News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th April 2012


Brains: The Mind As Matter explores what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change. Featuring more than 150 objects, including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos and photography, the exhibition follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire. It asks not what brains do for us, but what we have done to brains. Famous and infamous brain specimens are on display, including those of Albert Einstein, Charles Babbage and William Burke, as are the thoughts on brains from the brains of famous thinkers, together with donors, surgeons, patients and collectors. The exhibition has four sections: Measuring/Classifying introduces efforts to define the relationship between the brain's function and form - from Bernard Hollander's cranial measuring system to the tools of phrenology, the skewed morality of these pseudo-sciences illustrates the measuring of brains as a measure of culture; Mapping/Modelling follows the attempts to represent the anatomy of the brain - from early visualisations by Reisch, Vesalius and Descartes in the 16th and 17th centuries to the kaleidoscopic Brainbow images of nerve cells, and the artistic drive to apprehend the complexities of the brain with the increasing philosophical and medical understanding of its centrality to our being; Cutting/Treating explores the history of surgical intervention on a form of human tissue that is uniquely swift to decay and difficult to dissect - from crude trephination kits to complex 3D imaging systems revealing the human stories behind the anatomy of brains; and Giving/Taking traces the stories of brain harvesting and the variety of its purpose - from the horrors of Nazi experimentation to the hope offered by research into neurodegenerative disorders by brain banks. Wellcome Collection, London until 17th June.

Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making Of Harry Potter provides an opportunity to explore the magic of the most successful British film series of all time. The tour takes visitors behind the scenes in the studio where the films were shot, through the actual sets with the original furniture, props and costumes. It also reveals some closely guarded secrets about the special effects and animatronics that made these films so popular. Visitors can step inside the Great Hall, walking on the York stone floor laid 11 years ago, and see the solid oak and pine house tables that were built for the films and aged with axes and chains; explore Dumbledore's office, with the Sword of Gryffindor, the Sorting Hat and the Hogwarts headmaster portraits; stroll along the cobbles of Diagon Alley, featuring the shop fronts of Ollivanders wand shop, Flourish and Blotts, the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Eeylops Owl Emporium; see iconic props from the films, including Harry's Nimbus 2000, Hagrid's motorcycle and the triple decker, purple Knight Bus; learn how green screen effects helped to create many iconic sequences for the films, including the spectacular Quidditch matches; discover how creatures were brought to life with animatronics and life-sized models in the Creature Effects Workshop, and come face to face with Buckbeak the Hippogriff, the giant and terrifying spider Aragog, Fawkes the phoenix and the giant head of the Basilisk; and see other memorable sets from the film series, including the Gryffindor common room, the boys' dormitory, Hagrid's hut, Potion's classroom and Professor Umbridge's office at the Ministry of Magic. Warner Bros Studios, Aerodrome Way, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, continuing.

Island Stories: Fifty Years Of Photography In Britain features a selection of photographs made in the UK since the 1950s. The exhibition of more than 80 images focuses on individual projects, each of which tells a story. Collectively, they give a picture of life in Britain that reflects upon subjects ranging from landscape and industry to family and community. Each series is chosen, not from the best known pictures of the period, but from great ones that have been seen rather less. The changes in British life over the last 50 years reflected in these images probably exceed those of any other half century in Britain's history except the Victorian era. The images also reflect the changes in photographic methods and preoccupations. Highlights include Don McCullin's series on the coal-pickers of north east England, from 1960s; Roger Mayne's Southam Street series about the games that people could once play in city streets before they were given over entirely to cars; and quirks of photo-history, such as Bill Brandt's ant's-eye-view nudes. Other photographers represented include: Maurice Broomfield, Elsbeth Juda, Raymond Moore, Grace Robertson, Fay Godwin, Chris Killip, Martin Parr, Nigel Shafran, Peter Fraser, John R J Taylor, Mark Edwards and Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane. Victoria & Albert Museum until 19th September.


