News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th November 2008


Taking Liberties provides a rare opportunity to view actual documents that played key roles in the nation's struggle for freedoms and rights, charting the roots of British democracy over a period of more than 900 years. Among the iconic documents on display that paved the way for liberty and democracy are: on the Rule of Law, Magna Carta, in which King John acknowledged laws, rights and freedoms which eventually became a model for liberty throughout the world; Habeas Corpus, which guaranteed that no one could be imprisoned unlawfully; on the Right to Vote, 1832 Reform Act, which abolished the rotten and pocket boroughs, and redistributed seats to enfranchise large towns and populations previously not covered, and Olive Wharry's prison scrapbook, detailing the Suffragette's time in jail; on Human Rights, Thomas Paine's Rights Of Man, championing both natural and civil rights, and William Blake's notebook, containing a draft of The Tyger and material used in other poems, essays, lyrics and epigrams; on the Monarchy and the People, King Charles I's death warrant, following Cromwell's victory in the Civil War, and the Bill of Rights (the closest Britain has to a constitution) passed at the time of the restoration of the monarchy; on Freedom from Want, Charles Booth's 1891 Poverty Map of London, revealing the bleak living conditions of the capital's poor, and the Beveridge Report, which was the blueprint for the welfare state set up after the Second World War. British Library until 1st March.

Garden Giants: Amazing Bugs In Our Environment is a bug hunt with a difference. An indoor garden has been created, complete with a potting shed and grass paths, and hidden in the undergrowth are giant moving models of stag beetles, ants, wasps, crickets, snails, ladybirds, butterflies and spiders - up to 400 times their actual size (that's 7ft long or tall), making appropriately magnified sounds. Accompanying interactive displays provide a guide to the world of insects and invertebrates, which is full of little known facts about creepy crawlies of all kinds - and provides information that can help to distinguish the good from the bad. Younger visitors can find out what it is like to see like a fly (but unlike the film it's a reversible process), smell like a bug, and even handle the little beasts (that's the bugs not the children). Although the 'eek factor' is at the heart of the exhibition, the underlying theme is sustainability. It highlights the importance of insects and invertebrates to the ecosystems that support life on earth, and offers advice on how to encourage useful bugs into domestic gardens, from the experts at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley. The Lightbox, Woking until 4th January.

Miro, Calder, Giacometti, Braque: Aime Maeght And His Artists demonstrates the achievement of the Galerie Maeght, one of the most influential and creative galleries of the 20th century. Founded by Aime and Marguerite Maeght in Paris in 1945, the gallery featured work by artists who expressed the bold new spirit in art that exploded in France following the end of the Second World War. The exhibition presents Aime Maeght's contributions to art in the mid 20th century as an art dealer, exhibition maker and publisher. It comprises over 140 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints and sketch books by the major artists Maeght exhibited: Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti and George Braque - as well as works by Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse. Highlights include Miro's 'The Birth of the Day III', and 'Cat Snake'; Calder's 'Airplane Tail' and 'Sumac V'; Giacometti's 'Spoon Woman', 'Standing Woman' and 'Walking Man'; Braque's 'Hesperus - Theogony'; Bonnard's 'Summer'; and Matisse's 'Seated Nude' and 'The Bush'. There is also a collage of the covers of Derriere le Miroir, the periodical that served as a catalogue for the gallery's exhibitions, illustrated by the artists' original lithographs. Little known film footage of the artists at work and relaxing with their patron and his family is included in the show, revealing the remarkably close relationship that existed between Maeght and his artists. Royal Academy of Arts, until 2nd January.


Byzantium 330 - 1453 highlights the splendours of the Byzantine Empire, comprising around 300 exquisitely crafted and richly decorated objects, including icons, detached wall paintings, micro-mosaics, ivories and enamels, plus gold and silver metalwork. The exhibition begins with the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and concludes with the capture of the city by the Ottoman forces of Mehmed II in 1453, following a chronological progression covering the range, power and longevity of the artistic production of the Byzantine Empire. Through a number of themed sections, it explores the origins of Byzantium; the rise of Constantinople; the threat of iconoclasm when emperors banned Christian figurative art; the post-iconoclast revival; the crescendo in the Middle Ages; and the close connections between Byzantine and early Renaissance art in Italy in the 13th and early 14th centuries. Among the highlights are: the silver gilt Antioch Chalice, once believed to have been the Holy Grail; a two-sided icon of Virgin Hodegetria and the Man of Sorrows; an incense burner in the shape of a church, in partially gilded silver; the ornate Chalice of the Patriarchs; the Riha Paten, illustrating the Communion of the Apostles, in silver with gilding and niello; an imperial ivory casket from Troyes cathedral depicting hunting scenes and riders; a 12th century manuscript, the Homilies of Monk James Kokkinobaphos; and the Icon of the Archangel Michael, silver gilt on wood, with gold cloisonne enamel and precious stones. The Royal Academy of Arts, until 22nd March.

