News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th January 2012

Commencing

Treasures Of The Royal Society features some of the most remarkable treasures from 350 years of book collecting. Among the rare and priceless publications are: John Graunt's 'Natural and Political Observations...upon the Bills of Mortality', a pioneering work on medical statistics that provides a unique insight into what London life - and death - were like in the 17th century; Isaac Newton's handwritten corrections to his 'Principia', setting out his laws of motion, universal gravitation, and planetary motion, one of the most significant scientific works ever published; the first edition of Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species', which sparked a revolution in the way humans understood themselves and the natural world; rarely seen anatomical engravings by Albrecht Durer, the first to apply the science of human proportion to aesthetics; Galileo's revolutionary 'Starry Messenger', the first book to describe the results of astronomical observations made through a telescope, describing craters and mountains on the moon, clearly shown in several engraved illustrations; William Gilbert's 'Tractatus de Magnete', a groundbreaking book on magnetism that explained by means of experiments and observations his theory of the earth as a giant magnet with two poles; Charles Lyell's 'Principles of Geology' which argued that geology can be explained by the action of modern causes such as volcanoes, earthquakes and erosion, and that the biblical narratives of the creation and flood should not be taken literally; and Robert Hooke's 'Micrographia', the first illustrated book of microscopic observations, containing the first use of the word 'cell' to describe the tiny pores in a sliver of cork. The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London, until 21st June.

Graham Sutherland: An Unfinished World is an exploration of the lesser-known works of one of the most compelling British artists of the mid 20th century. The exhibition brings together over 80 of Graham Sutherland's rarely seen works on paper, studies and sketches that possess a quickness and fluidity that his finished paintings often lack. It concentrates on Sutherland's early Pembrokeshire landscapes from the 1930s and 1940s, works created during his time as an official war artist during the Second World War, and after his return to Pembrokeshire in the 1970s. Far from traditional studies of landscape and environment, these works not only depict but also exude a world that is as dark as it is magical, as elusive as it is recognisable. Strangely bereft of human life, the works navigate the real and imagined, where country lanes loop into each other, horizon lines fold into foregrounds, and nothing is as it seems. Sutherland was exhilarated by the 'exultant strangeness' of the Pembrokeshire landscape, but the natural forms he painted are fuelled just as much by his imagination. This is revealed in distinctly dark ruminations of the soul, a devastating vision that appears just as apocalyptic before the war as it does during it or in its immediate aftermath. The exhibition shows Sutherland as an artist as much rooted in the past as in the world before him - a world forever unfinished. Modern Art Oxford until 18th March.

Magic Worlds delves into the realms of fantasy, illusion and enchantment, revealing how magic has been embraced for hundreds of years. The exhibition explores the world of fairy tales and fantasy literature, the history and origins of magic, and how themes of magic have influenced many artists and writers over the last 300 years. It is a journey into miniature magical worlds, complete with witches, wizards, fairies and magical creatures, showing the ways magical beliefs become magical fictions, how fairytales evolved into fantasy literature, and how real superstition merged into conjuring tricks. Objects on display include posters, costumes, tricks and illusions from Music Hall and stage magic shows; props and merchandise from films featuring fantasy and magical creatures; optical toys such as the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, magic lanterns and parlour games based around magic; children's magic, conjuring sets and playing cards featuring classic tricks; paintings, drawings and ceramics inspired by the theme of fairies and enchantment; the supposedly real photographs of the Cottingley fairies; otherworldly dolls and puppets; and illustrated books, such as a 16th century book on witchcraft that includes a depiction of the fairground trick known as the beheading of John the Baptist - a Tudor version of the modern magic trick of the assistant sawn in half; together with interactive hands-on activities. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London, until 4th March.

