News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd April 2002


Skin Deep: A History Of Tattooing brings together a wide range of objects to illuminate the development and diversity of tattooing over the past two hundred years. Beginning with Captain James Cook's first encounters with native tattooing in the South Pacific in 1768, the exhibition looks at the adoption of tattooing by sailors, its subsequent introduction to Western society, and its growth as a statement of fashion and identity today. The name derives from the Tahitian word 'tatau' meaning to mark, and there are drawings and engravings made by Sydney Parkinson, who accompanied Cook and recorded the people he met, including the Marquesan warriors who believed in full body tattoos. There is also an extensive collection of early photographs, taken by other explorers. Sailors developed their own designs, based on maritime images, which had their own coded meanings. Electric tattooing machines were invented in the 1890s, and it became fashionable for European aristocrats to be tattooed around this time. The technique has enjoyed revived popularity in recent years, having been taken up by pop and sports stars, but is no less painful to apply - or easier to remove. Further information and a Whose Tattoo game can be found on the National Maritime Museum web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. National Maritime Museum until 30th September.

Air is the latest of this year's new theme park attractions, claiming to be the first ride to simulate the motion and sensation of free flight. Eight years in the making, and at a cost of £12m, it is designed to give the feeling and freedom of soaring through the air. Instead of the security of sitting in a car or hanging beneath a track, victims are strapped along the length of the track, face down and head first, and are then propelled along swooping up, plunging down, and revolving skywards, at speeds of up to 55mph. It has been designed by John Wardley, former Bond film special effects man, and now theme park ride specialist. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Submission, and other Wardley tortures, Oblivion, the world's first vertical drop ride, and the legendary Nemesis. Further information and virtual rides can be found on the Alton Towers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Alton Towers until 3rd November.

Hamish Fulton: Walking Journey is an exhibition of trips by the 'walking artist' who makes a living out of what others do for pleasure. Through the use of photographs, text, drawings, prints, sculpture, collage and found objects, Fulton endeavours to recreate the experience of his walks. Over the last thirty years these have taken him to some of the most spectacular places on earth, including mountains and deserts in India, Tibet, Norway, America, Iceland, Spain, Canada and Australia. Fulton records not just the scenery, but the lives of the people he meets. At Mount Hiei in Japan he joined Buddhist monks whose meditation involves circling the mountain each day for 1000 days, after which they have travelled a distance equivalent to walking around the world. Fulton's journeys have included pilgrim's routes, and not just John O'Groats to Lands End, but also the Mediterranean to the English Channel. Tate Britain until 30th June.


Body Worlds is definitely the exhibition of the moment. The real bodies with the skin taken off, and the remains dissected and put through a secret 'plastination' process, is dividing opinion right down the middle. The show comes trailing controversy stirred up by previous appearances in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium over the last six years. Is it art? Is it education? Is it a fairground both event? Some find the opportunity to see what the inside of their bodies is actually like a profoundly moving experience. Others dismiss the whole thing as a Victorian freak show - an opinion fostered by the fact that the Professor Gunther von Hagens, the gentleman who prepared the exhibits, looks as though he has just stepped out of a Hammer Horror film. The process renders (if that is the correct word) the specimens much more real than previous methods of preservation, but the 25 corpses and 175 individual body parts can't be considered any more ghoulish for that. There is no question that this is unique event. Go or don't go according to your response, but you can't say you weren't warned. Atlantis Gallery, London until 29th September.

Space Shot is the latest of this year's new theme park attractions, claiming to be the nearest ordinary mortals will get to experiencing takeoff in a space rocket. One of the tallest vertical tower attractions around, it catapults riders into the air to a height of 125 feet, at speeds of 80mph, with a force of 4Gs, then plunges them back to earth with a force of -1G. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Traumatizer, the UK's tallest, fastest, suspended looping roller coaster; Cyclone, a twin train classic wooden roller coaster with a 2500 foot track; and Chaos, a rotating ride with hydraulically operated cars moving through all three axes of movement. As elswhere, no pleasure without pain. Further information and virtual panoramas can be found on the Pleasureland web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Pleasureland, Southport until 5th November.

Bond, James Bond celebrates 40 years of the world's best known movie phenomenon, the James Bond films. Entering through M's office, complete with chair and hatstand, visitors can explore Q's workshop, with the gadgets that have become trademark of the 19 films, including the Aston Martin DB5, complete with its weaponry, the Acrostar Jet and the Hasselblad Signature Gun. Pandering to PC attitudes, there is a section devoted to the strength of character behind the glamour of the Bond women (which will probably come as a surprise to the actresses who played them). The villain's lair contains Jaws' teeth, Oddjob's bowler hat and Rosa Klebb's shoe - no sign of Bloefeld's white cat though. There is also plenty of background material, with storyboards, set concept drawings, and costume designs. The secrets of special effects and stunts are revealed, and there is an opportunity to actually try one out on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accompanying events include James Bond Day on 19th April, when the Bond films will be examined in a variety of ways, including a cultural history of the early movies, different generic traditions and issues of representation. National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford until 1st September.

