Friday Arts Diary

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.

Art

Wellcome Collection, London NW1, Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings until 26 February

This exhibition is dedicated to the votive tradition in Mexico. Mexican votives are small paintings usually made on tin roof tiles or plaques. They show humble individuals asking a saint for help, who are then protected from sickness, danger or death. More than 100 votive paintings will be displayed, taken from five collections held by museums in Mexico. Other sources like news reports, photographs, film and interviews, make Infinitas Gracias a fascinating and comprehensive look at votives.

Comedy

Soho Theatre, London W1, Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends 7-9 and 12-15 October

According to his website, Eugene Mirman is a "comedian and hero who lives in Brooklyn". Mirman's humour is charmingly silly and he is best-known as Eugene the landlord in Flight of the Conchords. He is also the voice of Gene in Fox's animated series Bob's Burgers. The evening takes a varied format of short films, music, comedy and special guests.

Music

Hammersmith Apollo, London W6, Seasick Steve 8 October

Widely-known as Seasick Steve, Steven Gene Wold is an American blues musician. A winner of the MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act, Seasick Steve is a great live performer, famous for his three-string Trance Wonder guitar. Wold is widely-travelled and has lived in 56 different houses in 25 years, and his life experience comes across in his raw blues sound. He will play an array of past material and songs from his latest album You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.

Talks

The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London W1S, The Biggest IQ Test 12 October

The New Scientist launched a test in October 2010 to measure intelligence. It became exceptionally popular, with 100,000 people across the world answering it. The results of the biggest IQ test of all time show that there is not a single general form of intelligence. Roger Highfield and one of leading neuroscientist Adrian Owen will discuss the results and the influence of age, computer games and other factors on IQ. Standard tickets are priced £10, concessions are £7 and Ri Members are £5.

Theatre

The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Cirque Éloize: iD, 12-15 October

iD is a love story set in a city, made up of exciting circus arts and urban dance. Based in Montreal, Cirque Éloize have performed across the world in more than 30 countries. The first week of their show will be held in the brand new Marlowe Theatre, which opened on 4 October. The project began in 2009 when the old Marlowe Theatre - originally a 1930s cinema - was demolished.

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Listening to recordings from the Antarctic, I felt I could hear the earth groan

The Science Hour on the BBC World Service.

A weekend of listening to the radio news ­revealed nothing but sounds of the sucker-punched going through their pockets in a panic and repeating, “I thought you had the keys.” So, never was talk of “a perfectly flat area of just whiteness” more alluring. The oldest Antarctic ice yet recorded was recently found. “For millions of years,” the presenter Roland Pease assured listeners  (25 June, 9am), “snow has been falling, snow on snow, all the while trapping bubbles of air and other chemical traces of climate . . . insights into the ice ages and warm periods of the past.” How was this ice located? “The finding part is pretty easy – you just go there and start shovelling, and ice comes up,” the lead geologist, Jaakko Putkonen, said.

There it was, buried under a layer of dirt “in barren wastelands” high in the middle of Antarctica. An “incredibly mountainous and remote and . . . quite hideous region, really”, Pease said, though it was sounding pretty good to me. The world dissolved into a single, depthless tone. Then Pease mentioned the surprising fizzing of this ancient ice – trapped air bubbles whooshing as they melt. Which is perhaps the thing you least expect about ice regions and ice caps and glaciers: the cacophony. Thuds and moans. Air that folds and refolds like the waving of gigantic flags. Iced water sleeping-dragonishly slurping and turning.

On Friday Greenpeace posted a video of the pianist Ludovico Einaudi giving a haunting performance on a floating platform to mark an imminent meeting of the OSPAR Commission, as it decided on a proposal to safeguard 10 per cent of the Arctic Ocean. Einaudi looked occasionally stunned by the groaning around him. A passing glacier popped and boomed like the armies of Mordor, ice calving from its side, causing mini-tsunamis. When last year I spent some time at the remote Eqi Glacier in Greenland, close to the ice cap, local people certainly spoke of the ice as if it were living: “It’s quiet today,” delivered as though gazing at the fractious contents of a Moses basket.

“This huge cake of ice, basically flat”, Putkonen said, perhaps longing for a moment of deep-space silence, for peaceful detachment. He wasn’t the only one being forced to reappraise a landscape very differently.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 30 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit lies