Le Corbusier - The Art Of Architecture is an assessment of the single most influential (and controversial) architect of the 20th century. Across the world his revolutionary designs were instrumental in the development of modern architecture. From high rise towers to furniture design, his vision of functionalism - using modern materials and engineering techniques - provided radical yet practical solutions to modern urban living, which still evoke strong views today. Featuring original architectural models, vintage prints, original furniture, unique drawings and paintings, specially built models, reconstructions of historical interiors, photographs, digital animations and documentary films, the exhibition takes an in depth look at the projects, interiors and art of Le Corbusier - and also reveals the man behind the myth. It gives a comprehensive introduction to Le Corbusier's work and influences, presenting his most important architectural projects, furniture and interior designs, paintings, textiles, drawings and books. Grand projects include the Palais des Nations, Geneva, the Soviet Palace competition project, Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles, the chapel at Ronchamp, the Philips Pavilion in Brussels and the Capitol buildings at Chandigarh. Previously unpublished material includes original film footage by Le Corbusier, the large scale mural painting from his own office, and a reconstruction of his monumental architectural model 'Ville Contemporaine', his utopian masterplan for Paris. The Crypt, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, until 18th January.

Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms attempts to shed new light on the artist who made such a big impression on popular culture and consciousness in the second half of the 20th century, through a display of many of his lesser-known works. The exhibition presents Warhol's films, screen-tests, videos and television programmes, which combined with archive material, seminal paintings and installations, illuminates his creative process. It comprises three installations: Cosmos, an overview of the various media and techniques with which Warhol worked; Filmscape, in which 19 of Warhol's most famous films are showcased; and TV-Scape, with all of Warhol's television programmes screened synchronously. Highlights include iconic prints such as Marilyn Monroe, Campbell Soup Tins and Electric Chair; films such as Horse, Chelsea Girls and Mario Banana (No. 1); screen tests of writers, musicians and artists such as Allen Ginsberg, Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali; Factory Diaries, video diaries showing the inner workings of the Factory, capturing regulars and celebrity visitors; all 42 episodes of his cable television series Fashion, Andy Warhol's TV and Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes, in which he appeared with celebrity friends; Silver Clouds, a room of Warhol's helium filled pillow shaped metallic reflecting balloons; and the entire contents of Time Capsule 92, a treasure trove of ephemera, including letters, invitations, receipts, newspaper cuttings and photographs. Hayward Gallery until 18th January.

Beside The Seaside: Snapshots Of British Coastal Life 1880 - 1950 brings together photographs, posters and seaside memorabilia to capture the essence of both working life and early tourism along the British coast. From dramatic rugged coastlines and idyllic fishing villages to sea bathing, promenades and donkey rides, the popularity of the seaside has led to its enduring status as a quintessential British experience. The exhibition both highlights the British seaside holiday, and explores a diversity of activities along the British coast. Following the advent of the railways in the mid 19th century, quiet coastal settlements and towns such as Eastbourne and Scarborough were transformed into thriving holiday destinations, where beaches, piers, promenades and hotels were developed to cater for a range of tastes and budgets. Photographs range from fashionable Edwardians relaxing under parasols by the sea, and crowds of visitors enjoying the sunny piers and bustling promenades of popular holiday resorts, to fisherman sorting through the day's catch, rows of fishing trawlers returned to port, and a cockle picker mid hunt. The exhibition draws heavily on images made by Francis Frith, a pioneering Victorian photographer, whose passion for photography and travel led to him found what eventually became the largest photographic publishing company in the world. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 19th April.

A Continuous Line: Ben Nicholson In England is a retrospective of one of the most radical British artists of the 20th century, and the leader of the modern movement in Britain between the wars. Most famous for his abstract paintings and reliefs of the 1930s, Nicholson began as a figurative painter and had a deep and enduring relationship with the English landscape. The exhibition reconsiders his position in British art history, offering a new understanding of the modern in art, particularly in relation to national and local identities. It concentrates on three periods and groups of work that have been neglected for many years: landscapes made in Cumberland and Cornwall in the late 1920s; landscapes, abstract paintings and reliefs made alongside each other in St. Ives during the Second World War; and the Cubist still lifes made between 1945 and 1958 (when he left Britain to live in Switzerland), which secured Nicholson's international reputation. The selection of some 80 key works included in the exhibition demonstrate his continuity of vision and approach, highlights those periods that have previously been marginalised, and reveals a view of Ben Nicholson quite different from the established one. Highlights include '1928 (Walton Wood Cottage No 2)', '1928 (Foothills, Cumberland', 'Cold Fell', '1932 (Crowned Head - The Queen), '1943-45 (St Ives, Cornwall)', 1945 (Still Life)', 'July 22-47 (Still Life - Odyssey 1), 'March 1949 (Trencrom)', '1935 (White Relief)' and '1940 (Plover's Egg Blue)'. De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, until 4th January.

