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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 11:22 GMT
2001 review: The arts
Madonna with Turner prize winner Martin Creed
Madonna with Turner prize winner Martin Creed
From a potentially bird-blinding sculpture to a prize-winning empty room, BBC News Online chronicles the highs and lows of the year in the arts world.


Ulsterman Michael Longley won the £10,000 TS Eliot Prize, considered by many to be the UK's top poetry prize, beating Nobel prizewinner Derek Walcott.

Michael Williams and Dame Judi Dench in A Fine Romance
January: Michael Williams, actor and Dame Judi Dench's husband, died
Matthew Kneale won the prestigious Whitbread Prize for English Passengers, but only after chairman of the voting panel Sir Tim Rice had to use his casting vote.

The English National Ballet celebrated 50 years with a gala performance and the Greek tragedy Medea opened in London.

The Genius of Rome exhibition opened at the Royal Academy to much acclaim.

But pop artist Peter Blake angered traditionalists at the Royal Academy of Arts by inviting controversial artists such as Damien Hirst to show work in this year's Summer Exhibition.

The BBC's head of news, Tony Hall, was confirmed as the new executive director of the Royal Opera House, ending months of speculation.

April: Chicago welcomed new cast member Denise Van Outen
April: Chicago welcomed new cast member Denise Van Outen
His appointment was greeted with considered coolness by opera critics.

Sadly, writers Lorna Sage and Auberon Waugh and actor Michael Williams died in this month.


Artist Tacita Dean opened her new show at Tate Britain, with a wealth of material. Sculptures, photographs and film dominated the show.

Julie Walters celebrated with the Laurence Olivier award for best actress for her performance in Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, which took four awards in total.


Two of the biggest plays and musicals of the year opened in this month.

Lulu, with Anna Friel as the lead, opened to mixed reviews.

But Former Eastenders star Martine McCutcheon won glowing notices when she left the Square behind for the National Theatre's production of My Fair Lady.

Trevor Nunn
April: Trevor Nunn announced he was to leave the National Theatre
The obscene publications unit of Scotland Yard raided the Saatchi Gallery in London in a row over photographs of naked children taken by their mother Tierney Gearon.

A police report was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to prosecute.

One of the biggest figures in British dance of the last century, Dame Ninette de Valois, died at the age of 102.

She helped found the Royal Ballet and was one of the leading teachers and choreographers of the 20th century.

American novelist Robert Ludlum, author of Cold War spy novels, died aged 73.


Fears that Anish Kapoor's sculpture Sky Mirror could blind people or burn pigeons in flight proved unfounded when it was unveiled outside the Nottingham Playhouse.

The sculpture, a five-metre diameter polished dish of steel, was intended to create the illusion of a "hole in space".

Painter Tim Stoner won Britain's richest art prize, Beck's Futures 2.

May: Author Douglas Adams died unexpectedly
Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

Joe Penhall's play Blue/Orange opened to instant acclaim, going on to win a clutch of theatre awards.


The Vagina Monologues, Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things and the Pet Shop Boys' musical Closer to Heaven all opened in London.

Tate Modern celebrated its first birthday, claiming to be the most popular modern art museum in the world with more than five million visitors in its first 12 months.

The literary world lost Indian novelist RK Narayan.

The original scroll on which Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road sold at auction for $2.43m, a record for a manuscript.

The Royal Shakespeare Company sparked a long-running row when it announced plans to abandon its London home at the Barbican.


Australian novelist Kate Grenville won the UK's richest fiction award, The Orange Prize, with her novel The Idea of Perfection.

In the world of galleries, Gilbert and George showcased their New Horny Pictures at London's White Cube≤.

Royal Academy summer show
June: Peter Blake's controversial Royal Academy summer show opened
In London, the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square was finally filled. Rachel Whiteread's Monument - a water-clear resin cast of the inside of the granite plinth itself - was unveiled by then Culture Secretary Chris Smith.

Thousands flocked to London's National Gallery for the Vermeers exhibition.

Art critic David Sylvester and Australian abstract sculptor Robert Klippel both died.


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty, one of America's best-loved novelists, died aged 92. She was famous for her short stories and novels set mainly in Mississippi.

The Arts Council of England unveiled plans to merge with the country's 10 regional arts boards with the aim of creating a "streamlined" service.


Arthur Miller's All My Sons opened in London while in Edinburgh Garth Marenghi's Netherhead won the Perrier comedy award.

In New York a major retrospective of architect's Frank Gehry's work opened at the Guggenheim.


Staff at the Royal Shakespeare Company decided not to strike over plans to shake up the structure of the company.

Controversial playwright Mark Ravenhill's new player Mother Clap's Mollyhouse opened in a busy month of new productions.

Gone with the Wind parody
October: US judges affirmed the publishing right of a Gone with the Wind parody
New adaptations included Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, JB Priestley's Johnson over Jordan and Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Film and theatre director Nicholas Hytner was appointed successor to Trevor Nunn at London's Royal National Theatre.

But celebrated theatre directors Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid left the Almeida - the theatre they turned into a star magnet.

The English National Ballet clinched an unusual sponsorship deal in the month with Barbie and The Nutcracker.


The Royal Shakespeare Company unveiled plans to knock down its landmark main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in a £100m redevelopment.

August: Artist Tom Forsythe wins legal battle to use images of Barbie dolls
August: Artist Tom Forsythe won a legal battle to use images of Barbie dolls
VS Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for Literature while Australian Peter Carey won his second Booker Prize, this time with True History of the Kelly Gang.

Gregory Burke's play Gagarin Way, lauded earlier in the year at the Edinburgh Festival, opened in London to lesser acclaim.

In the art world, The Prince of Wales opened Tate Britain's £32.3m centenary development.

Prime Minister Tony Blair went to a West End show in an attempt to boost the fortunes of London's theatreland, struggling amid a tourism slump.


Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes announced he was to leave London's Donmar Warehouse theatre after 10 years as artistic director.

The Play What I Wrote, an affectionate tribute to Morecambe and Wise, directed by Kenneth Branagh, wowed the critics.

The Greek tragedy Medea walked off with two awards at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

The head of the National Gallery, Neil MacGregor, was appointed the new director of the British Museum.


Thousands flocked to Britain's museums and galleries on the first weekend of free entry, with some venues so packed they had to turn visitors away.

Madonna presented the Turner Prize to Martin Creed, who was lampooned in some quarters for his exhibit of an empty room with a light turning off and on.

See also:

10 Dec 01 | Arts
Creed lights up Turner prize
23 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Julie Walters wins Olivier
Links to more Arts stories are at the foot of the page.

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