News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd July 2013


Lowry And The Painting Of Modern Life aims to re-assess the achievements of Britain's pre-eminent painter of the industrial city. The exhibition of over 90 works demonstrates L S Lowry's connections and debts to French painting of the later 19th century, and a determination to make art out of the realities of the emerging modern city. It reveals what Lowry learned from the symbolist townscapes of his French born teacher Adolphe Valette, and demonstrates parallels with the painters of modern life Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Maurice Utrillo, drawing upon these artists' continuous search for ways to depict the unlovely facts of the city's edges and the landscape made by industrialisation. For Lowry modern painting needed to represent the remaining rituals of public life: football matches and protest marches, evictions and fist-fights, workers going to and from the mill. Works such as 'Pit Tragedy', 'An Accident' and 'The Fever Van' demonstrate his unique engagement with street life, and his development of a cast of characters portraying the ways in which his subjects' lives unfold and become unstuck, charting the unpredictability and unsteadiness of working-class life. Other highlights include 'Coming Out of School', 'The Pond', 'Ancoats Hospital Outpatients Hall', 'The Cripples', Piccadilly Circus, London' and 'Excavating in Manchester'. The show also presents for the first time all 8 of his less well known, late industrial panoramas, where a leap up to 'history painting' size indicates the measure of his final ambition. Tate Britain until 20th October.

The Lindisfarne Gospels tells the story of how and why one of the greatest landmarks of human cultural achievement was made, and its influence on Medieval Europe. Created by the community of St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne, the Lindisfarne Gospels is not only a book, an illuminated manuscript and a sacred text, but also one of the best examples of medieval creativity and craftsmanship. At the centre of the exhibition is an opportunity for a close up view of the gospel book itself, written in honour of St Cuthbert. The stunningly designed calf-skin pages, created in 700 by Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne, comprise nearly 2,000 yards of perfectly formed Latin calligraphic script, decorated with strange beats and spiral designs, containing the works of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as they recount the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The cover is also richly decorated and adorned with jewels. In addition to the book itself, there are many artefacts from Anglo-Saxon England, such as St Cuthbert's own treasures, including his jewelled cross, sapphire ring and travelling altar; a folded gold cross and other ornate gold objects from the Staffordshire Hoard; intricately carved stone from Lindisfarne depicting Viking raiders; and silver from Hexham; alongside some of Britain's most significant medieval manuscripts, such as the St Cuthbert Gospel - Europe's oldest surviving bound book - and the Durham Gospels. These items place the Lindisfarne Gospels within a wider context of Anglo-Saxon creativity and show how incredibly complex and elaborate medieval craftsmanship was. Palace Green Library, Durham University, until 30th September.

Airfix: Making History charts the history of a Great British Institution, and the almost lost art of model aeroplane construction. The exhibition features original art works made for box covers (for trains and boats as well as planes), the packages themselves, and original model moulds, as well as Airfix's most popular plastic model kits from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, both unmade and assembled, ranging from heroes of the Second World War to the latest technology. For generations these will conjure up the aroma of Humbrol paint, and hours spent gluing, painting and grappling with RAF roundel transfers in saucers of water. In 1952 Airfix embarked on the production of construction kits with a model of the ship the Golden Hind. This was rapidly followed by the first of its aircraft kits, and the best selling item in the history of model kits - the 1:72 scale Airfix Spitfire - in 1953. Airfix created both an industry and a revolution in children's pastimes, which rapidly became a craze. It produced more than different 700 kits over the years, selling over 20m a year at its peak in the 1970s. As an information board in the exhibition says: "Modelling teaches patience, discipline and the advantages of following the instructions, virtues which are, regrettably held in little esteem today." An important part of the exhibition is the examination of how Airfix has permeated the social fabric of the United Kingdom, and how it has influenced the leisure activities of generations of young men and women since the company's foundation, inspiring many to take up their own careers in the aviation industry. The Royal Air Force Museum, Grahame Park Way, Colindale, London NW9, until 3rd May.


