first christmas card dora maar evan hansen night sky

We scour the media each week for our favourite four cultural stories, innovations or campaigns across the vibrant sectors that our team promotes, including: books; visual art; architecture and design; museums; performing arts; and universities

A ghost of Christmas past returns…

With shop windows replicating scenes from the North Pole, Oxford Street turning its lights on this Thursday, and the infamous John Lewis advert coming to our screens, the festive season is clearly in full swing.

In true Christmas spirit, the Charles Dickens Museum is displaying the first recorded printed Christmas card in a new exhibition. First produced in 1843 from a design by Henry Cole and an illustration by John Calcott Horsley, as The Guardian and Londonist report, the card goes on display just over a month before the Royal Mail deadline for posting Christmas cards in Britain. The Christmas card, penned by a son to his parents, features a hand-coloured drawing of a family huddled around their dining table with the caption A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You. The exhibition – Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas – runs until 19 April at the author’s former London home, now a museum.

Dora Maar: creativity beyond Picasso

The Tate Modern’s new Dora Maar retrospective has opened to rave reviews and extensive coverage across the media this week. It received five star reviews in both The Guardian and The Telegraph and four stars in The Times, with Sean O’Hagan describing an ‘epic and constantly surprising retrospective,’ and Gaby Wood celebrating the work of a ‘woman who was so much more than Picasso’s mistress’.

Throughout the 1930s Maar’s confrontational photomontages became distinguished representations of surrealism. Her work spanned many artistic mediums including photography, painting and poetry, often aligned with ideas of the political left. However, as has been noted in many responses to the exhibition, her turbulent relationship with Pablo Picasso – which saw them both influencing each other’s prolific work – sees her often relegated to the position of simply ‘Picasso’s muse’ as opposed to an artist in her own right.

About time then, to coin The Times’s Nancy Durrant’s words, that this ‘overlooked French artist finally comes out of Picasso’s shadow’. Dora Maar is at Tate Modern, London, from 20 November to 15 March.

Dear Evan Hansen takes the West end by storm

The Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen has landed at the Noel Coward Theatre and we are already looking into arranging a team outing to see it. Newcomer Sam Tutty stars in this six-time Tony Award winner. This musical is about a young boy with social anxiety who wants nothing more than to make friendships like his peers. So, when a classmate takes his own life, Evan takes the unusual decision of pretending the pair had a close friendship.

Described by The Washington Post as ‘one of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history,’ Dear Evan Hansen has opened to high praise in the West End too.  The Stage describes it as ‘powerful, moving and superbly performed Broadway smash with a top notch pop score,’ in their four star review and The Times’ Dominic Cavendish says, ‘Like Hamilton, it doesn’t just possess musical confidence, it exudes considerable wit and sounds commendably contemporary’. On until 2 May 2020, tickets are now on sale.

Heavens above! Stunning new book reveals the glories of seeing the night sky with the naked eye

Forget the telescope, there’s a new way to see the nocturnal vistas we all hear about but think we can never see – the naked eye. Robert Harvey’s book Night Sky – described by the Daily Mail as ‘photographic heaven’ – brings together 200 coloured photographs of constellations we can see just by lying down. They include views of the Northern Lights from Norway or Canada, The Milky Way over an Italian forest, a lunar eclipse in Indonesia and a meteor shower in New Mexico. Having dived into the world of black holes in actor and comedian Ben Miller’s new children’s book, The Boy Who Made the World Disappear (we have been working on this with the team at Simon & Schuster Children’s) we’re ready to discover more about the night sky with Robert Harvey’s beautiful new book.

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Image credits

*Clockwise from top left

The first Christmas card/ Yorkshire Post
Dora Maar/ The Guardian
Dear Evan Hansen/ Independent
Night Sky/ Robert Harvey