Art beat

15th January 1999 at 00:00
So Shakespeare is top person of the millennium. You can either see this as plain common sense, a way of re-opening the hoary old Two Cultures debate (one side makes a case for Darwin or Newton, the other for Chaucer, Caxton or the Bard) or just a way for the BBC's Today programme, which came up with the result, to avoid politicians voting for each other as manwoman of the year.

Shakespeare is part of the curriculum and integral to our everyday discourse. Radios 3 and 4 both put out worthwhile programmes last month, respectively a series of short debates led by Peter Holland of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon and a compilation of contributions by some of the bestteachers of Shakespeare in primary schools. These are unavailable on tape, so listen for repeats in the spring, especially of Golden Lads and Girls, which includes children's contributions as well as stalwarts Rex Gibson, Sarah Gordon and Mark Rylance.

The Shakespeare Centre is to hold an international conference for teachers at all levels this year. Subtitled Multimedia Shakespeare: Methods and Materials, it will be in Stratford from August 8-14 and will involve members of the Royal Shakespeare Company and representatives of Arden Shakespeare, Film Education and Arkangel Productions, the company recording Shakespeare's plays on tape. The registration fee (excluding tickets and accommodation) is pound;120. Information and form from Gillian Marriott at the Shakespeare Centre (01789 201805, fax 01789 294911). The RSC will be running its Prince of Wales summer course for teachers as usual, also at Stratford in August (01789 296655 for information).

For general information about theatre for young people, don't forget the TES theatre for schools Web site (

Teachers probably feel they know more about neurotic realism from everyday experience than any of the artists in the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (0171 624 8299). It might be more relaxing - and more enlightening - to visit the elegant Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Islington. Coming up to its first birthday, this is a gem of a gallery, housed in a tall Georgian house in Canonbury Square, north London.

American Eric Estorick took his English bride, Salome, to Italy for their honeymoon in 1946 and fell in love with the modern, especially Futurist, art he saw there. They became serious collectors, and the results are on show in a house bought after Estorick's death with the proceeds of the sale of a Kandinsky and a Chagall set aside for the purpose.

The current special exhibition, Zang Tumb Tumb, concentrates on the Futurist graphic revolution, with books, manifestos and advertisements chronicling the wit, energy and anarchy of the movement. Futurism began with a manifesto published by the poet FT Marinetti in Le Figaro - it was an international movement from the first - in February 1909. It advocated the abandonment of "heritage" in favour of technology, speed and machines. This led for calls to destroy museums and libraries - ironic because Futurist artwork enhanced many publications by experimenting with typography and illustration.

Zang Tumb Tumb, the title of a book by Marinetti, is intended to imitate the sound of cannon in the Turko-Bulgarian war - Futurism could be violent: there was a spectacular riot on March 8, 1910 in Turin when the movement's advocates proclamed their beliefs at the theatre and in the street.

The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday and is free to children and students. There will be a teachers' evening on Wednesday (January 20) at 5.30pm, and two children's workshops during half-term and in the holidays (pound;6 per session). These are for 7 to 12-year-olds and will experiment with making Futurist pictures from letters and numerals.

Teacher's packs about the Estorick collection, for key stages 1, 2 and 3 (pound;4.50) and key stage 4 (pound;4) are available from the gallery at 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN. Adult admission is pound;2.50. Bookings for events must be made in advance through Roberta on 0171 704 9522.

Children's art will be on show between next Thursday and Sunday (January 21 and 24) at the Chisenhale Gallery in east London. Get Art is a three-year project to introduce young people to contemporary art. Work by pupils of Tower Hamlets special schools will be shown as part of a series of activities including workshops and discussions with artists. Details: 0181 981 4518.

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