News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th April 2005


Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissance Collector is a partial reconstruction of the print collection of Ferdinand, son of Christopher Columbus, the earliest and certainly the largest Renaissance collection known to historians. Throughout his adult life, Ferdinand travelled continuously through Europe, mainly on missions for the Spanish court, during which he went on detours to buy books and prints. The prints themselves were dispersed long ago, but an inventory preserved in Seville from the time of his death describes 3,200 engravings, woodcuts and maps, in addition to a library of 15,000 volumes. This exhibition presents around 150 prints by all the most important Renaissance printmakers. They include works from Italy by Antonio Polllaiuolo, Marcantonio Raimondi and Giovanni Battista Palumba; from Germany by Albrecht Durer, Israhel van Meckenem, Albrect Altdorfer, Hans Baldung Lucas, Cranach the Elder and Hans Weiditz; from Switzerland by Niklaus Manuel Deutsch and Urs Graf; and from the Low Countries by Lucas van Leyden, Jan Wellens de Cock and Jost de Negker. Many of the prints on display are great rarities (some survive in only one impression) and some, such as maps, are large format prints that have rarely been exhibited. One such highlight is a stencil coloured genealogical tree of the House of Charles V by Robert Peril that is 24ft long. British Museum until 5th June.

Wyndham Lewis : The Bone Beneath The Pulp is an opportunity to see drawings by the artist, novelist and cultural critic Percy Wyndham Lewis, one of the key avant-garde figures in early twentieth century British art, and founder of the Vorticist movement. This exhibition explores the contribution of drawing to Wyndham Lewis's art, revealing the diversity of his output, and mapping the intriguing personal history of his rivalries and friendships. Thirty five works selected from throughout Lewis's career are on display, including figure studies and portraits, alongside more experimental and abstract works, and those of imaginative fantasy. Beginning in the early 1900s, the exhibition traces his drawing from youthful figure studies, heavily indebted to Augustus John and the Slade School tradition, to the portraits of the 1920s and 1930s, outstanding in the clarity of their line, through to the surreal abstractions and dreamscapes of the 1930s and 1940s. Acknowledging the fundamental importance of first-class drawing, Lewis wrote in a short polemical essay in the late 1930s entitled 'The Role of Line in Art', that the line in drawing was nothing less than 'the bone beneath the pulp'. Startling in their range and visual dexterity, these drawings show Lewis as a highly experimental and accomplished draughtsman, who was also an artist of great imagination, wit and originality, as well as a distinctive colourist. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal until 4th June.

Think & Wonder, Wonder & Think features the work of over twenty contemporary East London artists, who have been inspired by the unique toys, games and costumes in the permanent collection. Their creations are displayed alongside and amongst the objects that motivated them, providing a treasure hunt for visitors. Inspired by the dolls' houses, Kezia Cantwell-Wright has constructed a miniature tower block (more representative of the surrounding area than the Victorian building that houses the museum); while David Musgrave has made a tiny humanoid to sit among the mechanical toys; Dustin Ericksen has created his own display case, in which he has put photographs of the exhibits (perhaps pandering to what appears to be the current thinking in museums that seeing a video of an object is better than seeing the object itself); Lali Chetwynd is staging performances by local children; and there are works by Brian Griffiths, Jeff McMillan and Cornelia Parker, plus a tree planted for the porcelain dolls to enjoy, and a sculpture of seaside memories provoked by a display of buckets and spades. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 31st July.


Portrait Miniatures is a new gallery designed to bring to life this unique art form, tracing its development from origins in the illuminated manuscript, to its heyday in the 19th century, before the rise of photography. The display comprises 140 paintings, with masterpieces by Hans Holbein, the Elizabethans Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, Samuel Cooper (who painted both Cromwell and Charles II) and Richard Cosway, miniature painter to the Prince Regent. It shows how the miniature - portable, highly personal and often mounted in precious materials - offers a link between painting and jewellery. Three displays focusing on sitters show how the role of the miniature, and the nature of the painter, changed over the centuries. The first group has portraits of Elizabeth I and James I and his family, from the golden age of miniature painting; the second, the family and friends of Susannah-Penelope Rosse, a woman miniaturist at the end of the 17th century; and the third, portraits painted by British artists in India at the end of the 18th century, when miniaturists provided pictures small enough to send home by post or be carried in hand luggage. The display also explores the materials and techniques of portrait miniatures to reveal the way that they were made, and looks at their settings, including ivory boxes, enamelled cases and gilt lockets. The gallery has been designed by Casson Mann, who have developed showcases that allow visitors to sit down on stools and examine the miniatures closely with a magnifying glass. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Marilyn Monroe is the most extensive collection of screen costumes worn by, and memorabilia associated with, the 1950s screen goddess ever shown in Britain, including the iconic one from Bus Stop. Monroe lunched at Renshaw with Edith Sitwell while she was filming The Prince And The Showgirl. The permanent collection includes material relating to stars from the worlds of theatre, ballet and opera, such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Noel Coward; Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nureyev, Natalia Markova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anna Pavlova and Robert Helpman; Maria Callas, Maya Plisteskaya, Julia Migenes, Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballe and Enrico Caruso.

