News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th December 2002


Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight: The John Hinde Butlin's Photographs returns us to the gentler age of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the John Hinde Studio produced a series of postcards to be sold at Butlin's holiday camps across the UK. This was Butlin's heyday, with over a million holidaymakers staying at the network of nine camps each year. With innovative use of colour and elaborate staging - the trademarks of a John Hinde postcard - the photographs show an idealised view of Britain at leisure. Each photograph is a narrative tableaux, elaborately stage managed, involving large casts of real holidaymakers acting their roles in Butlin's lounges, ballrooms, Beachcomber bars and pools. At the time they were not considered by Hinde to be work of any serious artistic or documentary interest - the simple intention was that the brilliance of the cards would make them leap off the postcard rack compared to their alternatives. Now they are a documentary record of a fantasy of class and period aspirations, and of Butlin's once revolutionary vision of leisure, as well as a hyperreal and fantastic rendition of an actual place at a particular time. In the faces, clothes and gestures, and in the quantity of detail recorded, they provide the raw material for an entire social archaeology of the period. This is probably best summed up by the image of a futuristic monorail soaring over a Morris Traveller. The Photographer's Gallery until 18th January.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Divine And The Grotesque is the inaugural exhibition at the new Queen's Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the first permanent exhibition space for the Royal Collection in Scotland. Designed by Benjamin Tindall Architects, the £3m gallery is housed in the former Holyrood Free Church and Duchess of Gordon's School at the entrance to the Palace, making the most of their high oak beamed Victorian ceilings. The exhibition is the largest display of Leonardo da Vinci's works ever held in Scotland, and the first to examine his life long obsession with the human form, including (or especially) its deformities. Among the 73 works on show are pioneering anatomical illustrations, several of which are annotated with his characteristic mirror writing; caricatures and studies of angels in preparation for The Last Supper; a sheet of five grotesque heads; drawings of fantastic animals and bizarre inventions; portraits of himself and fellow artists; and the design for a festival costume and mask. The new gallery will focus primarily on changing exhibitions of drawings from the Print Room at Windsor Castle, whose holdings include world famous drawings by Michelangelo, Raphael, Holbein and Canaletto. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until 30th March.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, which at 9000sqm is larger than ever and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Basel has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. Somerset House until 26th January.

Marble Arch Ice Rink is also joining in the fun this year, with a 600sqm rink (complete with snowmen) under the arches themselves, open from 10am to 10pm. Spectators can watch from both an open air viewing area and an indoor rinkside cafe which serves hot snacks and drinks. As a bonus, Oxford Street is on the doorstep for Christmas and January Sales shopping. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. At last London can return to the Thames Frost Fairs of yesteryear. Marble Arch until 15th January.


Aztecs is the most comprehensive survey of Aztec culture ever mounted, with some 350 works, which reveal the splendours, variety and sophistication of this mysterious civilisation. It is mainly devoted to the art of the Aztec Empire, which dates from 1325, when the Aztecs settled at Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) to its demise in 1521, following the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. The exhibition explores the key themes of Aztec culture, including the importance of the cosmos, the role of the different gods, the issue of kingship, the culture of war and human sacrifice as part of the cycle of life and death, and the natural world. The largest display is centred on the Templo Mayor or the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, the symbolic and physical centre of the Aztec world, with many of the ritual objects found on the site, including the life size terracotta figures of the eagle warrior and of the Lord of Death, Mictlantecuhtli, which are on show for the first time outside Mexico. The Aztecs fashioned objects from a wide variety of materials, and creating highly detailed depictions of gods, people, and the natural world. In addition to monumental sculptures in stone and wood, featherwork objects and ceramics, there are works of art made of turquoise mosaics, gold and other precious materials. The exhibition also reunites some of the most important codices or pictorial manuscripts, which the Aztecs used to record their history and communicate information, in the largest group of these documents ever to be displayed. Further information can be found on a special section of the Royal Academy web site via the link opposite. Royal Academy of Arts until 11th April.

Santa's Kingdom blurs the line between exhibition and performance art with an interactive Christmas experience. A visit to the themed extravaganza lasts two and a half hours and covers an area of over 60,000 sq ft. Features include a journey through a winter wonderland to a huge ice cave, a toy factory with elves in full production, Santa's North Pole village (with real reindeer), Mrs Claus house and official post office, a 100ft toboggan ride and snowballing area (with 250 tonnes of real snow), and all sorts of weird and wonderful characters guiding visitors around, plus of course, an opportunity to meet Father Christmas himself. Only in America you might think, but no, it's here - and nationwide. Wembley Exhibition Halls, London; NEC, Birmingham; and SECC, Glasgow, 9.30am to 10pm until 23rd December.

Mad Bad And Dangerous: The Cult Of Lord Byron examines the Byronic phenomenon, which almost invented 'celebrity culture', charting how it was created and maintained. Bringing together over 100 works, including paintings, photographs, letters, literary manuscripts, memorabilia and examples of Byronic dress, this exhibition explores how Byron's literary fame and social notoriety were intertwined, and fuelled by the many carefully controlled visual representations of the poet. It also looks at Byron's influence on leading figures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Oscar Wilde, T E Lawrence and W H Auden, as well as the more recent stars of popular culture, such as Rudolf Valentino, James Dean and Mick Jagger. National Portrait Gallery until 16th February.