Tiaras is an exhibition which celebrates the tiara as an art form, providing an insight into the history of the jewels themselves, their owners and their makers. It comprises are over 200 items, containing more than 100,000 gemstones, created during the period from the mid 18th century to the present day. The majestic tiaras from British and European Royal families are on display alongside those worn by today's poor substitutes such as Elton John, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Wonder Woman. Highlights by traditional jewellers such as Cartier, Faberge and Lalique include: four tiaras designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria - one of which, the Oriental Circlet, has regularly been worn by the current Queen Mother; the tiara chosen by The Queen for her wedding in 1947; Queen Mary's Russian tiara, which can be converted into a necklace; and a tiara containing 1041 diamonds and 40 emeralds made for the daughter of Louis XVI, from the French Crown Jewels. These upmarket titfers made with precious stones, are displayed alongside others of less conventional materials, including feathers, horn, plastic, steel and rubber, by contemporary designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Dai Rees, Philip Treacy and Versace. Victoria & Albert Museum until 14th July.

Sutton Hoo Visitors Centre has just opened, includes an exhibition hall devoted to Britain's most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological site. Sutton Hoo is a group of low grassy burial mounds, containing a complex collection of remains, some Royal, others possibly the victims of judicial execution. The site was first discovered in the 17th century, and has been extensively searched since then. In 1939 excavations brought to light the richest burial ever discovered in Britain, an Anglo-Saxon ship, over 27 yards long, containing the treasure of one of the earliest English Kings, Raedwald, King of East Anglia. Excavations in advance of the new building work uncovered the remains of another, earlier cemetery, believed to be from the 6th century, which are currently under examination. Finds here include copperware, pottery, jewellery, spears and shields. The exhibition tells the story of the site, which has been described as 'page one of English history' and displays some original objects as well as replicas of other treasures now on view at the British Museum. Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge continuing.

Colossus sets the agenda for this year's new theme park attractions, being the world's first gravity driven 10 loop roller coaster ride. Themed as in ancient Lost City, it climbs to a height of 100 feet before plunging down towards the ground and then rocketing skywards into the first 360º vertical loop, followed by a series of other barrel rolls, flips, twists and loops over water and through the air, down a track 850yds long, enduring speeds of up to 70mph, with a force of 4Gs. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Tidal Wave, Europe's tallest water drop ride, gravity-defying Detonator, stomach-churning Vortex and head-spinning Zodiac as the most unpleasant experience you can have outside an Islamic fundamentalist regime. Worse is promised for next year. Further information and a virtual ride can be found on the Thorpe Park web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Thorpe Park, Chertsey until 3rd November.


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 Design Museum web site, which can be found via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet, includes a Digital Design Gallery with designer profiles, newly commissioned works, and designers in conversation. Design Museum until 21st April.

William Beckford 1760-1844: An Eye For The Magnificent celebrates the achievements of the millionaire, travel writer, novelist, composer, visionary, builder of towers, and one of the greatest collectors of all time. Reputedly England's wealthiest man, Beckford indulged his passion for gothic architecture, design and history, and was one of the first British collectors of oriental and islamic works. His influence, through both his enthusiasm and sponsorship, shaped the taste of a generation of architects, designers, artists, sculptors and craftsmen. Beckford reconstructed a vast gothic abbey at Fonthill, where he lived behind five miles of twelve feet high spiked walls, filling it with his commissions and acquisitions. This exhibition covers the entire gamut of his collection, with paintings, furniture, silverware, pottery, object d'art, and architectural designs and models, across the diverse cultures that were his passion. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 14th April.

Barbican: This Was Tomorrow examines one of the icons of the post Second World War town planning dream, which in reality is generally regarded as a nightmare - where the 'Streets In The Sky' meets mixed work/leisure use. So long was the planning and construction, that by the time it was completed, its ideas had been discredited. Although the Barbican is the upmarket version of the Glasgow or East End tower block - here at least the lifts do work - its brutalist style remains unloved, and its recent Grade 2 listing by English Heritage has been greeted with disbelief. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Barbican Centre, this exhibition examines its evolution from the origins in the 1950s as a new vision of urban living created from the devastation of the blitz. This is recreated through a combination of original plans and sketches, specially commissioned photographs, video interviews and a reconstruction of a fantasy Barbican flat, showing in all its naivety what yesterday's future looked like. Barbican Centre until 14th April.