News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th June 2001


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around a thousand works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 10,000 submissions. This year's senior hanger, ancient terrible Peter Blake, has introduced some changes - Shock! Horror! Firstly, he has invited submissions from particular artists and celebrities. Secondly, he has divided works into categories of Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians, Invited Artists and Submissions, and hung them in different rooms, thus separating professionals from amateurs. Thirdly, he has increased the non painting content by introducing photographs, and devoting a whole room each to sculpture and architectural designs. Among the celebrity works on view (whose presence would seem to have been earned by publicity value rather than artistic merit) are Paul McCartney's flying choc ices, Holly Johnson's Village People sailor, and Ronnie Wood's shaggy bison. Ubiquitous Brit Art stars Tracey Emin contributes a chair embroidered/appliqued with primary school messages, Gavin Turk, a black plastic sack of rubbish recreated in bronze, the Chapman Brothers (metamorphosed into the Chapwoman Sisters) a painting of kittens, and Rankin, a photograph of a waxwork of Kylie Minogue - all presumably considered too conservative for the Turner Prize. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th August.

Taking Positions: Figurative Sculpture And The Third Reich is an exhibition of bronze figures made in Germany between 1918 and 1948, considering the different ways in which sculptors reacted to working in the Third Reich. It focuses on those who chose to remain in Germany, including Arno Brecker and Gerhard Marcks, rather than those who went into exile. This show presents work both by sculptors who created the heroic neo-classical figures that became symbolic of National Socialism, and those who used the figure to articulate more open, even resistant attitudes. Some people feel they that this Nazi association is responsible for the decline of interest figurative sculpture. Perhaps this exhibition will permit a more objective assessment. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 26th August.

A Journey Through Landscapes brings together existing and specially created gardens, landscapes and architecture as part of the Japan 2001 Festival. Six contemporary Japanese designers have built town gardens that give traditional elements a modern feel. A microcosm of Japanese landscape has been created in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, with a terraced rice field, Zen rock garden and woodland habitat. The bamboo garden, originally created in 1891 and boasting 135 species, now has a new focal point with a timber framed thatched house, in which demonstrations and workshops are being held. The permanent Japanese gardens are crowned by the Chokushi-Mon Gateway, a four-fifths scale replica of the Karamon of Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto, the finest example of Japanese building in Europe, which was built in 1910 and has been recently restored. The three gardens, one of which includes a Haiku stone, give an impression of the different aspects of the Japanese landscape of the late 16th century when the original gateway was constructed. Over 100 coy carp kites form a trail leading to the Gateway. There are also exhibitions of 19th century lacquer ware, hand dyed and painted Yuzen Kimono and a changing collection of Bonsai trees. Royal Botanical Gardens Kew until 30th September.


100 Views of Mount Fugi examines the mythological status of Japan's highest mountain, which has inspired Japanese poets and painters throughout the centuries. Since ancient times it has been revered as a deity, from the medieval period it has been a goal of pilgrimage, and it still remains a unique symbol of Japanese cultural identity. The works on view, dating from the 17th century to the present day, include paintings, watercolours on hanging silk scrolls, ink drawings and woodblock prints. They reveal how artists have projected their own personal interpretation onto this eternal symbol. The exhibition features far more than 100 renditions of Fugi, ranging in size from a thumbnail to an entire wall. Hokusaki's cycle Thirty-Six Views Of Mount Fugi alone contains almost 50; Minamoto Sadayoshi painted 31 on a horizontal scroll showing the rise and fall of vapours issuing from it; and Hiroshige's woodblock series Fifty-Three Stations Of The Tokaido Highway are like freeze frames from a film zooming in towards it. British Museum until 29th July.

Action Stations is a new attraction which has just opened in a Victorian boathouse at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, alongside the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. Features include The Navy Today, a multimedia exhibit showing the current deployment of Royal Naval Task Forces around the world; Horizons, revealing modern Navy life at sea; Command Approved, a large format film showing the Navy in action; The Team Works, interactive games testing Recognition, Co-ordination, Manoeuvres, Targets and Observations; Be The Navy, five interactive islands: Royal Marines, Helicopter Flight Deck, the Bridge, the Operations Room and Weapons which provide physical or electronic challenges; and courtesy of a simulator, the experience of a ride in a rigid raider boat, a Sea Harrier or a Lynx helicopter. Flagship Portsmouth continuing.

The Silk Purse Procedure explores works in which the original meaning or form of an object is lost through a process of transformation. Making reference to the proverb "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear", international artists endeavour to show that such metaphorical changes are possible. Cornelia Parker has converted a coin into a strand of wire; Janine Antoni has examined the process of turning a cow into a hide into a leather bag; Dario Roberto has taken a baseball bat and whittled it down to a couple of toothpicks; Peter Harris has reworked paintings by Gavin Turk; and William Speakman has made food out of live fish. Arnolfini and Spike Island, Bristol until 8th July.

