MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, Fri 1 Feb – Sun 14 July
I have great memories of taking my family to William Morris’s house in Gloucestershire and having them all sit outside glumly for an hour proclaiming it the most boring thing ever while I drooled over the textiles and furniture. Ah, happy days! Anyway, this exhibition focuses on how the Thames influenced Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxfordshire, where he loved to boat and fish, ergo the influence of the river in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics.
ART: Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, Thurs 7 Feb – Sun 9 Jun & Gin Tasting with Private View, Wed 13 Feb
Behemoth of the contemporary art world, Jeff Koons is curating his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings. This is going to be a popular exhibition but you can see it without the crowds at the Love Your Gin event on Wed 13 Feb. Enjoy guided tastings of Ashmolean gin, tapas and live music after a wander around the exhibition. Tickets are on sale now.
MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 9, Sun 10 & Thurs 21 Feb
Mozart, Oxford Phil, Sheldonian Theatre – perfection right there. Vilde Frang plays the violin and Lawrence Power on the viola in a range of compositions from his Symphony No. 35 and 41, plus Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E flat major. Meanwhile On Sun 10 Feb, the three finalists of the Oxfordshire Junior Concerto Competition will battle it out with a concerto of their choice in their bid to be crowned winner.
EXHIBITION: Antinous: Boy Made God, The Ashmolean, Oxford, until Sun 24 Feb
Boy favourite of Emperor Hadrian, Antinous drowned in the Nile in AD 130 and so began his elevation to god-like status. Hadrian created a city in his name, Antinoopolis, in Egypt and busts and statues were made and spread throughout the empire. More than 80 survive to this day and you can view some of them at this fascinating exhibition ending later this month.
KIDS: Half-term at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Sat 16 – Sun 24 Feb
As always Waddesdon is on it for half term with one day family cookery lessons (lunch and sweet/savoury treats to take home); Orienteering challenges round the grounds – with medals! Plus guided tours of the gardens (that one’s for you, the kids won’t give a chuff).
EXHIBITION: Turner, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Sat 16 Feb – Mon 22 Apr
The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective takes place in Blenheim’s Gallery with works from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections. The exhibition celebrates some of his earliest commissions and shows his progress in depicting architecture and perspective in drawings, paintings and engravings from the 1780s – 1810s. You can also see one of Turner’s sketchbooks and some diagrams from a lecture he gave to the Royal Academy on perspective, which have rarely been exhibited before. Between Thurs 21 – Sun 24 Feb, the Cotswolds Art and Antique Dealers Association Fair also rocks up with over 30 dealers selling the very best furniture, pictures, silver, sculpture, carpets, jewellery. Prices start around £100 and you can imagine where they’ll end up!
CIRCUS: Chinese New Year Circus, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 18 Feb
If you’ve never seen Chinese acrobats, then this is a must-see. They are A-MA-ZING! This colourful show with daring stunts and an 18 metre long dragon dance will see you celebrating Chinese New Year in style.
THEATRE: To Kill a Mocking Bird, Milton Keynes Theatre, Mon 18 – Sat 23 Feb
This production by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has been sold out wherever it goes so grab tickets while you can. Described as charming, warm and heartfelt, this stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic tale of southern US racial injustice is still as poignant today as it ever was.
THEATRE: Blood Brothers, Wycombe Swan, Tues 19 – Sat 23 Feb
A stalwart of the touring musicals scene, and still going after 30 years, Blood Brothers clearly has something going very right for it. The show tells the story of twins separated at birth and brought up on different sides of the tracks.When they eventually meet, the consequences are far-reaching. What, is Mr Tickle in the play too? (*I’ll get my coat*).
KIDS: Illusion Confusion with Tweedy, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, Sat 23 Feb
I’m totally obsessed with Tweedy the clown, Gifford’s Circus’ undoubted talisman. Here he is in his own hilarious show at the charming Pegasus Theatre. Having been a magician’s assistant in the past, Tweedy decides he wants to be the main man but his attempts at magic go horribly wrong. Bound to be brilliant.
THEATRE: Trial by Laughter, Milton Keynes Theatre, Mon 25 Feb – Sun 2 Mar
Ian Hislop’s The Wipers Times went down well with the critics so he and his writing partner, Nick Newman, have once again created a new play based on real life events. Trial by Laughter tells the tale of a satirist called William Hone who was tried in 1817 for blasphemy and libel. Clearly something close to Hislop’s heart so it’ll be interesting to see his take on this true story.
COMEDY: Andrew Bird, The Potters Arms, Amersham, Thurs 28 Feb
Currently supporting Michael McIntyre and previously Rob Brydon on tour, Andrew Bird is making quite the name for himself and he’s in our ‘hood. You also get a main meal included in the ticket price so trot along to The Potters Arms for a fun bargain night out.
FESTIVAL: Oxford International Women’s Festival, Thurs 28 Feb – Sun 17 Mar
A series of events celebrating women’s successes, strengths and solidarity. This year’s theme is We Will Survive and Thrive and there will be a panel on International Women’s Day on 8 Mar to talk about their experiences around this theme. Guests so far confirmed are Eleanor Smith, MP for Wolverhampton, and Margaret Greer, Unison National Officer for Black Members. Festival events include screenings, talks, workshops, theatre and networking events. Check out the full programme here.
