Review of the Year 2019: Arts

by
20 December 2019

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in this year’s film The Two Popes

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in this year’s film The Two Popes

THE 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci were marked in 2019. “Leon­ardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing” was staged at Buckingham Palace, with works also displayed around the country; and Cecilia McDowall’s Da Vinci Requiem, com­­­missioned by Wimbledon Choral Society, was performed at the Royal Festival Hall, in London.

John Ruskin’s bicentenary fell this year, and exhibitions were held in London (Two Temple Place) and Sheffield (Millennium Gallery).

Other exhibitions in­­cluded “Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms” (Brit­­ish Library); the Assyrian exhibition, and Rembrandt prints (British Mu­seum), and “Rembrandt’s Light” (Dulwich Picture Gallery); “The Renaissance Nude” (Royal Acad­emy); “Magic Realism” (Tate Modern); “Van Gogh and Britain” and William Blake (Tate Britain); Elizabethan miniatures (National Portrait Gallery); “Medieval Art in England” (Sam Fogg); “Art, Faith and Modernity” (London and Liverpool Cathedral); “The Last Supper” (artefacts from Pompeii, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford); and Philip de László (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest).

The Cast Court at the Victoria & Albert Museum impressed our re­­viewer after its refurbishment, and “Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation”, a permanent exhibition, opened at Winchester Cathedral.

Among contemporary artists, Bill Viola had an exhibition in which his works were paired with drawings by Michelangelo at the Royal Academy. Others who exhibited were John Kirby (Flowers Gallery); Alison Clark (Southwark Cathedral); Mary Flitcroft (Sarum College); Alys Tomlinson (Hackelbury Fine Art); Bettina Furnée (St Andrew’s, Kingston, Cambridgeshire); Victoria Crowe (City Art Centre, Edinburgh); Jacqui Parkinson (Southwell Minster); and Celia Paul (Victoria Miro, London).

New musical works reviewed for the Church Times included Alec Roth’s A Time to Be Born and a Time to Die (Ex Cathedra, Birming­ham); Robert Newton’s The Crown of Thorns (Christ Church, Linton); Richard Blackford’s Pietà (Poole); James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony, Le grand Inconnu (Edinburgh Festival and London); Bob Chilcott’s Christmas Oratorio (Three Choirs, Gloucester); and John Luther Adams’s In the Name of the Earth (BBC Proms). A recording, “Will Todd, Passion Music, Jazz Missa Brevis”, was issued.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonA view of the Cast Court at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Notable performances included Mendelssohn’s Christus (St Mary’s, Warwick); Berlioz’s Requiem (St Paul’s); Théodore Dubois’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour Christ from the Cross (Holy Trinity, Cookham); Parry’s Judith (Royal Festival Hall); Handel’s Athalia (Sheldonian Theatre); Jean Lang­lais’s Messe Solennelle (St James the Greater, Leicester); Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust and Holst’s The Mystic Trumpeter (Three Choirs, Gloucester); Howard Blake’s Bene­dictus (St Albans Abbey); Dussek’s Mass in G (Barbican Hall, London); Zelenka’s Missa Dei Patris (Brecon Baroque Festival).

Multitude of Voyces, Volume 1: Anthology of sacred music by women composers, was launched at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Among staged or semi-staged musical per­­formances reviewed were The Telling’s Vision: The imagined testimony of Hildegard of Bingen (touring) and Into the Melting Pot (Liverpool Early Music Festival); the musicals Come From Away by Irene Sankoff and David Hein (Phoenix Theatre, London) and James Cary’s A Turbulent Priest (touring); Helen Edmundson’s Coram Boy (Glouces­ter Cathedral); Bare: A pop opera by Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hart­mere (The Vaults, London); Stephen Dodgson’s Margaret Catchpole (Snape Maltings); Stephen McNeff’s The Burning Boy (Three Choirs, Glou­cester); Bohuslav Martinů’s The Greek Passion (Opera North).

Other drama reviewed included Bruce Norris’s Downstate (National Theatre); Pat Ashworth’s Not Just Fish and Ships (touring); Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana (Noël Coward Theatre); David Baddiel’s God’s Dice (Soho Theatre); Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (Piccadilly Theatre); and Emlyn Williams’s The Wind of Heaven (Finborough Theatre).

Among the films reviewed were The Favourite; Mary Queen of Scots; The Image Book; On Her Shoulders; Bergman: A year in a life; All Is True; Boy Erased; Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno; At Eternity’s Gate; Let There Be Light; Tolkien; Memories of Fr Bill Kirkpatrick and Scenes from the Life of a Priest; Amazing Grace; Inquiring Nuns; Dirty God; Prophecy; Pavarotti; The Last Tree; The Pilgrim’s Progress; Corpus Christi; Sorry We Missed You; The Two Popes; The Biggest Little Farm.

In the Art and Christianity awards, Stephen Owen won the category for permanent works of art with his carved altar and lectern for Guildford Baptist Church; Jake Lever won the category for tempor­ary installations or exhibitions for his 2015-16 installation, Soul Boats, at Birmingham Cathedral; and Ittai Weinryb won the book award for Agents of Faith: Votive objects in time and place (Yale).

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