Continuing

Dickens And London celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Britain's most successful novelist. Recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London through sound and projections, the exhibition takes visitors on a haunting journey to discover the city that inspired Dickens's writings. Paintings, photographs, costume and objects illustrate themes that Dickens wove into his works, while rarely seen manuscripts including Bleak House and David Copperfield - written in the author's own hand - offer clues to his creative genius. The exhibition reveals how Dickens's childhood experiences of London, working in a blacking factory while his father was locked away in a debtor's prison, were introduced into the stories he wrote. The great social questions of the 19th century, including wealth and poverty, prostitution, childhood mortality and philanthropy, are also examined, all of which set the scene for Dickens's greatest works. The exhibition covers Dickens's childhood and home life, the theatre, industrialisation, criminal justice and death. Highlights include an audio-visual experience bringing to life Robert William Buss's unfinished painting 'Dickens's Dream', portraying Dickens asleep in a chair surrounded by the characters he created, with the actual desk and chair where he wrote his novels; and a specially commissioned film by the documentary maker William Raban, which explores the similarities between London after dark today and the night time city in Victorian times, to a soundtrack of Dickens's essay Night Walks. Museum of London, until 10th June.

Cutting Edge: Contemporary Paper Art displays work by leading artists who use techniques such as collage, print-making and paper cuts to create a variety of fragile and unique sculptures and illustration. Papercraft is an age-old art that goes back to ancient China and Japan, but here it is given a contemporary twist. Among the artists represented are Eileen White, Rob Ryan, Ed Kluz, John Dilnot, Jonny Hannah, Zoe Murphy and Sally Sheinman. Highlights include a 15ft paper cut mobile suspended in the air, made from hundreds of leaves, flowers and other natural elements; beautiful 'vignettes' inside glass fronted boxes; six grand three dimensional paper houses on a miniature scale, mythical creations sheltering beneath Victorian glass domes; uncanny gothic landscapes inspired by historic buildings and folklore, made from mixed media, including gouache, ink, wax, wire and cut paper; and two 200ft long paper sculptures, one made from 25,000 pieces of hand-painted gold Japanese rice paper to symbolise the number of genes in the human genome, and the other comprised of over 700 drawings of the human form, each one different from the other, some showing small subtle changes, while others times are very dramatically different. Mottisfont Abbey, Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire, until 29th January.

Hogarth's House has reopened after a £400,000 restoration and refurbishment programme, which includes the transformation of the second floor into a museum. The Grade 1 listed house, built around 1700, was the country home of the painter, engraver and satirist William Hogarth from 1749 until his death. He bought the house to act as his family's country refuge, a weekend and summer home, away from the noise of his other house in what is now Leicester Square. The work involved revealing some of the building's original features, including parts of the flooring, a sympathetic refurbishment of period details, and the restoration of the original colour scheme. The new museum has displays about the Hogarths, their lives, and others who have lived in the house. It features a number of Hogarth's recently acquired personal possessions, such as a portable chest in which he kept brushes and materials, his paint box, his ladle, some glasses, a precious Chinese porcelain punchbowl, and his palette, which was later owned by JMW Turner. The house holds an extensive collection of Hogarth's prints, a selection of which are on display, together with a set of his engraving plates. In the garden there remains the ancient mulberry tree, the fruits of which the Hogarths are said to have made into pies for the Foundling children who stayed with them, and the 'painting room' shed where Hogarth was working until a few days before his death. Hogarth's tomb with an inscription by his friend, the actor, David Garrick, lies a short walk from the house in St Nicholas's churchyard, next to the Thames. Hogarth's House, Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4, continuing.