COMEDY: Stephen Bailey, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Thurs 28 Feb
Stephen Bailey is performing his stand up show, Our Kid, full of northern warmth, at The Stables as part of his UK tour. He’s recently been on tour with the brilliant Katherine Ryan (is he ever at home?) and has spent a season at the prestigious Soho Theatre in London so he’s definitely one to watch.
ART: Spring Show, Carina Haslam Art, Great Missenden, Thurs 28 Feb – Sat 2 Mar
If you’re contemplating buying some new art, Carina Haslam’s Spring Show is a great place to start. New and existing artists are on display from Feb 28 (drinks 7- 9.30pm to open the exhibition) until Mar 3 when they’ll be packed up ready for London’s Affordable Art Fair in Battersea (7 – 10 Mar). And on that note, Muddy readers can get free tickets to the Affordable Art Fair by emailing Carina Haslam here!
BOOK NOW: AniMalcolm, Aylesbury Waterside, Wed 6 – Thurs 7 Mar
Get booking now for Story Pocket Theatre’s dramatisation of Brit comic and award winning children’s author David Baddiel’s AniMalcolm. The show uses physical theatre and live puppetry to tell the comical tale of Malcolm, a boy who hates animals, as he inhabits the bodies of several farm creatures on a school trip.
Get tickets here
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 2 Feb
This is going to be maaassive! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. The exhibition is based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and there’s a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.
EXHIBITION: Don McCullin Photography, Tate Britain, Sun 3 Feb – Mon 6 May & Dorothea Tanning Exhibition, Wed 27 Feb to Sun Jun 9
Over 250 photographs spanning Don McCullin’s 6o year career are on display at Tate Britain and include his iconic war images, including Vietnam, Northern Island and Syria, as well as some of his work focussing on poverty in England. At the end of the month, Tate Modern is showing over 100 works by Dorothea Tanning, from her 7 decade career as a surrealist artist. And don’t forget the Tate Late session at the Tate Modern on Fri 22 Feb when you can wander the galleries after hours and listen to talks, music and workshops.
THEATRE: The Winter’s Tale for Young Audiences, National Theatre, London, Wed 6 – Thurs 21 Feb
This is a great way to introduce primary-age children to Shakespeare (and it’s only an hour long). The Winter’s Tale, the story of Perdita, the girl who was once lost but is found, returns to the National Theatre in February 2019, following a sell-out run at the Dorfman Theatre last year. Adapted by Justin Audibert and directed by Ruth Mary Johnson, the show is also touring round primary schools in Greater London.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
SUPPER CLUB: Sneaky Supper Club, Isis Farmhouse, Oxford, Fri 1 Feb
We love a supper club at Muddy and the Sneaky Supper Club’s Doombuster event at the charming and rustic Isis Farmhouse looks rather spesh (fingers crossed you can get there through the snow!). The menu includes Jerusalem artichoke soup, pork and ricotta ravioli, seared mackerel, duck with a port sauce and a pear meringue tart to finish. They’re happy to accommodate any dietary foibles if you let them know in advance.
KIDS: The Cat In The Hat, Aylesbury Waterside, until Sun 3 Feb 2019
I’m liking the quirky mayhem of this production. The team behind The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine return to the Aylesbury Waterside with Dr Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat. The classic picture book is retold with original songs, circus skills and some seriously groovy staging. For children 3+.
COMEDY: Suzi Ruffell, Nocturnal, The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Fri 1 Feb
Well-known on the comedy circuit and for cropping up on shows such as Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo, Suzi Ruffell’s show has had critics raving. Confident, energetic and described as a female Lee Evans (a good or bad thing? discuss), her show is all about anxiety with a good dollop of sexual politics thrown in.
DANCE: Spanish Night, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sat 2 Feb
Dream of sunnier climes with Cornerstone’s popular Spanish Night. Flamenco Express are the Flamenco company in the UK, flying in top artists for each show from Spain. Dancers La Joaquina from Madrid and gypsy singer, Juan Jose Suarez from Extremadura, are joined by guitarist Chris Clavo for the show. Get swigging the sangria, and harness your inner senorita.
KIDS: Swan Lake Workshop, Milton Keynes Theatre, Bucks, Sat 2 Feb
A must-do for any aspiring ballet dancer aged 9 – 12 in your midst – a dance based workshop involving creative exercises and games drawing on the themes of Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed production. Renowned for shocking the ballet world with his all male corps de ballet, Bourne’s Swan Lake is my favourite ballet ever (close second? The Car Man, also by Bourne). If you have any boys in your family claiming that ballet is only for girls, this will certainly put them straight.
MUSICAL: Dirty Dancing, Wycombe Swan, Mon 4 – Sat 9 Feb
Need I say more? I saw Dirty Dancing last year with my mum and we absolutely *loved* it. It’s like seeing an old friend, they really don’t mess with the film version at all, and the only squeamish moment from memory was the sex scene – zipped along on the big screen but my god it felt like a long time being a voyeur in the theatre! Anyway, Johnny this time round is Michael O’Reilly, previously a dancer with Matthew Bourne and also, titillatingly, one of the Magic Mike performers on The X Factor. Bring your watermelons – apparently overwhelmed women have been throwing them at him!
