Joey, the puppet horse used in the West End play War Horse, has taken up a new home at the V&A in South Kensington. Created by the Handspring Puppet Company for the National Theatre’s adaption of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, Joey appeared in more than 1,640 shows since his debut at the New London Theatre on 28th March, 2009. He will now be housed in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Gallery in a specially created display which shows how the puppet was operated on stage and features three mannequin puppeteers to illustrate the process. Joey was donated by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company who designed and created the puppets used in War Horse. War Horse, which continues its run at the New London Theatre, has been seen by more than four million people. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Joey at the V&A operated by Nicholas Hart (Head), Stuart Angell (Heart), Thomas Goodridge (Hind). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The late Poet-Laureate Ted Hughes was honored in a ceremony in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner last week with the dedication of a hand-carved memorial slab. The memorial includes a quotation from his work That Morning: “So we found the end of our journey, So we stood alive in the river of light, Among the creatures of light, creatures of light…”. The memorial to Hughes, who died in 1998 at the age of 68, was placed at the foot of that of TS Eliot, who was a mentor to Hughes. Among those who attended the commemoration were Hughes’ widow Carol and his daughter Frieda as well as literary figures including Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Sir Andrew Motion, Michael Morpurgo and Graham Swift. Other literary luminaries commemorated in Poets’ Corner (only some of whom are buried here) include Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Lord Byron and John Keats as well as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Rudyard Kipling. For more on Poets’ Corner, see www.westminster-abbey.org.
PICTURE: Carol Hughes lays a bouquet of flowers and herbs from the garden of the Hughes’ Devon home at the memorial. (Copyright Dean and Chapter of Westminster).
• The Victoria and Albert Museum has opened a new permanent gallery displaying highlights from its internationally renowned collection of photographs in what amounts to a chronicle of the medium stretching from its invention in 1839 to the 1960s. The gallery, which opened in late October, initially features works such key figures as Henri Cartier Bresson, Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus and Irving Penn. Among highlights are the oldest photograph in the V&A’s collection – a daguerrotype of Parliament Street taken from Trafalgar Square in 1839, a Robert Howlett portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing in front of the Great Eastern, and an early botanical photography taken without a camera in 1854. The display also includes two “in focus” sections, looking at the lives of two photographers – initially British photographer Julia Margaret and the influential Henri Cartier-Bresson – in depth. The V&A was the first museum to start collecting photographs when it did so in 1856. Entry is free. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.
• Remember, remember, the 5th of November! This weekend is Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes Night) and across London communities will be gathering around bonfires to gasp at fireworks displays. We don’t have the capacity to collect all the details of where they’re taking place but thankfully the people at View London do. Follow this link to see its listing of where fireworks displays are taking place. To see our previous entry looking at the origins of the night, follow this link. For more on the Gunpowder Plot, see our previous entry here.
• On Now – War Hose: Fact & Fiction. A book, a long running stage performance and a soon to be released film, War Horse is now also the subject of a major exhibition at the National Army Museum. War Hose: Fact & Fiction is a family-friendly exhibition which tells the real-life story of horses in war and includes archive material from the animal charity The Brooke, which was founded after Dorothy Brooke rescued some former war horses being sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo (Brooke, who rescued some 5,000 horses, went on to found the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo in 1934). The exhibition also features content from Michael Morpurgo, author of the novel War Horse, as well as the National Theatre’s production and the upcoming Spielberg-directed movie. Entry is free. Runs until August 2012. For more, see www.nam.ac.uk.
On Now: Private Eye: The First 50 Years. A celebration of the irreverent Private Eye magazine which, since it was founded in October 1961, has distinguished itself through a combination of satire and hard-hitting journalism. The exhibition features more than 120 of the magazine’s funniest cartoons and a display of the magazine’s distinctive covers with one of from each year chosen by editor Ian Hislop. It also shows how surprisingly low-tech the magazine’s production remains despite great changes in technology, and there’s a recreation of the editor’s Soho office. Admission is free. Runs until 8th January. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.