Culture Diary w/c 16-12-2019

Our pick of this week’s arts, design, film and music events from around the North of England and the rest of the UK – and loads of it’s free!

Monday – Perfume Stories from 1pm @ Tate Liverpool – FREE

In a hierarchy of the senses – not something one usually thinks about, so casually, foolishly, are they taken for granted – smell might come a poor fifth. But Perfume Stories, part of an ongoing research project by LJMU’s Michael O’Shaughnessy, puts it front and centre in a series of workshops convened to unlock stories and memories through the sense of smell. Running from today, Perfume Stories concludes on Friday with a talk exploring scent in relation to art, literature and synaesthesia.

Tuesday – Scrooged 5.30pm @ Manchester Central Library – £5

Is it even Christmas if you haven’t fought back the tears to the closing scene of Scrooged? Updating Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, this 1988 adaptation casts Bill Murray in the role of Frank Cross, a cynical and near terminally ambitious TV exec. His life of selfishness has cost him his family and his love – played winningly as ever by Karen Allen (swoon). Things get dark (Roger Ebert called it “one of the most disquieting, unsettling films to come along in quite some time”), but there is light at the end of the tunnel and laughs along the way. No matter our familiarity with versions of the story – we know how it goes, but that’s hardly the point – Scrooged is on my Christmas list every year.


Wednesday – Retraced 81/19 – John Davies 6pm @ Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool – FREE

John Davies’ new book, Retraced 81/19, does what it says on the tin, pulling together ‘before and after’ photographs made at the same locations in England (in this case Liverpool, above), Wales, France and Germany between 1981 and 2019. The remarkable thing is the extent to which landscapes – and therefore the things and people in proximity to them – change. As Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum has said: “These pictures represent a human story of effort and achievement but also the many, often untold, histories of conflict and exploitation.” Catch Davies at the book’s launch this evening.

Patrick Staff: ON VENUS, STILL 6.45pm @ ICA, London – £7

An evening of screenings, music and readings awaits at ON VENUS, STILL, as artist Patrick Staff and their invited peers address ‘a queer state of being that is volatile and in constant metamorphosis’. Programmed in conjunction with the Serpentine, where Staff’s site-specific installation On Venus is currently on display, alongside Staff’s own, expect work from Toshio Matsumoto, Johanna Hedva, Sandra Lahire, Dylan Mira and Ivan Unwin.


Thursday – Queer/Nature: What is ‘natural’ anyway? 6.30pm @ The Portico Library, Manchester – £5

It pays to ask the question “what is natural?” This is also the subtitle for a screening of short films, each of them exploring the often-artificial boundaries drawn between what we perceive to be normal and otherwise. Looking at ecologies and landscape through a queer lens, films in the programme – from Edgar Pêra, Jorge Jácome, Sadé Mica, Maryna Makarenko, Flóra Anna Buda and Jem Cohen – address and celebrate the sometimes superficial lines separating human and nature, male and female and, of course, the natural and the unnatural.

Friday – Access Private View: William Blake 6pm @ Tate Britain, London – £18

Including an audio described tour and sign language tour, this outside of ordinary opening hours event opens up Tate Britain’s William Blake exhibition to Blind, Partially Sighted, and Deaf visitors. Blake, correctly described as a visionary today was, “in his own time,” says Liz Mitchell, “an oddity, an outcast whose weird nightmare visions put him beyond the pale of the Academy”. And, she continues, “[his work] is mighty strange.” Mitchell was responding to Blake’s 2016 Tate Liverpool presentation (in a display alongside Tracey Emin). This exhibition seeks to reposition Blake as “a visual artist for the 21st century”.

Forest, Yan Wang Preston

Saturday – Cabin in the Sky 3.40pm @ Home Manchester – £7.50

Part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, 1943’s Cabin in the Sky (trailer, top) is that rare thing – a Hollywood film whose cast is entirely made up of people of colour. It stands as a remarkable statement today – the same year saw rioting in Detroit, owing to racism, poor living conditions and general inequality. Director Vincente Minnelli’s first feature, it follows the same Faust template as the hit Broadway production from which it was adapted, and stars Ethel Waters, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson and Lena Horne. Supported by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and his orchestra, Cabin in the Sky earned rave reviews, suggesting audiences – then and, indeed, now – are often more complex than they’re given credit for.

Sunday – Exhibition Closing: LOOK Photo Biennial @ venues across Liverpool – FREE

The final day of this year’s LOOK Photo festival, which has focused on international dialogue with a specific emphasis on UK and China (current events makes it a fascinating lens through which to view the relationship). From venues including St George’s Hall and the Open Eye Gallery, PEER TO PEER has been ‘a major new exhibition bringing together 14 rising artists from the UK and China, selected by 14 leading curators around the world’. Catch it while you can.

Mike Pinnington

Images/media from top: Cabin in the Sky (trailer); photograph from Retraced 81/19 © John Davies; film still © Jorge Jácome (and home page); photograph from Forest series © Yan Wang Preston

Posted on 16/12/2019 by thedoublenegative