News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st December 2004


A Magical Christmas is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - and for the first time, there is an Ice Rink in front of the Temperate House; plus free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants; a Victorian carousel; the hop on hop off Kew Explorer travelling round the whole garden, which includes a commentary; and Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes for the first time, a laser show in the Palm House; plus performances by choirs and brass bands; a display of the various species of Christmas trees decorated in traditional styles, with advice on how to achieve the effects; and festive food and drink. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 3rd January.

Wonderful - Visions Of The Near Future is a collaboration between artists and scientists, working together to make new discoveries that develop industrial prototypes based on concepts taken from art, and test our responses to ethical questions. Among the weird and wonderful items on view throughout the building and at other venues in the city are: 'Rodentia Chamber Music' by Gail Wight with Kris Treanor, an ensemble of traditional chamber instruments made in Perspex, populated by mice that 'play' them by triggering small electronic switches, called whisker switches, as they scurry through the instruments; 'Jellyfish Lake' by Dorothy Cross, that reflects on the non-form of jellyfish, and how weird we must appear to them; 'CowBoard' by Richard Dedomenici, a demonstration of a prototype controller device that enables cows to access the Internet; 'Alter Ego' by Alexa Wright with Alf Linney, a mirror that interacts with the viewer's facial features, based on the use of computer imaging in facial reconstructive surgery; 'Staining Space' by Jane Prophet with Neil Theise, addressing the challenge of representing that which cannot be seen, inspired by stem cell theory; and 'Realtime' by Third Angel, an exploration into the effects of the contemporary acceleration of society in our daily lives, that culminates in Hurrysickness. Cornerhouse, Manchester until 9th January.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, covering 9,000sqm and capable of accommodating some 2,000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around 300,000. It is open from 10am to 11.15pm, and as darkness falls, the courtyard is transformed, with music playing, and illumination from flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades, together with a 40ft Christmas tree at the north end. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy the traditional fare of baked potatoes, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners, and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. This year London has gone skating crazy and there are also Ice Rinks at Hampton Court, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Marble Arch. Somerset House until 30th January.


William Nicholson: British Painter And Printmaker reveals the breadth of Nicholson's work, encompassing intensely observed still lifes, psychological portraits, minimalist landscapes that move towards abstraction, book illustrations, theatre posters, and radical woodcut prints. The first major review of his work to be held in London in sixty years, this exhibition includes many works that have rarely been seen in this country, with some 68 paintings and over 50 prints. They range from early graphic work of the 1890s to the late still lifes of the 1940s. Among the woodcuts are all 26 prints from The Alphabet, a poster for Don Quixote, and a portrait of Queen Victoria, which established Nicholson at the forefront of the international print revival in the 1890s. Highlights among the painted portraits include studies of such friends as the writer Max Beerbohm and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. The majority of his paintings are small and jewel-like, however, the First World War work 'The Canadian Headquarters Staff' is a vast canvas showing a group of Officers standing in front of an aerial photograph of the ruined cloth hall at Ypres. Nicholson's book illustrations are represented by popular children's titles 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams, and his own 'Clever Bill' and 'The Pirate Twins'. Nicholson's work shows an artist whose independence of vision was seemingly untouched by any of the many revolutions in art during his lifetime. Royal Academy of Arts until 23rd January.

Queen Alexandra And The Art Of Photography provides an insider's view of the lives of the royal families of Europe from the 1880s to the First World War. Queen Alexandra, the consort of King Edward VII, was a talented artist and the most celebrated royal photographer of her time. Her interest in photography began in 1885, after George Eastman presented her with one of his new roll-film cameras. Over the next 20 years she went on to take part in several Kodak exhibitions. Queen Alexandra's photographic albums, often embellished with watercolour decoration and annotated with impromptu anecdotes, are unique personal diaries that provide a detailed record of the life of the British royal family and their European relations. In addition to the albums and photographs, the display also includes the Queen's Kinora, an early machine for viewing short films.Treasures From The Royal Library is a selection from the collection that has been located here since the reign of William IV. In addition to over 50,000 printed books, the Library contains coins and medals, orders of chivalry, prints, maps, fans, and one of the finest collections of Old Master drawings in the world. As works of art on paper are easily damaged by exposure to light, they cannot be on permanent display. The current selection includes drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Hans Holbein.The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle until 25th April.