THEATRE: Art, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 4 Feb – Sat 9 Feb
Can it really be 20 years since Art first swaggered into London theatres? It’s won practically every luvvie award and is still a magnet for actors – Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tomkinson are all big name catches for this touring show. Themes of prejudice, tolerance and friendship are beautifully handled in Yasmina Reza’s play.
SUPER CLUB: Food in the Nude, Tap Social Movement, Oxford, Tues 5 Feb & Anti-Valentine’s Tapas, Claytons Marlow, Thurs 14 Feb
Food in the nude? In this weather?! Botley’s hippest hangout Tap Social in collaboration with supperclub supremos Native Feasts and naturist group Dine Naked Oxford (yep, it’s a real thing) will be serving up a four course, locally sourced menu for £25, including roasted winter veg chaat, homemade hummus and confit duck, washed down with the venue’s brewed-on-site beer. And diners will be totally nekkid. I’d like to say I’ll go down to review but…. um. If you’d rather keep it all under wraps, there’s an anti-Valentine’s Tapas Feast at Claytons Marlow on Feb 14 with cocktails and live music. And clothes!
MUSIC: Chiltern Arts Festival, various locations, Sat 9 – Sat 16 Feb
World class musicians are descending on various venues in Bucks and Herts with a series of concerts to delight music lovers. The programme includes renowned pianist Steven Osborne playing Prokofiev, Debussy and Schubert, celebrated baritone Roderick Williams in a performance of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook, and an opening programme by the City of London Sinfonia inspired by the orchestra’s London series, entitled Bach and the Cosmos.
SHOPPING: Artisan Food Market, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Sat 9 Feb
Supporting local small-scale independent producers, the Waddesdon Artisan Food Market takes place in the visitors’ car park every second Saturday of each month and is a great spot to pick up some delish dishes and ingredients you won’t find in a supermarket. Come prepared – cash only.
ART: Ruskin 200 Drawing Weekend, Museum of Natural History, Oxford, Sat 9 – Sun 10 Feb
Launching its Ruskin 200 Drawing Competition, the museum is bringing in artists and laying on free materials for the artistically inclined to get creative, using the museum’s collections and the buildings as inspiration to celebrate 200 years of John Ruskin.
COMEDY: Mandy Muden Cunning Stunts, Old Town Hall, Wycombe Swan, Sun 10 Feb
We met Mandy when she was in Panto last year (read our interview here) and she’s returning to the Wycombe Swan for her own brand new show which combines magic and comedy and lots of audience participation (so be warned). Since appearing on Britain’s Got Talent, her star is rising and she’s performed all over the UK and is a member of London’s Inner Magic Circle.
MUSIC: Ronnie Scott’s All Stars 60th Anniversary, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Sun 10 Feb
It’s 60 years since the iconic jazz venue set up in Soho and to celebrate The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take you on a guided, musical tour of this music institution, combining the very best world jazz with rare archive video footage and photos. Should be amazing.
TALK: Trust, Fast, Healthy with Michael Moseley, Milton Keynes Theatre, Bucks, Mon 11 Feb
The doctor behind the 5:2 diet and a regular on health programmes on the telly, Dr Michael Moseley will be discussing common health myths and teaching the audience about the best ways to lose weight (yes please), get fit (yes please) and reduce stress (YES ALRIGHT!)
SCIENCE: FameLab Oxford, Science Oxford, St Aldates Tavern, Oxford, Tues 12 & Wed 13 Feb
Heat one of this competition to find a science, tech, maths or engineering star takes place at St Aldates Tavern with the regional finals on 8th March at The Wig and Pen, George Street. Entrants need to surprise and fascinate the general public with unbelievable facts and compelling performances. They only have three minutes to impress the judges and no notes or boring Power Point slides are allowed. It’s hurting my head even thinking what might be revealed but it all sounds like good egghead fun.
SHOPPING: Celebrating China pop-up boutique, Bicester Village, until Sun 17 Feb
Popped up to this the other day and it’s well cool. Curated by hot-to-trot fashion influencer Susie Bubble, this pop-up boutique of ten cutting-edge Chinese designers is opening to celebrate Chinese New Year. It includes rising stars Ryan Lo, Mukzin and I Am Chen and with Chinese designers starting to make their mark on catwalks around the world.
WALK: Snowdrop Weekend, Waterperry Gardens, nr Wheatley Sat 16 – Sun 17 Feb
Gawd bless the little fellas! With over 60 different varieties of snowdrop carpeting these ornamental gardens, spring is now around the corner. There are free guided walks (although winter garden entrance applies) at 11am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm so you can learn all about this petite flower and the cafe is open too. From Sat 16 until Thurs 21 Feb, you can also play I Spy in the Gardens. Task your kids with finding every letter of the alphabet hidden in the gardens for a small prize. It’s very low tech stuff at Waterperry but my children always loved it, so it’ll be a gentle way to spend an hour or so.