Retirement and Hobbies

Entertainment and Culture for January

Exhibitions to Visit in January

By Phyllis Oberman, Art Aficionado

This month Phyllis Oberman looks at some of the fabulous art and exhibitions you can visit in January. There are so many wonderful and different things for you to enjoy. 

Royal Russians

Two major exhibitions in London mark 100 years since the death of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II.  Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs is at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 28th April, 2019. 

The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution is at The Science Museum until 24th March, 2019.

The Marriage of Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia, 26 November, 1894 by Laurits Regner Tuxen

The exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery draws on the extensive Royal Collection to tell the story of 300 years of close connections between the British and Russian Royal families. 

The first recorded Tsar to visit Britain was Peter The Great in 1698.   From that time on visits by Russia’s Royal family took place regularly and opulent gifts flowed both ways.

Basket of Flowers by Carl Faberge commissioned by Nicholas II for his wife, Alexandra

On show from the Royal Collection include items that have not previously been shown in public before. The display includes fine and decorative arts, jewellery, costume, books, letters and photographs.

Among the most well-known are the fabulous Faberge eggs designed and made by Carl Faberge, the Russian jewellery firm, in precious metals and exquisite jewels. Some of these decorative eggs contained ‘automaton’ figures and animals.

Cigarette Case in gold and jewels by Carl Faberge

At the time of the Russian revolution in 1917/1918 the Tsar abdicated and subsequently the entire family were imprisoned and then killed by the Bolsheviks along with their servants and personal doctor.

Various explanations exist as to why Tsar Nicholas and his family were refused sanctuary in Britain by his close relative George V.

London’s Science Museum might seem an odd place for an exhibition on Tsar Nicholas II and his family, but the influence of science and particularly medicine makes for an intriguing insight to explore. 

A strictly-kept secret of the Romanovs was the illness suffered by their only son and heir, Alexei. He had Haemophilia, a life-threatening blood condition, and was subjected to many treatments both medical and mystical.

The Romanov’s Medicine Cabinet

Unravelling the mystery of the disappearance of the last Tsar and his family at the time of the Russian revolution at The Science Museum shows how developing technology, including forensic DNA analysis and 3D reconstruction enabled the museum to tell the full story. 

Visitor information and tickets for The Queen’s Gallery can be found at     

Concessionary tickets are available.

Entrance to The Science Museum’s exhibition is free but tickets must be booked in advance.

For details please visit the website at

Contrasting Emotions

A fascinating exhibition that is well worth catching before it closes on 13th January can be seen at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery.

This show which is entitled Darkness into Light: The Emotional Power of Art, uses a combination of paintings, sculptures and works on paper to demonstrate how the viewer might be affected by emotions conveyed to them by the art.  

Works of art expressing fear and anxiety are explored in the first half of the show.  

A Dawn, 1916 by CRW Nevinson, Image © The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art

In the second section of this unusual exhibition the work on display reflects a combination of joy, hope and calm.  

The special talent of these 20th and 21st Century artists is to convey these powerful feelings to those who are visiting the show.

Window in Menton, 1948 by Anne Redpath © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, Courtesy the artist’s family

All the art in this show comes from three important private collections – The Fleming, The Ingram and The Jerwood. 

Rye Harbour, 1938 by Eric Ravilious © The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art

Entrance to this exhibition in Sheffield is free of charge. 

For further information please click on  

New Look At Ancient Egypt 

The Bolton Museum

has a collection of 12,000 ancient Egyptian objects amassed over a period of 170 years. The museum now has a spectacular exhibition Bolton’s Egypt in three new specially designed galleries featuring 2000 objects. The centrepiece is a full-size recreation of the tomb of the Pharaoh Thutmose III, the first outside Egypt.

This enormous collection of ancient Egyptian items came to Bolton through the generosity of several local philanthropic families who funded excavations in Egypt. Steeped in the booming cotton industry in the late 1800’s these donors were able to handle ancient Egyptian textiles now on show.

