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What’s On in the Country? The Culture Diary

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What’s On in the Country? The Culture Diary

Don't miss the best cultural events in the UK during the month...

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Topics: Art / Cooking / Country / Culture / Design / Exhibitions / Little Black Book / Pack your bags / Sculpture / travel / Weekend breaks /

What’s on this week in the countryside and the UK beyond London? Wonder no more! Find out all the hottest show openings, new art exhibitions, restaurants to book into and more. Here’s your culture guide to the month ahead…


Looking for events in London? Check out our Town Culture Diary

What’s On in the Country this Month? June 2019

31 May

The Upside Down House, The Triangle Bournemouth

On November 10th, Bournemouth welcomed the wild and wonderful new the Upside Down House. Using the UK’s first inverted wooden structure, the experiential house is a mix of street art and immersive entertainment. The zero-gravity illusion means visitors can walk on the ceiling and go downstairs to go up throughout the two-storey building. Open until June 2019,

1 June

‘What is Home?’ Exhibition at Croome Court, Worcestershire

The National Trust's new exhibition at the Croome Court asks "What is Home?".

Credit: Jack Nelson

Taking inspiration from its grand 18th century venue, the art installation looks specifically at Croome’s past life as St Joseph’s School for Boys (1948-1978) to examine the question “what is home?”. A year in the making, the lead artist Kashif Nadim Chaudry has worked with ex-pupils and children currently in the care system. The process has manifested in a thought-provoking and powerful exhibition consisting of personal objects chosen by participants, accompanied by the real-life stories they tell. 16 March – 1 July 2020.

2 June

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things, West Yorkshire

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things

Born in Kenya in 1950, Odundo moved to the UK in 1971 to attend art school. After choosing ceramics as her preferred medium, Odundo travelled to Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to study their ceramic traditions. Odundo’s desire to learn about vernacular crafts has taken her across the globe to Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America. This journeying has inspired Odundo’s own unique visual language – her hand-built forms are often asymmetrical, large in size and with dynamic silhouettes that often conjure the human body. The vessels are burnished rather than glazed and fired in ways that create her distinctive surfaces of vibrant orange, velvety black, or a dramatic interplay of the two. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Farshid Moussavi OBE, the exhibition will situate Odundo’s work at the heart of a constellation of objects that Odundo has drawn inspiration from British studio pottery by Hans Coper and Lucy Rie; ancient vessels from Greece and Egypt; historic ceramics from Africa, Asia and Central America; ritual sculpture and objects from across the African continent; Elizabethan costume and textiles; as well as contemporary objects including a large work by artist El Anatsui. The exhibition will explore Odundo’s interest in her own diasporic identity and the charged role that objects have played, and continue to play, in intercultural relationships today. February 16 – June 2.

5 June

Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, Leeds

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,’ said William Morris, inspiring Harewood House in Yorkshire to name its inaugural biennial exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters. Hugo Macdonald, curator, investigates the importance of craft as an expression of humanity through a variety of makers, ranging from brands to designers. 23 March – 1 September.

6 June

Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford

Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean

A major exhibition of Jeff Koons’ work (b. 1955) will be held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in spring 2019. Curated with Koons himself together with guest curator Norman Rosenthal, the show will feature seventeen important works, fourteen of which have never been exhibited in the UK before. They span the artist’s entire career and his most well-known series including Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings. February 7 – June 9.

9 June

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

The new MK Gallery, designed by Award-winning architects 6a, will open in February 2019, doubling the size of the current building and creating a world-class centre for contemporary arts in the heart of Milton Keynes. The new building will include a flexible suite of galleries to accommodate a rich variety of works, historical and contemporary. It will also include a cinema/performance space, a new foyer and bookshop, an informal bar/café, a learning space, plus areas for reading and study. Until July 2019,

14 June

Nevill Holt Opera, Leicestershire

Nevill Holt Opera, Leicestershire

Dubbed ‘the Glyndebourne of the Midlands’, last year Nevill Holt Opera opened a brand new theatre, designed to elevate young, developing voices. NHO supports emerging global operatic talent, and RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architectural studio, Witherford Watson Mann, has worked with world leading acousticians, Sound Space Vision, to realise its mission. This means the estate’s country house, originally owned by the Cunard family who were renowned hosts, has come full circle in the last few years, now attracting thousands of glamorous operagoers each summer. Performances of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream promise another showstopping set of atmospheric summer evenings. LAST REMAINING TICKETS: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 12 – 16 June,

15 June

Garsington Opera, Oxford

Its 30th anniversary season, set in the enchanting Wormsley estate, will showcase four new productions, including the UK stage premiere of Offenbach’s hypnotic Fantasio, Mozart’s darkly powerful Don Giovanni and Britten’s classic masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw. 29 May – 26 July;

Smoked & Uncut Festival, Somerset

Smoked & Uncut’s reliably delectable range of upmarket food and drink make this the prime event for more discerning festival goers. The glamping village at The Pig near Bath and Lime Wood is back, complete with a feast of Italian fare, courtesy of chef Angela Hartnett. 15 June, 6 & 27 July,

16 June

Fresh Air Sculpture, Gloucestershire

Fresh Air Sculpture JitkaPalmerFA19Floating Beauty, Bath stone 2

The beautiful and extensive gardens of The Old Rectory in the Cotswold village of Quenington are the backdrop to this biennial contemporary sculpture show. Both traditional and experimental works, functional and decorative, large and small, are sprinkled throughout the grounds. But these pieces aren’t just for show. On sale with prices ranging from £50 to £50,000, it’s one of the most enchanting shopping experiences, since many installations have been created specifically for the gardens. Highlights include a ceramic installation across the river by Elaine Bolt, willow sculptures by Mary Butcher MBE and Julia Clarke, and Metamorphoman by John Williams. The Pool House Gallery will host a smaller-scale exhibition, entitled From Where I’m Standing, in which artists interpret ‘views’ using media ranging from cloth to metals. 16 June – 7 July,

21 June

The Tempest, UK Tour

UK Tempest Tour, Illyria


Illyria, the only UK open air touring company to have won four international awards, brings The Tempest to life in Britain’s most atmospheric outdoor locations, including the castles of Thirlestane in Edinburgh and Arundel in Chichester. 21 June – 8 September.