Vermeer And Music: The Art Of Love And Leisure explores the concept of music as one the most popular motifs in Dutch painting, and as a daily pastime of the elite in the Netherlands during the 17th century. The exhibition features some of the most beautiful and evocative paintings by Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries, alongside musical instruments and songbooks of the period. It provides an opportunity to compare 17th century virginals, guitars, lutes and other instruments with the paintings, to judge the accuracy of the depictions, and understand the artistic liberties the painters might have taken - and why - to enhance the visual appeal of their work. Forming the centrepiece are paintings by Johannes Vermeer portraying female musicians 'A Young Woman standing at a Virginal', 'A Young Woman seated at a Virginal', and 'The Guitar Player', together with 'The Music Lesson'. Music carried many diverse associations in 17th century Dutch painting. In portraits, a musical instrument or songbook might suggest the talent or sophistication of the sitter, while in still lifes or scenes of everyday life, it might act as a metaphor for harmony, a symbol of transience or, depending on the type of music being performed, an indicator of education and position in society. The depictions of domestic musical performances range from contemplative images of single musicians to lively concerts and amorous encounters between music-master and pupil. In addition to works by Vermeer, the exhibition includes paintings by Gerard ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch and Godfried Schalcken. There are also occasional live performances by the Academy of Ancient Music, which aim to bring the paintings to life with music of the period. National Gallery until 8th September.

Curiosity explores the pleasure that comes from the search for the wondrous and bizarre for their own sake - and the contradictory nature of that pleasure. Like the cabinet of curiosities of the 17th century, which mixed science and art, ancient and modern, reality and fiction, this exhibition combines knowledge and pleasure. It juxtaposes historical periods and categories of objects to produce an eccentric map of curiosity in its many senses. The overstuffed Horniman Museum walrus, brought back from Canada by the Victorian hunter James Henry Hubbard, has travelled to the seaside having left its current home for the first time since the 1890s, to sit alongside works by contemporary artists, including Katie Paterson's images of deep space; and Gerard Byrne's images of the Loch Ness Monster. The display exposes past and present fascinations such as astronomy, animals, maps and humankind's obsession with collecting, blurring the boundaries of art, science and fantasy. Historical artefacts include intricate pen and ink studies by Leonardo da Vinci; Albrecht Durer's Rhinoceros woodcut; bird studies by JMW Turner; late 19th century models of aquatic creatures by German glassmakers Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka; the coloured stone collection of Roger Caillois; the diarist and botanist John Evelyn's cabinet, a highly decorated portable storage box made to house curiosities; ivory anatomical models from the 17th and 18th centuries; Robert Hooke's Micrographia with its detailed illustration of a flea; and a penguin collected from one of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expeditions. Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate, until 15th September.

Lights, Camera, London! shows how London has been the setting - and often the star - of films for over a century. London was one of the cities where moving pictures began in the 1890s, and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee provided the new entertainment medium with its earliest global box office success in 1897. Using film extracts and stills, together with rare costumes and props, the exhibition reveals the range of what Samuel Johnson called 'the wonderful immensity of London'. There are sections devoted to the capital's diverse communities, and to its working life, including the once famous markets, which can now only be seen on film. London's leading role in music and fashion during the 1960s is celebrated, alongside the writers whose careers it made, from Shakespeare to Dickens and Wilde. Heroic images of London's survival during the Second World War contrast with apocalyptic fantasies of the city being destroyed, while 'Gaslight' and 'Underworld' sections evoke the most popular images of the Victorian city, with its sinister secrets, and the long tradition of London criminals and the detectives who pursued them. Two of the most popular of all London genres are British monarchs, appearing in reality in public and imagined in their private lives, and the distinctive humour of Londoners, as reflected in Ealing comedies. In addition, the exhibition acknowledges London's continuing involvement in filmmaking, and in the new technologies of sound and image as a centre of post-production. London Film Museum, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden WC2, continuing.

