News, Culture & Society

Culture in Milton Keynes is no longer a laughing matter with the newly expanded MK Gallery

Culture in Milton Keynes is no longer a laughing matter with the newly expanded MK Gallery which has an impressive exhibition schedule

MK Gallery

Milton Keynes

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There were a few chuckles 18 months ago when Milton Keynes launched a bid to become 2023’s European Capital of Culture. The Buckinghamshire town has long had the reputation as a kind of nowheresville, whose finest cultural offerings were its sculptures of concrete cows. 

(J G Ballard once said he suspected ‘eternity would look like Milton Keynes’.)

Brexit ended up thwarting the Capital of Culture bid – but the news hasn’t been all bad of late. This spring, the town’s main art gallery reopened after a £12 million expansion. 

MK Gallery's most striking new feature is the shiny exterior of the stainless-steel extension. It has a circular window at its centre, making the whole thing look like a giant tumble dryer

MK Gallery’s most striking new feature is the shiny exterior of the stainless-steel extension. It has a circular window at its centre, making the whole thing look like a giant tumble dryer

MK Gallery is now double the size it was when it opened in 1999 and has two very welcome additions in the form of a cafe and a lecture theatre.

The most striking new feature, though, is the shiny exterior of the stainless-steel extension. Its facade has a circular window at its centre, making the whole thing look like a giant tumble dryer. 

Its current show, The Lie Of The Land (until May 26), takes a lively look at this country’s changing relationship with its landscape over the centuries (Hiking by James Walker Tucker)

Its current show, The Lie Of The Land (until May 26), takes a lively look at this country’s changing relationship with its landscape over the centuries (Hiking by James Walker Tucker)

The gleaming surface seems apt, given the gleaming optimism that accompanied Milton Keynes’s emergence in 1967 as the biggest of our post-war New Towns.

None of this would matter, of course, if the art inside were no good, but MK Gallery has an impressive exhibition schedule. Its current show, The Lie Of The Land (until May 26), takes a lively look at this country’s changing relationship with its landscape over the centuries, featuring artists from J M W Turner to Henry Moore.

Plampin by Thomas Gainsborough is also part of MK Gallery's The Lie Of The Land, featuring artists from J M W Turner to Henry Moore

Plampin by Thomas Gainsborough is also part of MK Gallery’s The Lie Of The Land, featuring artists from J M W Turner to Henry Moore

Later in the year, visitors can expect a Paula Rego retrospective and an exhibition on the great equestrian artist George Stubbs.

Whisper it, but culture in Milton Keynes is no longer a laughing matter.

 

City Observatory

38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh

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Calton Hill has long been one of the most visited spots in Edinburgh. Right in the city centre, it has not only panoramic views but also many marvellous structures – such as the National Monument, inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.

Another is the domed City Observatory designed by neoclassical architect William Henry Playfair in 1818. Over time, alas, it became used for looking at fewer and fewer stars, and by the start of this century had fallen into complete disuse.

The observatory was duly lost behind hoardings and bushes – until this past winter, when it was reopened as an exhibition space by not-for-profit visual-arts organisation Collective, after a £4.5 million fundraising campaign.

The observatory was duly lost behind hoardings and bushes – until this past winter, when it was reopened as an exhibition space by not-for-profit visual-arts organisation Collective

The observatory was duly lost behind hoardings and bushes – until this past winter, when it was reopened as an exhibition space by not-for-profit visual-arts organisation Collective

Currently on show is Workers!, a film made by Swedish artist Petra Bauer, in collaboration with a group of sex workers (until June 30).

Only time will tell if the shows here live up to the setting – can contemporary art ever really thrive in a heritage venue? – and particular attention will surely be heaped on Collective during this summer’s Edinburgh Festival.

For now, though, let’s all just celebrate the second coming of a true Edinburgh landmark.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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