British Design 1948 - 2012: Innovation In The Modern Age showcases the best of British design and creative talent from the 1948 'Austerity Olympics' to 'London 2012'. It is the first comprehensive exhibition to examine the ways in which artists and designers who were born, trained or working in Britain have produced innovative and internationally acclaimed works over the last 60 years. The exhibition charts the development of British design in fashion, furniture, fine art, graphic design, photography, ceramics, architecture and industrial products, featuring some 300 objects. These include much loved designs such as a 1959 Morris Mini Minor; a 1961 E-type Jaguar car; a Brownie Vecta camera by Kenneth Grange from 1964; an Alexander McQueen evening gown from the 2009 Horn of Plenty collection; a 6m model of Concorde; fine art by Richard Hamilton and David Hockney; textiles from the 1950s by Lucienne Day and 1980s by Laura Ashley; a 1964 Moulton bicycle; Kit Williams's 1979 golden hare jewel from Masquerade; Brian Duffy's original photograph for the cover of David Bowie's 1973 Aladdin Sane album; a Brian Long Torsion chair from 1971, and 1960s furniture by Max Clendinning; a Sinclair ZX80 home computer and Jonathan Ive's Apple iMac; and Foster & Partner's 30 St Mary Axe building and Zaha Hadid's new Olympic Aquatics Centre. Key themes investigated include the Festival of Britain, the Queen's Coronation, the 1950s New Towns movement, developments in retail such as Habitat, and the British Art School system, plus counter-cultural movements from Swinging London to Cool Britannia. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th August.

The Romance Of The Middle Ages showcases manuscripts and early printed books containing medieval romance. The exhibition looks at how these stories have inspired writers and artists across the centuries from the early modern period, including Shakespeare, Ariosto and Cervantes, through medievalism in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Walter Scott, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, to contemporary versions and adaptations, including manuscripts and drafts by Philip Pullman. The objects on display range from lavishly illustrated volumes about King Arthur or Alexander the Great, to personal notebooks and fragments only saved by chance. The exhibition features works by great figures of English medieval literature, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, shown alongside books and artworks that illustrate romance legends. Highlights include: 'The Song of Roland', the earliest copy of France's national epic, from the mid 12th century; the earliest surviving romances in English, 'King Horn and Havelok the Dane', from the early 14th century; 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', one of the most precious manuscripts of Middle English poetry; 'The Red Book of Hergest', containing 'The Mabinogion' and many other texts, from 1400; William Caxton's 'The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye', the first book ever printed in the English language, from 1473; a draft illustrated page from JRR Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings'; and Terry Jones's own working copy of the screenplay of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 13th May.

Louise Bourgeois: The Return Of The Repressed explores the artist's complex and ambivalent engagement with the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. The exhibition shows original documents from Louise Bourgeois's recently discovered psychoanalytic writings, as well as her drawings and sculptures, in the house of the founding father of psychoanalysis. It is based on the discovery by Bourgeois's longtime assistant Jerry Gorovoy of 2 boxes of writings at the beginning of 2004, and 2 more in early 2010. These constitute an archive of over 1,000 loose sheets recording her reactions to her psychoanalytic treatment from 1951, with several texts referring directly to Dr Henry Lowenfeld, whom she saw from 1952 to 1982. In some cases these texts complement existing diaries that she kept throughout her life, while others serve to fill in the gaps for those years in which she did not keep a diary. The exhibition foregrounds the importance of these writings, displaying nearly 50 original manuscripts for the first time, ranging through sketches, notes, dream recordings, lists and drawings. Highlights of the sculptures and drawings on display include pieces such as 'The Dangerous Obsession'; 'Cell XXIV (Portrait)'; the woven fabric text 'I Am Afraid'; and drawings and 4 gouache on paper works from the series 'The Feeding. Janus Fleuri', sometimes considered the most significant of all Bourgeois's works; plus an inevitable giant spider in the garden. The exhibition raises fundamental questions about the relationship between art and life, and the therapeutic nature of art itself. The Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3, until 27th May.

Turner Inspired: In The Light Of Claude examines the influence of the 17th century artist on the work of the 19th century artist. JMW Turner's daring free painting technique and radical approach created a revolution in painting at the beginning of the 1800s. The inspiration for these dramatic developments was the artist Claude Gellee's mastery of light on canvas. This exhibition tells the story behind Turner's inspiration and the revolutionary works that went on to inspire future generations of artists. The show reveals how Turner's life long desire to absorb all he could from the Old Master lay at the heart of his work. From the Roman Campagna-inspired views of the Thames Valley to paintings of the emerging industrial landscape, such as 'Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Night', the exhibition demonstrates Turner's skill at recreating gleaming light and atmosphere. It focuses on the major Claude inspired themes that run through Turner's career, and that on occasion shocked and dazzled audiences of his day: the evocation of light and air in landscape, the effect of light upon water, and his often radical reworking of contemporary scenes. The exhibition brings together large majestic oils on canvas, mezzotints, etchings, watercolours and works in gouache, plus leaves from Turner's pocket sketchbooks that show intimate drawings in pen, pencil and ink on paper, which have rarely been on public display. The importance of the sea to Britain's identity is another crucial theme of Turner's work, and Claude's harbour scenes exerted a powerful hold on his imagination, as shown in works including 'Le Havre: Sunset in the Port' and 'East Cowes, the Seat of J Nash, Esq'. National Gallery until 5th June.