The latest exhibition techniques that enhance this light-filled display include sounds of bird calls, voices, music, children laughing and a video-wall featuring film and TV footage illustrating the British fascination with ancient Egypt. Bolton’s Egypt which is an on-going exhibit is free to enter.  

For further information visit  

Picture This

One hundred years of photographs of Scottish life from the 1840’s to the 1940’s totalling over 14,000 images has been acquired jointly by National Galleries of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.

An exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery displays the cream of this extraordinary collection until 16th February 2019.  

A Hardship in the Camp, 1856, Crimean War by Roger Fenton

Known as The MacKinnon Collection this hoard of pictures was collected by photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon who ran a chain of photo-processing shops in the 1980’s.

This show reveals an historic selection of images showing rural life, seascapes, fishing, farming, shipbuilding, whisky distilling, studio portraits and more. The development of the Industrial Revolution and its impact on life and culture in Scotland is clearly shown.

From the Gladstone Presentation Album of Scottish Scenery, 1880/1890

The entire MacKinnon Collection is being digitised over the next few years so the pictures can be viewed online giving an insight into Scottish life from the 1840’s onwards. The collection was acquired with support from the Scottish Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund/

Entrance to the exhibition is free.  

For further information click on  

Shining Light

Cyril Mann (1911 – 1980) was an outstanding modern British painter who was almost unknown during his lifetime.

Putting this right, The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking, Surrey now presents a show of his paintings opening on 19th January 2019. The exhibition is called Cyril Mann: Painter of Light and Shadow.

Mann’s talent for art was recognised early when he won a scholarship to Nottingham School of Art in his home town at the age of just 12.

Cyril Mann: My Earliest Self-Portrait, c1937
© The Artist courtesy of Piano Nobile

Family finances later caused him to leave and he spent some years doing various jobs in Canada. The scenery he saw there prompted him to start painting again.

Cyril Mann: Dark Satanic Mills, 1925 © The Artist courtesy of Piano Nobile

Back in London Cyril Mann painted consistently. He was able to study at The Royal Academy Schools funded by a benefactor.

He later taught at the Central School of Art, all the time working away on his pictures of people, flowers, fruit and landscapes.

Cyril Mann: Sunlit Roses in a Brass Jug, 1963 © The Artist courtesy of Piano Nobile

Sadly this talented artist did not gain the recognition he believed he deserved causing him to feel great disappointment and frustration.  

Despite this, Mann’s paintings were suffused with sunlight and the sun was a key ingredient in so many of his works.

For more information about the exhibition visit   

A day pass to The Lightbox costs £5.

Renaissance Masters

London’s National Gallery presents – just until 27th January, 2019 – an important exhibition that has received rave reviews and many visitors.  

Mantegna & Bellini in the Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing shows the work of these two Renaissance giants from the second half of the 15th Century.  

Attributed to Giovanni Bellini: Portrait of a Humanist (presumed to be
Andrea Mantegna) about 1475–80, Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, Milan

They were friendly rivals and also brothers-in-law – Mantegna, a carpenter’s son from Padua and Bellini, son of an established painter from nearby Venice.  Mantegna had married Bellini’s half-sister and was much influenced by the artistic Bellini household.  

Patrons were of key importance and Mantegna became Court Painter to the ruling Gonzaga family when he later moved to Mantua.

Andrea Mantegna: Minerva Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue,
about 1500-2, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Both artists were immensely talented and the exhibition allows visitors to see the same popular religious themes portrayed by them both. They both excelled in portraits and landscapes with Mantegna’s paintings making use of architecture and Bellini’s work absorbing the light and colours of Venice.

Giovanni Bellini: Doge Leonardo Loredan, about 1501-2,
© The National Gallery, London

For more information about the exhibition and for ticket details please visit the website at    

Art In Brief

Drawings by two renowned Viennese artists can be seen at The Royal Academy in London until 3rd February, 2019. Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918) each produced different but quite outstanding work typifying the avant-garde art movement around the turn of the century known as The Vienna Secession.

