Fri 14 - Sun 16 Jun
COMEDY: Rob Beckett: Work in Progress, Radlett Centre, Herts, 14 June
It’s the cheeky chappy of comedy – you’ll know him (and his toothy grin!) from shows like Mock the Week and and 8 Out of 10 Cats, but now you’re invited to come and be a guinea pig as he tries out some of his new material ahead of his UK tour Wallop! which kicks off later this year.
FESTIVAL: Letchworth Festival, various locations, 15-30 June
This year marks the 10th anniversary of this celebration of the world’s first garden city. There’s a packed programme of arts, leisure, sports and social events put on by local groups and organisations, happening over two weeks, giving locals a chance to get stuck in and those visiting from further afield to find out what Letchworth is all about. There’ll be a display of children’s art (throughout), artists’ open studios (15-16 June), a vintage festival (29 June), the launch of letchworth’s brand new social history museum (mon-sat), fitness sessions and walks, special exhibitions, beer tastings, book signings, live music, theatre, film… you name it!
KIDS: Treasure Chest Tales, The Lodge Nature Reserve, Sandy, Beds, 15 June
Local company The Theatre of Widdershins bring their quaint and kooky storytelling style to the Yurt at the RSPB reserve in Sandy this month. Their Treasure Chest Tales are a collection of folk stories, fairy tales and myths designed to be performed to small audiences in unconventional spaces. It’s The Princess and The Pea this time – expect costume, puppetry and all the gusto of live theatre, but without the bells and whistles. Sounds magical!
CAMPAIGN: 30 Days Wild, various locations, 1-30 June
We’ve all heard of Random Acts of Kindness, but how about Random Acts of Wildness? This month-long initiative from the Wildlife Trust enourages us all to do something a little bit wild every day in June. Don’t worry – they’re not trying to turn us all into a bunch of unwashed tree huggers, just do our bit for the environment – plus getting back to nature and spending time outdoors can do wonders for your wellbeing too, so it’s not entirely selfless! You can do anything from the smallest action, such as stopping to smell a flower, to making more impactful choices like going plastic-free for a month. Sign up to receive a special pack with a calendar and booklet of ideas to get you started (hey, why not rope the whole family in?!) There’s even an app which delivers a Random Act of Wildness to your phone every day (no excuses!) Head over the border to Trumpington Meadows in Cambridge on 16th for the Big Wild Weekend – a celebration of pollination with arts, crafts, food and drink – you can even dress up in something stripy to keep your buzzy friends company! Go wild!
EXHIBITION: Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered, Waddesdon Manor, 23 May – 20 October
Renowned for his still-life subjects and landscapes, Eliot Hodgkin was also a passionate collector and author. Catch this new retrospective exhibition, the largest ever show of the British painter’s work at Waddesdon Manor, which starts this month.
EXHIBITION: Lois Walpole: Weaving Ghosts, Broadway Studio + Gallery, Letchworth, until 8 Sept
This expert basketry artist has created her exhibition of beautiful vessels from ghost gear – nope, I didn’t know what it was either! – the ropes, nets and plastic debris which gets left in the sea from commercial fishing. She tells a lovely story about how her grandfather, a fisherman on the Shetland Islands, crafted his own ropes and baskets from the natural materials he found near his home, and brings this family history full circle by turning the manmade materials, which are polluting our seas, into beautiful objects using ancient and almost forgotten weaving techniques. Sound intriguing and thought-provoking.
ART: Bucks Arts Weeks, various locations, 8-23 June
This annual showcase of the creative work of local contemporary artists and makers, includes pop-up galleries, exhibitions and open studios. Ok, it might be called Bucks Art Weeks, but some events have snuck in around Herts and Beds too! From oil painting and glass art at Woburn Gallery to photography, textiles, sculpture, glass and ceramics at College Lake in Tring, there are all types and styles of work to explore – you might even be tempted to invest in a locally made piece or two yourself?
EXHIBITION: Humphry Repton: Art and Nature for the Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, until 1 Sept
This year marks the bicentary of the landscape gardener responsible for designing the grounds and Gardens at Woburn Abbey. The exhibition features his famous Red Book, which is packed with detailed plans and ideas for the planting schemes, lakes and parklands, as well examples of his other work for the 6th Duke of Bedford’s Devon and London homes. Step outside to see Repton’s work in its full glory, including his trademark features like the grotto, Chinese-style pavillion and aviary.
NEW EXHIBITION: Manolo Blahnik, The Wallace Collection, London, Mon 10 Jun – Sun 1 Sept
This new exhibit contrasts paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement with Spanish fashion designer Manolo Blahnik’s designs. The intimate collection has been curated by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives and these gorgeous candy pink shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette. There are also a few accompanying talks, Fashion or Art?, Fashion and Power, The Collector, The Interior World, but if you want to go get a ticket quick as they’re selling out fast. This exhibit is free. wallacecollection.org
SCREENING: The Royal Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet, various locations, London, Tues 11 Jun
The Royal Opera House in collaboration with BP Screens are hosting a few screenings around London this summer- a great way to make the arts more accessible, without a beefy price tag. This week you can see the Bard’s star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet at Trafalgar Square, Television Centre in White City, Arena Square Wembley Park and General Gordon Square, Woolwich. roh.org.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: Keith Haring, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, Fri 14 Jun – Sun 10 Nov
Spot the little guys! A cool exhibit to check out that’s not over in the Big Smoke is this retrospective of Keith Haring, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene. The exhibit will feature 85 artworks including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool. tate.org.uk
If you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema including a live screening of Royal Ballet’s Romeo + Juliet (11 Jun) as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes. You can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing. Or if you’re heading to Covent Garden, it’s your last chance to check out Covent Garden in Bloom (until Sat 15 Jun), with floral artists Fleurs de Villes returning Covent Garden to its roots as the original (or OG, as the kids say) flower market in London. All the retailers and restaurants muck in with botanical window displays, it’s super pretty.
Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include Beasts of London, above, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals. Or you can check out the V&A’s retrospective of iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).