News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th January 2006


Medieval London is a new gallery that tells the story of London from the end of Roman rule in AD410 to the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, a period when London survived near extinction to become England's capital, and one of the most prosperous cities in Europe. Taking the theme of 'people haven't changed much in a thousand years', it offers a display of over 1,200 artefacts from the period, many recently discovered, designed to capture a sense of people's ordinary lives and daily experiences - promoted with the strapline 'glamour, grandeur, sleaze and disease'. Among the finds are an Anglo Saxon brooch; a section of the Thames riverfront and the remains of a priory window destroyed during the Reformation; leather and textiles, including a man's woollen codpiece, a child's mitten, and a pair of pigeon-toed boots; weapons from the Viking invasions; a silver King Alfred penny; keys from the lockers of patients in St Mary Spital hospital; Pilgrim 'souvenir' badges; children's toys; and a set of loaded dice. Accompanying the relics is an audio visual display on the Black Death, using the words of people who experienced the horrors of the disease that wiped out half the city's population in 18 months, between 1348 and 1350. The gallery also bristles with surprising facts and figures, such as that medieval London had 108 parish churches, but 1334 alehouses (one for every 50 people), that among the goods that arrived in London on a ship in 1500 were tennis balls, liquorice and thimbles; and that the dialect of medieval London became the 'Standard English' language. Museum of London continuing.

Cut And Dried: The Silhouettes Of Augustin Edouart And Watercolours Of Harry More Gordon presents two complementary displays, featuring the work of 19th century French artist Augustin Edouart, and 20th century Scottish watercolourist Harry More Gordon. Edouart, one of the most able cut paper silhouettists of all time, visited Scotland in the early 1830s and made portraits in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth that are a record of the time, while More Gordon's watercolour portraits, showing an acute eye for detail, provide an observation of modern life and manners. During his career Edouart travelled throughout the United Kingdom and America, creating over 100,000 cut paper portraits. This exhibition features over 30 likenesses in profile made by cutting black paper with scissors, while he lived in Edinburgh from 1829 to 1832. His sitters included the exiled French Royal family of Charles X, and many of the leading figures of Scottish society, including writer Sir Walter Scott, artist William Dyce, social reformer Rev Thomas Chalmers, and anatomist Robert Knox. Harry More Gordon began as a graphic artist and illustrator before taking up watercolour portraiture. His pictures, usually informal works, painted in domestic rather than official settings, are always filled with closely observed still life details, which turn them into a form of social commentary. The display features 20 large works, including politician Sir Menzies Campbell, artist Gian Carlo Menotti, gallery director Sir Timothy Clifford, and a celebrated group portrait 'The Secretaries of State for Scotland', completed in 1999, showing all 8 men who had occupied the position over a period of 30 years. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 26th March.

Lawrence Of Arabia: The Life, The Legend is a biographical exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the death of T E Lawrence, exploring the life the writer, adventurer, archaeologist, intelligence officer, diplomat and serviceman, who was one of the British icons of the 20th century. It covers his early years, wartime experiences in the Middle East and the role he played in the Arab Revolt, his growing fame after the war, the writing of 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', his 'disappearance' into the services and his untimely death following a motorcycle accident in 1935. A further section of the show examines the creation of the Lawrence legend, propagated by the illustrated travelogues of Lowell Thomas, and how this has been sustained in books, films and the media. The exhibition features a wide range of original materials, many never publicly displayed before, illustrating aspects of Lawrence's life, including his letters, diaries, Arab robes, photographs, film, paintings, personal effects and memorabilia. Highlights are a recently discovered map outlining Lawrence's proposals for the reconstruction of the Middle East after the First World War (showing that he opposed the creation of a single state of Iraq); the Arab Revolt flag raised at the capture of Akaba in 1917; a gilt bronze wreath that Lawrence found on Saladin's tomb in Damascus; and the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle that Lawrence was riding at the time of his fatal accident. Imperial War Museum London until 17th April.


Gainsborough To Turner: British Watercolours From The Spooner Collection spans the golden age of watercolour painting from around 1750 to 1850, and demonstrates the inventiveness and imagination of British artists working in the medium during this period. It is a rare opportunity to see the majority of this little known but important collection, with 82 works on view, including landscape and figurative subjects by Thomas Gainsborough, Paul Sandby, Francis Towne, Alexander and J R Cozens, Thomas Girtin, John Constable, John Sell Cotman and J M W Turner, as well as works by lesser known artists, many never previously exhibited. Among the architectural images are Edward Dayes's 'Somerset House from the Thames', and views of Greenwich by J R Cozens and John Varley, as well as antiquity and ruins, as epitomised by Cotman's 'Doorway to the Refectory, Kirkham Priory, Yorkshire'. Rural landscapes dominate the exhibition, from Gainsborough's 'invented' compositions of woods, cattle and sheep of the early 1780s, to closely observed river scenes made on the spot in Wales by William James Muller some sixty years later. The exhibition also reflects the technical development of watercolour, as Paul Sandby's brightly coloured gouache drawing 'Henry VIII Gateway, Windsor Castle', and Towne's characteristic 'coloured' outline drawings, contrast with the later more naturalistic and freely handled washes of Girtin, Turner and de Wint. Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 12th February.

