Joyous Jan! What to in Devon this month
Wishing you could skip January and move straight into sunny spring? Think again! There's loads on in our hood, from fitness and detox, to whisky tasting and cider wassails.
MUSIC: SUGGS: What A King Cnut – A Life in the Realm of Madness, Exeter Corn Exchange, Exeter, Fri 21 Jan
You may have caught Suggs’ witty series on BBC Radio 4 describing (with a large dose of imagination) his life story with and without Madness. He’s a very engaging man and very funny.
MUSICAL: Mamma Mia!, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, until Sat 5 Feb
Can’t make it to London’s West End this weekend? No problemo. Book in for Benny and Bjorn’s smash hit musical right here in Devon. Nostalgia, Abba songs and Greek island vibes – a real topper-upper.
EXHIBITION: Materials Matter, Riverside Gallery, Make Southwest, Bovey Tracey, until 13 March
The artwork in the Riverside Gallery is really rocking at the moment, courtesy of Design Nation, a Devon and Cornwall artist collective who celebrate the beauty of materials and the creative re-use of discarded objects, such as Bridget Macklin’s Cup of Love (above right) a suspended display of nearly 200 porcelain tea-bags marking all those cuppas she missed with friends during lockdown.
FILM INSTALLATION: Mikhail Karikis: SeaWomen (Ocean Exmouth) and Children of Unquiet, Thelma Hulbert Art Gallery, Sat 15 Jan – Mar
Two immersive film installations by international artist Mikhail Karikis: Children of Unquiet 2014 and SeaWomen 2012. SeaWomen 2012 captures the experience of a ‘haenyeo’ woman’s day at sea, an ancient and fast-vanishing community who dive to depths of up to twenty metres with no oxygen supply to catch seafood, collect seaweed and find pearls.
EXHIBITION: Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, The Box, Plymouth, until 27 Feb
Wishing you were in sunnier climes? Head to The Box in Plymouth for the European premier of Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters (remember Bruce Chatwin?) You can almost feel the Antipodean heat coming through the films, paintings and sculptures of this exhibition which tell Australia’s indigenous people’s creation myth of the Seven Sisters flight across the continent with the lustful magician Yurla in hot pursuit. I really enjoyed it, especially the bit where you get to lie down in the outdoor dome and look at the stars and ancient cave paintings. Interestingly, this aboriginal myth is very similar to the Greek myth of Orion and Pleiades but predates it by tens of thousands of years and FYI songlines are not just stories but maps to navigate, find watering holes and sacred places. A feast for the eyes and mind!
FITNESS: Nordic Walking at Haldon Forest, various
Grab the walking poles and step out with the delightful Fiona Swan who has trained with both Nordic Walking UK and British Nordic Walking, with over 10 years of experience teaching Nordic walking and motivating individuals to keep fit and well. She runs classes in Haldon and the National Trust’s Killerton, among other picturesque Devon locations.
ART: Winter Sculpture, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, until Mon 31 Jan
Wrap up warm and head to Great Torrington and RHS Rosemoor for their annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition, where you can get up close to more than 100 pieces, artfully displayed among the winter greenery. And if you’re feeling splashy, most of them for sale, so take the credit card.
DRINKS: Whisky Tasting, Dartmoor Whisky Distillery, Bovey Tracey, Saturdays throughout Jan
Not the ideal event if you’re doing Dry January but, if not, for £15 a head you can visit Devon’s only whisky distillery and discover which winter-warmer works for you.
GARDENS: Snowdrop Festival, The Garden House, Yelverton, until Sun 27 Feb
Probably the best display of snowdrops in Devon and guaranteed to make you feel like spring is on the way, The Garden House has a large collection of over 350 varieties on display. Specialist snowdrop nurseries including Avon Bulbs are joining them on dates through February.
ART: Living with Art, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, Fri 21 Jan – 24 April
The new British Museum touring exhibition hits the Burton with works from prominent artists ranging from Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Vija Celmins.