The Heart Of The Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography features photographs taken in Antarctica by Herbert George Ponting and Frank Hurley, and marks the 100th anniversary of Captain Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole. Herbert George Ponting's extraordinary images record Scott's Terra Nova expedition of 1910-13, which led to the tragic death of five of the team on their return from the South Pole. The photographs capture scenes of life on board, the very first icebergs the ship encountered, and the stunning landscape and wildlife around them, including ice flowers, a grotto in an iceberg, the moment the sea began to freeze, and Captain Oates and his Siberian ponies. Frank Hurley's dramatic icescapes were taken during Ernest Shackleton's Polar expedition on Endurance in 1914-16, which included the heroic sea journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. They record life onboard Endurance before it was trapped in the ice floes, and include atmospheric pictures of it sinking beneath the sea, having been crushed by the enormous pressure of the ice, after which Hurley was forced to sacrifice all but 120 of his 500 glass plate negatives in order to carry them home on foot. Presented to King George V, these sets of photographs, which manage to encapsulate the brave and tragic elements of the expeditions undertaken in fatally freezing conditions, are among the finest examples of the artists' works in existence. In addition to the photographs, the exhibition includes some remarkable Antarctic ephemera, including Captain Scott's South Pole flag, together with photographs and paintings associated with The Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Antarctica in 1956-57. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 15th April.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery has reopened after a £17.6m restoration and refurbishment project designed by architects Page / Park, which has increased the public and exhibition space by more than 60%, adding an education suite, seminar room, larger cafe and shop, and media centre. Among the opening displays are: Reformation To Revolution, an exploration of the significance of portraiture in a period of fundamental changes in religion, leadership and nationhood, from a time of Catholic absolute monarchy in the mid 16th century, to the Protestant revolution at the end of the 17th century; Citizens Of The World: David Hume & Allan Ramsay, telling the story of Scotland's contribution to the Enlightenment, through the portraits of the people who contributed to the paradigm shifts in attitudes towards humankind and the world during the 18th century; Out Of The Shadow: Women Of 19th Century Scotland, considering the lives of female intellectuals, writers and artists whose work helped to change the perceptions and aspirations of their female audience, and to advance the cause of women's rights in the 19th century; Migration Stories, highlighting the cultural diversity of Scotland and its impact on the world, exploring questions of identity, issues of place, belonging, exile and tradition; and Romantic Camera: Scottish Photography And The Modern World, exploring questions of national identity, with reference to the relationship between romanticism and photography in Scotland, ranging from iconic images by pioneers of photography Hill and Adamson, to new commissions. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, continuing.

A Hankering After Ghosts: Charles Dickens And The Supernatural explores the many ways in which Dickens used supernatural phenomena in his works, while placing them in the context of scientific, technological and philosophical debates of his time. Dickens's interest in the macabre was apparent from an early age, and as an adult, he was caught up in 'mesmeric mania' that swept Britain, developing an interest in the 'power of the human mind'. He believed that all supernatural manifestations must have rational explanations, but his investigations into animal magnetism and psychology showed him that science could be as chilling as any ghost story. Among the exhibits are: a letter from Dickens to his wife Catherine, alluding to a marital disagreement that arose after Catherine became jealous of the close attention he was paying to a lady named Augusta de la Rue, using mesmerism to treat her nervous condition after he learnt how to mesmerise people; 'Well authenticated rappings' written by Dickens for Household Words, questioning the motivation of spirits who would return to make general idiots of themselves by conveying inane messages full of spelling mistakes; The Terrific Register: or, Records Of Crimes, Judgements, Providences And Calamities, a penny weekly magazine that covered such topics as murder, ghosts, incest and cannibalism, which was a favourite of Dickens as a child; and a Punch cartoon of John Elliotson, the doctor who promoted mesmerism, where he looks remarkably like a hairdresser suggesting a trim to his woman patient. British Library until 4th March.

Concluding

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.

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.

John Martin: Apocalypse charts the rise, fall and resurrection of a unique artistic reputation. John Martin was a key figure in the 19th century art world, renowned for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical catastrophe, yet he is little known today. This exhibition, the largest display of his works seen in public since 1822, brings together his most famous paintings, as well as previously unseen and newly restored works. It reassesses this singular figure in art history, and reveals the enduring influence of his apocalyptic vision on painting, cinema and spectacle. Hugely popular in his time, Martin was derided by the Victorian Art establishment as a 'people's painter', for although he excited mass audiences with his astounding scenes of judgement and damnation, to critics it was distasteful. His works were shown at popular venues like Piccadilly's Egyptian Hall rather than establishment galleries. In a sense ahead of this time, Martin's paintings - full of rugged landscapes and grandiose theatrical spectacle - have an enduring influence on today's cinematic and digital fantasy landscapes. The exhibition showcases the full range of Martin's most important oil paintings, including 'Belshazzar's Feast', The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum' and 'The Great Day of His Wrath', which toured the world after his death, thrilling audiences from New York to Sydney with their painstaking detail and epic sense of scale and drama; iconic mezzotint illustrations for The Bible and Milton's Paradise Lost; brilliant landscape watercolours; pioneering illustrations of dinosaurs, based on the latest fossil discoveries; and unrealised but visionary engineering projects, including plans for the embankment of the Thames and a metropolitan railway for London. Tate Britain until 15th January.