News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th January 2011


London Under Siege: Churchill And The Anarchists, 1911 marks the 100th anniversary of the Houndsditch Murders and the siege of Sidney Street. The exhibition sets the murders and the siege in their historical and social context, explores immigration at the time, and the then Home Secretary Winston Churchill's role in the events. The Houndsditch Murders took place on 16th December 1910, when a group of armed Latvian revolutionaries attempted to break into H S Harris's jeweller's shop in Houndsditch. Three City of London policemen were fatally shot and two were disabled for life. The murders remain the highest loss of police life on a single day in Britain. The Siege of Sidney Street took place two weeks later on 3rd January 1911, when over 200 armed police and a detachment of Scots Guards laid siege to 100 Sidney Street in Stepney, where two of the Houndsditch gang were hiding. The stand-off eventually saw the building burn to the ground, with the remains of the gang members found inside. The scene was captured in an iconic photograph showing Winston Churchill in overcoat and top hat (which was punctured by a stray bullet) surrounded by police and soldiers. The siege of Sidney Street is part of East End and socialist folklore, and the area at the time was home to radical political groups, most of whom had come from Eastern Europe, thus helping to exaggerate people's imaginations about immigration and other cultures. The display includes exhibits from the trial of suspected gang members in May 1911: several objects used by the Houndsditch gang, such as never before seen guns from the crime scene, safe-breaking equipment, an ammunition belt, cap, gloves and a dagger; plus the overcoat worn by Winston Churchill on the day of the siege, and an order of service from the funerals of the murdered policemen at St Paul's Cathedral. Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay E14, until April.

The Brunel Institute is a heritage and visitor centre, which recently opened alongside the SS Great Britain, the Victorian engineer's masterpiece and only surviving ship. Designed by Alec French Architects, it comprises a conservation suite and archive, major reference library, lecture theatre and seminar rooms, education space, and teaching offices. The institute houses the National Brunel Archive, including Isambard Kingdom Brunel's drawing instruments, notebooks and diaries, letters, engineering drawings, and photographs of projects both under construction and completed. The institute's entire collection comprises over 45,000 objects, including: over 6,000 maritime books, such as Registers from provincial ports, and the East India Company Ships; 2,500 ship plans, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries; 100 ship models of all kinds; 35,000 maritime photographs and postcards; hundreds of periodicals covering the history and development of shipping from the 18th century onwards, including The American Neptune, Yachting Monthly, Sea Breezes, Blue Peter, Ships and Ship Models and Model Shipwright; the complete run of Mariner's Mirror and most of Lloyd's Register; diaries and personal letter relating to passengers and crew of the SS Great Britain; over 50 films of historic maritime craft; and hundreds of works of art. The Brunel Institute, Great Western Dockyard, Bristol, continuing.

Picasso To Julie Mehretu features graphic art from across the world, exploring the significant interchange of ideas between artists mainly working in Europe and America during the past hundred years. It showcases some of the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, starting with Picasso's study for 'Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon', the painting that changed the art world in 1907, and concluding with work by Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopian-born artist who is one of the stars of the contemporary international art scene. The exhibition features 70 works, most of which have never been on public display before. Impromptu sketches and compositional studies are shown alongside works that are complete in themselves. Some drawings are intended to provide a template for the final product, others to capture retrospectively something executed in another medium. As well as Pablo Picasso, the exhibition features works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Georgio de Chirico, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois and major contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Francesco Clemente, Judy Chicago and William Kentridge. A highlight is Picasso's double page composition 'Leaping Bulls' dating from 1950, the first entry in the Visitors' Book for the Institute of Contemporary Arts. British Museum until 25th April.


The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner explores one of the best known English poems, written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. First published in 1798 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner tells the tale of a mariner's nightmarish journey to the ends of the Earth. The poem deals with the universal themes of sin, guilt, remorse and redemption and its insight into the human condition has provided inspiration for writers, artists and musicians for over 200 years. This exhibition, through manuscripts, printed books and sound recordings, examines the poem within the wider context of Coleridge's life, and explores his crucial role, along with that of his friend William Wordsworth, co-author of the Lyrical Ballads, (in which The Rime of the Ancient Mariner first appeared) as a founding member of the Romantic Movement in England. A man of remarkable intellect with an inquiring spirit, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a literary critic, philosopher, writer, journalist and public lecturer. Deeply learned and widely read, Coleridge took an exalted view of his art, asserting that 'The Poet is the man made to solve the riddle of the Universe', who 'brings the whole soul of man into activity'. The display also looks at modern interpretations of the poem, and highlights the work of illustrators and writers who have been inspired by its vivid imagery. Highlights include the 1798 first edition of the Lyrical Ballads; and two of Coleridge's notebooks, one containing re-workings of the poem (lines 201-212, dated 1806), and the other with details of a walking tour of Cumbria in 1802, providing a fascinating record of his random thoughts and observations. The British Library, until 27th February.

