News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd October 2001


Mike Nelson has a newly commissioned work that is installed not only in the galleries, but also in the public spaces of the building. Nelson is renowned for creating large scale environments, jammed with the detritus of modern living, which are theatrical, elaborate and surprising. Here he has built a maze-like structure, designed to transform the existing spaces, and disorientate the visitor. As always Nelson has filled this labyrinth with assorted paraphernalia that he has salvaged, with particular reference to his interest in sci-fi, B-movies and pulp fiction. The experience has the feel of stepping into a drama that has been temporarily suspended, like illicitly walking through a stage set during the interval. Mike Nelson has been shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize. Institute of Contemporary Arts until 11th November.

Thinktank, Birmingham's new £50 million science and discovery visitor attraction at Millennium Point is now in business, although the formal opening is not until next July. Divided into ten themed sections over four floors, and covering over 12,500 square metres (including an IMAX cinema), it is one of the largest attractions of its kind outside London. It tells the story of innovation in science and technology through the city's past, relates the latest advances to everyday life today, and examines expectations for the future. Topics covered include Manufacturing, Transport, Power, Space, Medicine, and Natural History. As well as over 200 new interactive exhibits, there are also many of the favourites from the former Museum of Science and Industry which closed in 1997, including the City of Birmingham steam locomotive, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft, John Cobb's Railton car, and the world's oldest working steam engine. The Millennium Point project, which is designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, will also house the Technology Innovation Centre and the University of the First Age, plus shops, bars and restaurants. Thinktank, Birmingham continuing.

Facts Of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art is one of the major exhibitions in the Japan 2001 Festival, and the largest show of contemporary Japanese art ever shown in the UK. It includes works by 25 artists, from key figures such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tatsuo Miyajima and Yayoi Kusama, to a younger generation of rising talent. These range over painting, photography, installation, video and performance, with some created specially for this exhibition. Many are motivated by social concerns, such as the alienation and vulnerability of the individual within the urban landscape, social engagement, and the nature of the material world. These themes emerge in some of the most cutting edge contemporary art being made today, together something that is often missing - humour. Hayward Gallery until 9th December.


Surrealism: Desire Unbound is the first major British assessment of the Surrealist movement for twenty five years. During this period surrealist images have moved from the avant-garde fringe to the stuff of advertising campaigns, so the question is, can the works fulfil their original brief? On the strength of the pieces selected here the answer is yes. The usual suspects appear, including de Chirico, Dali, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Dalí, Giacometti, Man Ray, Magritte and Miro, together with other lesser known artists, and surrealist pieces by those whose main body of work lies outside the movement. The exhibition reveals the group's obsession with desire and sexuality and how it encompassed everything they did. Through painting, sculpture, installation and film, it charts the varied paths chosen to bypass conventional reason and rationality in order to explore the mind's potentially limitless capacity to imagine, dream and invent. The exhibition is dramatically staged in 13 themed sections, each taking its title from a well known work. Further information and an Online Surrealism Shop can be found on the Tate web site via the link opposite. Tate Modern until 1st January.

Nigel Henderson: Parallel Of Life And Art features the work of a key figure in post war British art, straddling the worlds of documentary photography and surrealist inspired collage making. It comprises a selection of the photographs taken in the East End of London in the early 1950s, his experimental 'stressed' photographs, and photograms and photocollages. The centrepiece is a recreation of the exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1953, which Henderson organised with Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson, and Ronald Jenkins. This ground breaking display featured photographs culled from a wide variety of sources - science, technology, nature, art and popular culture - which were blown-up and hung on screens and from the ceiling as well as on the walls, creating a 'total environment' in the exhibition space. Gainsborough's House, Sudbury until 25th November.

Rembrant's Women is the first major exhibition to examine how women were portrayed by Rembrandt. The women in his household, elderly mother Cornelia, blonde wife Saskia, son's nursemaid Geertje Dircks, and dark haired mistress Hendrickje Stoffels, provided the models for figures in large scale historical, mythological and biblical scenes. Rembrandt also made sketches of women going about their everyday business, providing a glimpse of seventeenth century domestic routine. His female figures are beautiful, yet unclassically realistic, depicting their bodies complete with imperfections, thus challenging perceptions of beauty in a way that his contemporaries found shocking. Twenty seven paintings, forty eight etchings and forty four drawings are displayed chronologically, demonstrating how Rembrandt developed certain themes depicting women, how his stylistic approach changed with the years, and how he kept returning to certain subjects throughout his life. Royal Academy of Arts until 16th December.