While known for their extraordinary paintings, these drawings show how hard the artists worked to produce these delicate works.

Egon Schiele: Group of Three Girls, 1911, The Albertina Museum, Vienna

For further information click on     

Concessionary tickets are available.

The Contemporary British Painting Prize Show 2018 is on view at the Huddersfield Art Gallery until 2nd February 2019 and then at the Menier Gallery, London.

The latest winner is Joe Packer whose award includes a £2,000 cash prize.  

Joe Packer: Darklingthrush Wood, 2018

There were 642 works submitted.  Entrance is free of charge.

For more information visit

The entire known works of the great Dutch Golden Age painter, Johannes Vermeer, can now be seen online in an amazing new endeavour by Google.  

Meet Vermeer can be found at     

Here in stunning detail is the wonderful Girl with a Pearl Earring and Vermeer’s other works from museums around the world. He painted very slowly and there are only 36 pictures known to be in existence.

Favourite Gallery or Museum

If you have a favourite local art gallery or museum that you would like to share with Sixtyplusurfers readers, please send the details to Phyllis Oberman care of Sixtyplusurfers to Jenny Itzcovitz at

Please label the subject of your email Favourite Art Gallery and Museum for Phyllis Oberman’s column.

Sixtyplusurfers Interview

Shirley Ballas

Shirley talks about her new programme, Matchmaker Mountain

Join Strictly head judge Shirley Ballas in Morocco as she swaps the dance floor for a mix of mountains and love!

Shirley joins This Morning to front Matchmaker Mountain in a bid to help a group of over-50s find love. Joined by six people – 3 men and 3 women that got in touch with the show – Shirley decides who to partner up and helps guide the couples on their dates whilst sharing her own experiences too… and some dance moves!

Matchmaker Mountain starts from 8th January on This Morning, 10.30am on ITV (and each Tues during January).

Shirley answers some key questions about the show …

What can viewers expect from this series?

“I think viewers are firstly going to be enthralled that people over fifty are looking for love. When I went on this trip I was a little bit sceptical because I’ve been single a long time, but actually, it renewed my faith that there are lots of men and women out there, like myself and that there was no need to be nervous. Everyone was nervous about meeting each other at first! And aside from Strictly, this is absolutely the best thing that I’ve ever done.” 

What did you most enjoy about making the series?

“I met and worked with the most fantastic crew at This Morning who did a great job putting this series together. I also met three amazing women and men [the contestants] who I will remain friends with forever! We just all gelled and clicked. The three dates they all went on were all different but equally exciting… some ride a camel, some go on a cooking class, and others had a spa day. There were lots of surprises, heartache, love, pain, sharing… every possible emotion that you could imagine is in this show!”

Without giving anything away – do you think there are potential couples from the people you met?

“There’s always potential! Maybe I’m the one that found love?… You’ll have to watch and find out!”

What surprised you the most?

“Every minute of filming surprised me! One moment we are up in the mountain, then we were here and there, couples were meeting for the first time… there was shyness to begin with and you see that wear off, then there were tears when someone liked somebody but it didn’t quite happen. I was a good shoulder to cry on! But they were all there for me too because I was also sharing some of my dating experiences. And actually, I left that mountain head over heels in love – with a donkey, the crew, and six amazing people. So I did find love myself too!”

What do you think are the essentials for a perfect date?

“Somebody who goes into the date willingly and openly, and not with expectations. I would like to think that when you go on a date that there are no expectations, that you go in completely open, and have a heart to listen. Especially when you’re over fifty you come with history and that history is interesting to listen to.”

Aside from dancing, what are your other passions in life?

“My passion has always been about dancing, and I’ve loved every minute of that. But I have a huge passion for my family. Somebody said to me ‘what makes you happy?’ and happy for me is seeing my son on Broadway and sharing time with him and his wife and my mum. And since doing Strictly, that has reignited a light in me too, it’s opened my eyes on many levels and I really enjoy judging and now presenting this.

