News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd November 2011


OMA / Progress is the first British examination of the work of one of the most influential international architecture practices working today. OMA (the Office for Metropolitan Architecture) comprises 7 partners and a staff of around 280 architects, designers and researchers working in offices in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing and Hong Kong. Known for their daring ideas, extraordinary buildings and obsession with the rapid pulse of modern life, OMA play an active role in the architectural, engineering and cultural ideas that are shaping the world. The exhibition, comprising a wide range of materials, relics, documentation, imagery and models, includes a browsable index of all OMA's projects, videos of lectures given by OMA partners from the 1970s to now, and an OMA shop including seminal books and an exclusive collection of prints. One gallery introduces OMA and their current preoccupations, including a raw sequence of every single image from OMA's server - almost 3.5m - that runs on a 48 hour loop. Another is dedicated to a collection of around 450 items that illustrate the history and current practice of OMA, ranging from the iconic - such as models of the Maison a Bordeaux and the CCTV headquarters in Beijng - and previously unseen before seen artefacts including unpublished manuscripts of a never completed book on Lagos, Nigeria. Another is a 'secret room', a space completely covered in the waste paper collected from the OMA offices over a month long period. Further highlights include samples of the skin of the Prada Transformer Pavilion in Seoul in 2009; paintings reproduced in fabric for a wall covering from Rothschild Bank HQ; insights into recent projects such as Cornell University's Milstein Hall; recent competition entries like the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles; and also those that are on-hold indefinitely, like the Dubai Renaissance tower. Barbican Art Gallery until 19th February.

Claude Lorrain: The Enchanted Landscape provides an opportunity to rediscover the 17th century father of European landscape painting. The exhibition brings together 140 works by Claude Lorrain (traditionally just Claude in England), created at different points in his career. By uniting 'pairs' of paintings and making a comprehensive survey of his work in different media, the exhibition brings new research to bear on Claude's working methods, to reveal an unconventional side that has previously been little known. Although he was born in France, Claude lived most of his working life in Rome. The scenery in his compositions was based on his studies of the ancient ruins and the rolling country of the Tiber Valley and the Roman Campagna. Claude's ability to translate his vision of the countryside and the majesty of natural light with the aid of his brush won him the admiration of his contemporaries as a 'natural painter'. It has been his signature treatment of classical landscape and literature which has impressed itself on generations of artists. Claude was the first artist to specialise in painting 'pairs'. Approximately half his compositions were made as companion pieces, including in this display, the earliest, 'Landscape with the Judgement of Paris' and 'Coast View', and his very last painting, 'Ascanius and the Stag of Sylvia' and 'Aeneas's Farewell to Dido in Carthage'. Alongside the paintings are a series of related drawings and etchings that reveal an innovative style, and painterly brush and ink technique, which were perfect for replicating the natural effects of landscapes. The spectacular 'Fireworks' series of 10 etchings, made during a week of firework displays in Rome, illustrate his experimental style. Ashmolean Museum, Cambridge, until 8th January.

Word And Image: Early Modern Treasures explores intercultural exchange in the Early Modern period from 1450 to 1800. The exhibition focuses on the interaction between word and image, looking at themes including travel, translation, and the traffic of goods and ideas, principally through books and art. It offers the chance to see an eclectic and unusual combination of items, including a 17th century volume on the history of Lapland complete with pictures of skis and shamen; a 1589 map of the world; a beautifully illustrated early work of Egyptology; prints of Jesuit missionaries in China wearing local dress; icons of the Grand Tour, such as the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoon; plus early dictionaries, travel narratives and translations. The highlight of the exhibition is Albrecht Durer's 15 woodcuts from 'The Apocalypse', based on various scenes from the late 15th century Book of Revelation, the most famous of which is 'the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', alongside its precursor 'The Nuremberg Chronicle'. University College of London Art Museum, Gower Street, London, until 16th December.


