Retirement and Hobbies

Entertainment and Culture for the Summer

Exhibitions & Galleries to Visit in the Summer

By Phyllis Oberman, Art Aficionado

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

Uncovering a Mystery?

A huge painting just over 8 feet wide and five and a half feet high crammed with exotic treasures from around the world, people and animals painted around 1663 is on show at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.  

This 17th Century painting whose creator is unknown, depicts a selection of the treasures owned at the time by Norfolk’s wealthy Paston family.

The Paston treasure, unknown artist Dutch School circa 1663
© Norfolk Museums Service

Known as The Paston Treasure, the painting prompted a ten-year investigation into its contents to reveal more about what was once one of the most outstanding British art collections of the 17th Century. The exhibition is organised in partnership with the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA.

The Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World shows not only the mysterious painting but five of the original objects that are recorded in the picture as well as musical instruments, rare clocks, a globe, precious jewels, paintings, gold and silver and sculptures typical of the period.

Surviving mounted nautilus cup, attributed to Nicolaes de Grebber
(1574 – 1613) Delft, before 1592, nautilus shell, silver-gilt,
glass and enamel,
Collection Museum Prinsenhof Delft

This exhibition continues until 23rd September, 2018. Concessionary tickets are available.     

For further information visit the website at  

Floral Celebration

Two Americans with close connections to Somerset are showing a collection of brilliantly coloured works of art at The Victoria Art Gallery Bath.  A Celebration of Flowers: Kaffe Fassett with Candace Bahouth continues until 2nd September, 2018. 

Kaffe Fassett Seed Packet Quilt

Textile designer Kaffe Fassett has installed 40 of his coloured quilts and needlepoints.

Candace Bahouth shows her vividly coloured mosaics on benches, mirror frames, shoes, flower encrusted candlesticks and a chandelier.  

Both artists have work in many permanent collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

During the show the gallery is holding a series of exhibition tours and talks including one on 25 July by Kaffe Fassett.

Candace Bahouth ‘Birds’, shown right

Concessionary tickets are available and further details can be found on the website at     

Colourful Life Revealed

The renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), was as striking in her appearance as her art works so clearly demonstrate in her many self-portraits.  

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum now presents a new show – Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up.

After she died her husband, the painter and muralist Diego Rivera sealed up her possessions in her house. This was reopened in 2004 and is now a popular museum.

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939,
© Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

This exhibition is somewhat different to the usual in that the show is not primarily of Frida’s paintings but how she created her vibrant persona which was then reflected in her art.  

Here there are her colourful Mexican traditional clothes and jewellery, letters, indiginous icons, cosmetics, photographs, medicines and medical equipment – more than 200 items in all.   A selection of her paintings, mostly self-portraits are displayed often alongside the outfit or jewellery depicted.

One of Frida’s traditional Mexican outfits

At the age of just 18 Frida was severely injured in a serious bus crash.    This resulted in months in hospitals and many more operations over the years to try and mend her spine that was broken in several places.   So from that time onwards she was never without pain and obliged to wear various medical corsets to support her back.

Her colourful way of dressing and using make-up made her really distinctive to meet.   During the 1920’s and 30’s after the Mexican revolution she and Rivera, both well known by then, entertained many celebrities from around the world.   With Rivera she travelled several times to the US where he was commissioned to paint murals in various public buildings.

Self-portrait with red and gold dress, Frida Kahlo, 1941. Courtesy of
Gerardo Suter and The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th
Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation © 2018 Banco de Mexico. 
Fiduciary of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums

The exhibition continues until 4th November 2018 and concessionary tickets are available.  

For further details visit the website at  

The Master in Scotland

Opening on 7th July 2018 in Edinburgh is an important exhibition of Rembrandt masterpieces together with paintings by some of his British admirers. Rembrandt: Britain’s Discovery of the Master is at the Scottish National Gallery until 14th October 2018.  

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) Girl at a Window, 1645, Oil on Canvas,
Collection: Dulwich Picture Library, London Bourgeois Bequest, 1811

In Britain among artists, art lovers and collectors a fascination for Rembrandt’s work grew during his lifetime and continued into the late 18th century.  This was based on prints of his work initially. Though he never travelled abroad, one of his works, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1629-31 was presented to Charles I in the early 1630’s. 