Visions Of The Universe charts the development of telescopy, photography and our understanding of our place in the cosmos. The exhibition brings together over 100 images of space, revealing the role that astronomers played in pushing forward the technology of cameras and telescopes, so that we can now see the weather on distant planets, and look past the Milky Way into galaxies beyond. It offers a visual trip through our solar system encountering images of the Moon, Sun, the planets and deep space, before coming back to Earth to a selection of images that reflect our fascination with the night sky. The photographs include the latest cutting edge images captured by NASA, the Russian space programme and some of the greatest telescopes in the world. With views of the aurora on the surface of Saturn, the spectacular clouds of colourful dust in which new stars are forming thousands of light years away, and the dizzying sight of Earth as seen from the International Space Station, the display celebrates the aesthetic beauty of space photography, as well as the scientific discoveries that advances in technology have allowed. In photographs taken from the far side of Saturn, using UV light, infrared and radar, combining cameras and telescopes, astronomers can see vistas that are impossible to discern from earth. The centrepiece is the 'Mars Window' - a 13m by 4m curved wall onto which the latest images beamed back by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover are projected, creating the impression of looking through a giant window out onto the rocky Martian landscape. Highlights from the past include: the first astronomical image ever taken; Edwin Hubble's 1923 photograph that confirmed the existence of galaxies beyond our own; the 1969 image of the first human to walk on the moon; and the astronomical photograph that helped to prove the General Theory of Relativity. National Maritime Museum until 15th September.

Stradivarius celebrates the life and work of the only maker of musical instruments whose name ranks alongside those of the great composers. This is the first major exhibition devoted to the work of Antonio Stradivari ever to be held in Britain. It puts on show 21 of his most important and well-preserved instruments, some of which have never before been displayed in public, to reveal the brilliance of his craft. These instruments are the finest and most beautiful of their kind, with 11 dating from Stradivari's 'Golden Period', between 1700 and 1720, when he was the height of his creative powers, and making instruments that became the classic models on which later violins and cellos were based. Among the star items are the 'Viotti' violin of 1709, which belonged to the violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti, who did more than anyone to establish the fame of Stradivari's violins in the early 19th century; the 'Batta-Piatigorsky' cello of 1714, played by the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky; and the 'Messiah' violin, Stradivari's best-preserved and most famous remaining instrument. There is also a recreation of Stradivari's workshop, displaying his original tools, wooden models and patterns, which allow visitors to follow the creation of a violin from a log of spruce wood through to the finished instrument, and to explore the techniques and artistry of violin making. Recordings and interviews with leading musicians provide an opportunity to hear some of Stradivari's instruments that are still being played. There is an accompanying display of paintings, etchings, drawings and photographs, providing background to Stradivari and his instruments. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 11th August.

Patrick Caulfield surveys the work of the British painter known for his iconic and vibrant paintings of modern life, which reinvigorated traditional genres as still life. The exhibition traces the development of Patrick Caulfield's distinctive style. Early on in his career Caulfield rejected gestural brushstrokes for the more anonymous techniques of sign-writers, characterised by flat areas of colour defined by outlines. In the 1970s he began combining different styles of representation, such as trompe-l'oeil, to create highly complex paintings that play with definitions of reality and artifice. This shift coincided with a change in subject matter to topics that directly engaged with the contemporary social landscape and the representation of modern life, and remained his focus for the rest of his career. Over 30 works have been brought together to represent the key moments of Caulfield's career, including popular paintings such as 'Pottery', 'Dining Recess', 'After Lunch' and 'Interior with a Picture'; shown alongside lesser known works such as 'Bend in the Road' and 'Tandoori Restaurant'; as well as later paintings such as 'Bishops', and his final work 'Braque Curtain'.

Gary Hume, running in parallel, offers the chance to see a complementary British painter from a different generation. The exhibition highlights Gary Hume's innovative use of colour, line and surface over the last 20 years. Hume first received critical acclaim in the early 1990s with his large-scale paintings based on hospital doors boldly rendered in high gloss paint. This early focus evolved over subsequent decades to encompass a range of subjects: figures such as mothers and babies, friends and celebrities, as well as images drawn from nature or childhood including flowers, birds and snowmen. The display brings together 24 works in which recognisable forms are sometimes fragmented to near abstraction. The original source image may be left far behind as shapes emerge in the paintings through vibrant areas of colour, whilst lines are articulated as thin ridges of paint that disrupt the surface and the eye. Highlights include iconic early works such as 'Tony Blackburn' and 'Blackbird', as well as major recent paintings such as 'Red Barn Door'.

