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Review of the year 2015: arts

01 January 2016

Icons of freedom: children perform in The Great Charter, a community opera for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, at Durham Cathedral

Icons of freedom: children perform in The Great Charter, a community opera for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, at Durham Cathedral

AT THE start of the year, it was reported that a faculty had been refused for the sale of a valuable painting, a Deposition from the workshop of Pieter Coecke, at Hexham Abbey. The people of St John the Baptist’s, Tunstall, discovered, through a BBC programme, that they also had a Deposition valued at more than £100,000. The Kiss of Judas, c.1460, was bought from St Mary’s, Grafton Regis, and restored, by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

New work in churches covered by the Church Times during the year included a font cover for Iffley Parish Church by Roger Wagner and Nicholas Mynheer; an episcopal throne for Leicester Cathedral (Draisci Studio), as well as the new space and tombstone for the remains of Richard III (van Heyningen & Haward); and a Winston Churchill memorial window (50 years after his death) at St Martin’s, Bladon, by Emma Blount.

Exhibitions of contemporary art included work by Paul Martin and Idris Murphy (Warburton Gallery, Edinburgh); “The Bridge” (multifaith peacebuilding, St Martin-in-the-Fields), “This is Me” (artists with brain injuries, St Paul’s Cathedral), “The Twelve” (St Michael’s, Discoed), “Stations of the Cross” (St Marylebone), Adam Boulter (St Margaret’s, Westminster), Jean Lamb (Coventry Cathedral), “Still Small Voice” (The Wilson, Cheltenham), María Inés Aguirre (St Stephen Walbrook, London), Carl Jaycock (St Mary’s, Shrewsbury), Peter Eugene Ball (Christ Church, Oxford), Maciej Urbanek (St Michael’s, Camden), Jake Lever (Birmingham Cathedral), and David Mach (Chester Cathedral).

There was a toast Madonna (Adam Sheldon), a teabag altar frontal (Wendy Shaw), and a cheese nativity scene (Prudence Staite).

The Church Times noted a rehang at Guildhall in London, and the new Waddesdon Bequest gallery at the British Museum, which also had two exhibitions of particular interest, “Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs” and “Celts: Art and Identity”.

Among others were the Moroni and Rubens shows at the Royal Academy; Blake and “Titian to Canaletto” at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Gherardo delle Notti (Uffizi, Florence), British Spanish Civil War artists (Laing, Newcastle), Velázquez (Grand Palais, Paris), Stanley Spencer (Cookham), Eric Ravilious (Dulwich), “Soundscapes” and Goya’s portraits (National Gallery), Cornelius Johnson (National Portrait Gallery), Barbara Hepworth (Tate Britain), “Glimpses of Glory” (Hereford), Lynn Chadwick and Geoffrey Clarke (Pangolin, London), David Jones (Pallant House), and “Divine Beauty” (Strozzi, Florence).

The Magna Carta anniversary was marked by exhibitions in Salisbury, Hereford, the British Library, and elsewhere, and a community opera The Great Charter by Timothy Craig Harrison (Durham Cathedral).

Other operas and musicals reviewed included Between Worlds by Tansy Davies (ENO), Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah (Grange Park Opera), Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco (Buxton Festival), Wild Men (Bristol Cathedral), Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour by Lee Hall (National Theatre of Scotland), The Tree of War (St Nicholas’s, Burnage), and a staging of Handel’s oratorio Saul (Glyndebourne and touring).

New music included In Paradisum by Emily Levy, Ave Maria by Hilary Campbell (Merton, Oxford), Missa Brevis Christina of Markyate by Joanna Marsh (St Albans Abbey); A Cornish Requiem (Requiem Kernewek) by Jamie Brown (Voices of London Festival), Eventide by Patrick Hawes (London première), St Luke Passion by James MacMillan (British première), Agincourt 600 by Richard Brown (St George the Martyr, Borough), Patricius by Jonathan Rathbone (St Mary’s, Walthamstow) and Evening Service in F (All Saints’, Blackheath).

Theatre included The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard (NT); Inigo by Jonathan Moore; The Devil’s Passion by Justin Butcher; Temple by Steve Waters; Everyman, adapted by Carol Ann Duffy; The Heresy of Love by Helen Edmundson; The Christians (Gate Theatre, London); The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, by Jo Clifford (Edinburgh Fringe), Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me) (touring), and Eventide by Barney Norris (touring).

An Eastern Three Choirs Festival was launched in Lincoln.

Notable performances of older works included Spohr’s The Last Judgement (Oxford Harmonic Choir); at the BBC Proms, Belshazzar’s Feast by Walton, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and (first Proms performance) Vaughan Williams’s Sancta Civitas; William Mathias’s Lux Aeterna (Three Choirs, Hereford), Alexander Striggio’s Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno, and the Berlioz Requiem (Edinburgh Festival), and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (at both the Three Choirs and the Proms).

New films included Unbroken, Trash, Selma, The Turning, Snow in Paradise, The Face of an Angel, The Falling, Two by Two (animation), The Priest’s Children, Second Coming, Going Clear (a Scientology documentary), Irrational Man, Captive, By Our Selves (about John Clare), Hard to Be a God, Black Mass, Sunset Song, and Pasolini.

Sam Smith recorded part of his video for the song “Lay me down” in St Margaret’s, Lee; and there was a new album from the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, Beauty Will Save the World.

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