Visions Of Mughal India: The Collection Of Howard Hodgkin presents for the first time in its entirety the outstanding private collection of Indian paintings of one of the leading artists of our time. Howard Hodgkin has been a passionate collector of Indian paintings since his school days, and his collection has long been considered one of the finest of its kind in the world. At times he has devoted almost as much effort to developing his collection as to his own work as a painter. The collection above all is a personal one, formed by an artist's eye. It comprises over 115 paintings from the Mughal period, 1550 to 1850, including the refined naturalistic works of the imperial Mughal court; the poetic and subtly coloured paintings of the Deccani Sultanates; and the boldly drawn and vibrantly coloured styles of the Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills. There are illustrations of epics, royal portraits, scenes of court life and hunting, and fantastic scenes from legend and history. In addition, there are studies of animals, birds and flowers in scintillating colours, plus many outstanding paintings and drawings of elephants, a particular Hodgkin predilection. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 22nd April.

Fans In The Age Of Plastics examines the development of synthetic materials and their subsequent application to the art and craft of fan making. From utilitarian tableware and contemporary clothing, through to avant-garde sculpture and information technology, plastics have, during the last 100 years, ruthlessly usurped natural materials, coming to define consumer culture in the modern era. Such transformations, however, do not happen overnight, and this exhibition charts the rise of man-made materials such as celluloid, and their application to the manufacture of fans. Beginning with 'nature's own' thermo-plastics, tortoiseshell and horn, traditionally used to craft fans of considerable artistry and expense, the exhibition also examines the first experimental forays of the late 19th century, when scientists sought to create polymers that aped the properties of prestige natural materials. Today, even the most perceptive eye can be deceived by fine quality imitation tortoiseshell. Also featured with the exhibition are a number of pocket-size mechanical fans and accompanying patents dating from the first half of the 20th century. These functional yet wholly innovative 'air-agitating' devices demonstrate that even the ancient craft of fan making, virtually unchanged since the 17th century, could not escape the ceaseless drive to modernise and streamline the design and production of all manner of consumer goods. The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, until 3rd June.


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.

Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam examines the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is central to the Muslim faith. The exhibition considers the significance of the Hajj as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exploring its importance for Muslims and looking at how this spiritual journey has evolved throughout history. It brings together a wealth of objects, including both important historic pieces and new contemporary art works, which reveal the enduring impact of Hajj across the globe and across the centuries. The exhibition has three key strands: the pilgrim's journey, with an emphasis on the major routes used across time (from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East); the Hajj today, its associated rituals and what the experience means to the pilgrim; and Mecca, the destination of Hajj, its origins and importance. At the heart of the sanctuary in Mecca lies the Ka'ba, the cube-shaped building that Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. It was in Mecca that the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelations in the early 7th century. The rituals involved with Hajj have remained unchanged since its beginning, and it continues to be a powerful religious undertaking that draws Muslims together from all over the world. The objects, which evoke and document the long and perilous journey associated with the pilgrimage, the gifts offered to the sanctuary as acts of devotion and the souvenirs that are brought back from Hajj, include archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles, historic photographs and art. The Hajj has a deep emotional and spiritual significance for Muslims, and continues to inspire a wide range of personal, literary and artistic responses, many of which are explored throughout the exhibition. British Museum until 15th April.

Terence Conran - The Way We Live Now explores the unique impact on contemporary life in Britain of the designer, retailer and restaurateur. Through his own design work, and also through his entrepreneurial flair, Terence Conran has transformed the look of the British home. He has established a design studio and an architectural practice with a worldwide reach. He was the founder of Habitat and a pioneer of the new restaurant culture driven by a passion for simplicity. The exhibition explores Conran's impact, whilst painting a picture of his design approach and inspirations. It traces his career from post war austerity through to the new sensibility of the Festival of Britain in the 1950s, the birth of the Independent Group with its flare for the avant-garde and the Pop Culture of the 1960s, to the design boom of the 1980s, and on to the present day. The show opens with a collection of Conran's own pieces from the late 1940s and 1950s, when he was welding steel chairs himself, designing textile designs, ceramics and magazine covers. The Habitat story includes the reconstruction of one of the room sets shown in the Habitat catalogues that were so influential in the 1960s and 1970s. Conran's role in professionalising the practice of design is charted by the work of the various Conran Design studios, which undertook projects as diverse as lighting, furniture, kitchenware, packaging, architecture and retail design. Conran's approach to food is traced by a look at the many restaurants that he has designed and opened. A recreation of Conran's study from his home in Barton Court offers a glimpse into his private world. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 until 12th April.