Tate Britain until 1st September.


Cairo To Constantinople: Early Photographs Of The Middle East charts a Victorian royal journey. In 1862, the young Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, was sent on a 4 month educational tour of the Middle East, accompanied by the British photographer Francis Bedford. This exhibition documents his journey through the work of Bedford, the first photographer to travel on a royal tour. It explores the cultural and political significance Victorian Britain attached to the region, which was then as complex and contested as it remains today. The tour took the Prince to Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. During the journey he met rulers, politicians and other notable figures, and travelled in a manner unassociated with royalty, by horse and camping out in tents. On the royal party's return to England, Francis Bedford's work was displayed in what was described as 'the most important photographic exhibition that has hitherto been placed before the public'. Bedford's pictures are amongst the earliest photographs of many of the sites he visited, and are certainly the first of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Large plate cameras were the only available equipment at the time, the exposures were long, and the prints made directly from the negatives, which gives them a unique quality. Enhanced by the relatively simple optics of the lenses, his pictures have marvellous unity of light and an extraordinary depth of pin-sharp focus. In addition, there is a small display of the antiquities that the prince acquired during the trip. This is mainly a miscellany of Greek and Egyptian objects, but also includes some jewellery with ancient stones in modern settings, their Egyptian style a kind of proto Art Deco. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 21st July.

Treasures Of The Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts And The Russian Tsars examines the development of cultural diplomacy and trade between Britain and Russia from its origins in 1555. The exhibition reveals the majesty and pageantry of the royal courts from Henry VIII to Charles II, and Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) to the early Romanovs, as they sought to strengthen their power against a backdrop of religious and social upheaval. Comprising more than 150 objects, the display chronicles the ritual and chivalry of the royal courts, with heraldry, processional armour and sumptuous textiles, including furnishings and fine clothing. The leading figures of the time including monarchs, diplomats, wealthy merchants and courtiers are introduced through portraiture, including paintings and miniatures by court artists, while magnificent examples of jewellery and luxury goods illustrate the valuable gifts presented by ambassadors. Highlights include the rarely shown Hampden portrait of Elizabeth I; the Barbor jewel, a pendant of enamelled gold set with an onyx cameo of Elizabeth I; a hand-coloured map of Muscovy from 1570; the Drake Star, a cameo cut with a black male and white female head in profile, in an elaborate enamelled gold setting, with further diamonds, rubies and pearls; contemporary literature, including a Shakespeare First Folio; a silver Dolphin Basin made in by Christiaen van Vianen; a heraldic sculpture over 2m high, comprising a bull, a gryphon, a ram and a salmon, carved from a single oak; and a suit of armour made for Henry VIII by the Royal Almain Armoury in Greenwich, alongside The Almain Album, a unique record containing 29 bespoke armour designs by Jacob Halder for high ranking Elizabethan courtiers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 14th July.

Diplomatic Dignitaries features drawings depicting 'the numerous foreign rulers, who have visited our islands from time to time', commissioned for the magazine Vanity Fair in the Victorian era. Leslie Ward produced drawings of foreign statesmen amongst the comic portraits of prominent characters he regularly supplied to Vanity Fair. Living up to his nickname 'Spy', he acquired these caricatured likenesses for the periodical through covert study as well as impromptu and formal sittings. His lively impressions of these powerful individuals are records of a largely forgotten element of Victorian history - the role and celebrity of international diplomats operating within British society. Drawing on Ward's memoirs, and the magazine's description of the sitters' contextual significance, this display presents 5 of the original sketches he made of key diplomatic figures. As this representative sample of his work shows, Ward's subjects encompassed visiting statesmen, such as the exiled Grand Vizier of Turkey, Midhat Pasha, as well as the official diplomats accredited to the Court of St James's, including Kuo Sung-t'ao, the first Chinese Minister to Britain. Providing evidence of the move to develop diplomacy as an alternative to military action, this displays highlights some of the distinguished foreigners involved in shaping international relations at the turn of the 19th century. National Portrait Gallery until 14th July.