Vulture considers the American West, quilting and mass singing
It would be difficult to imagine two landscapes less alike than the gentle green artifice of Capability Brown parkland and the lunar rockiness of Monument Valley.
However, the two will be brought together next Saturday (August 20) when John Ford's classic 1956 Western, The Searchers, is given an outdoor screening in the grounds of Compton Verney, the art museum near Kineton.
Generally regarded as one of the greatest of Ford's films, The Searchers stars John Wayne as a rootless pioneer who spends years trying to find the Indians who killed his brother's family and abducted his neice. It has been cited as major influence on some of today's leading directors, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
The screening, which starts at 8pm, is linked to Compton Verney's summer exhibition, The American West, which continues at the gallery until August 29.
The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see historical and contemporary works loaned exclusively to Compton Verney from museums in the United States, including the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma, the Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Centre, Wyoming.
Its curator, Jimmie Durham, will return to Compton Verney to discuss the themes explored in The American West on Thursday (August 18) at 7.30pm.
Durham is an artist, writer and activist of Cherokee descent. He previously worked for the American Indian Movement as Head of the International Indian Treaty Committee at the United Nations.
Compton Verney is open daily 11am-5pm Tue-Sun; late night opening Thur until 8pm; closed Mon except Bank Holidays, 11am-5pm. Further information at www.comptonverney.co.uk
Quilt-making is still a craft many people associate with American pioneer culture, but in its contemporary form it attracts enthusiasts from across the world.
The Festival of Quilts, Europe's largest quilt and textiles exhibition which returns to the NEC from Thursday, now draws visitors from an astonishing 50 countries worldwide, attracted by the recent revival of textile arts and ancient crafts.
The show, which continues until Sunday, features exhibitions and masterclasses by Californian artist Joan Schulze, whose work is represented in major American museums and will be showing the largest collection of her work ever exhibited outside the US, and renowned textile artist Kaffe Fassett, who will be launching a bookinspired by the quilts collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Leading British quiltmaker Gwenfai Rees Griffiths shows a retrospective of her 13-year career while Barbara Webster, a classical musician, environmentalist and photographer from the Blue Ridge Mountains who took up quilt-making a decade ago, will demonstrate her unusual photographic techniques.
Other notable exhibitors include Charlotte Yde ( Denmark), Heide Stoll-Weber ( Germany), Els van Baarle ( Netherlands) and Eszter Bornemisza (Hungary).
While collectors will find plenty to tempt them among the more than 1,000 quilts on display, there is also a great deal on offer for the hands-on quilt enthusiast, with 200 workshops taking place over the four days, aiming at all levels of experience, and a wide range of materials on sale.
Last week's appeal by Birmingham City Council for singers to take part in the city's ArtsFest "Big Voice" project has already been hailed a success by organisers, with over half of the available 1000 singing places already taken up.
The "Big Voice" appeal called on people from across the region's cultural and choral communities to join forces in a candlelit procession through the streets and along the canals of Birmingham on Saturday September 10. The procession, which celebrates Birmingham's vibrant singing tradition, will culminate with the spectacular sound of the 1000 voices singing in harmony in Centenary Square.
The brainchild of Jeffrey Sidmore, artistic director of chamber choir Ex Cathedra, the procession is built around Hanacpachap Cussicuinin, an evocative 17th Century Latin American processional hymn which featured on Ex Cathedra's bestselling CD of Latin American baroque music.
The "Big Voice" is led by an artistic team from Ex Cathedra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus and the City of Birmingham Young Voices. Other participating groups and choirs are Notorious, City of Birmingham Choir, SAMPAD and Birmingham Opera Company.
A related event for children, The Little Voice, takes place around Centenary Square and Broad Street on Sunday September 11.
Sharon Foster, who is keeping tabs on the volunteers, said: "We have been delighted with the response so far. In the week since we launched the appeal, we have already had over 500 volunteers come forward from all walks of the Midland's cultural life. We have had interest from full choirs, to single singers and even groups of friends who simply want to become involved in what is sure to be a memorable night out."
The "Big Voice" is funded by Birmingham City Council's Urban Fusion cultural programme and is the centre-piece of this year's Birmingham Arts-Fest celebrations, which run from September 9-11. Other performers over the ArtsFest weekend include Steel Pulse at Reggae Rockz, Soweto Kinch, Pato Banton, Birmingham Royal Ballet, CBSO, Birmingham Opera Company, Sampad and Ex Cathedra.
There are still places left on the procession, so if you or your singing group would like to get involved you can sign up now by calling Sharon on 0121 464 8555 or emailing urban_fusion@birmingham. gov.uk. You will be sent details of the event itself and of a number of free rehearsal sessions being held at the Council House in the run up to the procession.