John Piper is an exhibition celebrating the work of the artist who specialised in capturing country houses, and their gates and temples. It includes the original paintings of Renishaw and its surroundings, and of Montegufoni, the Sitwell's castle in Tuscany, commissioned to illustrate Osbert Sitwell's epic autobiography, which are generally regarded as among his finest work. There are also Piper's designs for theatre, opera and ballet, such as the famous curtain for the first post War performance of Edith Sitwell and William Walton's Facade. The Performing Arts and John Piper Galleries, Renshaw Hall, Derbyshire until 2nd October.

Animal Mummies Of Ancient Egypt features a unique range of animal mummies on display in Britain for the first time, including cats, a baboon, a crocodile and birds of prey. There are also examples of natural mummification - when the body dries before it decomposes - including a cat buried under the grounds of the Duke of Bedford's house, and a gazelle foetus. The exhibition explores the many reasons why animal mummification was practised in ancient Egypt. As with humans, this was principally to protect the body for the 'afterlife', but mummies were also made as religious offerings, and were even used to preserve treasured pets that were buried alongside their owners. Through studying animal mummies, archaeologists have been able to learn more about the importance of animals in ancient Egyptian society. Cats sometimes received their own elaborate burials, complete with cat-shaped coffins. Animal statues and amulets made from faience or bronze, indicating the high esteem in which these creatures were held are also in the show, including scarabs, faience hippos, and bronze animals. The mummified specimens are so well preserved that scientists been able to study the skeletons to make close comparisons with the modern wild and domestic animal specimens. Visitors also have the opportunity to peer inside the mummies with the help of X-rays, to reveal one of them as a fake. The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 3rd July.

International Arts And Crafts is the most comprehensive British exhibition on the movement ever staged, and the first to look at it from an international perspective. It shows how Arts and Crafts originated in Britain in the 1880s as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and its machine dominated production. Led by John Ruskin and William Morris, the movement promoted the ideals of craftsmanship, individualism, and the integration of art into every day life. It became the first British design movement to spread internationally, to America from 1890 to 1916 and continental Europe and Scandinavia from 1880 to 1914, before its final manifestation in Japan between 1926 and 1945. The display comprises over 300 of the best examples of the genre, from simple folk craft to sophisticated objects made for wealthy patrons, including textiles, stained glass, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, books, architecture, photography, paintings and sculpture. Highlights include objects by British designers such as Voysey, Mackintosh, Ashbee, Morris, Geddes, Traquair, Baillie Scott and De Morgan; a group of Russian objects that have not been exhibited abroad before; four metres wide stained glass doors by Californian designers, Greene and Greene; and Japanese objects by Bernard Leach and Hamada Shoji. Four specially created room sets emphasise the importance of the movement's interiors: two British sets (one urban and one rural), one American 'Craftsman' room, and one Japanese 'model room' recreated through recently rediscovered objects. Victoria & Albert Museum until 24th July.

The Treehouse, is a turret topped wooden 'fantasy tree village', up to 60ft high, and with 4,000 sq ft of suspended walkways and rope bridges, which appear to float around 16 mature lime trees. It is one of the world's largest and most unusual wooden treehouses ever built for the public, designed to withstand not only moving and growing trees, but trees that will bend and rock in storms. Rope and net collars have been placed around each tree trunk to allow room for natural growth and movement, ensuring the Treehouse, and the trees, are perfectly safe. The structure is entirely made of natural materials, with an intentionally weathered feel to it, giving an impression that it could have existed in the trees for centuries. It offers an opportunity to experience the treetops up close, in a way previously restricted to Tarzan and Jane, plus one of the most unusual cafes to be found, and unparallelled views of the surrounding gardens and countryside. New attractions at ground level include the Bamboo Labyrinth, a maze of pathways created from 500 Chinese bamboo plants to test visitors puzzle solving abilities; the Poison Garden, with over 50 carefully guarded toxic, dangerous and scarce plants, including cannabis, coca, deadly nightshade, mandrake, magic mushrooms, opium poppy and tobacco plants; and the Serpent Garden, featuring 8 interactive mirror polished steel water sculptures, which combine art with hydrostatics, showing the different ways water can be made to move. Alnwick Garden, Northumberland continuing.

