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The acclaimed artist said he told London Mayor Boris Johnson to solve the city's housing crisis

Simon Carr: Big Brother considers surveillance his right

We all agree there is something new happening in Britain. DNA databases, surveillance cameras, intrusions into private lives, restrictions on liberties. Every week, we take another step into the brave new world. From last week, protesting outside nuclear power stations is illegal. It's a new world all right.

Hirst's £50m skull? It's no more than a 'decorative object'

When Damien Hirst unveiled a diamond-encrusted human skull worth £50m, his fans hailed it as a haunting work of genius which fully deserved to become the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever made.

All about my mother: the visual tributes from top artists

For centuries, artists have turned to their mothers for creative inspiration. John Lennon wrote anguished lyrics about his, the Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodovar dedicated at least one film to his and the artist Whistler captured his in an iconic painting.

The loo that shook the world: Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabi

In 1917, nobody imagined that an act of rebellion by a young French painter would change the face of art. As Marcel Duchamp’s notorious ‘Fountain’ takes centre stage at Tate Modern, Philip Hensher stands up for the power of the porcelain

Illuminated gospels tell the craftsman's tale

An exhibition of church windows challenges the notion that craft is the poor relation of fine art - but ultimately reinforces it

Howard Hodgkin: Bold, unconventional and uncompromising

Bold, unconventional and uncompromising, Howard Hodgkin was once regarded as a marginal figure in British art. More than half a century later, and still refining his style, he has become one of the true giants of contemporary painting. On the eve of his first major retrospective, Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, explores the artist's unique vision - and its dazzling energy

The eyebrows have it for new penguin species

In a world full of disappearing or threatened species, here is some good news at last. The planet is about to welcome a new species of penguin.

Turner Prize winner charts his insecurities in pottery

Grayson Perry's first exhibition since winning the Turner Prize picks up where he left off when he collected the accolade dressed as his female alter ego, Claire.

Design: Nicely brought up but badly behaved

You thought the 1890s were the very last word in decadence, but our own fin-de-siecle is doing pretty well, too - going out in a flurry of disembodied hands, necklaces made of mock Viagra tablets, 60-channel television and an epidemic of hype.

Hand-crafted irony: Grayson Perry's polite pots are smooth, charming and, on closer examination, downright offensive. Robin Dutt admires his cheek

Shock as art tactic is nothing new. In fact, it is increasingly becoming the staple of several artists. But shock and subtlety - now that's something more enjoyable.
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there