News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd January 2002


Treasures Of The British Library is a permanent display of over 200 of the most important items from the collection in three new galleries. It includes documents which made and recorded history, sacred texts from the world's religions, masterpieces of illumination, landmarks of printing, great works of literature and music, and major advances in science and mapmaking. The items on display include: Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, the original version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci, and the original manuscript of Handel's Messiah. Turning The Pages, an award winning computer interactive programme, allows visitors to examine these documents in detail, turning the pages of a book or unrolling a scroll simply by touching a screen. There is also a selection from the National Sound Archive collections of over two and a half million recordings, which range from drama and music performance, through historic events and interviews, to wildlife. The British Library continuing.

The Vaughan Bequest Of Turner Watercolours, comprising thirty eight works from throughout JMW Turner's career, makes its annual appearance. When London art collector Henry Vaughan made the bequest in 1900, it was with the stipulation that the watercolours not be subjected to permanent display, since continual exposure to light would result in their fading. Further, he ruled that the collection could only be shown in January, when daylight is at its weakest and least destructive level. Despite the fact that modern technology now enables the light levels to be monitored and controlled at all times, the annual January exhibition has become a tradition, which this year celebrates the centenary of the bequest. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 31st January.

The London Boat Show makes its 48th appearance, featuring the latest creations from the world's leading designers, ranging in length from two to twenty metres. There are dinghies, motor cruisers, yachts and dream boats with price tags ranging from £300 to over £2m. Visitors to the world's best known boat show can shop for all the latest gear, equipment and accessories for both sailing and a wide range of water sports, plus on-water holidays from Britain's inland waterways to the Caribbean. The Ian Fleming Foundation James Bond Movie Boats collection will be on display, with craft featured in films from Thunderball through to The World Is Not Enough. The finale of the interactive online game Online Ocean Race Challenge will also be held, with a prize of £50,000 at stake - the biggest internet prize ever offered. There is free expert advice available for both newcomers and old hands from over six hundred exhibitors. Further information can be found on the London Boat Show web site via the link from the Others Festivals & Events section of ExhibitionsNet. Earls Court 3rd to 13th January.


Light Motifs: An Aomori Float And Japanese Kites is a spectacular display of traditional illuminated lanterns and kites as only the Japanese know how to create them. The centrepiece is a Nebuta, one of the giant lantern floats decorated with dramatic scenes, which are paraded through the streets of Aomori in northern Japan during a fire festival each August. It has been specially constructed at the museum by Takashi Kitamura and a team of ten people from Aomori. A Nebuta is a wood and wire structure covered with paper, inside which between 500 and 800 light bulbs are installed. It is then decorated with ink and paint, with melted paraffin wax used to provide a barrier between the colours and to create a translucent effect. The themes illustrated in the floats are taken from historical, religious and folk tales, but also contain visual puns referring to current events. Some 5 to 10 metres high, they have articulated flaps at the top that are lowered to pass under street signs and cables. Anything up to sixty floats form a procession, which is accompanied by musicians and dancers. This exhibition also includes kites of all sizes and shapes, including one so huge that it takes twenty people to launch it. British Museum until 3rd March.

Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief is an exhibition of caricatures, cartoons and satires looking at fashionable 18th century life in Bath. Some of the greatest caricaturists of the Georgian period came to the city to create paintings and prints based on their observations of society at play in the Pump Room, Assembly Rooms, and out and about in the streets. People associate Georgian Bath with Jane Austen, taking the Waters, and genteel restrained behaviour, but this is only part of the story, as the city was also a place full of vice, rife with prostitution and gambling. Thousands of visitors came to Bath, never staying for long, and the fluid, ever changing social scene offered opportunities for people to behave as they liked, away from the watchful eye of their families and neighbours. Their immoral and foolish goings on provided a wealth of material for the artists. A wide variety of Bath caricatures, from Thomas Rowlandson's riotous series 'The Comforts Of Bath' to Bunbury's genteel dancers of 'The Long Minuet', plus works by Gillray, Cruikshank and others are displayed here. Victoria Art Gallery, Bath until 6th February.

Web Wizards: Designers Who Define The Web looks at one of the most dynamic areas of contemporary design - web design, spotlighting the new generation of design stars who dominate this fast-moving field. Idolised within the web community, yet little known outside it, designers like Joshua Davis, Daniel Brown and Yugo Nakamura have created the most innovative web sites of recent years. As well as dominating design on the web, their influence extends to many other areas of visual culture. This exhibition traces the history of the digital image by exploring landmarks in computer and games design, and offers visitors the opportunity to play vintage games. For those who baulk at the idea of digital design in a museum, the museum web site includes a Digital Design Gallery with designer profiles, newly commissioned works, and designers in conversation. The Design Museum web site can be found via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Design Museum until 21st April.