Art In The Making: Underdrawings In Renaissance Paintings looks the drawings with which artists sketched out their compositions on the prepared panel or canvas before painting. By their very nature, these underdrawings are normally hidden from view under layers of paint, and special photographic techniques using infrared radiation were required to make them visible. This exhibition reveals fascinating and spectacular images of the drawings beneath twenty familiar 15th and 16th century paintings. Although only ever created as preparatory sketches, and never intended to be seen, some of the underdrawings appear as brilliant creations in their own right, such as the free loops and whirls found beneath Altdorfer's 'Christ Taking Leave Of His Mother' or the delineation of the Master of the View of Saint Gudula's 'Portrait Of A Young Man'. In other examples, dramatic changes of composition by the artist are revealed, such as the complete reversal of Pontormo's design for 'Joseph With Jacob In Egypt'. National Gallery until 16th February.

Dennis Severs House, 18 Folgate Street is a step back in time to experience life in a house in Spitalfields between 1724 and 1914. It is a journey through ten rooms, from cellar to attic, telling the story of the invented Jervis immigrant family in London. Dennis Severs created the experience in his home over a twenty year period, during which he filled it with original objects and furniture found in local markets, and lit them by candles and chandeliers. Sounds and scents bring the Jervis's world to life - floorboards creak, fires crackle, a kettle hisses on the hob, and a wig dangles from the back of a chair. The experience can be undertaken every Monday evening, and on the first Sunday afternoon and Monday lunchtime of each month. Further information about the house and visiting times can be found on the Dennis Severs House web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Dennis Severs House, 18 Folgate Street continuing.

BBC Backstage Tours of the Television Centre and News Centre in west London have replaced the now defunct BBC Experience at Broadcasting House, as the public's opportunity to what lies behind the world's first and premier broadcasting organisation's mission 'to and inform and entertain'. It allows visitors to look round one of the largest and most famous purpose built television centres in the world, where thousands of programmes are produced here each year, including a peek behind the scenes of the BBC's News Centre, and visits to the dressing rooms, studio floor, production gallery, scenic construction area and Weather Centre. Visitors can see the television production process in action at first hand. The content varies according to the programmes being made on any particular day. Tours last one and a half hours and run throughout the week. Study notes are available for media studies students. BBC Television Centre London continuing.


Under Mussolini: Decorative And Propaganda Arts Of The Twenties And Thirties does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides an analysis of the events and tastes of the Fascist era through examples of furniture, glassware, ceramics, painting, sculpture and graphic design. Many of the leading artistic figures of the day are represented, including Gio Ponti, Duilio Cambellotti, Mario Sironi, Galileo Chini, Marcello Piacentini and Gerardo Dottori. The exhibition reveals how Fascist iconography, although frequently incorporated into the design of everyday objects, exerted only a minimal influence on the development of the applied arts, which drew more inspiration from the motifs of the vernacular tradition and the principle lines of modernism during this period. The image of Fascist Italy which the government sought to promote is explored through examples of political art and propaganda relating to a number of historically significant events, such as the colonial aggression of the 1930s, when the promotion of the image of a Fascist empire resulted in references to imperial Rome. It is the first time much of the work has been shown outside Italy. Estorick Collection until 22nd December.

Dirty Linen presents a visual history of how 'doing the laundry' has changed over the period from Victorian times to the present day. Housed in a building that was once a 19th century East End wash house, it comprises posters, pamphlets, advertisements and even washing machine manuals, which trace the history of scrubbing. The exhibition explores how cleaning clothes has shaped women's lives for rewards that range from free gifts with 1970s washing machines to the more psychological lure of being whiter than white. The Dirty Linen Laundrette hosts a sound installation of East End women's washing memories, and a film reel captures the changing faces of the women who sold and still sell washing products. Artist Katja Then has created 'Redwash' and 'Fluffy Shirts', taking a contemporary look at the act of cleaning clothes through video and textiles. An accompanying series of study days and evening talks examine specific aspects of cleanliness from The Great Stink of 1858 to contemporary kitchen design. The Women's Library until 21st December.

Sphere brings an extra and contemporary twist to what is already probably the most eclectic collection in Britain. Since 1997 works from Peter Fleissig's 'Invisible Museum', a nomadic collection with no permanent home, have been exhibited in a series of site specific installations around the world, travelling over 7,421 miles to 11 destinations. Now, works by Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Callum Innes, Anish Kapoor, Paul Morrison, Marc Quinn, Sam Taylor-Wood, Mark Wallinger, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Wright and other young international artists have been secreted among the treasures bequeathed to the nation by Sir John Soane. The eccentric and fantastical collection of antiquities and works of art that Soane built up filled not only his own house from cellar to attic (and the courtyard outside too), but also the houses next door on either side. It has been likened to an up market jumble sale, as every nook and cranny is stuffed with exhibits, including the room which Soane designed to display his collection of Hogarths. Just finding the places to put things has been a work of art in itself. Sir John Soane's Museum until 21st December.