22 June

David Smith at Yorkshire Sculpture Park


This will be the first solo exhibition of David Smith’s work in the UK since Tate Modern’s 2006 project, and with 40 sculptures from throughout his life it will be a wonderful exploration into the acclaimed American artist’s career and its evolution; tracking four decades from Smith’s experimental works in the 1930s to the bold large-scale statements of the 1960s. Standing proudly against English countryside, there is no better setting to appreciate Smith’s brilliant oeuvre. 22 June – 6 January 2020,

26 June

063 Urban Songline at Tate St Ives

Tate St Ives

A two-metre-high silver ball will be rolled through the streets of St Ives, paying homage to the 1000-year-old St Ives Feast Day tradition of ‘hurling’. The Feast Day takes place each February, and the tradition involves a small silver ball being chased through the town before being returned to the Mayor on the steps of the Guildhall. Artist Allard van Hoorn has reimagined the silver ball at a much larger scale, with the aim of creating something unique which evokes a sense of community and to celebrate St Ives. Residents have helped plan the ball’s route, and some will be taking part in the performance by helping guide the ball along. For more information visit

World’s First AI Robot Artist Solo Exhibition, Oxford

Ai-Da AI

For those interested in Artificial Intelligence and the role it will undoubtedly play in our futures, this is one for the diary. The Barn Gallery will host the world’s first ever AI robot’s solo exhibition. Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra realistic humanoid robot artists will be showcasing the Unsecured Futures exhibit at Oxford University, marking not only the first appearance of her work but also her first public appearance. With a pencil in hand, Ai-Da is able to draw people form life using her eye (or rather, processes and algorithms developed by scientists at Oxford University). The exhibition will include drawings, paintings, sculpture and video art, all exploring our relationship with technology and the natural world. 12 June – 6 July, St John’s College, The Barn Gallery, Oxford

World’s First AI Robot Artist Solo Exhibition, Oxford

30 June

Talking Maps Exhibition at The Weston Library, Oxford


As if Donald Trump’s presidency could get any stranger, Bodleian Libraries have analysed the controversial figure’s tweets to find that the larger the country, the more tweets it features in. Bodleian Libraries have created a cartogram to offer a clearer visual representation of this absurd correlation, further demonstrating the use of Twitter by Donald Trump in his creation of global policy. The cartogram has been released ahead of the Bodleian Libraries’ Talking Maps exhibition which includes everything from the first modern map of Britain to Grayson Perrry’s contemporary tapestry map designed to express the state of the nation following the Brexit vote. 5 July – 8 March 2020, The Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford

8 July

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre Recreated at Blenheim Palace


We love a Shakespearean inspired day out, and a trip to this full-scale version of the Elizabethan playhouse will be a winner for the whole family. Popping up for 9 weeks in the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site’s historic grounds of Blenheim Palace, guests can choose from an array of the bard’s greatest hits including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. The theatre will house an audience of 900 with 560 heated on three tiered balconies around an open-roofed courtyard. There’s also free admission to a Shakespearan-style village where wagon merriment, a glorious Elizabethan garden, Oxfordshire food and drink served in the reed-thatched Bear Arms pub, a village pond, farm wagons and carts evoke a bygone rural age, allowing guests to truly immerse themselves in Shakespeare’s day and age. 8 July – 7 September; theatre tickets from £12 for children and £15 for adults; ore information and tickets at

26 July

The Hatch Ballet, Wiltshire

Hatch Ballet


This summer stunner is back with a bang for its tenth year, set in the natural theatre of Hatch House’s beautifully wild 17th-century gardens. Growing organically from humble beginnings, this dance extravaganza now showcases the gold standard of global ballet dancers. This year, Ksenia Ovsyanick, Principal of Staatsballett Berlin, will return to perform at Hatch, along with Steven McRae, Principal of The Royal Ballet, who will dance a work that fuses ballet and tap. Xander Parish OBE, Principal of the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg, will also feature over the weekend – the first British dancer to be employed by this prestigious company. Though the ethereal movement of such world-class dancers under the stars is undeniably the magic of the night, it’s enhanced by complimentary champagne and a three-course wine and dine delectation. This grand plan, devised by Matt Brady, director of The Covent Garden Dance Company, is as flawless as the dancers themselves. 26 – 28 July,

23 August

Manchester Pride, Manchester

Pride Parade, Manchester Pride 2018

This year’s Manchester Pride is on course to be the biggest yet with more events celebrating LGBT+ life than ever before. Manchester Pride campaigns for equality, looks to challenge prejudice and create opportunities that engage LGBT+ people. This year’s Pride Festival will be made up of Manchester Pride Live, the Candlelit Vigil, the Superbia Weekend, the Gay Village Party, Manchester Pride Parade, Youth Pride MCR and a number of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) events also. Although Manchester Pride is renowned for its great parties, this year’s Superbia Weekend is also a must to attend; the charity’s alternative to traditional Pride celebrations, it will be an alcohol free space that offers a culturally rich weekend of premiers, art, conversation, cabaret, and community workshops.  Superbia Weekend is on 23 – 26 August, Manchester Pride Parade will take place on 23 August,

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