Nottingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations got underway earlier this month with a dazzling display of textiles at Lakeside Arts Centre.
The exhibition, which is curated by Xuesen Zeng, is an homage to the embroidery of the Miao community, who live in south-western China.
The Miao people, who are cut off by the mountains, have no written language so they use highly elaborate garments as a way of identifying their heritage and beliefs. As you might expect, the ceremonial costumes are particularly impressive, for example the wedding and festival dresses are made up of many layers and ornate silver jewellery.
Like many artisan techniques, China’s rapid industrialisation could signal a decline in Miao craftsmanship. Increasingly, people are now working long hours and do not have the time to hand stitch these beautiful clothes. Moreover, if members of the younger generation do not learn these embroidery skills, they could be lost forever.
The exhibition, which is in the Wallner Gallery, runs until 10th February. Entry is free. For more details on the Chinese New Year celebrations in Nottingham visit the Lakeside Arts Centre website.
The characters in this production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which opened at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre this evening, say that ‘the woods are just trees and the trees are just wood’ – which sounds harmless enough. But fairy tales, despite their happy endings, are known for being dark – and these woods are certainly sinister.
Based on the stories of the Brothers Grimm, the well-known narratives of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood are woven together as they all enter the woods which are full of danger and opportunity. In the woods, there are mythical dangers – the giant and the wolf – but there are also real traumas such as marital strife and a parent’s sense of loss when their child leaves home.
And while these themes simmer just below the surface, they do not detract from the humour of the musical, which was executed well by the characters. The cast used the space at Lakeside really well – there was no curtain separating them from the audience and characters were often lurking in different parts of the theatre. The overall effect was of a folk play which reflected both the sense of tradition and timeless nature of the themes.
Stand out performances came from the cast members, who all had strong singing voices and did not waver during the long show. A special mention should go to youngster Mahesh Parmar who played the narrator and tackled some difficult songs. The orchestra too was flawless – and perhaps the only thing that let the performance down was a problem with the sound which meant we couldn’t hear some of it clearly enough.
Into the Woods runs until Saturday. For tickets visit the website.