News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th November 2003

Commencing

It's A Great Night Out! The Making Of The West End 1843-2010 celebrates the development of London's Theatreland, and the fires, murders, paranormal happenings (and plays) that have taken place in these fine buildings. It tells the story of how the West End came to have over 40 theatres within a 2 mile radius - the largest concentration of performing arts venues in the world. The exhibition comprises playbills, models, posters, props, films, letters, memorabilia and behind the scenes images, combined with an atmospheric soundtrack, including Music Hall and musical theatre songs. It chronicles the commercial theatre's continual efforts to juggle the competing claims of artistic demands, changing tastes, audience enjoyment and financial survival. Although the first playhouse opened on Drury Lane in 1663, most existing theatres were built around a century ago, in a world of very different audience demands - of both entertainment and comfort - from today. The exhibition features pictures from Scene / Unseen, a book of photographs by Derek Kendall, recently published by English Heritage, offering glimpses of those parts of the theatre world not normally seen by the public, including rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, backstage areas and (inevitably) a royal toilet. The Theatre Museum until October.

Turner's Britain shows how J.M.W.Turner recorded his travels around Britain during a time of exceptional change and upheaval - the Industrial Revolution. Turner journeyed by foot, horseback, stagecoach and riverboat, sketching the rural market towns, developing industrial cities and lonely landscapes of Wales, northern England and Scotland. Through Turner's eyes Britain's past is celebrated in the looming forms of ancient castles and churches, as well as in the picturesque jumble of shops and thoroughfares. In contrast, he also captures its present, in steam trains, canals, soldiery and industrial workings, as the country developed into the first industrial world power. 'The Fighting Temeraire', depicting the wooden sailing ship from the Battle of Trafalgar being towed to a breaker's yard by a tug, as sail gave way to iron steam ships, epitomises the period of change. The Midlands was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, and Turner made several sketching tours through the region, where he documented the growth and transformation of towns like Wolverhampton and Dudley. His 'Birmingham and Coventry' and 'Kenilworth' sketchbooks form part of over 130 paintings, drawings, watercolours and engravings that make up the show. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery until 8th February.

Heath Robinson showcases the work of William Heath Robinson "The Gadget King" who is most widely remembered for his humorous drawings and illustrations. Although his ambition was to become a landscape painter, to earn a living he turned to book illustration, where he rapidly established a reputation. His visual interpretations for poetry by Poe and Kipling, Andersen's Fairy Tales, A Midsummer Night's Dream, de la Mare's Peacock Pie, The Water Babies and Perrault's Fairy Tales, saw him ranked alongside Rackham and Dulac, achieving classic status around the world. In addition, Heath Robinson also wrote and illustrated his own children's books, The Adventures of Uncle Lubin and Bill the Minder. He was among the first generation of artists whose work could be translated straight to the page (without the intervention of an engraver) and, like Beardsley and his other contemporaries, Heath Robinson took full advantage of the possibilities this presented. However, it is in his drawings of ramshackle inventions, through which he satirised human frailties and pretensions, that his legacy lies, contributing 'Heath Robinson' to the English language as an expression to describe such creations. This exhibition offers the chance to see over a hundred original drawings, prints and paintings from the collection of The William Heath Robinson Trust. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18th January.

Continuing

Women And War examines women's involvement in conflict in the 20th century, charting their changing roles from home front to front line. It tells the story of servicewomen, nurses, land girls, factory workers, secret agents, pilots and peacekeepers from the First World War to the recent conflict in the Balkans. The breadth of scope is demonstrated by highlights such as: the pistol carried by Sergeant Major Flora Sandes in Serbia during the First World War; a diary kept by Nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for espionage in 1915; a camisole worn by a survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania; Marlene Dietrich's Second World War uniform; Amy Johnson's flying tunic; a camera used by war photographer Lee Miller; the George Cross posthumously awarded to the secret agent Violette Szabo; and the wedding dress worn by a prisoner who married the British soldier who liberated her from the Belsen concentration camp - plus of course, the famous 'Rosie The Riveter' and other war time posters. An accompanying audio programme enables visitors to listen to women describing their experiences in letters, diaries and tape recorded reminiscences, ranging from a nurse on the Western Front to a widow in present day Rwanda. Imperial War Museum until 18th April.