Henry Moore Tapestries features the sculptor's less well known works in textiles, made in the late 1970s, which have not been seen in public for some years. The designs for the tapestries were taken from earlier drawings made by Moore as preparations for sculptures, which were enlarged up to ten times their original size. The resulting pieces, made in collaboration with the Tapestry Studio at West Dean in Sussex, are over 6ft in height. They depict a series of typical Moore subjects on the theme of 'Women and Children' and include reclining women, the mother and child and the seated figure. Moore was most interested in the interpretative element of weaving, so that the individual weaver's hand would make its mark, and that the tapestries would not simply be a blown up copy of a drawing.

Nina Saunders, in her first solo exhibition, encompasses furniture, embroidery, monoprints and small bronzes. In 'Chameleon', two embroidered chairs, the design of which has been painstakingly overpainted, stand in a room hung with monoprints, which have been taken from this design, their pattern becoming weaker as the paint, from which they are printed, disappears. 'Loves the jobs you hate', a bronze cast of cleaning materials, is coupled with 'Later that afternoon', a cast of a cup of tea with digestive biscuits on its saucer, while a stuffed deer in a balaclava looks down on them. You had to be there.

New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury both exhibitions until 5th February.

Quiet Resistance: Russian Pictorial Photography 1900 - 1930s provides an opportunity to explore a hitherto overlooked aspect of Russian photography. Alongside the better known avant-garde artists of Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, there was another pictorial trend in Russian photography, which strove to approximate photography to painting, using mainly 'soft' lenses and special, often very sophisticated, printing techniques. Pictorial photography challenged the realist documentary work, and like painting, sought to convey the emotions, and to express the artists' individual senses and meanings. Among the greatest exponents of the school whose works are featured here were Alexander Grinberg, Yury Yeremin, Nikolai Andreev, Nikolai Svishchov-Paola and Alexander Rodchenko. Their depictions of daily life, landscapes and old mansions, city scenes, female nudes and dancers, and portraits of peasants at work, had much in common with their European contemporaries. The 100 photographs in the exhibition recall early 20th century experiments in photography, such as exploring human movement through nymph like dancers, and altering prints by overpainting and scratching. Among the highlights are Yeremin's nudes and dancers, which led to his imprisonment for 'producing pornography'; a study of a bridge in snow by Grinberg, who was sent to a labour camp; Svishchov-Paola's three young women on a staircase, limbs forming Modernist shapes; and Rodchenko's Circus series and scenes from classical operas and ballets. Gilbert Collection at Somerset House until 26th February.

Beatrix Potter: Artist And Illustrator reveals unknown works by the writer and illustrator most famous for Peter Rabbit and other characters in her Little White Books. Many of Potter's most original works were neither reproduced nor exhibited during her lifetime, and her fame rests on only a small part of her output. This exhibition of over 250 works is a broad survey of her art in all its variety: early nature sketches, pen and ink animal studies, watercolours of flora and fauna, unfinished and first drafts of her illustrations, designs and watercolours, and later landscapes, together with early editions of the books. Potter took as meticulous and scientific approach to cataloguing the natural world around her as any professional natural historian. She produced about 500 fungus and lichen drawings, including microscopic studies that were scientifically interesting, and came close to discovering the antibiotic properties of penicillium mould in the course of her research. Among the unpublished materials on display are a series of illustrations for Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Accompany the drawings and paintings are memorabilia, photographs, notes and letters. These show that Potter's relationship with the publisher of the Little White Books was not always a happy one, and that she never liked the iconic image of Peter Rabbit walking on his hind legs, which she dismissed as "that idiotic prancing rabbit". Dulwich Picture Gallery, London until 22nd January.

The Art Of White explores how the colour white in art has come to depict a raft of emotions that stand as powerful symbols. 80 works, spanning 500 years, from religious scenes to still lifes, portraits to photographs, and snow scenes to sculpture, illustrate how the colour is far from neutral. Purity, innocence, moral goodness, sterility, peace, spirituality and meditative silence are all expressed through the use of the colour in works by artists as varied as Picasso, Martin Creed, Robert Ryman, Turner, Constable, Landseer, Valette, Philip Wilson Steer, Rossetti, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Andy Goldsworthy and Michael Craig-Martin. The inspiration behind the exhibition is L S Lowry's obsessive use of white in his paintings. He studied how white paint changed colour over time, and discovered that his preferred lead based white paint gradually turned to shades of cream and brown. A selection of Lowry works on display reflect this obsession, from his depiction of pollution laden industrial skies from the 1930s to solitary figures isolated against dense white backgrounds painted towards the end of his life. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned work by Natasha Kidd, comprising a network of copper pipes running above the gallery through which white emulsion paint is circulated. The flow is interrupted by series of taps, which results in a constant stream of paint drips running down a set of steel plates, leaving streaks on the smooth metal surfaces, with variable pumping pressure causing ever changing paint distribution, creating bumps, ridges and 'stalactite' paint formations. The Lowry, Salford until 17th April.

