News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd July 2003


London 1753 is part of the British Museum's 250th birthday celebrations, aiming to create a picture of London at the time of its foundation, when London was the largest city in the western world - containing 11% of the British population. The display of over 300 objects is arranged in sections corresponding to five London areas: the City, the River, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury, Westminster, St James's and Mayfair, and shows the extremes of wealth and poverty that existed side by side. It includes both London wide vistas, and miniatures of real life in the city, from fashionable society and cultural events to the gin houses and the gallows, in watercolours by Paul and Thomas Sandby, drawings and prints by William Hogarth, engravings by Charles Mosley, and drawings by Canaletto. On a more personal note, there are portraits of aristocrats, artists and tradesmen, by John Faber, James Macardall and William Hoare, together with their actual watches, jewellery, fans, medals and coins. There are even the precise objects on an actual mantelpiece as depicted in Hogarth's painting Marriage A-la Mode II. Curiosities include shop signs, Spitalfields silk, spurs for fighting cocks, a first edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, John Roque's 1747 map which takes up 72 square feet of the gallery wall, and Hogarth's gold admission ticket to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. British Museum until 23rd November.

Dambusters 60th Anniversary: 617 Squadron And The Dams Raid celebrates the anniversary of the attack on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany by nineteen Avro Lancasters of the specially formed No 617 Squadron, armed with the revolutionary Bouncing Bomb. The breaching of the dams crippled armament production in the Ruhr valley by both depriving it of power and flooding the factories. The exhibition details the entire process from the initial idea, through the testing of the bombs and training of the pilots, to the execution of the raids, and assessment of their success, through a remarkably comprehensive collection of original artefacts. There are Barnes Wallis's original plans and diagrams, together with his refinements and adaptations made as a result of the test programme, which is illustrated with photographs. The initial reluctance of the Air Ministry to back the idea is reflected in confidential letters and memos. The training, rehearsals and the raids themselves are documented in the reconnaissance photographs, maps and logbooks of the pilots, including that of their leader, Wing Commander Guy Gibson. The success of the raids is reflected in the subsequent photographic evidence, official Nazi records and testimonies of local residents, and examples of the extensive press coverage and propaganda materials from Britain and around the world. The aircraft collection also includes an Avro Lancaster 1. RAF Museum, Hendon continuing.

Cruel And Tender: The Real In The Twentieth Century Photograph explores the realist tradition in 20th century documentary photography, taking its title from Lincoln Kirstein's description of the work of American photographer Walker Evans, who, together with German photographer August Sander, provides the historical axis for the exhibition. The result is a type of photographic realism that avoids nostalgia, romanticism, or sentimentality in favour of straightforward observation. Rather than the drama of photojournalism, the images here tend towards the quiet documentation of overlooked aspects of day to day life, whether architecture, objects, places or people. They record what Philip-Lorca diCorcia described as "that which was never really hidden, but rarely is noticed". Images are grouped thematically rather than arranged chronologically to allow comparisons and juxtapositions, thus starving sharecroppers of the American depression rub shoulders with today's homeless in the former USSR. The exhibition brings together works by 23 of the century's greatest photographers including Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Paul Graham, Andreas Gursky, Boris Mikhailov, Thomas Ruff, August Sander, Stephen Shore and Thomas Struth. Tate Modern until 7th September.


Museum In Docklands has brought back to life one of Britain's oldest surviving warehouses - No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay. Built 200 years ago to store and handle coffee, rum, molasses and sugar, today it houses over 2,000 years of history, exploring the story of London's river, port and people from the Roman settlement to its recent regeneration as the Docklands financial and trade centre. The £8.5m conversion has created twelve galleries that hold thousands of artefacts, engravings, paintings, testimonies and photographs that capture the people and places of the area, which from the 1650s to the 1950s was the heart of London. Many of the exhibits are unique, having been rescued during the 1970s and 1780s when the port moved downstream, and they are joined by material drawn from the collections of the Museum of London and the Port of London Authority. Among the highlights are a scale model of Old London Bridge, the first stone structure over the Thames, on one side showing the state of the bridge and its buildings in 1450, on the other in all its Tudor glory; Sailortown, a recreation of gas lit riverside streets and alleyways typical of those behind the early Victorian Wapping waterfront; vessels including the Jillanjon, a double sculling pleasure craft from the 1880s and a PLA Waterman's Skiff of around 1925; and rarely seen film from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and captured Nazi footage, together with canvases by official war artist William Ware, documenting the impact of the Blitz. Meanwhile outside moored along the quay, there are vessels from the floating collection, including the 1920s ex-steam tug Knocker White. Museum In Docklands continuing.