OUTDOORS: Wander for Wellbeing, Dartington Hall Estate, Totnes, Sat 22 Jan
A winter wander to lift heart and soul and connect with Nature. Think guided walk rather than hike and it’s more about mental than physical health.
FOODIE: Happy Gut and Immune-boosting Workshop with Naomi Devlin, Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh, Mon 24 Jan
January’s a time of setting good intentions for the coming year and this course aims to teach something of how to maintain excellent gut health and skills required for probiotic foods and probiotic ferments, doubtless more tasty than they sound.
THEATRE: Circus of Horrors – The Witch, Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, Tues 25 Jan
A new show to celebrate 25 years of the Circus of Horrors, promising a rollercoaster ride of unbelievable, bizarre and beautiful acts.
COMEDY: Jason Manford: Like Me, Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple, Thurs 27 Jan
Manford’s latest comic offering hitting the road in 2022 with his familiar reassuring brand of observational comedy. (Also on Mar 12.)
WORKSHOP: Japanese Woodcut Printmaking Workshop, The Plough at St. Annes, Barnstaple, Fri 28 Jan
An introduction to Japanese woodcut printing, focussing on Celtic knots where you will learn to cut and print a plate and learn about an ancient art form. All materials and tools supplied, suitable for beginners.
COMEDY: Giggle at the Guildhall, Guildhall, Axminster, Tues 25 Jan
In need of a little New Year cheer? Each month local comedian, Tom Glover, hosts this stand up comedy evening with January’s special guests, Christian Russell Pollock and Suzy Bennett.
SPOKEN WORD: Haiflu Ever After, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Thurs 27 Jan
A moving composition from artist Liv Torc and composer Richard Monks composed in lockdown and comprising over 10,000 haiku, telling a week-by-week creative social history of one of the biggest crises of the last 100 years. It started as a Facebook status and ended up on BBCR4’s Today Programme, a must-see.
MUSIC: Wolf Alice, Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth, Fri 28 Jan
Wolf Alice are back on the road for the first time since 2018. Celebrating their third album ‘Blue Weekend’. If you haven’t seen them, grab this opportunity, if you have seen them this is your reminder to get a ticket – they’re already sold out elsewhere – before this Mercury prize-winning band become too big to play Devon.
KIDS: The Dinosaur Adventure Show, Seaton Tramway, Seaton, Sat 29 Jan
Raaah! Would your little ones enjoy meeting some amazing, walking ‘real-life’ dinosaurs? Ranger Chris has a gang for them to meet. Kids will witness eggs hatching, and discover where dinosaurs lived, hunted and roamed. Plus, they’ll meet the amazing baby dinosaurs and their handlers where some lucky children may get to pet and handle them! Suitable for all children but there is a mild scare factor to the show – you have been warned…
CULTURE: In Plain Sight: Transatlantic Slavery and Devon, RAMM Museum, Exeter, from 29 Jan – 29 May
Aiming to shed light on the museum’s and Devon’s links with centuries of trading enslaved African people across the Atlantic, In Plain Sight uses the museum’s collections and contemporary sources to trace local industries that relied on the trade and the lives of the people who benefitted from its profits. It also features a newly commissioned film which reflects on RAMM’s painting ‘Portrait of an African’ and a new commission by the acclaimed artist Joy Gregory.
WEDDING FAIR: Hartnoll Hotel Wedding Fair 2022, The Hartnoll Hotel, Exe Valley, Sun 30 Jan
Tying the knot in 2022? Hop over to Hartnoll for a day of wedding inspiration with free entry and a glass of Fizz on arrival.
OUTDOORS: New Year’s Day Racing, Exeter Race Course, Haldon Sat 1 Jan
Hoof it over to Haldon for seven races, just the ticket if you fancy an exciting kick start to your New Year. Hipcats will be roaming the course to entertain with jazz music throughout the day.