Japanese Ghosts And Demons: Ukiyo-e Prints is a display of highly coloured 19th century woodblock prints. Belief in the supernatural is deep-rooted in Japanese folklore. According to Japan's native Shinto religion, gods reside everywhere - in the forests, the fields, the mountains and in the home. The arrival of Buddhism during the 6th century AD brought with it more supernatural beings, and many Chinese tales of spirits and monsters were also absorbed into Japanese tradition. Obake, the Japanese word for ghost, means 'something that is transformed'. There are many kinds of ghosts in Japan, including household objects that come to life, animals with supernatural powers, wicked demons and the vengeful spirits of cruelly-wronged women. These beings have long been represented in Japanese art and literature - depicted in paintings and prints, carved as netsuke belt toggles and dramatised for the Kabuki and Bunraku theatres. The ukiyo-e woodblock prints shown here all date from the mid-19th century, when artists competed to satisfy the public's appetite for images of the bizarre and macabre. Focusing on works by the renowned artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, and their contemporaries, giant spiders, dancing skeletons, winged goblins and hordes of ghostly warriors are among the spooky subjects depicted. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 27th February.

Norman Rockwell's America is the first ever exhibition in Britain of work by America's best known and best loved illustrator for over 6 decades of the 20th century. Astonishingly prolific, Norman Rockwell is best known for the 323 covers he created for the Saturday Evening Post, but he also painted countless other magazine illustrations and advertisements, capturing images of everyday American life with a humour and power of observation that spoke directly to the public, whose love for his work never wavered. These good natured, often very funny, occasionally sweetly sentimental images, picturing America as he wished it to be, rather than as it perhaps was, gave rise to an adjective, 'Rockwellesque', which in some critics' minds became something of a dirty word. But Rockwell's output was not all sugar and spice - he recorded political events, portrayed presidents, and on occasion painted searing images in support of the civil rights movement. Although Rockwell himself was happy to be described as 'an illustrator', his illustrations were executed with considerable technical skill in oils, and these original paintings have increased dramatically in value since his death in 1978, and recent years have seen a critical reassessment of the importance of his work. This exhibition provides a comprehensive look at Rockwell's career, including every single cover of the Saturday Evening Post, created between 1916 and 1963, along with some 30 original paintings, and illustrations for advertisements, magazines and books. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, until 27th March.

The Tiger In Asian Art examines the most enduring and powerful symbol of cultural identity for the people of Asia. For over 3,000 years the tiger has inspired countless legends, beliefs, poems and works of art across Asia, and it is the national animal of India, Malaysia, China and North and South Korea. The tiger is also one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, textiles, photographs and other works of art, from historical to contemporary, many of which have never been seen in the West before, from a wide range of Asian countries and regions, including Tibet, Vietnam and Mongolia. It examines the cultural and spiritual significance of the tiger to these places, and the role that the creature plays to the human psyche, looking at it as a protector, spiritual power, material, hunted animal and declining figure. Among the highlights are contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Huang's 'Free Tiger Returns to the Mountain' series, employing a technique using ash gathered from incense burned at Shanghai temples; 17th century Japanese artist Hokusai's 'Tiger in a Snowstorm'; a 16th century Chinese Ming military banner depicting a tiger surrounded by flame and cloud motifs; a Jaipur hunting scene; and a 17th century Japanese tiger netsuke belt toggle sculpture. Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1, until 12th February.

Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping The Image Of A Literary Family tells the story of one of the most renowned literary families in Britain: Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Shelley, and Mary's parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. The exhibition charts the history of a family blessed with genius but marred by tragedy, spanning three generations: from Godwin's and Wollstonecraft's months as lovers and their brief marriage between 1796 and 1797; through the 8 years Shelley and Mary spent together from their elopement in 1814 to Shelley's sudden death in 1822; to the lives of the Shelleys' only surviving child, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, and his wife Jane, Lady Shelley. The story is often tragic, but also one of remarkable creative achievement. It is told with letters, literary manuscripts, rare printed books and pamphlets, portraits and relics. Highlights include Shelley's notebooks with original versions of some of his greatest poems; Richard Rothwell's portrait of Mary Shelly; Shelly and Mary's elopement journal; a letter from John Keats; sketches of sailing boats by Shelly; Mary Shelly's dressing case, with original engraved silver topped bottles and boxes; Shelly's quill pen, pocket watch and chain, seals and spyglass; William Godwin's diary; a guitar given to Jane Williams by Shelly and the poem he sent with it; the family baby rattle, used by Shelly; a draft of Shelly's sonnet 'Ozymandias'; a ring containing John Keats's hair; a copy of Amelia Curran's portrait of Shelly; Harriet Shelly's suicide letter; Shelly's last letter to Mary; a draft of The Triumph of Life, Shelly's final poem; and the original manuscripts of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', including the scene when the creature comes to life. Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 27th March.