The exhibition illustrates how Rembrandt’s great talent for painting, drawing and printmaking, influenced British artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Hogarth.   

Modern artists whose work shows the impact of Rembrandt include Leon Kossoff, John Bellany, Edward Paolozzi and Frank Auerbach are included in this show.

 Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) The Mill, 1645/1648, Oil on Canvas.
Collection: National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA Widener Collection

This show is part of the Edinburgh Festival. Concessionary tickets are available and more details, including talks, can be found at  

Inspiring Artist Friends

Irish artist Roderic O’Connor (1860 – 1940) is the focus of a major exhibition at The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin that opens on 18th July, 2018.  Roderic O’Connor & the Moderns: Between Paris and Pont-Aven shows his paintings, drawings and etchings that he made when he spent years in Paris and Pont-Aven in Brittany.

He became a friend of Paul Gauguin when they both belonged to the Pont-Aven group of painters.  He was a great admirer of Van Gogh whose late style influenced his  painting.

Roderic O’Conor, Field of Corn, Pont Aven, 1892. © National Museums NI

The Dublin show also features work by O’Connor’s collaborators in France – Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Emile Bernard, Maurice Denis displayed side by side with his paintings of the time.

There are over 60 important works on display including O’Connor’s Breton landscapes and peasant scenes. Throughout the exhibition there are talks and tours available.

For further details about concessionary tickets and more information about the show visit the website at  

Superb Ceramics

The Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London has a superb free exhibition of the works of famous Victorian ceramic artist, William de Morgan (1839-1917).

This show Sublime Symmetry – The Mathematics Behind William de Morgan’s Ceramic Designs features 80 of his most outstanding lustreware pots, decorative tiles, vases and plates.

De Morgan’s father was a prominent mathematician and William used mathematics to produce his designs inspired by Islamic, Middle Eastern and Medieval examples.

William de Morgan Carnation Rice Dish in
tin-glazed earthenware

During the show there are talks and workshops for visitors to learn how to design ceramics and make kaleidoscopes.  

The Guildhall Art Gallery has a permanent collection of paintings.

There is also a 2000-year old Roman amphitheatre for  you to see.

These are free to view daily.

The exhibition is open now and continues until 28th October, 2018. 

For further information visit the website at

William de Morgan Fan Tile Panel at the exhibition is shown above

Two at Bath

The Holburne Museum in Bath has two exhibitions well worth a visit. The first is about a Bath woman, Ellen Georgiana Tanner (1874 – 1937) who used an inheritance to travel to the Middle East and ride overland on horseback with only local guides. 

She was among the first British women to travel solo into Baghdad and beyond.

Miniature tea cup, enamel on copper, Iran 19th century

Bath to Baghdad is an exhibition of the treasures she collected on her adventurous journeys through Persia (Iran) and Iraq exploring Shiraz, Terehan and Isfahan. 

She donated many items to The Holburne but this is the first time a major show of her sumptuous textiles, carved woodwork, lacquer, decorated metalwork and glass, conserved by the Museum, has been presented.

After a life of almost continuous travel Miss Tanner settled back in Bath where she died in 1937. During the exhibition there will be special events, talks and film.

The show continues until 21st October, 2018. 

Rosewater sprinkler, soda glass, Iran c.1700

Also at The Holburne until 16th September, 2018 Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses.   Country house  owners in the seventeenth century were great collectors of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and The National Trust is now custodian of many of these houses and their precious contents.

Rembrandt, Aelbert Cuyp, Peter Lely, Cornelis de Heem are amongst the Dutch masters whose works are in this outstanding exhibition.  This is the first time that these paintings have been brought together for display.   The collection will travel to The Mauritshuis in The Hague in October and then in January 2019 to Petworth House in West Sussex.

For further information visit the website at      

Concessionary tickets are available and Art Fund members enter for half-price.

Quilts Galore

The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, will host The Festival of Quilts from 9th to 12th August, 2018 and star of the show will be a historic 1718 silk Coverlet believed to be the UK’s earliest known dated patchwork.

1718 Patchwork Coverlet

This ancient patchwork in The Quilters’ Guild collection has been researched and conserved by experts from the Guild and will be displayed in a specially built enclosed gallery so visitors can get up close to this craft work.

There will also be a display of replica 1718 quilts entered in a competition for the most effective one.