Designing Modern Life - A History Of Modern Design is an ambitious exhibition that explores how design has transformed daily life over the last century. By reconstructing innovative projects that dominated future developments in design, the exhibition shows how ingenious designers have harnessed advances in materials and technologies, as well as cultural, social and behavioural changes, to transform the way we work, rest and play. These include the model modern apartment designed by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand in 1920s Paris; a London Transport underground platform of the 1930s, showcasing its pioneering graphics; one of the rooms designed by Arne Jacobsen for his showpiece SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in the 1950s; and a 1960s office equipped by Dieter Rams. The exhibition also deconstructs the design histories of specific objects, including the book - from pioneering 1930s Penguin paperback to contemporary books designed and made by Irma Boom - the humble chair, album covers and recent phenomena such as the website. A specially created installation by Spanish designer Marti Guixe of 'Statement Chairs' features items that are both pieces of furniture and commentaries on modern design. In addition, each month a design guru selects 10 examples of good contemporary design costing no more than 10. Design Museum until 27th November 2005.

The Architecture Gallery is Britain's first permanent space devoted to the display of architectural drawings, models, maquettes and elements of real buildings. The 5.2m project, designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects, brings together the unique collections of the Royal Institute of British Architecture and the Victoria & Albert museum. The display draws on works by great architects from Palladio, Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren and Robert Adam, through Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, to Norman Foster, Zia Hadid and Richard Rogers. The gallery provides a concise general introduction to architecture, for both students and the casual visitor. Around 180 permanent exhibits are split into thematic displays: The Art Of Architecture, The Function Of Buildings, Architects And Architecture and Buildings In Context. They range from British icons such as St Paul's Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster, to the Alhambra in Granada, Fort William in Calcutta and Sydney Opera House. In addition to the permanent display there is an area for temporary exhibitions, where Great Buildings is the opening show. There are also new study rooms and stores, designed by Wright & Wright, to house the RIBA's Drawings, Manuscripts and Archives collections alongside the V&A's Prints, Drawings and Paintings collections, which will allow the public to view the entire archive. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Hungary's Heritage: Princely Treasures From The Esterhazy Collection does exactly what it says on the tin. Jewellery, silver clocks, gold enamelled boxes, carved ivory, gold coins and medals, Medieval silverware and other historical treasures, gifts of gold cups from the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, bejewelled Turkish daggers and pieces associated with Matthias Corvinus, Hungary's greatest king, make up this exhibition. The Esterhazys were the richest and most powerful family in Hungary, playing a dominant role in Hungarian military and court life from the early 17th century to the early 19th century. Prince Miklos Esterhazy founded the family treasury, having an unerring eye for the magnificent, and the funds to indulge himself. Succeeding generations added to it, logging personal history with silver and gold plate commemorating tragedies and celebrations, and national history through the spoils of military conquest, and gifts exchanged at the signing of treaties and visits by foreign Royalty. The exhibition comprises some 50 outstanding works of art from the Esterhazy Treasury, the first time such a substantial group has been seen outside Hungary. The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, London until 23rd January.

Art In The Making: Degas is part of a series of exhibitions on artists' techniques. Edgar Degas was one of the most experimental artists of the 19th century, and throughout his long career constantly found new ways to use oil paint, chalk, pastel, essence and printmaking processes - in particular monotypes - often combining two or more media in the same work. This exhibition is an in-depth examination of some twelve works by Degas, ranging across his career, from early portraits to later history paintings. They are complemented by x-radiographs, infra-red reflectograms and pigment analyses, which reveal just how complex Degas' methods could be. He continued to change paintings over long periods, reworking them again and again - even wanting to return to some after they had been sold. Many of what are thought of as Degas' masterpieces were discovered as 'works in progress' in his studio after his death. Images that look spontaneous are revealed to be the result of deliberation, experiment and correction, such as 'Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando', for which Degas even hired an architectural draughtsman to assist in perfecting the cirque's dome. An x-ray reveals that a portrait of his cousin Elena Carafa started with her facing away, but in the final version her face is tilted towards the viewer. Earlier and later versions of 'Young Spartans Exercising', painted some 20 years apart, even show how Degas moved from classicism to modernism. National Gallery until 30th January.