Future Beauty: 30 Years Of Japanese Fashion is the first exhibition in Europe to comprehensively survey avant-garde Japanese fashion, from the early 1980s to now. Japanese designers made an enormous impact on world couture in the late 20th century. Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto redefined the very basis of fashion, challenged established Western notions of beauty, and turned fashion into art. The tight silhouettes of Western couture were jettisoned for new fluid shapes. Out went the magnificent ornament and extravagant techniques of the post-war tradition and in came a stark, monochrome palette and an entirely new decorative language - holes, rips, frays and tears - emerging from the stuff of fabric itself. This exhibition examines the work of these designers in relation to Japanese art, culture and costume history, and explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty embodied in clothing. It brings together over 100 garments, some never seen before in Britain, with specially commissioned photographs by Japanese artist and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama. There are focused presentations on each of the principle designers in the show, featuring a range of archive and recent works: Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, Jun Takahashi and Tao Kurihara, as well as Mintdesigns and a number of emerging designers such as Akira Naka, Anrealage, N e -Net, Sacai , Somarta, Mikio Sakabe, Matohu and Taro Horiuchi. Also included are catwalk collection films, and a wealth of rare books, catalogues and magazines, which highlight Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo's collaborations with artists, photographers and designers. Barbican Art Gallery, London, until 6th February.


Eadweard Muybridge is a retrospective of the work of the pioneering Anglo-American photographer. Bringing together over 150 works, this exhibition demonstrates how Eadweard Muybridge broke new ground in the emerging art form of photography, exploring how he created and honed remarkable images that continue to resonate powerfully. Although best known for his extensive photographic portrayal of animal and human subjects in motion, Muybridge was also a highly successful landscape and survey photographer, documentary artist, war correspondent and inventor. His revolutionary techniques produced timeless images that have profoundly influenced succeeding generations of photographers, filmmakers and artists. This exhibition focuses on the period of rapid technological and cultural change from the late 1860s to 1904, and includes the celebrated experimental series of motion-capture photographs such as 'The Attitudes of Animals in Motion' and the sequence 'Animal Locomotion'. The display also reveals how Muybridge constructed, manipulated and presented these photographs, and features his original zoopraxiscope, which projected his images of suspended motion to create the illusion of movement. The carefully managed studio photographs contrast with his panoramic landscapes of America, recording both the natural beauty of this vast continent, and the rapid colonial modernisation of its towns and cities. Images from this period include views of Yosemite Valley, Alaska, Guatemala, urban panoramas of San Francisco, and a survey of the construction of the eastward bound railroad through California, Nevada and Utah. These photographs form a unique social document of this period of history, as well as representing a profound achievement of technological innovation and artistic originality. Tate Britain until 16th January.

Venice: Canaletto And His Rivals presents the finest assembly of 18th century views of arguably the most paintable city in the world to be seen in a generation. The exhibition brings together around 60 major works, highlighting the extraordinary variety of Venetian view painting, juxtaposing masterpieces by Canaletto with key works by other artists, including Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Bernardo Bellotto and Francesco Guardi. In the first half of the 18th century, aristocratic travellers fuelled a highly competitive market for Venetian view painting, which saw artists jostling for commissions and fame. Together, they immortalised some of the best loved landmarks of the city, including the Grand Canal, the Piazza San Marco, the Rialto, the Molo, Santa Maria della Salute and the Lagoon. The exhibition features some of Canaletto's greatest masterpieces, including 'The Riva degli Schiavoni, looking West', 'The Stonemason's Yard', 'The Piazza San Marco, looking East', 'The Molo from the Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day', 'The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques-Vincent Languet…', 'The Entrance to the Grand Canal, looking West, with Santa Maria della Salute' and 'The Grand Canal with San Simeone Piccolo and the Scalzi'. Highlights of the works by other artists include 'The Molo from the Bacino di San Marco' by Gaspare Vanvitelli the founding father of Italian view painting; Carlevarijs's 'The Reception of the British Ambassador Charles Montagu…'; Marieschi's 'The Rialto Bridge from the Riva del Vin'; Bellotto's 'The Piazzetta, looking North'; and Guardi's 'View of the Venetian Lagoon with the Tower of Malghera'. National Gallery until 16th January.

Gauguin: Maker Of Myth traces the unique approach to storytelling of one of the most influential and celebrated artists of the late 19th century. The exhibition challenges commonly held assumptions about Paul Gauguin and his work, revealing the complexity and richness of his narratives, and exploring the myths and fables that were central to his creativity. Bringing together almost 200 of Gauguin's works, the show features many of his iconic paintings, including 'Vision of the Sermon', 'Teha'amana has Many Parents', 'The Loss of Virginity', 'Nevermore', 'Yellow Christ' and 'The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch', together with self portraits such as 'Self-portrait as Christ in the Garden of Olives' and 'Self-portrait with Manau tu papau'. Inspired by Tahiti's tropical flora, fauna and daily island life, during his self impose exile, Gauguin also immersed himself in its fast disappearing local culture to invest his art with deeper meaning, ritual and myth. While Tahiti revitalised Gauguin's artistic output, the works were a continuation of his earlier paintings made in Brittany, Martinique and Arles, in which he first explored ideas around religion, fable, myth and tradition. The exhibition reflects Gauguin's breadth of approach by including examples from throughout his career, and in a wide range of media, from painting and watercolour, to ceramics, carvings and decorated objects. These are shown alongside rarely seen illustrated letters, sketchbooks, memoirs and journalism, revealing intimate insights into his working practices and thought processes. Tate Modern until 16th January.