For further details of this show in Halls 7, 8 and 9 can be found at   

Piercing Portraits

American photographer Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) is considered one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.  

The Barbican Art Gallery in London has an important exhibition Dorothea Lange; Politics of Seeing that continues until 2nd September 2018 organised by The Oakland Museum of California. This is the first UK survey of her work.

Dorothea Lange in Texas on the Plains, 1935 by Paul S Taylor © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California 

Lange is most well-known for her piercing pictures portraying the impact of the Great Depression in America in the 1930’s.  Later she documented the changing face of America in the 1950’s.  

Her only expedition outside the US is illustrated by her pictures of Co Clare in Ireland where she spent six weeks in 1954.  

The exhibition contains over 300 objects from vintage prints and original book publications, field notes, letters and documentary film. 

Dorothea Lange; Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California 1936 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California 

Dorothea Lange; Drought Refugees, 1935 © The Dorothea Lange
Collection, the Oakland Museum of California

For further information visit      

Concessionary tickets are available.

Art In Brief

A new series of budget-priced paperbacks in launched by Thames & Hudson under the heading of Art Essentials.  The first two books in the series available now are Looking at Pictures and Modern Art.  

Both books, full of colour illustrations aid the newcomer to art to see much more when they go to an art gallery or research on line. The books also provide a deeper insight into the arts covered for those wishing to delve further. 

Cover of ‘Looking at Pictures’, Thames & Hudson

The books are £10.95 each and available now.  

For further information visit the website at      

There’s still time to see the spectacular Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Liverpool’s World Museum that continues until 28th October, 2018. The Museum advises there are plenty of tickets but they must be booked in advance.  

Terracotta Warriors: Archer

Further information on China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors click on   

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

Creative Day Out

The Handmade Fair Returns for 2018

Tickets for the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Fair are now on sale.

The Handmade Fair, the ultimate creative day out brought to you by queen of craft Kirstie Allsopp, is back on The Green at Hampton Court Palace for 2018 from 14th-16th September.

The Fair, featuring a wealth of hands-on workshops with some of the best craft talent in the business, is set to inspire and delight craft lovers for the fifth year running.

At this year’s Handmade Fair, you can try your hand at a variety of crafts, from willow weaving and needle felting to lino cutting and brush lettering, plus all the painting, sewing, paper craft and other handmade artistry both beginners and more experienced makers could wish for.

Creative sessions will fall into one of four categories: Paint & Print; Home & Garden; Sewing & Textiles and Paper & Pens, giving makers the chance to focus on their particular passion, or try a little bit of everything.

Visitors will also be able to get their fill of handmade retail therapy, thanks to a whole host of stalls in the Shopping Villages. Here you’ll find the materials and tools for DIY crafts to try at home, alongside handmade wares from professional makers.

All that crafting can be hungry work, so it’s a good job there will be a vast array of foodie delights on offer such as The Soulful Food Company for healthy wholesome food, to Los Churros Amigos for a delicious treat. Not to mention Deco Noir’s lounge bar for a well deserved glass of something stronger!

At The Handmade Fair, visitors will be able to explore three types of experience: The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes. 

The Super Theatre: Super Theatre sessions are your chance to hear the latest craft trends, find out insider secrets from top experts and see how some gorgeous designer products are made.

The Skills Workshops: This is where to head to satisfy your creative cravings in hour-long interactive sessions with hand-picked experts.  This year, among our many experts you’ll find Lauren Cooper of Oh Wonder Calligraphy who will be giving a workshop on modern calligraphy; Eddie Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts, showing how to make a willow birdfeeder; and Tess Hucker of The Arty Crafty Place who will be giving visitors the chance to try Indian block printing.

Grand Makes: There is nothing better than learning and sharing your craft with fellow enthusiasts. In the Grand Make tents, you will be inspired and taught how easy it is to craft something in a few minutes to create beautiful products to use in your home, at a party or as a gift. Last year saw visitors in their thousands make expertly crafted origami trinket boxes, wonderful wirework flowers, and intricate Folk Art berry wreaths to take home.

The range of experiences allow you to tailor-make your perfect day out by picking sessions to suit your own interests and skill levels. 

