• “Remember, remember, the 5th of November…” It’s Bonfire Night this Saturday night and fireworks displays will be held across London with key displays at Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park and Wimbledon Park. Rather than list them all here, Visit London has put together a handy guide which you’ll find here.
• What did the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, the establishment of the Church of England, the creation of the United States of America and the extension of UK voting rights have to do with acts of treason? Treason: People, Power & Plot, a new exhibition at The National Archives in Kew, examines the role treason has played across the span of 700 years of history. On display will be the original Treason Act, passed in 1352 during the reign of King Edward III (pictured), and the Monteagle Letter – which suggested the recipient should not attend parliament on 5th November, 1605 (effectively tipping them off about the Gunpowder Plot) as well as Guy Fawkes’ confession, a document containing the charges levelled against King Henry VIII’s ill fated wife, Anne Boleyn, and the United States’ Declaration of Independence. Accompanying the display will be a range of online and on-site events. The free exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until 6th April. For more, see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/treason/.
• Two ground-breaking JMW Turner paintings – Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening – have returned to the UK for the first time in more than 100 years as part of a new exhibition at The National Gallery. The Turner on Tour exhibition looks at the artist’s life-long fascination with ports and harbours and highlights the regular sketching tours he took within Europe that were central to his fame as an artist-traveller, as well as his “radical approach to colour, light and brushwork”. The two paintings, which have not been since in the UK since 1911, were exhibited in New York in 1914 at the Knoedler Gallery. They were subsequently acquired by the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick and have remained in the United States ever since but are now being generously lent by The Frick Collection. Can be seen until 19th February in Room 46. Admission is free. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.
• On Now: Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination. This exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington features more than 70 objects and uncovers connections between significant scientific innovations and celebrated science fiction works. On display is classic literature that has inspired new understandings of the world as well as set-pieces and props from iconic films and TV – everything from a Lieutenant Uhura costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to the Dalek from Doctor Who and a Darth Vader helmet created for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. There are also contemporary artworks from across the globe that explore alternative futures for humanity. The exhibition is accompanied by an events programme. Runs until 4th May. Admission charges apply. For more, see sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-fiction.
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Held in the National Archives at Kew, this great seal was used during the second half of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign – from 1586 to 1603.
The seal, which replaced an earlier one used by Queen Elizabeth I, was used by the Chancery to prove the document it was attached to was issued in the Queen’s name. The seal also acted as a security device, ensuring the document couldn’t be read before reaching the intended recipient. Made of wax, it was created using a metal pattern or matrix.
The metal pattern for this seal was created by court miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard.
The obverse or front side of the seal, which is made of resin and beeswax which turns brown with age, shows Queen Elizabeth I on her throne, her hands holding a sceptre and an orb – royal insignia – and accompanied by the Royal Coat of Arms. The reverse (pictured) shows Queen Elizabeth I mounted on a horse and surrounded by symbols including the Tudor Rose, a harp representing Ireland and fleur de lys representing France. The inscription around the seal reads: Elizabetha dei gracia Anglie Francie et Hibernie Regina Fidei Defensor (‘Elizabeth, by grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith’).
The seal was traditionally carried before the Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal in a purse or burse. One used to carry Queen Elizabeth I’s matrix is in the collection of the British Museum.
The matrix used to create the second seal was surrendered to King James I on his accession to the throne on 3rd May, 1603. James then used it for the next 11 weeks until his own was ready (at which time Queen Elizabeth I’s matrix was defaced).
• More than 20 Dunkirk Little Ships will gather at London’s Royal Docks this weekend ahead of their Return to Dunkirk journey marking the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations. The event, which is part of the UK’s annual festival of late openings Museums at Night, will see the ships parade around Royal Victoria Dock on Saturday night with the Silver Queen offering twilight trips and the chance to step on board some of the other ships (the Little Ships will continue with their own festival on Sunday commencing with a church service by the quayside at 11am). Other events being offered in London as part of Museums at Night include ‘Dickens After Dark’ in which the Charles Dickens Museum will open its doors to visitors for night of Victorian entertainment on Friday night and a night of music featuring the Royal College of Music at Fulham Palace (also on Friday night). Among the other London properties taking part are the Handel House Museum, Benjamin Franklin House, the Wellcome Collection, Museum of the Order of St John, and the National Archives in Kew. For a full list of events, check out http://museumsatnight.org.uk
• Meanwhile, Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London is holding its first weekend culture festival, MayFest: Men of Mystery, as part of Museums at Night. On Friday and Saturday nights, there will be tours of the gallery’s new exhibition featuring the work of artist Eric Ravilious followed by outdoor cinema screenings of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and The 39 Steps as well as free swing dance lessons, street foods and a pop-up vintage shop which will help people get the vintage look. Visitors are being encouraged to dress up in styles of the 1930s and 1940s with a prizes awarded to those with the “best vintage style”. The gallery will also be inviting visitors to take part in a mass installation drop-in workshop held in the gallery’s grounds over the weekend and Saturday morning will see special events for children. For more, see www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/whats-on/.
• A major new work by acclaimed artist Cornelia Parker goes on display in the entrance hall of the British Library in King’s Cross tomorrow to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The almost 13 metre long Magna Carta (An Embroidery) replicates the entire Wikipedia entry on the Magna Carta as it was on the 799th anniversary of the document and was created by many people ranging from prisoners and lawyers to artists and barons. It accompanies the library’s exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy. Entry to see the artwork is free. For more, see www.bl.uk/cornelia-parker.
• The works of Peter Kennard, described as “Britain’s most important political artist”, are on display in a new exhibition which opens at the Imperial War Museum in London today.Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist is the first major retrospective exhibition of his work and features more than 200 artworks and other items drawn from his 50 year career including an art installation, Boardroom, created especially for the display. Works on show include his iconic transposition of Constable’s painting Haywain which he showed carrying cruise missiles about to be deployed in Greenham Common, the Decoration paintings created in 2004 in response to the Iraq War of 2003, his seminal STOP paintings which reference events of the late 1960s such as the ‘Prague Spring’ and anti-Vietnam war protests and his 1997 installation Reading Room. The free exhibition runs at the Lambeth institution until 30th May next year. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk/london.
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