Walsall Illuminations, Britain's biggest inland illumination display, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, as lights and lasers transform Walsall's arboretum. The season starts with a procession from Walsall town centre that includes 350 pyramid shape lanterns made by local children, plus five 12ft long by 7ft high lanterns, each representing a decade from the last 50 years of pop music. Presumably this symbolises the triumph of exuberance over good taste. The illuminations themselves consist of lakeside lights, state of the art laser shows, floodlit gardens and over 50 different light scenes, including tableaux of favourite children's characters. In addition there are street entertainers, puppet shows, food stalls and fairground rides, plus extra Half Term events during the final week of the season. Walsall Arboretum until 28th October.

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.

Shinto: The Sacred Art Of Ancient Japan presents ancient art and artefacts of Shinto - the way of the kami - the indigenous religious beliefs of Japan. The kami are gods of nature, some nameless and others personified in a mythological hierarchy, together with deified ancestral and historical figures. They were believed to reside in mountains, trees, rivers, rocks, waterfalls and other natural places. Worship of the kami expresses gratitude towards them and aims to secure their continued favour. The exhibition, which includes previously unseen works from the Imperial collection, examines the arts that were characteristic of Shinto during the Heian and Kamakura periods from the 8th to 14th centuries AD. By this time Buddhism and Shinto were amalgamated within Japanese religious beliefs and practices. A custom of installing the Three Sacred Treasures - sword, mirror and jewel - in shrines as spiritual vehicles of the kami, became common. Wooden masks were used for ritual dramas in temples and shrines. The most important of these dramas was kagura (kami enjoyment), from which Noh theatre developed. The exhibition also looks at the mysterious ritual beliefs from which Shinto evolved, drawing on archaeological evidence from Japanese prehistory. British Museum until 2nd December.


Experiment Experiencia: Art In Brazil 1958-2000 endeavours to capture the spirit of experimentation and dynamism of Brazilian art in the second half of the 20th century. Its vibrancy and colour is expressed in paintings, sculpture, film and installation by three generations of artists. Early abstract experiments of the Brazilian avant-garde led by Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica moved outside the frame to embrace 3-D constructions suspended from the ceiling and audience participation - including performances by children from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. In the 1960s and 1970s the work of artists such as Antonio Dias and Antonio Manuel became increasingly politicised in the repressive years of military dictatorship. The diverse art of recent times includes Jose Damasceno's floating black suit and Lygia Pape's curtain of ripening bananas (you had to be there). Museum Of Modern Art, Oxford until 21st October.

Chihuly At The V&A is the first major exhibition in Britain of the spectacular contemporary glass creations of Canadian artist Dale Chihuly, who produces many different types of work in rich colours and extravagant shapes, which provide a modern take on the historic traditions of Venetian glass. Unusually, the pieces are spread throughout galleries and gardens of the V&A. The show has a spectacular start with a five metre high Chandelier hanging in the Dome entrance. It moves on to a spotlight space of glass Baskets. The Medieval Treasury features a tunnel installation with an overhead Persian Ceiling like a coral sea. A Macchia (Italian for spot or stain) Forest display of oddly shaped, brightly coloured vessels, frames the entrance to the gardens. Outdoors there are Seal Pups, Herons, Spears, Fiddleheads and a Tower Of Light, standing eleven metres high over the fountain. Victoria & Albert Museum until 21st October.

Forgery - The Artful Crime charts the history of the continuing struggle of the Bank Of England against the ingenuity of those who sought to counterfeit its wares - a crime which at one time was punishable by hanging. The exhibition shows examples of attempts at forgery of the Bank's notes, and the resulting action taken to foil them. The Bank is the longest continuous issuer of paper money in the world, dating back to its foundation in 1694, and the increasing complexity of bank note design and production over that period are illustrated and explained. There are also demonstrations of engraving and coin minting. The continuing display includes currency in all its forms, with gold bars, coins and notes, medals and commemorative issues, and documents relating to its famous customers from Horatio Nelson to George Washington. There is also a simulated foreign currency dealing desk, which gives visitors a chance to try to make a killing on the Exchange market, without actually breaking their own bank. An accompanying booklet is freely downloadable from the Bank Of England web site, which can be found via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Bank Of England Museum until 10th October.