World City Galleries: 1789 - 1914, which have just opened, are the largest expansion in the Museum of London's 25 year history. Charting the birth of modern London, they explore the growth and change between the French Revolution and the First World War, illustrating the technological advances that altered life in the city, and attracted new inhabitants from all corners of the world. Film footage, photography, oral history recordings and over three thousand artefacts tell the story of the first great metropolis of the industrial age. Objects, costumes and ephemera, many previously unseen, range from Queen Victoria's parliamentary robes and Nelson's jewelled sword, to one of the earliest motorised taxis. It was during this period that London became the wealthiest, most powerful, and most populated city in the world, at the centre of an ever expanding empire. Londoners saw the introduction of the world's first postage stamp, the underground railway, the Great Exhibition, the formation of the Metropolitan police force, and compulsory schooling, but also the Great Stink, the Newgate whipping post, sweated labour, open sewers and numerous incurable diseases. Further information and an online exhibition about the Festival Of Britain can be found on the Museum Of London's web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Museum Of London continuing.

Dawn Of The Floating World is an opportunity to see around 140 of the finest Japanese prints and paintings from the early ukiyo-e period (1660-1765), considered among the rarest and most highly valued Japanese art works extant. Ukiyo-e or 'pictures of the floating world' capture the daily life of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter and entertainment district of Edo (present day Tokyo) after the shogun's new capital was rebuilt following the great fire of 1657. Featuring work by pioneer artists Hishikawa Moronobu and Okumura Masanobu, with subjects ranging from the birth of Kabuki theatre to the world of the Royal courtesan, it provides a historic insight into 17th century Japan. Exhibits range from tiny book illustrations to huge street signs. Acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the early 20th century, the works have never been exhibited outside the city, and many, including a scroll of 11 explicitly erotic scenes by Torii Kiyonobu, have never been displayed in public before. This means that after 300 years the colours remain as fresh as when they were painted. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th February.

British Galleries 1500 - 1900, have been transformed, producing the most comprehensive display of British design and art anywhere in the world, with over 3000 exhibits on view. The £31m lottery funded project is the V&A's largest for over half a century. The fifteen galleries, occupying 10% of the entire floor space of the museum, tell the story of British design from the Tudor to the Victorian periods, with an unrivalled collection of furniture, textiles, dress, ceramics, glass, silver, prints, painting and sculpture. They contain some of Britain's most significant cultural treasures, including Henry VIII's writing desk, James II's wedding suit and the Great Bed of Ware. Every major name in the history of British design is represented, including Grinling Gibbons, Robert Adam, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as manufacturers such as Wedgwood, Doulton and Liberty. The galleries combine modern displays and five restored period rooms, together with the latest technology to enable visitors to identify the characteristic shapes or motifs of different styles, explore a painting, or date a design. There are also video and audio programmes, including music and commentaries on selected objects, and facsimile books and artefacts to touch and handle. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.


Art On The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780 - 1836 is a recreation of the golden age of British art. Some 300 paintings, watercolours and drawings are hung in period fashion, frame-to-frame and from floor to ceiling, as represented in the famous Rowlandson and Pugin work 'Exhibition Room, Somerset House'. The Royal Academy was founded in 1768, and twelve years later moved into the newly completed Strand block of Somerset House, where its annual exhibitions took place until 1836. Today's display is staged in the recently restored Fine Rooms, designed by Sir William Chambers, centring on the Great Room as it did in the past. Painters competed to secure places for their works as near as possible to the famous Line, a wooden moulding that runs round the walls at the height of the doors. Positions were allocated 'on the Line' itself for the most important pictures, with smaller canvases hung at eye level and lower, and less fortunate works suffering the fate of being 'skied'. Because artists also put their reputations 'on the line' every time they exhibited, the decisions about where the pictures would be hung provoked frequent and heated rows. The works cover portraiture, landscapes, architecture and animals, as captured by Joshua Reynolds (the RA's first president), Constable, Danby, Gainsborough, Russell, Stubbs, Turner and Wilkie. Courtauld Institute Gallery, Somerset House until 20th January.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, after its spectacularly successful launch last year, looks like becoming as regular a feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. The rink, which is bigger than last year and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed on the southern half of the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Gothenburg, home of the house's architect William Chambers, has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks 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. At last London can return to the Thames Frost Fairs of yesteryear. Further information and advance booking details can be found on the Somerset House web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Somerset House until 20th January.

Public Artist, Private Passions: The World Of Edward Linley Sambourne. As a cartoonist with the satirical magazine Punch, Sambourne's graphic work was extremely well known, however, at the peak of his career, he was spending much of his time on a parallel and sometimes secret activity - photography. This exhibition examines Sambourne's camera work in detail, and describes the journey by which his gathering obsession with photography took him from the public realm of the political and social cartoon into the intensely private world of the erotic photograph. Sambourne, the great grandfather of Lord Snowdon, had discovered the medium as an aid to drawing, and by his death in 1910 had amassed a collection of over 50,000 cyanotype images. Sambourne's photography comprises an extraordinary range of subject matter, from comic studies used for cartoons and posed by family, friends and servants, to classical nudes and erotic photographs of famous models and actresses. It reopens the debate on the borderline between pornography and art, offering an unusual and different perspective. Among the materials never previously exhibited are a variety of props that Sambourne used in his work, drawings and photographs, and an assortment of camera equipment including the 'secret camera' for his more furtive photographs. Leighton House Museum, London until 13th January.