ASTRONOMY: Stargazing & Pizza Nights, Barton Farm, Kentisbury, Weds 5 and 12 Jan
Enjoy planetary exploration with the experts at Moor Wild Experiences expert who can help you spot Jupiter and Uranus (no sniggering). Not only will you gen up on the constellations and the Greek stories behind them but you get to tuck into your own crafted stone-baked pizza and a glass of bubbly in a 16th century barn.
KIDS: Lantern-making Workshop, Whimple Heritage Centre, Exeter, Sat 8 Jan
In preparation for Whimple’s traditional wassail on the 17 Jan, pop along to make a beautiful paper Lantern to take with you. Suitable for all ages with materials provided by the Heritage Centre.
WEDDING FAIR: The Happily Ever After Wedding Fair, Tawstock Court, Tawstock, Sun 9 Jan
Moving into full planning mode for the big day? This massive North Devon Fair covers you from ceremony to canapes.
MUSIC: Orpheus North Devon Jazz Club, Beaver Inn, Appledore, Mon 10 Jan
Ready for a trip to Brazil? Oh yes please, with a potent mix of uplifting sambas and bossa novas this Devon-based six-piece were brought together by their love of Brazilian music and we could all do with a bit of musical sunshine.
ONLINE DETOX: Cleanse for Living with Allison Sheppard, Mon 10 – Sun 23 Jan
Give your immune system a boost and shed a few festive pounds with registered naturopath Allison. The fourteen day detox can work wonders for your embattled liver, while helping with joint pain, depression and a host of common niggles. Read the Muddy review here.
ART: Artist’s Talk on Jezreel’s Tower, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Exeter, 1.30pm, Sat 22 Jan (exhibition until Sun 30 Jun)
If you’ve ever wondered how cults form, then this new 360 degree virtual reality show from artist John Walter is for you. The film tells the bonkers story of James Jershom Jezreel, his apocalyptic Victorian cult, and the building of their extraordinary headquarters in Medway, Kent in honour of a self-appointed prophetess from Exeter, Joanna Southcott who believed she could foretell the Second Coming. It’s also about how outlandish ideas can hitch a ride on the back of art, music, and architecture. Join the artist this weekend for a free talk.
FITNESS: The Battle of Woodbury Common, Bicton, Sat 15 Jan, 5pm
Don the head torch for this dramatically-named night run which is mainly on sandy soil although doubtless there will be mud at some stage – this is January after all. Various lengths are available, including a new for 2022 5k, plus ones suitable for children and even canines.
OUTDOORS: Sampford Courtenay Cider Wassail, Solland Farm, Sampford Courtenay, Okehampton, Sat 15 Jan
A traditional wassail with bonfire and torch-lit procession around the orchard with the crowning of the wassail queen. Winkleigh Morris dancers will be performing and the evening ends with a general knowledge quiz with prizes to be won – rather less traditional. Hog roast and mulled cider is included in the ticket price. It will be cold and possibly muddy so dress appropriately and if taking a dog only take one not frightened of the odd sound of gunshot.
OUTDOORS: Wassailing, RAMM Museum Exeter and Tedburn St Mary, Sat 15 Jan
Here’s a quirky one for ya – a whistle stop afternoon touring objects relating to pottery and cider at RAMM then you hop on the minibus to Gray’s Farm Cider near Tedburn St Mary with artist Simon Pope to explore wassailing and the microbial ecology of cider – its the culmination of artist Simon Pope’s latest project in Devon, exploring the relationships between microbial ecology and human community. Pope has worked in close-collaboration with folk singer-songwriter Jim Causley, and ceramic artist Abigail North to produce a new folk song and experimental wassail bowl that they’ll present to you. A very Devon afternoon!
Enough culture! Fancy a bit of R&R? Check these best spa breaks to book now.
Words by Ashley Tremlett.