Firepower is a new museum which tells the story of the scientific and technological developments in artillery over 700 years, the history of Royal Regiment of Artillery, and the secrets of ordnance manufacturing, which was carried out at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich over the last 300 years. The displays include over 800 guns, 7000 medals (including 62 Victoria Crosses), several thousand personal artefacts and photographs, and over a million books and archive documents of those who manned the guns. Field Of Fire brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of 20th century gunnery in a multi-media presentation; the Real Weapon Gallery explains the science of ammunition and how it hits the target, and the Cold War galleries display larger equipment, vehicles and modern missiles. Firepower, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich continuing.

Open City: Street Photographs Since 1950 charts the development of the street photograph over the last half century, and reflects how it has held a continuing fascination for photographers. The exhibition starts with the raw monochromes of Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, William Klein and Lee Friedlander, which were instrumental in the development of a new approach to documentary photography, aided by the availability of increasingly portable cameras. It then moves on to the work of William Eggleston, who was one of the principal artists responsible for the acceptance of colour photography as an art form. The show contains a diversity of work ranging from Terence Donovan's advertising and fashion photography, through Nobuyoshi Araki's Tokyo visions of neon and naked flesh, to Susan Meiselas's images of war-torn Nicaragua, as well as new installations by Beat Streuli and Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans. Over 100 photographs by 19 international artists include the work of a younger generation, and also examine the way that contemporary practice continues to develop the tradition. Oxford Museum of Modern Art until 15th July.

The Architecture Of Fumihiko Maki: Modernity And The Construction Of Scenery is an introduction to one of Japan's leading architects whose work is little known in the west. Although a modernist enthusiast of concrete and glass, his buildings are nevertheless inviting, and are renowned for their fusion of eastern and western design traditions. Thus Maki's work has been described as "destined to survive mere fashion". This exhibition focuses on the Hillside Terrace project in Tokyo and other recent buildings. The development of Maki's modernist vocabulary, and his interpretation of internal and external space, is presented in a variety of media, including original sketches, drawings, scale models, and video. Victoria & Albert Museum until 22nd July.


The Musical Years traces the history of popular musical entertainment from commedia dell'arte to the present day, through original designs, sketches and costume drawings. It highlights important landmarks such as the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, revue, and modern stage and screen musicals. Designers whose work is featured include Cecil Beaton, Erté, Tim Goodchild, Oliver Messel and Berkeley Sutcliffe.

My Fair Lady: Beyond The Stage offers an insight into the design and production process which brought the National's smash hit production to the stage. It focuses on the contribution made by the National's production workshops in the realisation of the show. Examples of costumes, accessories and props are displayed, together with some of the original designs created by Anthony Ward. Royal National Theatre, Lyttleton Circle Foyer: The Musical Years - Olivier Foyer: My Fair Lady until 30th June.

Manga is an examination of the culture of Japanese comics, which in Britain has acquired the stereotype of ultra violence and explicit sexual content, although this belies the breadth of scope of this long running and influential phenomenon. Japanese manga expert Fusanosuke Natsume offers a comprehensive survey, incorporating English translations of original and reproduction individual frames, books and videos, which confound these conventional preconceptions. Manga combine narrative traditions dating back to 12th century emakimon picture scrolls with the fragmentation of contemporary urban design culture. Graphic styles range from the naive to the ultra sophisticated, exploring everything from surreal fantasy to gritty, even sordid, metropolitan reality. The works exhibit an inventiveness that is unmatched by the supposedly more sophisticated western visual tradition. Cornerhouse Manchester until 24th June.

Precious, the opening visiting exhibition at the £15m Millennium Galleries for the visual arts, craft and design, comprises over 250 items from the Victoria and Albert museum collection, ranging from historic pieces from the ancient Chinese Hang Dynasty to recent acquisitions of contemporary design. It explores what people have regarded as precious in different ways and at different times throughout history. The Galleries combines four individual galleries under one roof. Its brief is to house a display of local domestic and decorative metalwork, a collection of paintings, drawings and prints by John Ruskin, visiting exhibitions from national collections, and new work by contemporary artists and crafts workers. Designed by Pringle, Richards and Sharratt it is predominantly constructed of white concrete and glass, rising in a succession of beams, vaults and columns. Built on two levels, the Galleries has an internal Avenue (not unlike the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern) whose vaulted roof is made of translucent glass blocks, which flood the space with natural light. In contrast the exhibition spaces have been designed to control the level of daylight with an automated system of blinds which can redirect natural light reflected from the roof. The Millennium Galleries, Sheffield until 24th June.