Arts and Entertainment

Monks from China’s Shaolin Temple stand perched on tall wooden boxes. Swaying from side to side, they rock the crates until they fall, leaping free at the last moment. Famous for their warrior skills, in Sutra the monks are both movers and pieces in a puzzle, setting up patterns or standing inside the boxes as they fall like dominoes.

Leading article: Statuesque

One has to feel a little sorry for those members of the public chosen to be the first to stand in the open air on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth as part of Antony Gormley's art project. After several days of sunshine, the capital was lashed by torrential rain yesterday. Still, what great art was not borne of a little suffering? So what to make of the first day's participants? Jason Clark, a nurse from Brighton, didn't do an awful lot while performing his "Ordinary Man On A Plinth". Scott Illman, from Hammersmith, spent an hour shouting the merits of his bar. But the participant who really sticks in the mind was the uninvited protester. Never mind an hour, Stuart Holmes needed less than five minutes to get his anti-smoking message across.

Minor British Institutions: The Angel of the North

Pretty big, for a minor institution, this chap – and it does seem a manly sort of angel – standing 66 feet (20 m) tall, his wings stretching for 178 feet (54 m) across. When you pass the Angel on the blowy A1 not far from Gateshead you wonder how it is that this striking structure manages not to take off across the North Sea.

David Lister: Sexy or not, it's best to keep quiet

When Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe starred in a film together, Monroe took particular exception to Olivier, who was also directing, saying to her before a scene: "OK, Marilyn, be sexy." The suggestion that her greatest natural asset was a mere technique that any decent actress could turn on did not go down well.

Gormley on his plinth: 'I would be very upset if nobody took their clothes off'

Almost 5,000 people sign up to take their place as part of sculptor's 'living artwork' in Trafalgar Square

'Angel of the South' to be giant white horse

A giant white horse was announced today as a new £2 million public art commission in south-east England dubbed the "Angel of the South".

Artists jubilant as £50m Titian saved for nation

MP attacks sale as schools close for lack of funds

Design rebels of Burns Night

Glasgow design group Timorous Beasties make Burns Night a wild affair, discovers Annie Deakin

Close-up: Rungwe Kingdon & Claude Koenig

When Damien Hirst goes large, who does he turn to? His 'hands'

Party of the Week: Snapping the snappers

Fresh from the choking press scrum sparked by Annie Leibovitz's starry presence at the National Portrait Gallery some weeks ago, the gallery's director, Sandy Nairne, emerged bright-eyed and unjaded from a cloud of party-goers at the reception party for the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

Birmingham named UK's ugliest city

It’s official - Birmingham is the UK’s ugliest city. According to a new survey, it is home to the some of the nation's least-loved buildings.

Kapoor's 'Giants' to be the world's biggest public artwork

A decade ago, Antony Gormley's 65ft sculpture, Angel of the North, was credited with placing Gateshead on the artistic map of Britain and starting a trend for large-scale public artworks nicknamed the "Gormley effect".

Leading article: Holes in the accounts

It would take a heart of stone not to smile at the plight of Gordon Brown and those others left to bale out the Labour Party ship. Tonight's fundraising dinner at Wembley promises to be a rather desperate affair, after last year's event, held in the first flush of the Brown era, which the party describes as "the most successful fundraiser in Labour's history". The contrast is equally stark with the days – how long ago they seem now – when Michael Levy simply had to touch an arm and murmur Tony Blair's name for the million-pound cheques to be forthcoming.

Trafalgar Square: The people's plinth - a portrait of our time

A soupbox in Trafalgar Square will give anyone who fancies it a chance to do whatever they like for an hour. Arifa Akbar discovers the idea behind it and gets a taste of what may be in store

Leading article: Performance art

We were never among Ken Livingstone's greatest fans. But one achievement cannot be denied him as mayor of London: the vitality of the street theatre and art that flourished in the capital under his auspices. Happily, this is one part of his legacy that Boris Johnson seems to be continuing with his characteristic panache. The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square was a test case.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
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