Art beat;Arts

26th June 1998 at 01:00
I have seen the Super Lamb Banana, and it is buttercup yellow. The citizens of Liverpool are already familiar with this symbolic veg-animal, but the rest of us have not perhaps appreciated its startling colour from photographs. Standing as big as a truck beside the elegant Art Deco tower of the Mersey Tunnel ventilation shaft, this striking sculpture, by Japanese artist Taro Chiezo, is part of artranspennine98. The exhibition is huge: more than 50 artists have worked on 40 projects in 30 sites between the Tate Gallery in Liverpool and Hull, 130 miles away.

Chiezo's work is symbolic in two senses: the artist has combined a reference to Liverpool as a trading port (the first bananas to reach Britain were landed here in the 19th century) with modern anxieties about genetic engineering and the future (toy lambs are the Japanese equivalent of the teddy bear). It also represents the integration of art into the community and is the cause of passionate debate. Visitors can join a walk around local sites or take a bus trip to see the far-flung exhibits, with historical and sociological commentary accompanying the art.

The Tate, celebrating its 10th birthday with extended gallery space and education resources, emphasises accessibility. Toby Jackson, the gallery's head of education, and a team of five (sometimes augmented by freelance experts) have built up excellent working relationships with schools in and around the city. There are specialist events for post-graduates, and Young Tate caters for people in their teens and early twenties. One team member, Adrian Plant, works on community projects, including one for men convicted of domestic violence which is organised with the probation service.

There are family activities on Sunday afternoons when anything up to 100 adults and children will "drop in" to work together with different materials. A leaflet is available for schools with details of introductory sessions, courses and workshops, which will run until June 1999. There is an in-service conference, aimed at developing primary teachers' knowledge of modern and contemporary art, on July 10 and 11. But, whether you're a student or a teacher, the Tate is a glorious place to visit: it's free (except for major exhibitions), set on the edge of the Albert Dock, and offers an enticing entry into the sometimes confusing world of contemporary art. (Telephone: 0151 709 3223.)

As the exam season ends, teenagers all over the country prepare for the summer pop-and-mud fests. Glastonbury, the big one, starts today and has an impressive line-up, including the grandfather of protest, Bob Dylan. WOMAD, a celebration of world music with 50 artists - Chumbawamba among them - from 23 countries, at Rivermead, Reading between July 24 and 26, is more child-friendly. There will be a creche, puppet-making and a funfare. Each adult can take in one child under 14 free. (Tel: 0118 939 0930.) Less energetic fans may prefer to visit Shakespeare's Globe for the WOMAD acoustic concert on July 19. (Tel: 0171 401 9919.) RhythmSticks98 runs from July 18 to 26 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. A celebration of world, jazz and rock drumming and percussion, it offers workshops and children's events, including Rock School featuring Wet Wet Wet's Steve Washington. (Tel: 0171 960 4242.) More conventional music lovers are probably already planning their Prom visits. This year Blue Peter celebrates its 40th birthday by teaming up with the BBC Philharmonic for two children's concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on September 6 and 7. The first is for families and the second, on the first Monday afternoon of term, for school parties. Blue Peter presenter Katy Hill will be on hand to introduce favourites such as Ravel's "Bolero" and Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" - as well as "Barnacle Bill", the Blue Peter signature tune. Two hundred pupils from the Islington Music Centre have been invited to sing with the Philharmonic. (Tel: 0171 765 5666.) A similar concert featuring the Blue Peter team will be held at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on August 29. (Tel: 0161 907 9000.)

The Young Vic has two set books, Twelfth Night and As I Lay Dying, running in rep, both featuring terrific ensemble work and atmospheric music (0171 928 6363). The Royal Shakespeare Company will reveal backstage aspects of its production of Twelfth Night on July 4 (Tickets pound;4.50pound;2.50; tel 01789 295623).

Cheek by Jowl's funny and thoughtful Much Ado about Nothing is at the Playhouse in London (0171 839 4401). For more information about set plays on stage, turn to page 27.

If you want to escape the end-of-term rush with your pupils, try Noel Greig's adaptation of Alice at the Nottingham Playhouse. It's billed as a refreshing alternative to World Cup fever. Watch that Cheshire Cat smile fade. (Tel: 0115 941 9419.)

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