Presenting A Cooling Image features photographs from the Lafayette studio glass plate negative archive. Discovered on a London building site in 1988, the portraits in the Lafayette archive encapsulate the upper echelons of society at the turn of the 20th century. Covering the period from 1885 to 1933, there are images of royalty, aristocracy, the noted and the notorious. Society hostesses and debutantes captured in these portraits all carry a fan, as a costume accessory or as integral part of their outfit, often for presentation at court, and displayed alongside them are similar or corresponding fans This exhibition aims to place each fan in its historical and social context, reflecting on who may have owned it, and when and where it may have been used. From the stiff formality of the Marchioness of Winchester, photographed in her official robes for Edward VII's coronation in 1902, to the understated elegance of Miss Mary Latta's fashionable attire for presentation at court in 1923, the Lafayette archive records the transformation of fashion from the rigid corsetry of Queen Victoria's era to the fluid dropped waists of the 1920s flapper. Such stylistic alterations are equally noticeable in accessories, including the fans on display. As well as formal occasions, there are images from Fancy Dress balls, usually high profile social events such as the Devonshire House Ball, attended by Royalty. This is the first time that many of the 30 images on show have been seen publicly since they were first made. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 26th March.


Rubens: A Master In The Making tells the story of Peter Paul Rubens's ascension from working as a pupil of a minor Antwerp artist, to become the dominant international painter of his time. It is the most thorough explanation of what was called 'the fury of the brush' ever attempted. The story begins in Antwerp, with works such as 'The Battle of the Amazons' and 'The Battle of Nude Men', where Rubens is sketching the movement and placement of bodies to create the energy and motion that was to become the signature of all his paintings. On his 8 year study trip to Italy, he was exposed to the Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Raphael, and the revolutionary style of Caravaggio, whose influence is revealed in paintings such as 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'St George' and 'Hero and Leander'. Three versions of 'The Judgement of Paris', using different mediums: oil on oak, oil on copper and oil on panel, show Rubens's evolution in style, from undefined bodies to more defined physiques. A group of Genoese portraits from 1606 offer the opportunity to focus on works that are by Rubens's hand alone, undiluted by any workshop assistance. The culmination of the show is a group of Rubens's best known heroic images, created from an amalgam of sources on his return to Antwerp. These include 'The Descent from the Cross', 'The Entombment' 'Samson and Delilah', 'The Massacre of the Innocents', 'Ecce Homo' and 'Roman Charity' - works that were last seen together in Rubens's studio. National Gallery until 15th January.

Diane Arbus: Revelations is the largest retrospective ever assembled of work by the legendary New York photographer, whose work captured 1950s and 1960s America, and transformed the art of photography. The exhibition consists of nearly 200 of Arbus's most significant photographs, including many images that have never been exhibited publicly before. Among the iconic pictures are 'A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx', 'Identical twins, Roselle, N.J.', 'Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park' and 'A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.'. The exhibition also reveals the artist's methodology and intellectual influences, through a presentation of contact sheets, cameras, letters, notebooks, and other writings, as well as books and ephemera from Arbus's personal library. She was born in New York City and was a photographer primarily of people she discovered in the metropolis and its environs. In her photographs, the self-conscious encounter between photographer and subject becomes a central drama of the picture. Her "contemporary anthropology" - portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle class families, transvestites, people on the street, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities - stands as an allegory of post war America and an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theatre and reality. Alternatively, she created a 20th century version of a Victorian Freak Show. Victoria & Albert Museum until 15th January.

Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec: London and Paris 1870-1910 identifies the largely unrecognised exchange of artistic ideas between Britain and France during this seminal period in the development of modern art. The exhibition features more than 100 works, including paintings, pastels, drawings, prints and sculpture. There are about twenty works each by Edgar Degas, Walter Sickert and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec that are known to have been exhibited in British galleries at the time. Among the many iconic images is Degas's 'L'Absinthe', not shown in a London exhibition since the 19th century, and 'Interior (The Rape)'. Such works, characterised by their daring technique and colour allied to a choice of starkly modern subject matter, depicting the realities of urban life, elicited powerful responses from a subsequent generation of artists in Britain and France. While Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec are the artists at the heart of the exhibition, it also presents innovative depictions of modern life by other prominent painters, such as Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and James Whistler, as well as now less widely celebrated figures including James Tissot, Henri Fantin-Latour and William Rothenstein. The exhibition reveals the parallels between Toulouse-Lautrec's imagery and that of Sickert and his contemporaries, and looks particularly at the close relationship between intimate paintings of interiors by Sickert, Bonnard and Vuillard, each of them redolent with intense psychological power. Tate Britain until 15th January.