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Past masters to modern-day manifestations

Portraits old and new loom large in this week's highlights from Heather Neill


Paintings by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) have been gathered for a major exhibition, Gainsborough and the Birth of Modernity, running until January 19 at Tate Britain in London. Charming, elegant and reflecting the society of his time, Gainsborough's work shows a lively response to his subjects and an inventiveness in painting them. The exhibition includes a selection of portraits and landscapes exhibited in his lifetime. Bookings on 0870 166 8283;

Art events

* As part of the Liverpool Biennial, a one-day conference, "Art: Money: Parties?" takes place at the Tate there on November 9, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool. Cultural tourism and its effect on contemporary art will be under discussion. Limited numbers. Tickets: 0151 702 7418.

* Commemorating the 40th edition of Raw Vision and the first international directory of Outsider Art is a symposium at Tate Modern on November 23, with international speakers, films and discussions. Booking essential: 020 7887 8888;


Young south Londoners - primary children, special needs pupils, the homeless, socially excluded black teens and members of a Waterloo youth club - have contributed portraits of people who have touched their lives to Local Heroes at the National Portrait Gallery. Organised by the London String of Pearls Golden Jubilee Festival, it includes bus drivers, nurses, police officers and social workers. They will be shown alongside portraits taken in New York by Swedish photographer Jonas Karlsson in the aftermath of 911. Information: 020 7665 1540;


* Caryl Churchill's A Number at the Royal Court Theatre in London is a telling, pithy exploration of the emotional and social effects of cloning human beings. Wonderful performances from Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig. Tickets: 020 7565 5000.

* Sam Mendes's final production at the Donmar Warehouse in London is a melancholy Chekhovian take on Twelfth Night, which transports the familiar set text to the Thirties. Duke Orsino's court is an alien place, peopled by formal, black-clad servants, while Olivia runs a bourgeois household. The narcissism of love is the main theme, with Simon Russell Beale's misguided, pompous but genuinely hurt Malvolio at its centre. Tickets: 020 7369 1732.


* Red Ladder Theatre's Wise Guys is a hard-hitting exploration for young audiences of the causes of crime. Ludlow (November 6), Poole (November 15 and 16), Milton Keynes (December 5). Information: 0113 245 5311.

* Julia Pascal's adaptation for young children of The Golem, the legend of a giant made from clay to defend Jews from attack in the 16th-century Prague ghetto, will be at Roehampton University, Surrey, on November 3, before performances at the British Library and Tricycle Theatre in London. For information, including about school workshops, 020 7383 0920;

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