News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th February 2009


Treasures From Shanghai: Ancient Chinese Bronzes And Jades features objects awarded to nobles for exceptional service, together with others used for ritual and burial, from the collection of Shanghai Museum. The exhibition comprises some 60 ancient Chinese jades and bronzes, plus a few Neolithic ceramics, from the area around Shanghai. It explores their role in ancient China as ritual objects, and demonstrates their legacy for later generations. This is illustrated on two silk scrolls that show the collection of the major official and diplomat Wu Dacheng, seen for the first time outside China. Jade has been central to China's culture from the Neolithic period, worked into mysterious ritual implements, used as emblems of power, and as messengers to the spirit world. The Neolithic jades on display feature fine line designs of strange human-like figures, birds and monsters with large teeth. The highpoint of bronze casting came during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, whose rulers believed that if they properly venerated, their ancestors these would intercede in the spirit world on their behalf, and assist in resolving their worldly difficulties and ensure prosperity. The act of making food and wine offerings in spectacular bronze containers was a major part of respect for the ancestors. The bronzes on view from that period are made in elaborate shapes with intriguing ornament. In later eras, bronze was highly valued for many other purposes, including incense burners, lamps and highly decorated belt ornaments and weapons. British Museum until 27th March.

Stanley Spencer: 50 Years On marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the painter whose unique and eccentric vision made him one of the most notable British artists of the 20th century. This exhibition brings together a wide selection of works from different stages of Stanley Spencer's life, including oils, watercolours and intimate sketches, as well as his last self portrait, painted shortly before he died. Cookham and its surrounding area in Surrey was a source of inspiration throughout Spencer's life, and formed the setting for numerous idiosyncratic biblical and figure paintings, as well as landscapes. Highlight include 'The Deposition and Rolling Away of the Stone', 'St Francis and the Birds', 'Woman Feeding a Calf', 'Rickett's Farm, Cookham Dene', Swan Upping at Cookham', 'The Double Nude Portrait: The Artist and his Second Wife' and self portraits from 1913 and 1959. York Art Gallery until 19th April.

Designer Style: Home Decorating In The 1950s reflects the transformation of domestic interiors in the years after the Second World War, as Britain experienced a new sense of optimism about the future. Following the Festival of Britain, there was an emphasis on good design for all aspects of home furnishing. Manufacturers increasingly employed artists to design textiles and wallpapers, and used their names as a selling point. Consumers welcomed the new brighter colours and fresh approach to pattern. In addition, this period saw the birth of the Do It Yourself movement, with articles in women's magazines about how to decorate in the 'contemporary' style, and the launch of publications such as Practical Householder, which encouraged home owners to tackle improvement projects themselves. The exhibition features a wide range of wallpapers and textiles from the 1950s, including work by well known artists and designers such as Lucienne Day, Graham Sutherland, Cawthra Mulock and Jacqueline Groag. These designers exploited the potential of new screen printing techniques to create wallpapers and textiles that were more fluid, abstract and painterly than had been previously possible. Their bright colours and abstract shapes demonstrate a new optimistic approach to home decorating, after the dreary years of war and rationing. Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University, Cat Hill, Barnet, until 6th September.


Andrea Palladio: His Life And Legacy is the first exhibition devoted to the legendary architect to be held in London in a generation, and celebrates the quincentenary of his birth. Andrea Palladio was not only one of the greatest Italian architects, he was also a practitioner whose work has continued to resonate down the centuries. Active in Vicenza, Venice and the Veneto region, he crafted a new architectural language, derived from classical sources, yet shaped to fulfill the functional demands and aesthetic aspirations of his own age. While Palladio's impressive oeuvre includes private and public buildings and churches, it is his town palaces and country villas that influenced subsequent generations of European and American architects. Large scale models, computer animations, original drawings, books and paintings present the full range of this exceptional architect's output and his legacy, demonstrating why Palladio's name has been synonymous with architecture for 500 years. The exhibition follows his career from the Basilica, his early palaces in Vicenza, and his innovative solutions to rural buildings, such as the Villa Poiana and the Villa Barbaro at Maser, to his great Venetian churches, culminating in the Villa Rotunda. However, Palladio's fame and influence rested not only on his executed buildings, but on his 'Four Books of Architecture', in which he illustrated the basic grammar and vocabulary of architecture, his reconstructions of classical buildings, and also his unbuilt projects. These designs became models for new constructions throughout the world, particularly in Britain, when they were brought here by Inigo Jones. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th April.