“My presenting idols are Eamonn and Ruth actually! I watch them and follow their instagram accounts and I’m in awe of them. I literally follow everything they do! What they wear, how they cook, their exercises, walking their dog – I’m a huge fan! So watching them and learning many other things is a passion too.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is from my mother and that is – nothing in this life is for free, you have to work hard, and working hard brings rewards. So never think that somebody is going to do something for you. You have to give without expecting anything.

“When you work hard and are good to the people around you – from the crew, to people serving you a meal in a restaurant, to the person that is opening a door for you, you have to be kind. Everybody makes the world go round and never for one minute think you’re a superstar and keep your feet on the ground… all these things are what my mum has instilled in me.”

Who would you most like to swap places with for 24 hours?

“Ruth Langsford! Or maybe Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. I admire them both and their work ethic and I love that they are open, honest, kind, caring… I first met Ruth on Strictly and it was when I first started doing Strictly.

“I was still a little terrified and nervous then but I will never forget Eamonn [Holmes] introducing himself – he said ‘I’m a presenter, I just want you to know you’re doing an amazing job.’ I had a tear and cried because you don’t always have people around you telling you things like that, so to have a stranger say that was so lovely because it was all so new to me then. He gave me a big hug, it was very kind.”

What other projects do you have coming up this year?

“I will be finishing my first ever pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk at the Liverpool Empire and then I’ll be getting everybody ready for the UK World Dance Championships at the BIC Centre in Bournemouth.

“All the kids fly in from all over the world and that’s a full on week for me in January, and then I go straight into the Strictly Come Dancing tour, which I can’t wait for! There are several professional dancers that help me keep fit on the road too so I’ll join them and I know they’ll steer me in the right direction when it comes to keeping fit. I’m excited for 2019!”

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

“I always make New Year Resolutions! The first one is ‘always be good to yourself’ so I have to keep reminding myself to make a little bit of time for myself.

“And two, ‘to make sure I’ve been good to others’…

“Other new year wishes would be for my mum to have good health of course.”

Catch Shirley in Matchmaker Mountain from 8th January on This Morning, 10.30am on ITV.

Joan Collins UK Tour

Joan Collins Unscripted Tour

See Joan Collins in February

Joan Collins Unscripted will see audiences enthralled and titillated as Dame Joan reveals some of the exciting stories and secrets from her life long career. This ageless beauty, with dry wit and a wry, knowing smile, who became a household name during the 80’s on the long running US soap Dynasty will present an intimate first person narrative, of a behind the scenes tell all on her life, loves and Hollywood, delivered with her usual healthy cynicism and fun outlook.

As an author and actress, Joan’s own delightful tales can easily compete with the most salacious of storylines. Her show will include an audience question and answer session. This show provides fans with a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an entertaining and unforgettable evening in the company of a true legend of stage and screen.

Originally RADA trained, British born Dame Joan first appeared on the big screen in 1950’s Hollywood, where her classical stage training  prepared her for some major movie roles. In the late 70’s she appeared as a sexy siren in The Bitch and The Stud, written by her sister, the award winning novelist Jackie Collins.

Moving from big screen to TV in the early 80’s, Joan joined the cast of Dynasty with a lead role in the show, that earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and a Golden Globe Award.  In 2015 Collins was made a Dame. In the years that have followed Joan has toured her ‘Audience

With’ shows, returned to stage and screen, including playing the fictitious Queen Mother in the E! Spoof soap The Royals. She is the patron of numerous charitable activities including campaigns for Unicef and has her own Timeless Beauty cosmetics range. 2018 saw Dame Joan join the cast of American Horror Story.

The tour commences on 15th Feb in Basingstoke at The Anvil, then continues to Southend, London Palladium on Sunday 17th Feb, Worthing, Salisbury, The Wirrall, Buxton, York and ends on 27th Feb at The Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle.

