealers offer a rich panoply of unusual period design, objects and 20th century classics mixed with fine and decorative antiques in a beguiling blend of splendour and surprise.

Works of art from the ancient to the contemporary, including sculpture, paintings, prints and photography, are an important element of the Fair, as befits their role in a polished interior scheme.

Of the three Decorative Fairs each year the Spring edition is the best hunting ground for garden-related decoration in metal, wood or stone, grand or practical, such as planters, urns and troughs, statuary, gates, benches, outdoor tables and re-purposed objets such as industrial metal window frames glazed with mirror. The latter make a pleasingly effective addition to smaller gardens where they create the illusion of greater space.

What makes the Decorative Fair such a delight and sets it apart from all other fairs is the creativity and inspiration of the stand displays, the relaxed and cheerful atmosphere and a thrilling element of the unexpected; you never know what you might find around each corner. From period shop signs and advertising accessories to taxidermy, objets trouvés and fossils, exhibitors have an eye for the distinctly unusual! Decoration has never been such fun.

The Fair is easily accessed from Chelsea, Sloane Square and Knightsbridge using the frequent courtesy shuttle service to the Fair from outside the Sloane Square Hotel. Delicious food at Megan’s Kitchen, a brasserie and bar, is available all day (don’t miss the teatime cakes or the reviving Bloody Marys), whilst on-site packing and shipping facilities make life easy for international and UK buyers.

Well-behaved dogs (on leads) are welcomed, so take a walk in Battersea Park and bring your dog when you shop!

Admission: £10 at the door (catalogue gives re-admission throughout the week), or register at to join the mailing list for free tickets.

Opening Times: Tuesday, 12pm – 8pm; Wednesday and Thursday, 11am – 8pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am – 7pm; Sunday, 11am – 6pm.

Battersea Evolution (The Marquee), Battersea Park, London

Strictly Come Dancing - The Professionals UK Tour

Event preview

STRICTLY Come Dancing – The Professionals is returning to venues across the country from May 2019 for a 35 date UK tour. Kicking off at The Lowry Theatre in Salford on May 3, the tour will then dance its way around the country culminating at the Sunderland Empire on June 2.

Tickets for this dance spectacular will go on sale on Thursday, February 15 at 10am.

Direct from BBC One’s award-winning prime time TV show Strictly Come Dancing, this glamorous production will bring together some of our much-loved Strictly Professional dancers as they take to the stage to dazzle with their dance prowess.

Audiences will enjoy the incredible talent of these world-class dancers as they perform exquisitely choreographed Ballroom and Latin routines with all the sequins, sparkle and stunning production values we have come to know and love!

Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals UK Tour Dates

3/5/19 – Salford Lowry, 7.30pm

4/5/19 – Salford Lowry, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

5/5/19 – Bournemouth International Centre, 7.30pm

7/5/19 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, 7.30pm

8/5/19 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, 7.30pm

9/5/19 – Llandudno Cymru, 7.30pm

10/5/19 – Edinburgh Playhouse, 7.30pm

11/5/19 – Edinburgh Playhouse, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

12/5/19 – Aberdeen ECC, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

15/5/19 – Blackpool Opera House, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

16/5/19 – Birmingham Symphony Hall, 7.30pm

17/5/19 – Birmingham Symphony Hall, 7.30pm

18/5/19 – Hammersmith Apollo, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

19/5/19 – Hull Venue, 7.30pm

21/5/19 – Portsmouth Guildhall, 7.30pm

22/5/19 – Plymouth Pavilions, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

23/5/19 – Plymouth Pavilions, 7.30pm

24/5/19 – Brighton Centre, 7.30pm

25/5/19 – Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

26/5/19 – Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, 7.30pm

28/5/19 – Liverpool Empire, 7.30pm

29/5/19 – Leeds Arena, 7.30pm

30/5/19 – Sheffield City Hall 7.30pm

31/5/19 – Sheffield City Hall, 7.30pm

01/6/19 – Sunderland Empire, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

02/6/19 – Sunderland Empire, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Official Website