Kenneth Grahame: The Wind In The Willows illuminates the 30 year career of Kenneth Grahame at the Bank of England, and includes previously unseen and unpublished documents relating to his non-literary work. The display also examines the questions surrounding his sudden resignation from the Bank, possible influences on his writing, and the strange incident in 1903, which saw him shot at by an intruder. Among the items on display are Grahame's resignation letter, which identifies the mental pressures he cited as his reason for leaving, as well as letters from the Bank's doctor who gave a contradictory assessment of his mental health. Although Grahame's Bank career is little known, it is generally agreed that it influenced his writing, both directly, with the traits of his colleagues appearing in the characters he created, as well as through the atmosphere of life at the institution that imbues his work. Although The Wind In The Willows was published just 4 months after Grahame left the Bank, he did not write much more in the subsequent 24 years that he lived. The display also includes the official Bank House Lists from 1879 and 1908, recording Grahame's entry and exit, his starting salary and final pension details (he was entitled to a pension of £710 but was granted only £400 by the directors). Among the other exhibits is a letter in which the children of King George V thank Grahame for his kindness when they made a surprise visit to the Bank. Bank of England Museum, London, continuing.


Footlights: Capturing The Essence Of Performance examines how artists have captured the fleeting nature of theatrical performances over the centuries. This wide ranging exhibition offers a glimpse into the world of the performer, and reveals how the visual arts can record momentary events for posterity. As well as paintings, prints, posters, drawings and photographs made by artists depicting a wide variety of spectator orientated events (including some featuring the audience), the show also includes costume and scenery designs. Among the works included - all on paper - are Toulouse Lautrec's iconic Follies Bergere poster of Jane Avril, and print of actress Yves Gilbert in front of her audience; images of Berlin cabaret by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner; Stefano della Bella's prints of 17th century street performers; Hogarth's 'Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn' and 'The Laughing Audience'; Antonia Reeve's photographs of Japanese actor Mikijiro Hira, in costume as Macbeth and Medea; and designs for the Russian theatre, such as the set of Coq d'Or by Natalya Goncharova, and costumes by Mikhail Larionov for Les Contes Russes. There is also a small related display of photographs focussing on Scottish stars of stage and screen. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 16th November.

Soho Archives 1950s & 1960s documents the bohemian area of London's West End, a haven for creativity and criminality, scandal and sexuality, and a source of inspiration for photographers. The exhibition features images from three archives, capturing the vibrancy and exoticism of Soho in what many believe to have been its greatest days, as Britain emerged from the era of post Second World War austerity. Jean Straker founded the Visual Arts Club in Soho in 1951 'for artistes and photographers, amateur and professional, studying the female nude', and his works are remarkable for their lack of artifice, their sexuality and curiosity, and for reflecting the sexual predilections of the era. Magnum photographer David Hurn documented Soho's strippers, in the many peep shows and strip clubs, and with a sympathetic and insightful gaze, depicts these working women in their public and private spaces, both performing and at rest. The Daily Herald Archive shows how press photographers were drawn to Soho, as both a hub of criminality, and the backdrop for an explosion of youth culture. With images from scarred gangsters to the wedding of pop star and teen idol Tommy Steele, these photographs and the scandal they caused are icons of the 1950s and 1960s. The Photographer's Gallery, 5 & 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2 until 16th November.

Arms And Armour From The Movies: The Wonderful World Of WETA is a unique display celebrating the skill and craftsmanship of the multi-award winning WETA Workshop. The studio in Wellington, New Zealand created the arms and armour for the epic films The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Hellboy, The Last Samurai and King Kong. Among over 230 iconic pieces on display are the weapons of Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and the King of the Dead's helmet from The Lord Of The Rings; Peter's armour, Susan's bow, quiver and arrows, and the White Witch's dagger and wand from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; a selection from the 1,700 weapons made for The Last Samurai; the plane mounted Lewis machine gun that dispatched King Kong; and Hellboy's revolver 'The Samaritan'. The pieces have been specially selected to show the level of craftsmanship that has gone into their creation, and the inspirations which led to their design. Many of the weapons and armour are based on authentic medieval European and Eastern designs, and were made using the original techniques. The exhibition provides an opportunity examine these pieces close up, which previously have only been seen fleetingly in action scenes, and showcases both the practical considerations and the attention to detail that went into their making. Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, until 16th November.