Barbara Hepworth Centenary celebrates one of the foremost British artists of the 20th century, who was internationally acclaimed as one of the major sculptors of her time. Complementing the later bronze works on permanent display at the nearby Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in her former home, this exhibition concentrates on her earlier wood and stone carvings, and groups of drawings. It focuses on the specific themes of Single Form, wood carvings inspired by the human figure; Maternal Forms, stone sculptures on the theme of mother and child; Landscape Sculpture, inspired by the landscape of Cornwall; Scented Guarea, carved from logs of the tropical hardwood; Coloured Stones, an interest to which Hepworth returned in the 60s and 70s; Drawings For Sculptures With Colour, a series of studies for sculpture, combining geometric patterns of lines with areas of strong colour, and Interrelated Masses, pure, white marble sculptures, which have not been seen together for over fifty years. Many of her best known and most important works are featured. Tate St Ives until 12th October.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition panders to our continuing fascination with the myth and legend of the White Star liner, now rusting two and a half miles down at the bottom of the ocean. It presents a chronological journey from the ship's design and construction to its eventual discovery and salvage. There are over 200 artefacts recovered from the wreck, including the ship's bell, a chandelier, crockery and a 3 ton section of the hull which once enclosed two first class cabins - the largest item to be raised so far - as well as personal items such as jewellery, perfume bottles, clothing, a top hat, razors, diaries, playing cards and even bank notes. A sense of life on board for the passengers and crew is conveyed with reconstructions of 1st and 3rd class cabins, pointing up the differences in their experiences, and the bridge. Individual stories of some of the passengers, which ranged from millionaires to economic migrants, are explored. The exhibition also relates how advances in underwater technology have allowed scientists, marine archaeologists and historians to locate and visit the wreck site, and details how objects were raised from the seabed using the latest technology, and preserved for display in the exhibition. It ends with a memorial to the 2228 people on board who perished, together with reproductions of the press coverage of the event, and the reports of British and American enquiries into the disaster. Science Museum until 28th September.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions. Among this year's outrages are David Mach's collage showing nudists in St James Park (with Buckingham Palace in the background), and Dilek O'Keefe's estimation of where Kylie Minogue's talent really lies (it's behind her). Architecture takes a prominent role, with Norman Foster's 'Sky High: Vertical Architecture' exploring the development of the skyscraper from its earliest days in Chicago through to the most innovative skyscrapers currently being developed. Historic designs, such as William Van Allen's Chrysler Building, rub shoulders with contemporary proposals, ranging from candidates for the redevelopment of the World Trade Centre site to Renzo Piano's controversial London Bridge Tower. Models and graphics show how the skyscraper is taking a central role in urban redevelopment in cities around the globe. In a new feature this year the Royal Academy Schools, the Royal College of Art, Goldsmith's College and the Slade School of Fine Art, present work by emerging artists. There is an accompanying programme of lectures and events covering all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 10th August.

Metropolis: Manchester is part of an ongoing project by photographer John Davies to investigate and record major cities in the UK at the beginning of the 21st century. Davies aim is to document the changing face of Britain's major industrial and post-industrial cities. This exhibition comprises a series of large format images taken from high vantage points around the city during last summer. Davies is interested in the architecture of the social environment and the interaction between people and places, and so his photographs concentrate on popular open spaces that attract people. These include the new Urbis building, the redesigned Piccadilly Gardens, Oxford Street Station, the rebuilt Exchange Square, the gothic Albert Square, and the revitalised Arndale centre. Together they build up a composite of the architectural transformation that Manchester has undergone in the last few years. Davies has previously recorded images of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and London in this project. Urbis, Manchester until 6th September and Manchester Art Gallery until 7th September.

