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Contemplating cultural landscapes at Birkbeck Arts Week 2018

Running from 14 to 18 May, the annual celebration of the arts will feature more than 50 events.

Woman performing at Theatre scratch night
Theatre scratch night, Arts Week 2017

Arts Week is returning to Birkbeck, University of London for its eighth year, and the College will open its doors to the public, offering them a chance to experience the creativity of research and teaching in the arts at Birkbeck. 

Running from Monday 14 – Friday 18 May, the annual celebration of the arts will feature more than 50 events, exploring pertinent questions about the role of art and culture in the everyday, and considering themes as varied as the cultural history of wrestling, the feminism of Marilyn Monroe, as well as offering an insight into TV writing in conversation with Ian Martin (The Thick of It, The Death of Stalin).

The week’s schedule is filled with lectures, performances, screenings, book launches, workshops and discussions. It features contributions from Birkbeck's own academics and guest artists and scholars from all over the world. All events are free to attend and are open to anyone with an interest in arts and culture.

The theme of ‘landscape’ runs through the programme. The (Or)landscapes walking tour will explore the Georgian facades of Bloomsbury, and the relationship between landscape and the lives of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and other members of the Bloomsbury set; a film screening of rare documentaries Landscapes of Culture: Raymond Williams 30 Years On in our in-house cinema will celebrate and reappraise the legacy of a key figure in British intellectual life; and an exploration of the changing political landscape, with a look at the suffragettes’ public demonstrations through their engagement with visual arts.

Professor Anthony Bale, Dean of the School of Arts said: “We are delighted to invite you to take part in Birkbeck Arts Week, where we will contemplate and interrogate the world around us through debate, performances, walks, creative workshops and more.

“Throughout the week we will be thinking about art and culture especially in relation to ‘landscape’, considered here in its widest terms, encompassing the visual and aesthetic features of the world that surrounds us. This year we offer a thrilling range of events, from the local to the global, giving you the chance to engage with cutting-edge scholars, creative artists and practitioners from a wide range of fields.”

The full programme and booking information for all events can be found at

Highlights of the Arts Week 2018 programme include:

Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing
6-7.25pm, Monday 14 May, 43 Gordon Square

In the 1960s and 1970s, architect Sydney Cook and his team designed urban public housing that went beyond the tower block. Discussing this remarkable return to streets and front doors, Mark Swenarton introduces his book Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing.

Plantae Amazonicae: Art, Ethnobotany and Biocultural Artefacts
6-7.25pm, Monday 14 May, 43 Gordon Square
What do art and botany tell us about the Amazon? Artists and academics from the Royal Drawing School, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and Birkbeck tell us about the encounter between these two worlds.

10.30-1pm, Tuesday 15 May, Russell Square tube station

Taking Woolf's time travelling Orlando as our cue, this speculative walk led by Corinne Noble and Simon King draws upon archive images, quotation and memory, to offer some views on the life (and death) of landscape in Bloomsbury.

Visual Protest: Art and Militancy in the Suffrage Campaign
6-7.25pm, Tuesday 15 May, 43 Gordon Square

Join Gillian Murphy (Women's Library, LSE) and Monica Walker (Old Operating Theatre Museum) who explore militant suffragettes' engagement with visual arts through the examples of the Artists' Suffrage League and the attack on the Rokeby Venus.

Curating Sound for Difficult Histories
2-9pm, Tuesday 15 May, 43 Gordon Square

This event explores how soundscapes - music, noise, speech and silence – can evoke difficult histories, in particular, the Holocaust. Scholars and practitioners will consider the use of sound and sonic landscapes in the arts to address questions around representation, remembering, authenticity and effect.

The Archive Project: 50 years of Film and Photography in East London
6-7.25pm, Wednesday 16 May, 43 Gordon Square

The FourCorners Archive project explores the histories of FourCorners and Camerawork. Influential organisations in the production and exhibition of radical film and photography.  Carla Mitchell (project director) and Patrizia Di Bello (Birkbeck) discuss.

In Conversation with Ian Martin
6-7.25 pm, Thursday 17 May, Room BO1, Clore Management Centre

Award-winning comedy writer Ian Martin talks to Daragh Carville (Birkbeck) about writing for TV series such as Veep and The Thick of It (for which he was official ‘swearing consultant’) and films including In the Loop (2009) and The Death of Stalin (2017).

Wrestling with Words
6-7.25pm, Friday 18 May, 43 Gordon Square

Toby Litt (Birkbeck) will be talking to writer and professional wrestler Wes Brown about writing, fighting and being a man. A launch event for Toby’s new non-fiction book Wrestliana. 

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