Looking forward to 2014

The Vikings are coming…. In March the Vikings invade the British Museum wearing their famous horned helmets, brandishing bronze swords and generally raping and pillaging! No, no, that was last year in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland. This will be a much more learned affair reflecting the role of Vikings as cultural raiders and traders. The BM exhibition will also unveil its brand new Sainsbury Exhibition Centre for this show. It promises to be another treat for all of us ex-Vikings.

On a more peaceful note, perhaps, Wales is marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the poet Dylan Thomas with a series of events. A number of high profile Welshmen and women as well as HRH Prince of Wales have signed up to support the festival. Having spent quite a lot of time on the incredibly clever and interactive festival website I am afraid I can’t really tell you much more. But until March you can see Peter Blake’s illustrations for Under Milk Wood at the National Museum Cardiff.

The Vikings having left Edinburgh for London, the National Museum of Scotland turns the clock back even further with its Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition, opening on January 24 and running for three months. On show will be a life-size replica of a 42,000 year old baby mammoth as well as tusks and teeth. This is billed as a “family friendly” exhibition, so lots of interactivity (again).

After experiencing the wonderful Masterpieces of Chinese Painting at the V&A (closing on 19th January), I think I’ll hold for something more challenging at the NMS and wait till 27 June for the Ming: The Golden Empire. Edinburgh is the only UK venue for this touring exhibition, exploring the achievements of the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368-1644). On display will be iconic blue and white porcelain, silk textiles, gold and jades, rare examples of elaborately enamelled cloisonné, and detailed calligraphy.

Still time to catch … The Jack Vettriano exhibition at the Kelvingrove in Glasgow has had them queuing at the door! This is the first retrospective for this popular, but not-so-highly-regarded-artist by some critics. It will finish on 24th February, so book now to see the selection of some 100 paintings including his most iconic images such as the Singing Butler and this one ….

In Birmingham, the tapestries designed by my favourite contemporary artist, Grayson Perry, will go on show at the Museum and Art Gallery on 14th February for three months. Ironically called The Vanity of Small Differences the six large tapestries tell the story of Grayson Perry’s journey “on a safari amongst the taste tribes of Britain” – gently poking fun at the people he met. The tapestries have already been shown elsewhere but this will be a great opportunity to see them together at this popular Museum.

One of the London blockbusters in 2014 will be Tate Modern’s Matisse exhibition showing for the first time in the UK his late works. Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens on 17 April 2013. Matisse who died in 1953 was too weak to paint in his old age and returned to childhood by cutting out figures from coloured paper, then arranging them with help into stunning images. Many years ago I saw some of these in the Musee Matisse in Nice. This will be a real treat for all Matisse-lovers, and it will be buzzing – until 7 September.

Now for something completely different … Now for something different – Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-imagined at the Royal Academy. This exhibition will see the Main Galleries transformed by seven international architectural practices commissioned to created site-specific installations. This promises to be a multi-sensory experience and not the usual exhibition of architectural drawings and models as shown in the later Summer Exhibition. Could be interesting – watch this space – it opens on 25 January.

Not sure about Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014. This will open at the V&A on 3 May for a long run through till next year. Some 80 extravagant and romantic dresses will be on show and there will be many who will love this but perhaps not quite to David Bowie heights. I might be wrong…book your tickets now.

And here comes my favourite … My personal favourite – no surprise for those of you who know about my interest in the great painter – will of course be the Veronese exhibition at the National Gallery, subtitled Magnificence in Renaissance Venice and opening on 19th March in the main galleries. Some 50 works including the National Gallery’s ten Veroneses will be on display and the exhibition will continue until 15 June. At the same time the National Gallery of Scotland will be exploring Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Paintings. Trafalgar Square and Edinburgh – here I come!