Photographs Gallery is the latest new space to open as part of the museum's redevelopment programme. The gallery chronicles the history of photography from 1839 to the 1960s, after which developments in scale, concept and technology mark a shift in approach and appearance. It has an inaugural display of works by key figures of photographic history, including images by British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, who used long exposures and soft focus to create some of the most powerful portraits of the 19th century, and significant works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Afred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus and Irving Penn. Highlights include a daguerreotype from 1839 of Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square; an early botanical photograph created without a camera by Anna Atkins; a dramatic seascape by Gustave Le Gray, remarkable for its technical and artistic accomplishment; Robert Howlett's iconic portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing in front of the chains of The Great Eastern ship; Curtis Moffat's camera-less photograph of a dragonfly, influenced by Man Ray's pioneering style; and the astonishing scientific photograph by Harold Edgerton of the coronet formed by a single milk drop falling into liquid. The redeveloped space was originally decorated with 20 large semi-circular paintings, illustrating the principles and practices of art education, with imagery evoking the highest achievements from the history of art. These lunette paintings, in storage for over 70 years, have been reinstated after extensive conservation. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Hitched: Wedding Clothes And Customs explores the history of marriage and the customs surrounding it, from Victorian times to the present day. Various aspects of traditional wedding services and receptions are examined, with the main focus upon changing styles in wedding dress during that time. More recent developments such as civil partnership ceremonies and alternative wedding services, alongside weddings in other cultural traditions, are also included. Costumes featured in the exhibition range from the crinoline designs of the 1850s and 1860s, through the 'flapper' styles of the 1920s, Wartime bridal wear, and even a crocheted woollen creation from the 1970s, to suits worn by a couple for their civil partnership ceremony in 2008. Examples of ethnic diversity include a dress from a Jewish wedding from Liverpool in the 1930s, a Chinese wedding dress from Hong King in the 1960s, and an extravagant dress worn by a bride from a Gipsy wedding in 2010. Alongside the outfits and accessories are photographs and ephemera revealing the many and varied traditions of weddings, from food, transport and venues to stag and hen nights. In addition, little known superstitions and beliefs are uncovered, such as why the wedding ring is always worn on the third finger of the left hand, and why the meal following the ceremony is known as the wedding breakfast, no matter what time of the day it is eaten. Ordsall Hall, Salford, until 15th January.

Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter Of Moonlight is the first major exhibition of the Victorian artist in over three decades, reflecting the rehabilitation that his reputation has undergone in recent years. Highly successful in his day, the self-taught Atkinson Grimshaw is now most celebrated for his atmospheric cityscapes, often depicted at dusk or by night. Endowing the familiar streets of Leeds, London and Glasgow with a melancholy beauty, his works balance detailed naturalism with a characteristically atmospheric quality - a product of his delicate manipulations of light. The exhibition comprises some 60 works, with highlights including 'Park Row, Leeds', 'The Thames by Moonlight with Southwark Bridge', 'Boar Lane, Leeds', Silver Moonlight', 'Knostrop Hall Early Morning', 'Reflections on the Thames, Westminster', 'Whitby, Baiting the Lines' and 'Thames by Moonlight'. Alongside the classic urban works, the exhibition also showcases Grimshaw's early preoccupation with natural landscape, including 'Moonlight Wharfedale', which shows the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, as well as some of his less familiar later works, such as interiors painted under the influence of Tissot, and seascapes painted under the influence of James McNeill Whistler, and the Aesthetic movement. Drawings, manuscripts and photographs are also included in display, which help to build a picture of Grimshaw's public and private lives. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 15th January.

Shaped By War: Photographs By Don McCullin is the largest ever British exhibition about the life and work of one of the world's most acclaimed photographers. For more than 50 years, Don McCullin's images have shaped the awareness of modern conflict and its consequences. His courage and integrity, as well as the exceptional quality of his work, are a continuing inspiration and influence worldwide. This exhibition contains over 250 photographs, contact sheets, objects, magazines and personal memorabilia, and shows the effect war has had on McCullin's life. It examines McCullin's uncompromising drive to be on the frontline and document events as they unfold, the influences on his work, and his impact on others. The display reveals the moral dilemmas of bearing witness to and photographing conflict. Set in the context of world events and major changes in photography and journalism which have occurred in his lifetime, items on display for the first time include his US Issue Army Helmet and boots worn in Vietnam, and a camera fractured by a sniper's bullet in Cambodia, as he was taking a photograph. Most black and white images have been handprinted by McCullin himself, and are stunning examples of his darkroom skills. Key images are also displayed via lightboxes, banners and projections - methods that have never before been used to show his work. The exhibition explores how, indirectly, conflict continues to shape Don McCullin and his work today, including cultural change in Britain, landscapes of England, still life photography, and his most recent work, documenting the former Roman Empire. Imperial War Museum, London, until 15th April.