Out Of China: Monumental Porcelain By Felicity Aylieff is an exhibition of giant vessels, majestic in scale, which show how the artist has taken the medium of clay and its decoration to a new sculptural level. To say that Felicity Aylieff's work crosses the boundaries of ceramics and sculpture is an understatement. The vessels are 3 metres high, and are the largest pieces that can be fired in the kilns of Mr Yu's Big Ware Factory, in the historic porcelain centre of Jingdezhen in China. Generally cylindrical or shaped like an elongated 'upside down teardrop', they are decorated in brightly coloured contemporary abstract designs. Each pot was hand painted over a period of two days, with a variety of instruments employed to ingrain different sections of the urn. Sweeping brooms, carvers and Chinese calligraphy brushes were experimented with, adding layers of colour to forge a greater depth of surface. In some, enamel butterflies have been applied, decreasing in size to the top of the base to give the illusion of flying away. Weighing 240 kilograms, and requiring a team of assistants to move them, Aylieff's works are imposing, impressive and truly unique. In addition to the vessels themselves, the exhibition also includes Aylieff's working drawings, and illustrated excerpts from the journal she kept during her time in China. The Lightbox, Woking, until 15th March.

Hussein Chalayan: From Fashion And Back is the first comprehensive presentation of work by the contemporary fashion designer, who has twice been named British Designer of the Year. Spanning 15 years of experimental projects, the exhibition explores Hussein Chalayan's creative approach, his inspirations, and the many themes which influence his work, such as cultural identity, displacement and migration. Exhibits include 'Afterwords', exploring the notion of 'wearable, portable architecture', in which furniture literally transforms itself into garments; 'Airborne', bringing the latest LED technology to fashion design, with a spectacular dress consisting of Swarovski crystals and over 15,000 flickering LED lights; 'Before Minus Now', a dress made of materials used in aircraft construction, which changes shape by remote control; and 'Readings', a dress comprising of over 200 moving lasers, presenting an extraordinary spectacle of light. Motivated by ideas and disciplines not readily associated with fashion (and producing designs that are fascinating but clearly unwearable) Chalayan's work crosses between architecture, design, philosophy, anthropology, science, technology and possibly, pretension. Design Museum, London, until 17th May.

Ancient Egyptian Gallery is a new gallery, centered round the wall paintings of a spectacular tomb-chapel. The paintings are some of the most famous images of Egyptian art, and come from the now lost tomb-chapel of Nebamun, an accountant in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, who died a generation or so before Tutankhamun. They show him at work and at leisure, surveying his estates and hunting in the marshes. An extensive conservation project has been undertaken on the 11 large fragments, which are now on public display for the first time in nearly 10 years. They are displayed together for the first time in a setting designed to recreate their original aesthetic impact, and to evoke their original position in a small intimate tomb-chapel. Drawing on the latest research and fieldwork at Luxor, a computer 'walk-through' of the reconstructed tomb-chapel is available in gallery. Next to the paintings, 150 artefacts show how the tomb-chapel was built, how it remained open for visitors, and also the nature of Egyptian society at the time. Most of the objects are contemporary with Nebamun and reflect those depicted in his paintings. Some, however, contrast with the idealised world view that is shown on elite monuments like the tomb-chapel, and reveal that most people's experience of life was not all about leisure and prestige as in the paintings. Thus spectacularly luxurious objects, such as a glass perfume bottle in the shape of a fish, are juxtaposed with crude tools of basic survival, such as a fishing net. British Museum, continuing.

Whistler: The Gentle Art Of Making Etchings showcases a research project, currently underway at the University of Glasgow's Department of Art History, in collaboration with the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Art Institute of Chicago. James McNeill Whistler's wide ranging output included some of the most beautiful and influential etchings of the late 19th century. The project explores Whistler's innovative creative processes, from unmarked copper plate to finished print, providing an illuminating picture of the working artist and his distinctive technique. The choice of subject, composition and materials, in addition to the exhibition, publication and marketing of the etchings, is also examined. Whistler's full output is represented, from the earliest etchings to the impressive late Amsterdam views, together with working tools, copper plates, and rare archival material. The history, context and subjects of Whistler's etchings repay close examination. His titles provide clues as to the subject, but these were often clearer to a Victorian connoisseur than to 21st century viewers. The project's research team has carefully studied each etching, identifying models and sites, history and fashion, and the symbols and stories that underlie the compositions. Whistler did not always date his copper plates, but the form of his butterfly signature helps to date the printing of particular impressions. Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, until 30th May.