VIP Full Experience – Includes a Super Theatre session, Skills Workshop and Grand Make of your choice, plus VIP perks including free flowing bubbly, a Q&A with Kirstie over lunch, an exclusive gift bag, priority seating in the Super Theatre, and all-day access to the VIP lounge with refreshments – £95

Entry Only – access to the boutique shopping village and artisan marketplace – £16. Add-on upgrade tickets for a whole range of individual workshops and shows are also available – see the website for more details.

Kirstie Allsopp comments, “I am immensely proud that The Handmade Fair will be celebrating its fifth year on The Green at Hampton Court Palace in September – it’s set to be better than ever.

“We have a raft of incredibly talented producers and crafters on board who I’m really excited to see in action. 

“It’s going to be a joyous few days of crafting in a beautiful setting, and we’ll all be taking home new skills and wares to improve our homes and, dare I say, lives. I can’t wait!”

Tickets are now on sale.

For more information and tickets visit 

Summer Day Out

  Summer Events at Ironbridge Gorge

There’s plenty to do this Summer at Ironbridge Gorge with a selection of events and workshops for all the family. Make the most of your daytime visits to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums with an Annual Passport Ticket which allows multiple visits into all 10 award winning attractions.

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Celebrate Ironbridge’s world changing industrial past during the summer school holidays, 21st July – 2nd September at Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Join in the Museum’s ‘Create Industry’ activities, get hands-on and make bricks, build a mini steam engine and dip candles. Talk to the Townsfolk and find out how the Victorians lived and worked in their shops and homes.

Follow family trails around the Town to find out about the men and women who worked in the foundries and factories during the Industrial Revolution.  Explore the beautiful woodlands and canal-side walks. Don’t forget your camera as there are plenty of selfie opportunities around the Town, especially if you like putting on Victorian hats or caps.

You can have a go at lots of other fun activities around the Town. Learn about Morse Code in the Town’s Post Office; have a go at packing tea in the Grocers and typesetting at the Printers. Take part in the daily lesson in the Victorian School House, enjoy a ride on the horse-drawn bus and join a sing-a-long in the New Inn. Watch the Town’s travelling troupe of actors’ perform a scene from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and don’t miss the Victorian fairground, fun for all ages.

You won’t go hungry with treats available from the Fried Fish Dealers, Sweet Shop and best of all from the Town’s bakery where you can buy bread and buns, freshly made on site.

All the workshops and demonstrations vary from day-to-day, but whenever you visit there will be plenty of fun activities to enjoy and things to discover about the area’s amazing industrial past.

One of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Blists Hill Victorian Town is open from 10am until 4.30pm; entrance is £19.75 adults, £14.00 60 plus and £12.00 children 5-16, under 5s free. 

Coalport China Museum

Go along to Coalport China Museum, near Ironbridge during the summer from Wednesday 25th July to Sunday 2nd September and join family painting and clay modelling craft workshops.

Inspired by their visit to the museum, young artists can use quick drying paint to decorate a money box, fridge magnet or paper plate with bottle kilns and fiery furnaces or try to copy some of the beautiful ceramic pieces on display in the former china factory.

In addition, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 24th July and 30th August, you can try your hand at sculpting with air-drying clay. These daily sessions take place from 11am – 1pm and again between 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

Clay activities are £2 for each model, while the ceramic painting carries a charge of between £1 and £4 per item; entry into the museum is additional. The self-led paper craft activities are included in the admission fee and you can take all the items home with you on the day

These workshops are part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s ‘Create Industry’ activities that are taking place across The Gorge over the school holidays.

One of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalport China Museum is open from 10am until 4pm; entrance is £9.95 adults, £8.95 60 plus and £6.50 children 5-16, under 5s free. 


Go along to Enginuity, near Ironbridge this summer and join fun hands-on design and make workshops, all with an industrial theme. The family activities change each week and are part of the ‘Create Industry’ themed events taking place across the Ironbridge Gorge Museums during the school holidays.

Depending on when you visit you can use your ingenuity and recycled scrap materials to build a mini digger or earth mover and set your vehicle to work on the Enginuity ‘building site’. Visit another week and customise a gym bag with your own unique design to take home using special sublimation papers and a heat press to transfer the colours onto the fabric.  At other times make a container from craft materials and use it to protect an egg as you launch it down a zip line. If the egg lands safely without breaking, you can win a prize

Afterwards play with the interactive exhibits at Enginuity to discover the world of Design and Technology and follow a self-led trail around the site.

