Review: Sin at The Arc, Winchester

Is sin even a thing in today’s mad, mad world? Where the word ‘sorry’ is flung about with thoughtless abandon and the sense that it grants instant absolution, does a speck of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, or sloth still keep us awake at night?

A new exhibition opened this week exploring depictions of ‘sinful’ behaviour through religious and secular art. The small but beautifully curated show features eight historic works from the National Gallery, and two contemporary works on loan from artists Tracey Emin and Ron Mueck. The exhibition offers the chance to get up and close and personal with iconic works in an intimate setting.

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Reopening this summer: National Portrait Gallery

In 2020, Sir Paul McCartney unearthed a treasure trove in his own archive. Almost a thousand personal photographs taken on his 35mm camera between 1963-64, when Beatlemania went global, goes on show at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.

Following the British band’s very first visit to the USA the four lads from Liverppol were metamorphosed into the most recognisable people on Earth. And this phenomenon took place in a pre-digital world. The previously unseen photography was taken in six cities, Liverpool, London, Paris, New York, Washington D.C and Miami, and reveals the reality behind the making of four music legends. What was it really like to be a Beatle, or indeed a global celebrity in the Swinging Sixties?

This week the Gallery announced a new programme for 2023. Read on for the treats in store when the gallery once again throws open its doors on 22 June 2023, following the largest redevelopment in its history.

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Review: Spain and the Hispanic World

Starting off the year as I mean to go on, I visited the first major exhibition of 2023 which opened in London this weekend. Over 150 items arranged chronologically, from antiquity to early 20th Century, provide a visual narrative of the history of Spanish culture. On display at Spain and the Hispanic World: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library at the Royal Academy, are pieces from the New York museum presented for the first time in the UK.

Favourite pieces included a Map of the Ucayali River, which brought to mind the Bayeaux Tapestry, with its delightful borders featuring fishermen, flora and fauna; the rather gruesome The Four Fates of Man; and the life-sized Duchess of Alba, in all her magnificent glory.

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Review: 878 AD a new App. by creators of Assassin’s Creed

If you were a Time Traveller where would you transport to? A new App. 878 AD launched this week and aims to re-create a significant moment in English history. After years of repeated attacks by the Vikings, in 878 AD King Alfred finally defeated the Great Heathen Army at Edington in Wiltshire, close to his army’s winter quarters. His success would mark the beginning of a strategy to position himself as not only ruler of Wessex but a united England. The rest, as they say, is history.

Imagine Anglo Saxon Winchester, the capital of King Alfred’s kingdom on the eve of battle where the people await news from the battlefield that will impact their daily lives (already devastated by years of Viking attacks) and the destiny of England itself. 878 AD features two parts; a new physical experience – a mini-museum – featuring live performances by actors, displays of rare Anglo Saxon objects and video imagery. Secondly, an interactive App. to download with a special code to access an immersive tour of the city using geo tracking. Create ‘memories’ from different locations and be rewarded with more content.

878 AD is a collaboration between Hampshire Culture Trust, Ubisoft, the creators behind the highly sucessful game Assassin’s Creed®, and Sugar Creative, a leading UK tech innovation studio. Advisor to the project is Ryan Lavelle, Professor of Early Medieval History and advisor to Netflix blockbuster, The Last Kingdom.

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This week… balloons, bobbins and The Blitz

Summer’s over, hello autumn. September is a glorious month with nature turning slowly into golden chestnut and mellow amber. Every acorn and conker bring a sense of childhood delight and the promise of dark twinkling skies, cosy casserole suppers, and earthy red wines.

That sense of the seasons turning is so evocative. In autumn it’s the ‘back to school’ feeling of anticipation and excitement that we enjoy. It’s a part of our DNA. We are intimately connected to nature and at a primal level the sensuous changes that each season brings makes us feel alive.

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Review: Out Of The Blue at The Arc

In the beginning there was Terence Conran, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Mary Quant, to name but a few of the innovative mid-century designers, and Tricia Guild. The Designers Guild began in 1970 with Guild opening in a small section of a shop in Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1974. It quickly became synonymous with cutting-edge design, the brand a byword for stylish living. The Guild’s fabrics were decidedly covetable and bestowed a certain je ne sais quoi.

Out Of The Blue, exploring the Designers Guild, first debuted at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London in February 2020 and subsequently closed due to the pandemic. The good news is that the exhibition, showcasing several exhibits not previously displayed, opened last week at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester.

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Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women

The biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women makes me wish I was talented artistically. Not only does the winner get to spend time in Reggio Emilia, Catania and Rome, researching classical mythology, but also explore textile craftsmanship, permaculture and the myriad historic sites and institutions. Having minored in Classical Studies at University, six months spent in this way sounds to me like the quintessential gift from the gods.

Emma Talbot is the winner of the 8th Max Mara Prize which began in 2005 and supports UK-based female artists, and specifically those who have not previously had a major solo show. The award presents the opportunity for a fully-funded, bespoke Italian residency, followed by a solo exhibition of a new body of work, both in the UK and Italy.

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Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood

Maybe it’s the non-stop disturbing news from around the world, or the long dark winter and the recent wild storms (including Storm Eunice which carried a Red Alert warning) but I just haven’t been feeling the love. The year has felt slow in getting started.

This week I visited a new exhibition at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester, to explore the work of Eric Ravilious. It is the first time I have experienced Ravilious’ work up close. A display of stunning woven textiles by weaver, Deirdre Wood outside The Gallery was an added bonus. The intensity of colourful art proved inspirational and I’m back at my laptop with the first blog in a few weeks.

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Paul Joyce exhibition

Review. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind The Lens

What did Paul Joyce, filmmaker, writer, photographer and painter, make of Jane Fonda? Why did Joyce and David Hockney fall out? And which of his photographs did Sophia Loren choose as a personal gift?

Paul Joyce (credits include director and producer of four series of Dr Who, 1981) spent his childhood in Winchester so it seems entirely fitting that a city gallery is hosting an exhibition celebrating his life and work, now in his 80th year. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind the Lens features a selection of well-known faces, as well as photographic landscape works and paintings from the past five decades. Many images are accompanied by some blunt commentary from Joyce.

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Review. Frans Hals: The Male Portrait at the Wallace Museum

A stunning new display of over 12 works by Frans Hals, one of the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age, offers a unique perspective on 17th century masculinity and sense of style. In a breakaway from the male gaze upon the female form, Hals fixes his painterly eye upon his male contemporaries. The portraits are displayed against a dark background, with subtle gallery lighting except for spotlights on each painting. It is a sexy, elegant and theatrical setting, and I fell in love with every single one.

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