News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th August 2004


The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, which are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year, musical entertainment at Buckingham Palace is the focus of a special display in the Ball Supper Room. Historic fancy-dress costumes, musical instruments and manuscripts, photographs and souvenirs can be see in the room that has been the setting for many glittering events in the Palace's history. The star exhibit is a gilded and painted grand piano, built for and played by Queen Victoria, at whose instigation the Ball Supper Room was constructed. As part of the audio tour of the State Rooms, visitors hear the voices of performers, the sounds of the original instruments on show, and some of the music specially composed for the royal family. Among the highlights are Johann Strauss's waltz for Queen Victoria's coronation; Felix Mendelssohn's special arrangements of his Songs Without Words; and The Queen's Suite by Duke Ellington, written and performed in 1959. Visitors can also enjoy a garden walk that offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace and the 19th century lake. Buckingham Palace until 26th September.

SoundSpace is a new gallery designed to introduce children between the ages of 3 and 12 to sound, music and performance, through hands on exhibits and state of the art technology. The multi media systems have been created through a collaboration between sound artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie and designers Northern Light CoDesign. The interactive experience provides an opportunity for children to explore the physics of sound by seeing and feeling vibrations, and creating their own musical sequences. The main features are: an immersive 'Sensory Soundscape', where children are surrounded by a medley of lights and a constantly evolving sound collage that responds to visitors movements; a stage, complete with sound and lighting, so that visitors can take part in a 10 minute performance; a DJ style studio, where visitors can mix their own music, using beats, samples and sounds from nature; and a music matrix, with flashing patterns that revolutionises the way music is created, where children can generate their own unique musical compositions, and select how they wish their music to sound - and look. The aim is to enhance children's understanding of how science, technology, engineering and maths work together to make music. Eureka!, Halifax, continuing.

William Hodges: The Art Of Exploration is the first ever major retrospective of the 18th century world landscape painter, whose career as an artist took him to New Zealand, the South Pacific and India, travelling with Captain Cook on his second three year voyage, and across India under the patronage Warren Hastings and the East India Company. The exhibition reveals Hodges's bold, almost impressionistic style, and shows how his originality expanded the scope of British landscape painting to include subjects that reflected European exploration across the world. The works also demonstrate his technical skill for painting 'en plein air', a technique that caused controversy when the Impressionists bought it to the fore a century later. The subjects of his paintings of Tahiti, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands were a revelation at the time for audiences in Europe with no knowledge of these scenes and cultures. Among these are the monuments of Easter Island, a waterspout at Cape Stephens, and an Antarctic iceberg. After returning from the Pacific, Hodges became the first professional landscape painter to work in India. The exhibition, of 56 oil paintings and over 20 works on paper, includes many works that have not been on display since Hodges's lifetime, and this is the first time that the Pacific and Indian pictures have been seen together. Queen's House, The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until 21st November.


Energy - Fuelling The Future is a new interactive gallery designed by Casson Mann, dubbed an 'energy playground', where visitors, especially (but not exclusively) children, can explore how energy powers every aspect of our lives. It examines the vital role energy plays in our society, and questions how we will meet future demands when deposits of fossil fuels run out. The gallery houses no traditional museum artefacts, but engages visitors with thought-provoking interactive displays, to trigger debate, and ask critical questions about the political, social and environmental issues surrounding energy production and distribution. Visitors can play with novel interfaces from spinning drums and touch-screens, to dance-floor footpads. Specialist museum staff are on hand, and Energy Info Zone terminals, using the latest multimedia technology, are packed with games, quizzes and a rich information database. Having been presented with some of the latest ideas for fuelling the future, visitors are encouraged to post their opinions, choices or messages on a 13 metre LED Energy Ring, suspended from the ceiling. There are a number of accompanying free activities for children during the school holidays, together with a series of events, debates and comedy nights for adults. Further information can be found on the Science Museum web site via the link opposite. Science Museum, continuing.