Vermeer's Women: Secrets And Silence explores intimate scenes of Dutch 17th century women in their homes. The exhibition comprises works evoking the private realms inhabited almost exclusively by women, who are glimpsed engaged in domestic tasks, at their toilette or immersed in pleasurable pastimes. Needlework, playing music, reading, writing letters, cooking, shopping and minding children are all beautifully captured, and lend a feeling that one has stumbled upon a private moment. At the heart of the exhibition are works by Vermeer that represent the pinnacle of his mature career, 'The Lacemaker', 'A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal', 'A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman - The Music Lesson' and 'Young Woman Seated at a Virginal'. Optical effects normally seen in photography are present in the paintings, as Vermeer created a depth of field by blurring the foreground of the pictures, while leaving the principal subject in sharp focus. This technique, rarely seen among other works of the period, gave his painting an unprecedented complexity. Joining the works by Vermeer are 28 paintings of Dutch art from the Golden Age by some of Vermeer's finest contemporaries, many of whom were more famous than Vermeer during his lifetime. These artists include Cornelis de Bisschop, Gerard ter Borch, Esaias Boursse, Quiringh van Brekelenkam, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Nicolaes Maes, Cornelis de Man, Eglon van der Neer, Jacob van Ochtervelt, Godfried Schalcken, Jan Steen and Jacobus Vrel. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 15th January.

Oramics To Electronica: Revealing Histories Of Electronic Music charts the history of electronic music making technology, showing how it has moved from purpose built laboratories to a music studio the size of a laptop in 60 years. The story of Electronic Music, from the sound experiments of the 1950s through to the digital revolution of today, is one of invention and innovation. The story begins with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios (EMS), two organisations that broke musical boundaries in the postwar years. Objects on display from this era include the EMS VCS3, the first portable synthesiser; and the Oramics Machine, a revolutionary music synthesiser that was created in the Daphne Oram, founder of the Radiophonic Workshop, which could transform drawings into sound, together with archive footage of the machine working. The emerging story of Electronic Music has inspired enormous creativity, from machines like the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument that cost £20,000 in 1979, to a Speak & Spell children's toy that has been modified to create music. Other items on display include a much-used TB303 bass synthesizer, which spawned the whole Acid House genre, a WASP synthesiser, and an original stylophone, together with less high tech objects, such as an egg slicer rigged to produce sounds like a guitar. More recently, the spread of technology and the digital revolution has opened the world of Electronic Music to everyone, and it continues to break boundaries. Science Museum, London, until 1st December 2012.


Richard Woods: Handmade Modern is an installation of new paintings and sculpture aimed at skewering design culture mores. Richard Wood's works seem to paradoxically both celebrate and gently mock British nostalgia for the designs of bygone eras, and undercut the somewhat self-congratulatory nature of Modernism through a collision of both aspirations. Presented overlaid on Woods's signature floorboard pattern-clad walls, his new Mock Tudor Mono Prints are based on hard-edged renditions of Mock Tudor suburban decoration, refiguring monochrome timbering as geometric abstractions in union flag patterns, where suburban Cheshire meets Neo Geo - the past made future. These are accompanied by a new sculpture series Hand Painted Table Leg Sculptures. These works are Victorian and Georgian style turned table legs that sit on barrel type structures and have been painted with band of concentric colour, aping Modern abstract painting. The clash of form and decoration gives the sculptures a peculiarly carnivalesque nature that stands in brilliant contrast to the austere monochrome minimalism of the Mock Tudor paintings. These two elements are interspersed with strikingly bright woodblock prints depicting Boy's Own-types hard at carpentry. Works|Projects, Sydney Row, Bristol, until 19th November.

Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for 6 miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. New features this year include Bling, sparkling jewellery made up of 20,000 lamps and in excess of a million LEDs, all in cool, bright white; Famous Heads, featuring likenesses of Alan Carr, Tony Blackburn, Lee Evans, Joanna Lumley, Ken Dodd, Matt Lucas and Jo Brand; and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's Theatre D'Amour, a mechanical theatre featuring dancing ballerinas, video projection, footlights, a rotating moon, two pairs of swans, a series of backdrops and nine dancing fountains, plus old favourites Pirates, Noddy and Hickory Dickory Dock renewed and improved. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from dusk to 11.30pm most nights. Blackpool Promenade, until 6th November.

Ben Nicholson: The Intimate Surface Of Modernism provides an opportunity to glimpse the private side of one of the major figures in British modernism. In the 1920s, while Ben Nicholson was married to his first wife, fellow artist Winifred, he spent much of his time living between London and Cumberland. It is largely this early period of Nicholson's life and work that is represented in this exhibition. These are mostly landscape drawings, which belong in the heritage of pastoral art, rather than with his later more abstract paintings and sculpture. This work is grounded with a sense of family and place, includes gifts made to family and friends, which help to connect with Nicholson as a person, rather than just the well known art historical figure. As well as works by Nicholson the display includes paintings by Winifred Nicholson and their maverick friend Alfred Wallis, together with postcards from family holidays. In addition, works such as 'Venice' and 'St Ives' honour Nicholson's more recognised and alternative approach to drawing, which explores new ideas, and refuses to define the term in the traditional way. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until 6th November.