Two World War II spies, one of the 20th century’s greatest artists and and a leading figure in the British military’s women’s corps in World War I are among women being honoured with Blue Plaques this year. English Heritage unveiled plans this week for six female-focused plaques with the first to celebrate Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (1879-1967), a botanist and leader of women in the armed forces during the ‘Great War’. Others will honour Christine Granville (1908-1952) – who served as Britain’s longest-serving female SOE agent in World War II, Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944) – Britain’s first Muslim war heroine and the first female radio operator working in Nazi-occupied France, and ground-breaking 20th century sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975). Blue Plaques will also be unveiled at the former headquarters of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Westminster and the Women’s Social and Political Union in Holborn. While only 14 per cent of the more than 950 Blue Plaques in London commemorate women, English Heritage’s ongoing ‘plaques for women’ campaign has seen a dramatic rise in the number of public nominations for women since it launched in 2016. This year will be only the second the organisation has unveiled as many as six plaques honouring women. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

The brief career of controversial artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98) is the subject of a new exhibition which opened at Tate Britain this week. Aubrey Beardsley features some 200 works in the largest display of his original drawings in more than 50 years and the first exhibition of his work at the Tate since 1923. Highlights include key commissions that defined Beardsley’s career – a new edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1893-4), Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé (1893) and Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1896) – as well as bound editions and plates of the literary quarterly The Yellow Book, of which he was art director. There’s also a collection of Beardsley’s bold poster designs and his only oil painting. The exhibition runs until 25th May. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.tate.org.uk. PICTURE: Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) The Peacock Skirt – illustration for Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’ (1893), lineblock print on paper, Stephen Calloway Photo: © Tate

The first major UK exhibition on the kimono – described as the “ultimate symbol of Japan” – has opened at the V&A. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk examines the sartorial and social significance of the kimono spanning the period from the 1660s to today. Highlights include a kimono created by ‘Living National Treasure’ Kunihiko Moriguchi, an Alexander McQueen-designed dress worn by Björk on the cover of the album Homogenic, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar. There are also designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano. The exhibition features more than 315 works including kimonos but also paintings, prints, films and dress accessories. Can be seen in Gallery 39 and the North Court until 21st June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/kimono.

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It’s all galleries this week- not a bad way to escape the heat!

NPG_959_1400_AudreyHepburnbThirty-five photographs of late actor Audrey Hepburn from the personal collection of her sons form the centrepiece of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, which opens today and is the first UK exhibition to be organised with the Audrey Hepburn Estate, explores the life and career of the celebrated film star. Among the images lent by her sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti are a portrait of the actor performing a dance recital at the age of 13 in 1942, a photograph of her taken while filming The Nun’s Story in Africa in 1958, and a behind-the-scenes photograph of Hepburn during a costume fitting for the 1954 film Sabrina. Other images in the display include those taken during the shooting of numerous films ranging from 1955’s War and Peace to 1967’s Two for the Road as well as vintage magazine covers. Runs until 18th October. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.npg.org.uk/hepburn. PICTURE: Audrey Hepburn by Philippe Halsman for LIFE magazine, 1954. © Philipe Halsman/Magnum Photos.

The works of Barbara Hepworth, one of the UK’s greatest artists, are on show at the Tate Britain on Millbank. Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World features more than 100 works, from major carvings and bronzes to less familiar pieces. Juxtaposed with works of other great artists – including paintings, prints and drawings of her second husband Ben Nicholson, they include her earliest surviving carvings, her more purely abstract works of the late 1930s, wooden sculptures made while Hepworth lived in Cornwall in the mid-1940s and four large carvings made in the mid-1950s in African hardwood guarea which, reunited for this exhibition, arguably represent the highpoint of her carving career. There are also bronzes from her 1965 retrospective at the Kroller-Muller Museum. Runs until 25th October. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.tate.org.uk.

American artist Joseph Cornell’s art is the subject of an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly which opens on Saturday. Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust, organised in conjunction with Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, features about 80 of the artist’s box constructions, assemblages, collages and films including rarely seen masterpieces lent from public and private collections in the US, Europe and Japan. Arranged in four sections, the display features works from his major series including Museums, Aviaries, Soap Bubble Sets, Palaces, Medici Slot Machines, Hotels and Dovecotes. Runs until 27th September. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.royalacademy.org.uk.

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