Painted Labyrinth: The World Of The Lindisfarne Gospels provides an opportunity to see the actual Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world's greatest books, and the greatest masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic art. Remarkable for its intricate designs, glowing colours and consummate workmanship, it was made between 715 and 720 in the island monastery of Lindisfarne. The book was the life work of Eadfrith, a uniquely gifted artist who created the pigments he used from a variety of natural sources, so that they still retain their brilliance after 13 centuries. It merges words and images reflecting many influences, including native British, Celtic, Germanic, Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, North African and Middle Eastern, to create a unique enduring symbol of faith. The Lindisfarne Gospels contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written in Latin on 259 vellum leaves, to which the oldest surviving translation into the English language was added between the lines some 250 years later. Each Gospel is introduced with a portrait of its writer, and a richly decorative 'carpet page' (like an oriental rug), with the first words elaborately ornamented. In addition to the actual book, thanks to new software developed by the British Library, visitors (both in person and online) can seem to turn the pages of the gospels themselves. British Library until 28th September.


Art Deco 1910-1939 is the first assessment in this country of the first truly global art movement, which was launched at the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1925, as the way of the future, combining streamlining and extravagance. It started in the gallery with paintings and sculpture, moved into the home with individually created jewellery, objets d'art, dresses and furniture for the rich, and then the style swept the world in mass-produced items, with everything from household chinaware and textiles, through cars and ocean liners, to architecture such as the Chrysler building and the Rockefeller Center. It was even reflected in entertainment, both through the designs of the extravagant Hollywood musical spectaculars, and the buildings in which they were shown, culminating in Radio City Music Hall in New York. This exhibition endeavours to encompass the breadth of this massive canvass. It is crammed with wonders including the Maharajah of Indore's silver canopy bed, an Auburn Speedster car, a Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann dressing table, Walter Teague's Bluebird radio, and even the foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel. Areas recreate the Paris Exhibition of 1925 and the New York World's Fair of 1939 that mark the movement's beginning and end. A rich and glamorous treat. Victoria & Albert Museum until 20th July.

Love Storycelebrates the ongoing relationship between weddings and precious metals. It focuses on four decades - the 1890s, the 1920s, the 1960s and 2000s - illustrating how tastes have changed in wedding jewellery, silver, gifts, fashions and memorabilia. In the 1890's diamonds were fashionable, expressing the fascination with the exotic and far flung outposts of the Empire. Items include a gold and turquoise eagle, its beak studded with diamonds, a broach given to her bridesmaids by Queen Victoria, and a minature wedding casket containing a love poem designed for his wife by Edwin Lutyens. By the 1920s, before the arrival of the cultured variety, it was pearls that were the most prized status symbols. Simplicity was the theme of the age, although not for the Duke of Marlborough, who received a silver cup so large it resembles a sports trophy. In the 1960s heavy purchase tax on jewellery made antiques and objet d'art popular as alternatives. Modernist jewellery designs of the period range from minimalist rings to sculptural neck pieces which would look at home worn by Queen Neffertiti or Lieutenant Uhura. Contemporary pieces include a skull cap covered in silver leaves, and medals with a young couple on one side and a projection of their middle aged selves on the other. There are also 17 specially commissioned designs for anniversaries in the appropriate materials from paper to china. Goldsmith's Hall, designed by Philip Hardwick in 1835 in the opulent style of a grand urban palazzo, and not normally open to the public, is worth a visit on its own account. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths Company web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Goldsmiths Hall, Foster Lane, London EC2 until 12th July.

British Blondes celebrates the perception that from Greek goddess Aphrodite to pop goddess Madonna, blondes have always had more fun, by bringing together photographs of some the best known British blondes from the 1930s to the present day. Blonde hair has come to signify beauty, power and status, and the display looks at blonde bombshells from the worlds of politics, fashion, music, film and media. Highlights include Margaret Thatcher by Norman Parkinson, Twiggy by Allan Ballard, Diana Dors by Cornel Lucas and Joely Richardson by Alistair Morrisson, plus Diana, Princess of Wales, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor. The sublime to the 'gor blimey indeed. National Portrait Gallery until 6th July.