A beheaded monarch, subversive ceramics and oil drilling in Gateshead – the week in art

Exhibition of the week

Executions
A gory Halloween history lesson that includes relics of the beheaded Charles I, as well as 18th-century dead cell portraits and an ax or two.
• London Docklands Museum, until April 16

Also showing

Sarah Biffin
This highly successful 19th century artist became famous for painting meticulous portraits despite being born without arms or legs.
• Philip Mold & Company, London, from November 1 to December 21

strange clay
Lindsey Mendick and Edmund de Waal are among the subversive ceramists of this clever look at contemporary art.
• Hayward Gallery, London, until January 8

Jala Wahid
Oil drilling and rare flowers are on the agenda of this meditation on the history of Kurdistan.
• Baltic, Gateshead, until April 30

Taylor Wessing Award
See the latest in portrait photography in a show suffocated by memories of the pandemic.
• Pavilion Gallery, Cromwell Place, London, until December 18

Picture of the week

The British artistic psyche is strange and tortured, according to The Horror Show! The survey, presented at Somerset House in London, spans the visual arts, music, television, film and pop culture as it explores obsession with all things sinister.

What we learned

Prime ministers come and go – and so do their desks

Sonia Boyce Biennale winner to come to Margate and Leeds

Remarkable architect Moshe Safdie reflects on his legacy with a memoir

Black British artists celebrated an important anniversary

Trans artist Claye Bowler recounts her lived experience

Artist Rone has traced a treasure trail in Melbourne’s hidden ballroom

Lifecasting is an art of proximity

Hilma af Klint is a movie star

Alicja Kozłowska embroiders everyday art

Just Stop Oil activist tried to stick his head in Girl with a Pearl Earring

masterpiece of the week

Girl Threading a Needle by Candlelight by Godfried Schalcken, late 1670s
This painting looks pretty innocuous. A young woman works at night, giving Schalcken the opportunity to do what he loved: to linger over the golden effects of candlelight. This Dutch artist of the late 1600s worked in a tradition of dramatic lighting and shadow started by Caravaggio some 70 years earlier. In Schalcken, the Caravaggesque is softened: what could have been a penitent Magdalen with a skull here becomes a peaceful domestic scene. Or does it? The Gothic writer Sheridan le Fanu offered another interpretation of Schalcken’s night scenes. His story Schalcken the Painter tells how this artist, a young pupil of Gerrit Dou, saw his master’s daughter receive a marriage proposal from a stranger with dead eyes and a gray face. The terrifying aftermath is dramatized in a classic BBC adaptation that’s a real Halloween treat – see it and you’ll still shiver at this performer’s chiaroscuro scenes.
• Wallace Collection, London

do not forget

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