Beatrix Potter

Artist & Illustrator - Dulwich Picture Gallery 12 October - 22 January

Beatrix Potter, Artist & Illustrator, is the latest of the Gallery's popular Christmas exhibitions celebrating the work of well-known illustrators.

Peter Rabbit, probably her most famous character, may be universally known, but many of her most original works were neither reproduced nor exhibited in her lifetime, and her international fame rests on only a small part of her output. This exhibition offers a broad survey of her art in all its variety: early watercolours, together with early editions of the Peter Rabbit books - or the Little White Books as they were called.

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was born into a prosperous and artistic family living in South Kensington. Through constant practice, striving and experiment, she rose too a high level of competence in her drawing. The inspiration that she found during holiday escapes from London, especially to Scotland or the Lake District, is reflected both in her distinguished achievement as an illustrator of natural history and in the Little Books that began almost by accident. A modest woman, she never sought popularity through her art, but her books inspire a love of rural England. As a farmer and a pioneering conservationist, Beatrix Potter worked to preserve the landscape settings of her tales.

The pictures are being lent from both national and international sources. Private loans have made it possible to include less familiar materials, some never before exhibited.

The curator of the exhibition, and author of the full-colour catalogue, produced by Beatrix Potter's publishers, Frederick Warne, is Anne Stevenson-Hobbs, formerly Frederick Warne Curator of Children's Literature at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition is supported by Harvey & Wheeler of Dulwich Village.

The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe

These days Marlowe's plays are infrequently performed but the Dulwich Players, to mark the 400th anniversary of Edward Alleyn's purchase of the manor pf Dulwich and to celebrate the unveiling of his statue are presenting The Jew of Malta. The play was written for Alleyn to perform at the Rose Theatre on Bankside in 1592. It traces the story of Barabas, a rich Maltese merchant, from a man victimised by the local authorities, to a ruthless monster, consumed by lust, avarice and revenge. According to the Dulwich Players' director, Dave Hollander, it is important to consider that the pace and style of the piece do not tend towards heavy-handed tragedy - rather he firmly places it in the tradition of Renaissance black comedy. He says, "In general, despite the use of strong meter, the writing has a more direct, narrative feel than many Shakespearean plays."

The Jew of Malta will be performed at the Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College at 8pm 19-22 October. Tickets from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village £6.

Conserving Rembrandt's Girl at a Window

Girl at a Window, signed and dated 1645 by Rembrandt, is Dulwich Picture Gallery's most famous painting and has recently undergone conservation. This is the twenty-fifth picture to be conserved with funding from the Getty Foundation. One hundred other pictures have been conserved under the Adopt an Old Master scheme.

The conservation has been carried out by Sophie Plender, Dulwich's consultant conservator for the last fifteen years. Sophie is also a Dulwich resident. The National Gallery generously invited her to work on Girl at a Window in their conservation studio.

The painting was revarnished 150 years ago and the surface cleaned sometime after World War ll. Recent cleaning has revealed an astonishing range of colours used in the girl's face: yellow, blue, green, orange, red. Also we can see more clearly now the remarkably bold highlight on the girl's nose - a great blob of white. In the right hand background is the much-darkened evidence of some kind of textile hanging, with a lozenge pattern and fringe.

The x-ray shows a mysterious structure at the bottom right corner and that Rembrandt tightened up the outline of her right arm and created a sense of leaning out from an enclosed space. There has been some damage to the fabric of the girls' left sleeve; a past restorer has made matters slightly worse by smearing over the damage. In addition, the painting was beginning to show some evidence of raised cracking and the picture's radiance was dimmed by old yellowed varnish. Fortunately the lining was sound, so no intervention was required there.

So, who is she? In France she was known as La Servante de Rembrandt, or La Crasseuse (roughly, The Sloven). Her very distinctive face certainly appears elsewhere in the work of Rembrandt and his studio, most famously in a picture in Stockholm, where she is older, and in another famous painting of a Girl with Dead Peacocks in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, where she is younger.

The elegant hand at the throat, and that curiously urchin-like face - these things combine with a technique that through the brilliant use of colour suggests warmth and life. Not a person then, but humanity itself.

London Festival of Chamber Music - 11th Season

Four of the London Festival of Chamber Music's Eleventh Season of concerts are being held at St. Faith's Church, Red Post Hill (see "What's On in Dulwich"). The theme of this year's Festival is French chamber music, with works between 1893 and 1927. These include quartets and quintets by Debussy, Ravel, Fauvre, and Milhaud ("La Creation du Monde" in the piano quintet version, the String Sextet by Vincent D'indy, and songs for voice and ensemble by Chausson, Ravel, Fauvre and Poulenc. With the addition of major works by Mozart, Schumann, Brahms and Dvorak, the Festival's programme has great variety and depth. Among the artists taking part are the English String Quartet (Diana Cummings,Keith Lewis, Luciano Iorio, Nick Holland), pianist Martin Jones, mezzo soprano Zoe Todd.

South London Gallery

The Gallery shows the work of mid-career British artists, and emerging and established international artists in an annual programme of contemporary art exhibitions.

Mark Dion : Microcosmographia 9 September - 30 October

Prehistoric reptiles, gigantic mammals and live piranhas are among the curiosities used in the work of American contemporary artist Mark Dion, in his first solo exhibition in the UK since 1997. The centre piece of the exhibition will be a life-sized replica ofa beached prehistoric aquatic animal, known as Ichthyosaur, with relics from the history of the natural sciences spilling from its belly. The work of another 'gentleman scientist', Jean Henri Fabre, provides the inspiration for Les Necrophores-L'Enterrement. A giant mole, crawling in giant beetles, will be suspended from the ceiling by a noose. The work pays homage to this untrained nineteenth century scholar who set out to prove he intelligence of insects through a series of bizarre experiments. Alexander von Humboldt (Amazon Memorial) consists of a decorative tank of live piranhas commemorating the man that Charles Darwin described as 'the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived'

Her Noise 10 November - 18 December

Visitors are invited to record music on the spot using the voice of Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, and to experience the vibrations of a sensuous sonic bed in the exhibition 'Her Noise'. The exhibition features six newly commissioned installations by international artists whose practice shares the use of sound as a medium to investigate social relations, inspire action or uncover hidden soundscapes. New installations by Kim Gordon, De Geuzen, Emma Hedditch, Christina Kubisch, Kaffe Matthews and Hayley Newman all involve high levels of participation and are set in motion only when used by visitors or performers forming a base for events, live music and performances.

The SLG, situated in Peckham Road, in is open Tuesday to Sunday 12-6pm.

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