Paradise Lost: The Poem And Its Illustrators brings together works by a number of artists and poets in response to John Milton's epic 12 book poem. The exhibition is centred on 12 illustrations by William Blake - one for each of the books - that have not been seen in this country for nearly a century. It also commemorates the 200th anniversary of Blake's own retelling of the story, called Milton, in the preface of which he first published the poem Jerusalem. Other artists on display, whose work exploring heaven and hell, Adam and Eve, and God and the Devil, was associated directly with printed editions, or found inspiration from it, include John Baptiste Medina, John Henry Fuseli, George Romney, JMW Turner, Gustave Dore and William Hogarth. The exhibition also features a number of rare books and manuscripts, such as a first edition copy of Paradise Lost from 1667, a first illustrated edition from 1688, and an edition from 1827 with John Martin illustrations. There are also other books by Blake, and a 21st century manuscript from Tony Harrison 'On not being Milton'. The Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere until 31st October.

Status Symbols: Identity And Belief On Modern Badges provides an outing for one of the museums oddest and least known collections. The humble badge has been used throughout the centuries to signify political allegiance, draw attention to social injustice, express support or disdain for the monarchy, and more recently, as a symbol of international protest. The exhibition includes badges from all over the world, ranging from the mass produced to the individually crafted, the official to the subversive, the familiar to the strange, and the humorous to the serious. The first section of the exhibition examines badges that express identity and a sense of belonging. Examples include trade union badges such as Solidarity pins and NUM's 'Coal Not Dole', a 'Panther Power' Black Panther badge, an 'Indian Resistance' badge from the 70s, a 'Love Maggie', early 80s badge, and the iconic Blue Peter badge. The second section looks at belief, the issues people feel strongly about and the statements they make. These badges often refer specifically to other opposing badges and slogans, thus creating a debate. So a suffragette hunger strike medal sits alongside a badge of the 'National League For Opposing Woman Suffrage', and celebration Royal Jubilee badges are opposed by a 'Don't do it, Di!' pin. Badges of leaders such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are displayed alongside protest symbols, from the CND logo to the contemporary 'Don't Attack Iraq'. Finally, the limitations of badge sloganeering are shown in the satirical 'Gay Whales Against Racism' and a badge that proclaims 'Badges Are Not Enough'. British Museum until 16th January.

Saul Bass: On Film celebrates the work of one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century, and the undisputed master of film title design. The elegance of the titles he created for Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick in the 1950s and 1960s and, later in the 1990s, for Martin Scorsese, transformed a banal medium into an art form. Before Bass, titles were simple lists of the cast and crew projected on to cinema curtains that were only drawn when the film began. As this exhibition shows, Saul Bass turned the film title into a visual spectacle. When he devised a simple paper cut out of a heroin addict's arm for Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm, it caused a sensation. Title sequences became independently shot short films or animations that set the tone for the film itself. Bass went on to create some of the most enduring images in design and cinema history, from the spiralling circles of Hitchcock's Vertigo, through the journey based animation of Michael Todd's Around The World In Eighty Days, and the emerging skyline of Manhattan in Jerome Robbins's West Side Story, to the frenzied neons of Scorsese's Casino. Underlying Bass's work were the principles of the Bauhaus movement, and a search for simplicity. Bass's greatest skill was to create a single symbolic motif or image to encapsulate and represent the film, and so his work also revolutionised the film poster, replacing the previous star portraits with an image that conveyed the film's essence. Design Museum until 10th October.

Walter Richard Sickert: The Human Canvas points up Sickert's influential role as a link between the French Impressionists and British art in the early 20th century. This exhibition of 43 paintings includes many of Sickert's most important works from each key stage his career. It highlights Sickert's technical mastery and experimentation, his uncompromising realism, and the innovative range of his subject matter. On display are nudes and portraits of cultural figures of the period, as well as townscapes, architectural subjects painted during his time in London, Venice and Dieppe, and the later works he derived from photographs. Sickert gained a reputation early in his career for a distinctive style, and range of subject matter inspired by his experience of London life, often characterised by the use of murky colours and a strong narrative. From his earliest music hall pictures, Sickert showed a fascination with people on the periphery of society, and those at the extremes of human behaviour. The exhibition includes several of his 'Camden Town Murder' series, which shocked critics of the time with their raw nudity in works such as 'La Hollandaise', and the juxtaposition of two figures to generate sexual tension and ambiguity, in paintings like 'L'Affaire de Camden Town'. Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal until 30th October.