Unique Forms - The Drawing And Sculpture Of Umberto Boccioni features work by perhaps the most significant of the five artists associated with the first wave of Futurist painting in Italy. Equally articulate with verbal and visual imagery, Boccioni became the foremost theorist of Futurist aesthetics, which he expounded with tremendous energy and rigour in his tract 'Futurist Painting and Sculpture'. Like all Futurists, Boccioni was fascinated with speed and movement, but he expressed this particularly through the muscular energy of the human body and galloping horses. Comprising some 20 works, the exhibition includes a number of different drawings entitled 'Dynamism of a Human Body', and other works on paper such as 'Figure in Movement', 'Speeding Muscles', 'Study for Empty and Full Abstracts of a Head', and 'Study for the City Rises', plus the sculptures 'Development of a Bottle in Space' and 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', his acknowledged masterpiece, together with photographs of other lost sculptures.

Luca Buvoli - Velocity Zero is an installation by the contemporary artist Luca Buvoli, exploring the themes that fascinated the Futurists, and the gulf between the ideals that the movement's members espoused, and the reality of their application. At its heart, sections of the Futurist manifesto are read out loud by people with speech difficulties - the halting speech of the readers contrasting with the values of speed and efficiency espoused by the Futurists.

Estorick Collection, London N1, until 19th April.


Titanic Honour And Glory features many rare and previously unseen artefacts from both passengers and crew who travelled on the fateful maiden voyage of the White Star liner in April 1912. The exhibition brings to life some of their stories and the sights that they encountered, contrasting the ultimate luxury planned for their time on board the new ship, and the horror of what they encountered. It has been put together from the collection of Sean Szmalc and Margot Corson, who have collected artefacts from R.M.S Titanic for the past 20 years. Among the items featured are china dinner plates and a silver sugar dish from the First Class dining room; a Steiff bear that belonged to William Moyes, senior sixth engineer, as a good luck charm; a pocket watch that stopped as it entered the freezing water at 2.28am 96 years ago; and a solid silver cup, presented to the Captain, Edward John Smith, marking 25 years service to the White Star Line, together with plans, brochures, photographs and drawings of its cabins and public rooms. The exhibition also includes rare materials and ephemera from the Titanic's often forgotten sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, including oak paneling, china, glassware, cutlery and silverware. Accompanying the genuine artefacts are props and costumes used in the film Titanic, including the 'Heart of the Ocean' necklace. Milestones Museum, Churchill Way West, Basingstoke, Hampshire, until 25th February.

War And Medicine looks at the continually evolving relationship between warfare and medicine, beginning with the disasters of the Crimean War in the 1850s and continuing through to today's conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. As humankind has developed increasingly sophisticated weaponry with which to harm its enemies, medicine has had to adapt to cope with the volume and the changing nature of resulting casualties. The exhibition highlights the personal experiences of surgeons, soldiers, civilians, nurses, writers and artists, and looks at the impact of war on the 'home front' as well as on front line medicine, considering the long term implications for society of the traumas suffered and the lessons learned. Central to the exhibition is the uncomfortable and sometimes paradoxical relationship between war and medicine and the question of their influence upon each other. It embraces a wide range of subjects - from the pioneering plastic surgery techniques first developed during the First World War to treat disfiguring facial wounds, through to the recent controversies surrounding Gulf War Syndrome and the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The display of over 200 exhibits - objects, artefacts, and recordings, as well as interpretative material, film and artworks - looks at some of the extraordinary difficulties faced by doctors, surgeons, administrators, nurses and their patients in war time. It also considers what has been learned from such extreme circumstances and the wider implications for society and public health in general. Wellcome Collection, London until 15th February.

Saul Steinberg: Illuminations is a retrospective featuring drawings, collages and sculptural assemblages by the American artist whose work filled the pages and covers of The New Yorker for six decades. Saul Steinberg originally studied as an architect, before turning to cartoons and illustration, and he also worked as a propagandist, a fabric and card designer, a muralist, a fashion and advertising artist, a stage designer and a creator of image-filled books. This exhibition, featuring over 100 items, covers the whole range of his work, from high art to low, from murals to magazines, from caricature to cartography, including some of the 1,200 covers and editorial illustrations he created for the New Yorker. Steinberg invented a new form of 'conceptual cartooning', or cartooning-about-cartooning, and his images became a byword for visual sophistication, associated with New York. Among the highlights are: 'The Line' - a strip drawing 33ft long, following the mutations of a continuous, straight, horizontal line, which becomes, in turn, a washing line, the top of a bridge, the wainscot of a room, the edge of a table, the water surface of a swimming pool seen in cross section, and the horizons of several kinds of landscape, before ending up as a plain line being drawn by a hand; 'Techniques at a Party' - showing a gathering of 18 guests, each realised in a different manner: very solid, very feint, very messy, pointillist, Picassoid - each portraying the guest's party personality; and most famously, 'View of the World from Ninth Avenue' - a subjective map, showing the New Yorkers parochial awareness of the rest of the planet: 10th Avenue is full of detail, but beyond the Hudson river things start to foreshorten abruptly. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 15th February.