Advertising And The Artist: The Work And Collection Of Ashley Havinden focuses on a time when advertising and art shared a common heritage. Ashley Havinden was director of advertising agency W.S. Crawford from the mid 1920s to the mid 1960s, but he was also a painter, living in Hampstead, and part of an international group of artists that included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth Alexander Calder, John Piper and Naum Gabo. British modernist 'serious' art, inspired by the Bauhaus and international futurism and cubism, informed the work that Havinden produced in both of his careers. Classic campaigns he created for clients, including Bird's Custard, Chrysler Motors, Eno's Fruit Salt, Gillette Razor Blades, Martini and Simpson of Piccadilly, established the look that we recognise today as epitomising the fresh, innocent and optimistically modern style of the time. This exhibition, marking the centenary of Havinden's birth, draws extensively from both his commercial archive and his contemporary art collection. It also includes material that reveals the process of designing and developing an innovative advertising campaign. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until 18th January.

Below Stairs: 400 Years Of Servants Portraits takes British portraiture, which traditionally concentrated on depictions of the upper classes and the celebrated, and turns it on its head. With a Gosford Park approach, it focuses on the workers, from grooms to governesses, and maids to musicians. The first ever exhibition of portraits of servants in Britain brings together many works that have rarely been seen in public. Around 100 pictures spanning the 17th century to the 20th century include not only domestic servants, but also institutional staff, such as the porter from the Royal Academy, the Arts Club cook and the British Museum's housekeeper. Some of the subjects worked for famous people, such as Queen Victoria and Admiral Nelson, others rose from servitude through their own hard work and ability to become established members of society. Many of the paintings in the exhibition were commissioned by employers who had formed a close attachment to their servants, in recognition of the loyalty (and sometimes eccentricity) of those who worked for them. Examples include a portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts of Tom Derry, Jester to Anne of Denmark; William Hogarth's painting of his own six servants; 'Fish Nell, John Sutherland, Laundryman and "Dummy" King' commissioned by the Duke of Buccleuch of his servants at Dalkeith House; and the group portrait of the 'Heads of Department at Holkham Hall' by Andrew Festing, commissioned by the current Earl of Leicester. National Portrait Gallery until 11th January.

Saved! 100 Years Of The National Art Collections Fund celebrates the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund by bringing together over 300 masterpieces which have been saved for the nation with the Fund's help. Spanning 4,500 years of great works of art from prehistoric times to the present, they comprise sculptures, paintings, drawings, ceramics, costumes, textiles, photographs, archaeological treasures and ethnographic material. Among the highlights are 'Jacob and the Angel' by Epstein; Canova's 'The Three Graces'; Picasso's 'Weeping Woman'; the Roman 'Bronze Head of Augustus', circa 27-25BC; major paintings and drawings by masters such as Botticelli, Constable, Holbein, Michelangelo, Rembrandt; and contemporary works by Lucian Freud, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie and Rachel Whiteread. Other treasures include jewels recovered from the Spanish Armada shipwreck of the Girona; the carved stern post of a Maori war canoe; van de Cappelle's seascape 'A Calm'; and the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written hours before her execution. A number of these works would have disappeared from public view or left Britain without the Fund's intervention, and the exhibition also tells the often dramatic stories behind their acquisition. Photographs, legal documents, letters and press cuttings illustrate the history of the Fund and its campaigning work. This exhibition marks the reopening of the Hayward Gallery after cosmetic surgery by Dan Graham and Haworth Tompkins, giving it a more prominent and spacious entrance, and a new small gallery. Hayward Gallery until 18th January.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti is an exhibition which proves that not all the best works by the founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood are currently to be found at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. The first major solo show of Rossetti's works since 1973 comprises over 150 items, including many of his most famous pieces. These medieval dreamlike and erotic paintings of powerful and mysterious women, though often derided as 'damsels and dragons', still retain their immediacy. This show features early drawings inspired by Romantic poetry; portraits of the Pre-Raphaelite circle; watercolours and drawings evoking the legend of King Arthur; subjects from Dante; and later paintings of love and death such as 'Dante's Dream' and 'The Blessed Damozel'. Rarely seen pieces include a sequence of drawings of Elizabeth Siddall, Rossetti's model and wife; and photographs of Jane Morris, posed by Rossetti, believed to be ideas of compositions for paintings, giving an insight into his use of photography alongside more traditional preparatory sketches. Critics have always sneered at Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites (and still do) but they remain as popular with the public as they have always been. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 18th January.