For Joan Collins tickets please click on

For details visit

Poetry Tour

Kate Fox Tour 

Stand up poet on tour to tell the story of the North’s forgotten women

Stand Up Poet Kate Fox (Radio 4, Radio 3) is taking her acclaimed show, Where There’s Muck There’s Bras, to the theatres and stages of the North of England to share forgotten stories of the great women of the North.

Commissioned for the Great Exhibition of the North, the show draws on Kate’s PhD on class, gender and North English regional identity in stand up. Combining poetry and performance, the show tells the story of a variety of Northern women, from literature to sport, science, enterprise, protest, politics, music and art. Written and performed by Kate, featuring actor Joanne Holden, the show aims to redress the balance to reflect a more diverse Northern identity.

Women in the show include Warrington swimmer Hilda James, who learnt how to swim at Garston Baths and introduced the American Crawl (or front crawl) to the UK and was known as the ‘English Comet’. Holding every British and European freestyle record in 1924 she was expected to secure an Olympic title but her mother refused to let her attend the Paris Olympics. When she turned 21 she became a swimming teacher and took a job with Cunard.

Dora Thewlis was 17 when she travelled to London to take part in a political march and was arrested with fellow suffragettes for attempting to rush the House of Commons. She was known as the ‘Baby Suffragette’ when the picture of her arrest appeared on newspapers. In response to the media nickname she said “I am not a baby, in May next year I shall be 18. Surely, for a girl, that is a good age?”

St Helens Footballer Lily Parr was almost 6ft and reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She played in the first international women’s football tournament between England and France in 1920, partly held at Deepdale Stadium. The Football Association then banned women from playing on their member grounds (the ban held for 50 years). A mental health nurse, and LGBT icon, she was the first female player included in the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum.

Kate says, “At a time when the North lags behind the South on all measures from employment to life expectancy, it’s time for women’s voices to be heard. The people who have written about, sung about and represented the North are mostly men. From your classic Northern curmudgeons like Morrissey, Alex Turner, Richard Ashcroft, to the endless musicians in parkas leaning against walls and Northern politicians in identikit grey suits. For the region’s full future potential to shine through we need to look at the people of our past and present with a different lens and writing a much broader story for the North. This show is an attempt to put women back in the picture.”

Where There’s Muck There’s Bras

Written and performed by Kate Fox, featuring actor Joanna Holden, directed by Annie Rigby, produced by Laura Brewis.

Tour Dates 2019

7th February Theatre Royal Wakefield
Tel: 01924 211 311

8th February East Riding Theatre
01482 874050

9th February Milton Rooms, Malton
Tel: 01653 696 240

14th February Middlesbrough Town Hall
Tel: 01642 729 729

16th February Helmsley Arts Centre
01439 771700

28th February Queens Hall Hexham
Tel: 01434652477

1st March Darlington Hippodrome
Tel: 01325 405405

13th March Stage 2 Northern Stage, Newcastle
Tel: 0191 230 5151

14th March Portico Library Manchester
Tel: 0161 236 6785

15th March Otley Courthouse
Tel: 01943 467466

22th March Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Tel: 01539 725133

23th March ARC Stockton
Tel: 01642 525199

29th March Theatre Royal, York
Tel: 01904 623568

11th April Hull Truck
Tel: 01482 323638

18th April Barnsley Civic
Tel: 01266 327000

Moyse's Hall Museum

  Moon Exhibition

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk is staging a new exhibition from 19th January to 9 March exploring moon mythology. Go along and discover the science behind our nearest neighbour; re-live historic moments in space exploration and touch one of the rarest items on Earth.

This Moon Exhibition will appeal to space enthusiasts of all ages, and those wanting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch something from another world.

Alongside the exhibition there will be a packed February half-term programme full of family friendly workshops.

This exhibition and the associated workshops and activities are part of the Suffolk Science Festival run by Kinetic Science.  The museum is open 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 12 noon to 4pm on Sundays; tickets are priced at adult £5, child £3, concessions £3 and a family ticket £12.

Photograph by Sue Warren

For more information about the exhibition visit  

Or for suggestions about where to stay and things to see and do in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area please visit

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