The drop-in, fun family sessions will take place daily between 21 July and 2nd September from 10am until 3.30pm and carry a small additional charge for each item, in addition to the museum entrance fee. Activities will change throughout the holidays.

Make the most of daytime visits to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums with a great value Annual Passport Ticket, which allows multiple visits into all 10 award winning attractions. 

It costs £26.50 per adult, £20.50 for seniors, £16.50 for children (16 years or under), £70 for a family of two adults and all their children and £50 for a family with one adult; under 5s free (terms and conditions apply). Passports can also be bought online in advance saving 5% and individual entry tickets are available at each museum. Activities will vary from day-to-day and some additional costs will apply.

The Gorge is easily reached via the M54 motorway exiting at Telford junction 4 or 6.

For further information, call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on Telephone: 01952 433 424

Or visit the Ironbridge website at

Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries

Westminster Abbey has unveiled The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. The new galleries are set more than 16 metres (52 feet) above the Abbey’s floor in the medieval Triforium, an area that has never been open to the public before. Displaying 300 treasures from the Abbey’s Collection, many for the first time, the new galleries will reflect the Abbey’s thousand-year history. 

Having lain unused for centuries, the Triforium has been transformed by London-based architecture practice, MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects). Known for their crafted use of materials and sensitive response to a building’s context, they have designed a spectacular new addition that will allow the public to deepen their understanding of a royal church which has been at the centre of the nation for centuries. 

Visitors will reach the Galleries through a new tower, housing a staircase and lift. Named the Weston Tower, this is the first major addition to the Abbey church since 1745. Designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric (Consultant Architect), the tower is outside Poets’ Corner, tucked between the Abbey’s thirteenth century Chapter House and sixteenth century Lady Chapel. 

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster says, ‘We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Galleries. The views are breathtaking; the space astonishing; the displays fascinating.

The visitor will gain far greater insight into the life and history of the Abbey than ever before. The fulfilment of this vision is a shared achievement with so many people involved. We are profoundly grateful.’

The galleries tell the story of Westminster Abbey in four themes: Building Westminster Abbey, Worship and Daily Life, Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy and The Abbey and National Memory. 

Building Westminster Abbey charts the foundations of the first Benedictine monastery in AD 960, through its life as Edward the Confessor’s Church, and the extensive repair programme during Sir Christopher Wren’s role as Surveyor of the Fabric (1698 – 1723).

Visitors are able to see for the first time a column capital from the cloister of St Edward the Confessor’s Church (around 1100), along with an intricate scale model of Westminster Abbey (1714-16) commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren with a massive central spire which was planned, but never built. 

Worship and Daily Life gives insight into the life of a working church with daily worship at its heart. Artefacts demonstrating the long history of worship in the building include The Westminster Retable, (1259 – 69) the oldest surviving altarpiece in England from Henry III’s Abbey, and the Litlyngton Missal, an illuminated 14th-century service book made for the Abbey’s high altar.

Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy looks at its special relationship with the Crown. The Abbey, a Royal Peculiar under the direct authority of the Monarch, has been the Coronation church since 1066. 

Mary II’s Coronation Chair (1689), created for William III and Mary II’s joint coronation (the only joint coronation in English history) is on display as is the marriage licence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (2011). 

The Abbey and National Memory shows how Westminster Abbey has developed into a place of commemoration and remembrance. As well as kings and queens, many notable Britons such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Sir Isaac Newton are buried and memorialised here.

Since 11 November 1920 the Abbey has also become a particular focus for Remembrance following the burial of the Unknown Warrior. Three early guidebooks, including The Gigantick History of Westminster Abbey, which was designed for children in 1742, reveal the Abbey’s special place in the heart of the nation from a much earlier time. 

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries form the final phase of the Dean and Chapter’s 2020 Vision development plan, which set out to offer a more comprehensive and generous welcome to the two million people who come annually to the Abbey as worshippers and visitors.

The total project cost has been £22.9m, all of which has been met by private donors and trusts. 

The galleries are now open to the public. Admission is £5.00, bought in conjunction with an Abbey entry ticket. Timed tickets are also available on the door.

Tickets are available online from   

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