1920s: The Decade That Changed London brings together fashion, art, architecture, film, politics and culture to examine the decade that transformed London after the First World War. Over 400 exhibits, some not seen in public in over 80 years, reveal the many ways in which Londoners began to come to terms with life in the 20th century. From Anna Pavlova's ballet costumes and an early Norman Hartnell wedding dress, to Selfridges' golden lifts and the gates of the 1929 Firestone Factory, costume and architecture capture the decade's unique style. At a more serious level the exhibition highlights the influence of America and Russia on political and social change. Letters from Gandhi and Bolshevik propaganda posters join the work of artists Eric Gill, Laura Knight, William Roberts, Doris Zinkeisen, Henry Tonks and Ambrose McEvoy in an exploration of the thoughts and ideas of the time. Everyday items, from one of the earliest red telephone boxes, through cartoons starring Fritz the Cat, to giant advertising posters, highlight the period as one of innovation and change. Meanwhile, a unique collection from the 1920s cult group The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift celebrates a return to a more spiritual sense of Englishness. This is the first exhibition in the new Linbury Gallery, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, which is part of a £33m redevelopment programme. This will extend the existing building to provide a 70% increase in gallery space, plus a new entrance at street level designed by Foster and Partners, while the existing interiors will be remodelled. Museum Of London until 18th July.

Concluding

London 1753 is part of the British Museum's 250th birthday celebrations, aiming to create a picture of London at the time of its foundation, when London was the largest city in the western world - containing 11% of the British population. The display of over 300 objects is arranged in sections corresponding to five London areas: the City, the River, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury, Westminster, St James's and Mayfair, and shows the extremes of wealth and poverty that existed side by side. It includes both London wide vistas, and miniatures of real life in the city, from fashionable society and cultural events to the gin houses and the gallows, in watercolours by Paul and Thomas Sandby, drawings and prints by William Hogarth, engravings by Charles Mosley, and drawings by Canaletto. On a more personal note, there are portraits of aristocrats, artists and tradesmen, by John Faber, James Macardall and William Hoare, together with their actual watches, jewellery, fans, medals and coins. There are even the precise objects on an actual mantelpiece as depicted in Hogarth's painting Marriage A-la Mode II. Curiosities include shop signs, Spitalfields silk, spurs for fighting cocks, a first edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, John Roque's 1747 map which takes up 72 square feet of the gallery wall, and Hogarth's gold admission ticket to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. British Museum until 23rd November.

Stuart Sutcliffe is a display of a recently acquired collection of personal effects that once belonged to the 5th Beatle. Sutcliffe, (who was the main subject of the film Backbeat) joined the band in 1960, but left a year and a half later to concentrate on his art studies. By this time he was engaged to Astrid Kirchherr, who he met whilst performing with the band at the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg. It is claimed that it was Sutcliffe who came up with the Beatles name, and that John Lennon would not play in the band without him. His relationship with Astrid also influenced the band's image and style. Sutcliffe died at the age of 21 from a brain haemorrhage soon after leaving the band. The items in the collection, which help bring to life the early part of the Beatles story, include his first guitar; a charcoal self-portrait; letters written to his family from Hamburg (some containing drawings); photographs of him as a child, a student, and with the Beatles and Astrid in Hamburg; a report from his art teacher Eduardo Paolozzi; and personal effects such as his Hamburg ID card, wallet and cheque book - which reveals that he was paying hire purchase instalments for a guitar bought by John Lennon. Also on display for the first time, are four stage suits from 1963, possibly designed by Sutcliffe, and made by London tailor Douglas Millings, but never worn. Museum of Liverpool Life, Liverpool, 0151 478 4499, until 23rd November.

Medicine Man: The Forgotten Museum Of Henry Wellcome is a celebration of the British passion for collecting things. Henry Wellcome, the pharmacist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, saw human culture and history through medical eyes. A compulsive collector and traveller, he built up the world's largest, but least known, collection of medical exhibits. By his death in 1936, he had amassed over one million objects related to medical history - many (a la Citizen Kane) remaining still packaged and uncatalogued. This treasure trove of the bizarre, practical and exotic ranges from Chinese diagnostic dolls and Japanese sex aids to African masks and amputation saws, from amulets and ancient manuscripts to Napoleon's toothbrush and George III's hair. Among the more unlikely are: an English tobacco resuscitator kit used to revive the 'apparently dead' by blowing smoke through the nose, mouth or elsewhere; shrunken heads from the Shuar people of the Upper Amazon, created to control the avenging soul of the deceased (to be worn by the person who had removed the head); and a notebook alleged to be covered with the skin of the man whose execution is thought to have sparked the American War of Independence. British Museum until 16th November.