High jinks and hi-tech fire the imagination
Judith Palmer reports
Days like these
Rodin's lovers are afforded a new moment of privacy at Tate Britain. The iconic sculpture The Kiss has been swathed in a mile of concealing string by British artist Cornelia Parker as part of the Tate's triennial exhibition of contemporary British art, Days Like These. Parker's loops of twine serve to draw attention away from the swooning lips towards other areas of the statue's marble musculature. Body fragments free from stringy intervention assume heightened erogeneity as Parker succeeds in encouraging closer inspection of a work dulled by overfamiliarity.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, colour and painting dominate. Jim Lambie's psychedelic striped floor is an excellent foil to David Bachelor's ceiling-high tower of multicoloured light boxes. Names to watch include George Shaw, who uses Humbrol Airfix model enamels to paint realistic scenes of derelict urban landscapes, and Gillian Carnegie, whose treacly textured painting of a dark forest is the show's star turn. Days Like These, Tate Britain, London, until May 26. www.tate.org.uk.
One of a Kind
Wayne McGregor's innovative contemporary dance company, Random Dance, has created its first production for children. Alpha, aimed at eight-year-olds and above, is set in a futuristic sanctuary of wonderful beasts. Devised in conjunction with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Alpha examines the impact of technology on the natural world. Wearing inflatable costumes, the dancers move against a backdrop of projected film animations with an electronic soundtrack by Jules Maxwell. In the run-up to the production, Random Dance teamed up with essexdance to organise live webcast workshop sessions beamed simultaneously to St Michael's junior school and Margaretting and The Priory primaries in Chelmsford. Available at www.alphadance.org, alongside teaching materials for key stage 2 covering ideas for art and design, literacy, geography, ICT and science. Alpha is on tour until June. March 18, Warwick Arts Centre: 02476 524252; March 20, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill: 01424 787949; March 17-April 5, venues across Suffolk: 01473 639230.
Pullman makes sparks fly
Philip Pullman receives his first stage adaptation with the premiere this week of a rumbustious family show based on his The Firework-Maker's Daughter (a Smarties Prize winner) at the Sheffield Crucible. Pullman's fantastical tale follows the fortunes of Lila, a courageous but headstrong young girl who is determined to become a master pyrotechnician like her father. Ignoring her father's protestations that firework-making is no job for a lady, Lila (Hayley Carmichael) sets out across sulphurous volcanic landscapes on a quest to discover the three magic secrets she'll need for success in her chosen profession. En route she trounces gangs of pirates and travels into the lair of the fire fiend.
This colourful action adventure about luck, hard work and willpower has been transformed into a sparkling musical piece by the physical theatre company Told by an Idiot. Resource materials are available online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.ukeducation. Until April 5. Info: 0114 249 6000.