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Culture fix! 9 local exhibitions this November

Lockdowns are looming but there's still fun to be had. Don your mask and head to one of these brilliant new local exhibitions, all in open spaces ideal for social distancing.

EXHIBITION: Quentin Blake and John Yoeman – 50 Years of Children’s Books, The Base Greenham, now – Sun 13 Dec

QUENTIN BLAKE JOHN YEOMAN exhibition The Base Newbury

Just like wine and cheese, Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl trip off the tongue. But a new exhibition at The Base in Greenham Common reveals Quentin Blake’s longest collaboration was in fact with the author John Yeoman. House of Illustration’s 50 Years of Children’s Books exhibition is the first to celebrate this partnership. It features the original drawings for A Drink of Water, and 10 other projects – from picture books and short novels.

Iconic Portrait Head Home, Reading Museum, now – 12 Dec

Sixty years ago, black civil rights pioneer, actor and musical virtuoso Paul Robeson sang to a full house at Reading Town Hall. This year the National Portrait Gallery’s sent this Neil Libbert bromide portrait down the M4 to be displayed at Reading Museum, as part of its Coming Home exhibition. The image was taken in 1958, the year in which Robeson’s political activism had forced him to leave the United States and live in exile in the UK.

HRH Princess Beatrice Wedding Dress, Windsor Castle, Berks, until 22 Nov

princess-beatrice-WEDDING GOWN ON display

This exhibition is an absolute must see! No fuss, no pomp or ceremony, on the 17 Jul 2020 Princess Beatrice quietly married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor wearing her ‘something borrowed’ vintage Norman Hartnell borrowed from Granny. It helps she’s the Queen (her majesty wore the dress to the premiere of Lawrence Arabia at the Oden Leicester Square in 1962). Now we get to see this masterclass in craftsmanship on display at Windsor Castle. Catch it while you can.

Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, 20 Nov – 14 Mar

Just a smidge over the border in Henley is the superb River and Rowing Museum. Direct from Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, this sweet exhibition introduces children to the colourful world of Illustrator of the Year 2020 David McKee. The exhibit takes you on a journey through his classic books and characters including Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, Mr Benn and Not Now, Bernard. The River & Rowing Museum always excels at exhibitions for little ones, so this should be a goodie.

LuminousModern Art Oxford & Old Fire Station, 20 Nov – 24 Dec

Hopping into Oxfordshire where’s there’s plenty to scratch that cultural itch. Showing at two Oxford arts venues this exhibition features work by a group of seven artists with learning disabilities based in Oxfordshire. The exhibition is diverse in media (expect painting, dance photography, animation) and explores subjects including bullying, changing industrial landscapes and historical portraiture.

Cecily Brown, Blenheim Palace, now – 3 Jan

Blenheim Palace is a place to fabulous it has to go on the list. Forming part of the Blenheim’s Art Foundation programme, this exhibition by celebrated Brit artist Cecily Brown, is the first to be shown at the Palace to be composed of entirely new work. The series references masterpieces by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony Van Dyck on view at the Palace, as well as family heraldry, armorial banners and the martial scenes of the Blenheim Tapestries that line the State Rooms.

The Story Museum, Oxford

This cool family museum, hidden down Oxford’s winding Pembroke Street, has just reopened after a major two year long refurbishment (it was meant to reopen in April but, you know – COVID). Muddy has had a snoop around and can report it’s a children’s paradise with immersive galleries and permanent exhibitions inspired by iconic children’s books, illustrations and stories.

Hans Coper 100, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 10 Jan

© Jane Coper and Estate of the Artist

After fleeing from Germany to London during WWII, Hans Coper redefined studio pottery in the city with his stylish sculptural black and cream vessels. This free exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of his birth with a collection of ceramics created throughout his career including rarely seen items from private collections. I sense a new hobby coming along – just in time for lockdown part two.

Korky Paul: Winnie and Wilbur’s Magical Moments, North Wall Theatre, Oxford, 27 Nov – 23 Dec

If you’re looking for something fun and whimsical to entertain the kids on a rainy afternoon then this new exhibition is a dead cert featuring sketches and drawings by much-love illustrator Korky Paul – you’ll recognise his work from Valerie Thomas’ Winnie the Witch children’s books. Fun fact: they’re published right here, in Oxford, by Oxford University Press.

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