The Pissarro Family At Home is a selection of works by the Impressionist Camille Pissarro, and subsequent members of the Pissarro family, drawing on the Pissarro Family Archive, a gift made by the widow and daughter of Lucien Pissarro in 1950, giving an insight into the Pissarro family's domestic life spanning three generations. It includes a number of oil paintings by Camille Pissarro, his eldest son Lucien, and Lucien's daughter Orovida, as well as drawings, sketchbooks, letters, and other documentary material. An unusual aspect of the Archive is the number of family portraits, revealing that although not generally known for their portraiture, the human figure occupied a prominent position within the work of Camille and Lucien throughout their careers. The Pissarros also painted many landscapes of where the family lived and worked, and they drew friends and visitors who came to their homes, usually in informal or intimate settings. Highlights include Camille's 'View from my Window, Eragny-sur-Epte', his most successful experiment in the pointillist style; 'Mme Pissarro sewing beside a Window', an intimate portrait of his wife absorbed in a domestic task; and a portrait in oils of Lucien. Among the paintings by Lucien are views of the house and garden at The Brook, Hammersmith, where he settled in 1900, and portraits of his parents, wife, and daughter. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 2nd January.

Asia: Body Mind Spirit explores Asia's holistic approach to medicine - which advocates a balanced relationship of body, mind and spirit - through over two hundred rare and beautiful objects. The materials on display include decorated manuscripts, rare acupuncture charts, early medical texts, and artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs from India, Tibet, China, Japan and other Asian countries. There is a real Chinese pharmacy, complete with drawers of herbs, and a reconstruction of a Tibetan chapel with protective banners. Other highlights include: a Nepalese Ayurvedic painting of the human body depicting channels and organs annotated in Sanskrit; a Korean scroll on acupuncture; a Japanese block print showing the first recorded use of anaesthesia in surgery; a Batak amulet used to protect against poison; a Japanese woodcut depicting a Chinese surgeon operating on a wounded war hero, who is playing go to distract his attention from the pain; a folio from a 14th century Persian horoscope showing the influence of planets on health; a Burmese illustrated text on the life of the Buddha; a 16th century text depicting Mahavira, founder of the Jain religion; and a new work commissioned from London artist Chila Kumari Burman showing how images of Eastern complementary medicine have become a familiar part of the 21st century Western life. The Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, London W1 until 12th December.

Ancient Art To Post Impressionism: Masterpieces From The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is the first opportunity in the UK to see some 200 treasures from Copenhagen's museum, while it is closed for refurbishment. The collection was built up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by a father and son, Carl and Helge Jacobsen, descendents of the founder of the Carlsberg brewing company, and reflects their different tastes. Over a period of 30 years, Carl built up one of the largest private art collections of its time, with particular emphasis on Antiquities, including examples of Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculpture. He also acquired contemporary works by Danish Golden Age painters, and sculptors such as Kbke, Lundbye, Eckersberg and Bissen, and by French artists including Millet, Meunier, Rodin and Carpeaux. After his death in 1914, Helge made acquisitions of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Manet, Monet, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne. He assembled one of the most comprehensive collections of works by Gauguin in existence, including both paintings and 3D pieces, of which 10 are featured in the exhibition. The museum is one of only four in the world to possess a complete set of Degas bronzes - totalling 72 works - with 13 on show here. Other highlights include 'A Smoking Party' by William Bendz, 'Women Bathing' by Cezanne, and a sketch by Manet of 'The Execution of Maximilian'. Royal Academy of Arts until 10th December.