John Virtue London Paintings is an exhibition of the paintings created by Virtue during his two year residency as the National Gallery's Associate Artist, when he was given a studio in which to make new work that somehow connects to the existing collection. Virtue described the process thus: "My day consists of getting up early, drawing from the South Bank of the Thames, drawing from the roof of Somerset House, and finally drawing from the roof of the National Gallery. Then I work on the images here (in the studio) from drawings that I'm making every day." There are eleven paintings in all, four representing the London cityscape looking towards St Paul's Cathedral; four of the city from the roof of Somerset House; and three from the roof of the National Gallery looking towards Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column. Executed solely in black and white, (sometimes using his hands and J cloths as well as brushes to distribute the paint) they are monumental works, the largest of which is over 22ft across. National Gallery until 5th June.

John Virtue London Drawings comprises over 150 of Virtue's preparatory drawings for the paintings, which he describes as "the compost from which painting develops". The display collates the drawings in three groups of multiple images. Shown in close proximity to one another, the studies build up a picture of how Virtue prepares for a painting, and charts his creative process. One of the paintings - an image of Somerset House measuring 8ft by12ft - is at the heart of the exhibition, and offers a compelling comparison with the drawings.

Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Somerset House until 5th June.


Bouchier: Seductive Visions is a new display of spectacular creations from the worlds finest collection of works by the most beguiling of 18th century French Rococo painters. Bouchier's gods and goddesses, shepherds and shepherdesses, cherubs and mythical creatures, inhabited a unique ethereal world, somewhere between Paris and Versailles. The exhibition reflects how this little known painter rose from obscurity to reach the heights of the academic hierarchy, and work for a prestigious clientele. This included King Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour, for whom he created the masterpieces 'The Setting of the Sun' and 'The Rising of the Sun', which form the centrepiece of the exhibition. Bouchier was prolific, and his influence soon extended beyond paintings, as he became an arbiter of society's taste. This is borne out by the inclusion here of Sevres porcelain, miniatures, gold work, boxes, furniture and tapestry reflecting his style. He also designed elaborate settings for opera, ballet and comedies, and murals for public and domestic interiors. Bouchier's female nudes and poetically imaginative pastorals led to him being acclaimed as 'the Painter of the Graces' and 'the Anacreon of Painting'. His extravagant, idealised scenes perfectly captured the hedonistic mood of the Enlightenment, but his enchanted visions of gods and goddesses were swept away by the harsh realities of the ensuing Revolution. The Wallace Collection until 17th April.

Antony Caro surveys over fifty years work by of one of Britain's - and the world's - greatest living sculptors. Having started with figurative pieces in the 1950s, it was the abstract constructions in painted steel that Caro began to make in 1960 that heralded a revolution in the way sculpture was made and understood. He abandoned conventional methods, such as carving in stone or wood, or modelling in clay and then casting in plaster or bronze. In their place, he used pieces of scrap steel - girders and sheet metal - which he bolted and welded together, and then painted in bright colours, the first of which was 'Twenty Four Hours', and best known 'Early One Morning'. Breaking with the principle of displaying sculpture on a pedestal, Caro's work stood directly on the ground with the viewer. Nothing like it had existed before, and these developments overturned ideas about the subject, materials and appearance of sculpture. He then went on to turn this on its head, by making smaller pieces of 'table sculpture', whose delicacy fed back into his lager works such as 'Orangerie' and 'Sun Feast'. From the 1980s onwards Caro increasingly used media other than steel, including bronze, brass, wood, ceramic and even paper. In recent years his work has become more architectural, culminating in the major installation 'The Last Judgement' recreated here. Caro's most recent work, 'Milbank Steps' a formation resembling a ziggurat, was made especially for this exhibition. Tate Britain until 17th April.

Thinking The Unthinkable - Or, Against Nature features the imaginative transformations seven contemporary artists and two historical predecessors have worked upon the natural world, blending fantasy and reality to create new types of flora and fauna. It comprises: Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations of Lewis Carroll's creatures in Alice Through The Looking Glass; the early 20th century photographs of Frances and Elsie Wright and The Cottingley Fairies; Tessa Farmer's sculptures of 'hell's angels' and 'fairies' so small they can only be viewed using a magnifying glass; Daniel Brown's digital animation recreating the endless patterns of growth that exist in the natural world; David Harrison's nocturnal oil paintings revealing nature flourishing amongst the debris and dereliction man has wrought on the environment; Karen Melvin's constructed still lives, inserting figures made of photographic paper into sun drenched landscapes; Nicholas Pace's photo-realist paintings made after natural history dioramas in Victorian museums; Kelly Richardson's animated video tracking shot of an archetypal North American white-picket-fence suburban street - but with a house defying the laws of nature rotating 360 degrees; and Laura Youngson Coll's baroque environment of miniature wax sculptures combining skeletons of unknown species with bizarre, unclassifiable flowers and plants. Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 16th April.