“The penny has not yet dropped” says Jeremy Hunt. What IS the London 2012 Festival...?
The London 2012 Festival, contrary to what its name might suggest, is a UK-wide affair, and probably worthy of a bit of hyperbole, as the Culture Secretary pointed out this morning at the festival's press launch. In the run up to the Games, the whole country will see a range of pretty special cultural goings on. It all starts this Thursday, so we're deciphering it all for you this week, genre by genre, with our picks of the festival around the UK. Today, we start with art and literature...
Jeremy Deller - Sacrilege
21 June to 9 September
Jeremy Deller, Sacrilege, 2012. Photo: Angela Catlin
Unparalleled access to Stonehenge comes courtesy of Turner Prize-winner Jeremy Deller - in bouncy-castle form. His life-size inflatable replica (that's 35 metres wide) of the historic site, which visitors can no longer get up close to in real life, will traverse the UK to be bobbed on by children and adults. Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture Munira Mirza said today she liked it because "it's the kind of thing that keeps art critics happy, and the public happy too", neatly underlining a key appeal of artist's work. In our books this just looks fun.
We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today
2 June to 16 September
Various locations, Manchester
Design for Ensemble 2012, by Meschac Gaba
The UK art scene is global in flavour already, but this Manchester focus on West African art and music should prove seriously interesting. Exhibits at the Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and the Gallery of Costume and The National Football Museum feature a huge number of artists, including El Anatsui ex-mason Hamidou Maiga, and Meschac Gaba. Musical input from Femi Kuti and others shouldn't be missed either.
Richard Wilson: Hang On A Minute Lads, I've Got A Great Idea...
7 July to 1 October
The creator of 20:50, the impressive oil piece (and only permanent installation the Saatchi has ever shown), artist Richard Wilson heads to Bexhill with a new spectacle of a work. Immortalising the final words spoken by Michael Caine at the end of The Italian Job, it entails a full-size replica coach balanced precariously on the edge of the De La Warr Pavillion roof. An excellent excuse to get to this modernist gem of a gallery.
Martin Creed - All the Bells
8.12 am, 27 July
More minimalism with a twinkle from the British contemporary artist. Otherwise known as Work No. 1197, its description "All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes" pretty much says it all. Church, bicycle and even downloadable bells all count, and everyone and anyone can take part. Choose carefully where you'll be for this one, and bring your watch.
Other art highlights include a football pitch in a Scottish forest, cosmology and sci-fi in Shezad Dawood's show Piercing Brightness, a "simulation" about power by John Gerrard (you might have to go to it to find out what that means) featuring Olympic athletes in the desert and staged in an old power station.
26 June to 1 July
The Southbank Centre, London
Here's a literary event of truly Olympic proportions; the poetic prelude (pun intended) to the Games features one poet from every country engaging in a spot of competiton themselves. In practical terms, that's 204 poets, and a chance to hear poems in over 50 languages, with a variety of hands-on workshops too.
Highlights are many, and while there are ‘big names' taking part - e.g. Ireland's Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney - many events are free, so we're embracing the diversity of what's on. ‘Poetry from the Balkans' on 29 June, ‘Celebrating the Experimental & Avant Garde' on 30 June and the adult-only ‘Erotica: The Art of Seduction' on 28 June all caught our eye. Further recommendation comes from co-organiser Simon Armitage, who has said "my hunch is that this will be the biggest poetry event ever."
For a full line-up of poets, events and to book click here.
Don DeLillo's The Word for Snow
10 July to 12 July
The Southbank Centre, London
A rare and exciting chance for some DeLillo theatrics. This is the first ever European staging of an unpublished one-act play by one of America's greatest contemporary writers, author of White Noise and Cosmopolis. About a meeting between a pilgrim and scholar, it looks at climate change and should prove a philosophical high point of the London Literature Festival (of which it is also a part).
19 to 22 July
Various locations, UK
Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland. Photo: Anthony Armstrong-Sly
Frequently collaborators, director Deborah Warner and actress Fiona Shaw are behind this seaside affair. Peace Camp takes place at various coastal locations and is inspired by the Olympic Truce, an ancient Greek tradition of worldwide armistice during the Games. It honours the best of both our nation's love poetry and natural vistas, and visitors can nominate or record lines of verse online for installations in the illuminated tents, and enjoy visits to the sites between dusk and dawn.
For the full London 2012 Festival programme, click here.
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- Opera & Dance