At last the list of movies is out and we can get properly excited about one of the best events for armchair escapists on the calendar. And it’s being held in Sheffield, recently dubbed The Outdoor City for its easy access to al fresco thrills...
Love the wilderness? Love the rush of pure adrenaline? Or maybe you prefer to enjoy extreme sports and great views without the cold toes and chattering teeth while others chase big thrills? Whatever your effort levels, Sheffield’s eleventh annual Adventure Film Festival promises to get the adrenaline coursing.
ShAFF is taking place in the Showroom cinema, right opposite the station, so you can easily and get there by train. The venue has a popular café, which provides a perfect hangout between showings and an enviable array of cakes. Don’t worry, you can burn off the calories later when you’ve been inspired by the on-screen action.
There’s probably no better way to see the world without the jetlag than by watching the 32 global locations showcased in over 100 films at ShAFF. And that’s a big part of the appeal. Stunning vistas and the great outdoors seem all the more enticing when they are brought to the heart of an urban environment.
Expect plenty of extreme sports action and daredevil skills, although the festival celebrates more than big air and big tricks – there is some poignant filmmaking to enjoy too. This will be your last chance to see Discovery Channel documentary Sherpa before it screens on TV. The film examines the fallout of avalanches in 2014 that killed 16 members of the Mount Everest Sherpa community. Flying Dagger is the story of Wingsuiter Jeb Corliss who struggles to come to terms with near-fatal injuries resulting from a dreadful fall. Another must-see is Unbranded, which follows four young cowboys embarking on a 3,000-mile wild mustang ride from Mexico to Canada.
As well as full-length movies, there are a series of shorts collected into categories such as adrenaline films, climbs and mountain bike films so you can see outdoor pursuits in all their glory on an epic screen.
If all this action doesn’t warm you up for next month’s release – on April Fools’ Day – of the Eddie The Eagle movie, you must have frost in your veins.
Can machines think? And is it art? Two questions posed by Manchester Art Gallery in its exploration of the imitation of life – a robot revolution that will see the exhibition space overrun by machines and automata.
This new exhibition riffs on the silver screen success of The Imitation Game, the story of mathematician Alan Turing and his quest to harness the power of computers during WWII and beyond.
Turing posed the question as part of a wider consideration of machines and their capabilities: “Are there imaginable digital computers that would do well in the imitation game?” His famous test – whether a machine could fool a human into thinking they were conversing with another human most of the time – has become the industry standard for determining the abilities of computers. Coming at a time when we may regularly converse with machines we call Siri or Cortana – the voice interfaces of our smartphones – or watch as our cars park themselves, it’s a timely exhibition.
The Imitation Game includes three new commissions and works never before seen in the UK, from domestic and international artists. And if your awareness of artificial intelligence extends only as far as K9 from Doctor Who you’re likely to be startled.
Tove Kjellmark’s contribution consists of two robots in deep philosophical discussion about the nature of human consciousness, powered by brain-simulation technology developed in Manchester. Read love letters written by robots and watch as machines create art; see two wheelchairs in love as they respond to the audience and each other.
Running simultaneously is To Be Human, an exploration of portraits by David Hockney, Francis Bacon and others, examining what it is to be human. It’s an intriguing counterpoint to an exhibition in which robots seek to replicate our humanity – and a great opportunity to see some of Britain’s finest artwork.
It’s no coincidence that the The Imitation Game takes place in Manchester. Turing was working at The University of Manchester when he first posed the question and the world’s first stored-program computer was developed in the city. Fittingly, The Imitation Game forms a major contribution to Manchester’s role as European City of Science 2016 – a programme of events that will see a raft of new commissions and a series of talks, performances and workshops over the year.
Look out for curated talks and presentations throughout March – and for robots approaching with a strange look in their electronic eyes.
Newcastle’s Laing Gallery is something of a hidden wonder in the city. It’s very close to the heart of the action, but just out of sight of the main shopping avenue of Northumberland Street. Most visitors who reach the landmark Grey’s Monument from the station swivel back down beautiful Grey Street past the Theatre Royal and towards the Quayside. But if you head east towards the city’s central library, you’re only yards from the Laing and the treasures within. It occupies a corner spot and is noticeable thanks to a small glass atrium and columned tower.
The Laing is currently home to ten of the finest drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in an exhibition made possible by a loan from the Royal Collection. This selection from a pool of 600 originals captures the full range of the great artist’s interests, covering zoology, engineering, mapmaking, anatomy and botany. It also features work across a range of media, including watercolour, chalk and ink.
Opportunities to see art of this importance are relatively rare outside the great galleries of the world, so this is not to be missed. Da Vinci’s fascination with such diverse disciplines and excellence across so many fields spawned the Renaissance man label and gives his work enduring appeal.
Paintings by da Vinci are rare, but his drawings are far more numerous. Nevertheless, this exhibition is even more compelling thanks to the provenance of the work. The Royal Collection is believed to have come from a single bound album of work that experts believe Charles II acquired in the 17th century.
While da Vinci’s work is on display, there are talks celebrating the artist's output and influence across a range of disciplines, plus regular Laing activities, such as life drawing classes for adults.
This deceptively spacious gallery is a perennial favourite with locals in the know. Northern Spirit is a permanent display celebrating the work of artists and makers in Newcastle and the North East. Internationally acclaimed pieces are on display including painting and glasswork. The 18th and 19th century gallery is also a constant, though the selection of work shown is frequently refreshed from the collection. Here you can enjoy key Pre-Raphaelite paintings by William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones as well as a clutch of work from Newcastle historical painter John Martin.
The gallery is closed on Mondays, except Bank Holidays. Admission is free, though admission to the da Vinci drawings exhibition costs £2.50 for over 12s.