A Garden Of Fans is an exhibition of over 100 fans with floral motifs of every kind from Europe and Asia. In the 17th century fans were a status symbol and sported serious subjects such as copies of classical paintings with scenes deriving from mythology and history on the font, but flowers were often painted on the reverse (the side which was held up to the face). Tulips, much in vogue at that time, took pride of place beside the rose, the flower of Venus, goddess of Love. There were also hyacinths, jasmine and carnations, popular at the court of Louis XIV. The 19th century, particularly towards the end, with the emergence of Art Nouveau, produced spectacular fans painted with life size blooms of botanical precision, which were often signed. As trade with the East increased, artists and craftsmen from Europe were influenced and inspired by the importance of flowers in Japanese culture, and the way flowers were used in art in China. Also on display is a recent acquisition, an important fan painted around 1889 by Walter Richard Sickert, which cost £90,000. In gouache on vellum, it depicts the Music Hall artiste Little Dot Hetherington performing on stage at the Old Bedford Theatre in Camden. The spot lit performer, raising her face to the gods as she sings the song "The boy that I love is up in the gallery", is copied from an earlier Sickert painting, and has been slightly amended to suit the fan leaf shape, with which Sickert and his contemporaries were experimenting. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 19th November.


Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon is the first major exhibition in this country of the artist who captured the essence of modernism and the spirit of Art Deco in her work. It focuses on her most prolific period, from 1922 to the early 1940s. Bringing together some 55 paintings, many never before seen in public, the exhibition confirms de Lempicka's reputation as one of the most iconic painters of her generation. Although brought up in Moscow, she moved to Paris in 1917, as it was about to become the capital of the art world. De Lempicka's images combine the forms of traditional portraiture with geometric architectural features that capture the sense of modernity and the machine age. Her subjects are often dramatically lit, with closely cropped compositions, so that they fill the canvas with their monumental and powerful presence. It is for the development of this contemporary and unique style that de Lempicka is recognised. These paintings reflect the combination of wealth and decadence that was synonymous with the French capital in the 1920s and 1930s. As well as focusing on her many commissioned portraits, the exhibition also includes some of de Lempicka's sensual nudes and beautiful still-lifes. The Royal Academy until 30th August.

Heaven On Earth: Art From Islamic Lands is a display of the finest decorative arts of Islam - calligraphy, textiles, jewels, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and The Khalili Collection in London. The artefacts range in date from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and in origin from Spain through the Arab world to Persia and the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition is in four galleries. The first celebrates the majesty of God, with calligraphy used as a vehicle for the Qur'an - literally the word of God - from manuscripts to woven prayer rugs, and lustre tile panels from shrines, bearing verses and rich arabesque decoration. The second shows how figurative art was used in the service of earthly rulers, with bronze and ceramic birds and animals, metalwork, stone relief carving and early Iranian silver, including the 'Bobrinsky' bucket covered with dense decoration in silver and copper. The third contains jewels from the Mughal treasury, with boxes, flasks, dishes, cups and bracelets encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and richly embroidered robes and other fine silks. The last gallery celebrates the interaction of East and West. A 10th century rock crystal lamp, carried off by Crusaders and mounted in gold and enamels in Italy in the 16th century, sits alongside sabres, daggers and other arms, richly embellished with jewels. There are also oil paintings of Qajar rulers wearing such arms, and of the ladies of their courts, in imitation of Western art, offering a curious blend of Oriental and European styles. Linking the galleries are framed miniatures from Persian manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries, some religious in theme, and others reflecting Islamic court life. The Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 22nd August.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. This year, the show has been masterminded by Allen Jones and David Hockney, and there is a special focus on drawing, reflecting their joint passion, and underlining the importance of draughtsmanship in all the various media on display. There are works included by people from outside the spectrum of Fine Art, who nevertheless use drawing as an essential part of their creative process. The featured artist is Richard Long, who explores elemental materials, like mud, dust, water and stones, and has made a new sculpture on the floor of the Central Hall 'White Light Crescent'. Anish Kapoor has selected and hung the gallery dedicated to the display of sculpture, and has co-ordinated the placing of work in the Courtyard. There are memorial displays to Terry Frost, Patrick Procter, Lynn Chadwick, Colin Hayes and Philip Powell. An accompanying programme of lectures, events and workshops covers all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 16th August.