News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th June 2011


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 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 12,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Christopher Le Brun and Michael Craig-Martin, with Piers Gough and Alan Stanton overseeing the architecture section. There is no overall theme, but Gallery 3 is in the style of a 'salon hang' exploiting the grandeur of the Academy's principal room, with paintings of all sizes hung from the dado rail to the picture rail. Works on display include a large canvas by the Danish painter Per Kirkeby and Keith Tyson's apocalyptic painting 'Deep Impact'. One room features works by newly elected and established Royal Academicians, including Tacita Dean, Gary Hume, Allen Jones, Cornelia Parker, Jenny Saville and Alison Wilding. The Central Hall hosts a celebration of photography, including an image by Cindy Sherman. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of Ben Levene. Outside, the courtyard features the first public display of Jeff Koons's 'Coloring Book'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 15th August.

Jaume Plensa provides a rare opportunity to experience new and recent monumental works by the Spanish sculpture. Jaume Plensa encourages a tactile and sensory exploration of his work and this exhibition, with pieces displayed both inside in galleries and outdoors, includes large illuminated heads, human shapes formed of letters, angels suspended from walls and inscribed gongs waiting to be struck. In the Underground Gallery installations include 'Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil', three large fibreglass resin 'angels' that are fixed and constrained by their human bodies yet radiate white light to suggest the possibility of human spirit; 'In The Midst Of Dreams', a group of 3-metre tall illuminated heads with closed eyes, as though in deep contemplation, rising from a bed of white marble pebbles; and 'Jerusalem', a circle of 11 gongs engraved with text from Song of Songs, from the Biblical text Songs of Solomon, an exploration of love, eroticism, the human condition, our dreams and desires. Outdoor pieces include a 50-metre curtain of poetry made of suspended steel letters; and the 8-metre tall 'House of Knowledge', part of a group of works in which the physical form of the body becomes architecture, with text forming a large human shape, through which visitors can walk and see the landscape through the spaces between steel letters. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, until 25th September.

James Stirling: Notes From The Archive is an exhibition of material from the archive of the renowned British architect and teacher. It is the first architecture exhibition to be shown at the gallery, and is displayed in the Clore Gallery, which was designed by James Stirling himself. Spanning 5 decades and showcasing over 300 rarely seen drawings, models, photographs, notebooks and sketches, the exhibition reveals Stirling's design process, and particularly his interest in the interplay between tradition and modernity. Stirling's groundbreaking practice and partnerships are also explored, including his early student work, the projects in partnership with James Gowan, which brought them international attention in the 1960s, and his collaborative work with Michael Wilford from 1971. Among the materials, a bird watching diary compiled as a schoolboy demonstrates Stirling's life-long appreciation of natural habitats, whilst illustrating his extraordinary talent for detailed observation, and notes on architectural history for lectures he gave at Harvard show his breadth of knowledge. Stirling was an early user of axonometric drawing, showing views of a building from above or below, enabling them to give 3D perspective. Acclaimed projects such as the Leicester University engineering building, the History Faculty building at Cambridge University, the Florey Building hall of residence at Queens College, Oxford University, The Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart and Arthur M Sackler Museum at Harvard University are investigated in detail, alongside unfinished and unrealised projects, highlighting Stirling's ambition to establish a style that was both British and modern. Tate Britain until 21st August.


Royal Beasts tells the story of the exotic animals that once lived in the capital's fortress. The Royal Menagerie was founded during the reign of King John in 1210, and almost 300 animals of over 60 different species lived there during a period of over 600 years. Exotic animals were given as royal gifts and animals were kept for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. The first royal beasts to arrive - lion, polar bear and elephant - came from Europe and North Africa, but as more of the world was discovered, the variety of animals widened to include tigers, monkeys, leopards, grizzly bears, zebra, alligators, kangaroos and ostriches. The exhibition reveals how the building would have looked before the animals left in 1832, and explores some of their stories through interactive displays, showing how they lived, what they smelt like - and what happened when they escaped. It tells how the experience of the Royal Menagerie was often not a very happy one - for either the animals or the visitors. Relying on hearsay rather than knowledge, animals were sometimes mistreated (an ostrich died after being fed 80 nails by visitors because it was believed to be able to digest iron), and since the animals roamed freely, visitors often had their possessions snatched, and were sometimes attacked by lions or tigers, resulting in the loss of limbs or lives. When the Royal Menagerie was finally closed down most of the remaining animals were transferred to the newly opened London Zoo. Accompanying the exhibition contemporary artist Kendra Haste has created life-size sculptures of some of the royal beasts. Tower Of London, continuing.

Imagination And Reality: The Art Of Arthur Ransome comprises drawings and illustrations by the author of the famous children's series Swallows and Amazons. These children's tales of adventure, camping, sailing and piracy in the Lake District remain enduringly popular, despite the passage of time since they were originally published in the 1930s. The author, Arthur Ransome, illustrated the series of books himself, developing a unique and recognisable style of pen and ink drawings. This exhibition celebrates his work, and provides an opportunity to discover features around Coniston Water that were incorporated into Ransome's imaginary landscapes. The inspiration for Swallows and Amazons and other of his most famous works grew from the many summers he spent holidaying with the Collingwood family at Lanehead. Ransome returned again and again to Coniston Water because of its power to excite and inspire the imagination. In doing so, he made the landscape his own in a way which enabled millions of others to make it their own. Arthur Ransome chose to illustrate his own books after rejecting the work of professional illustrators commissioned for the first and second editions. In the process he developed a distinctive minimal and highly selective style, which invites the reader to construct their own picture and populate it with detail. Brantwood, Conniston, until 4th September.

Bell Epoque: 30 Years Of Steve Bell features examples of the legendary political cartoonist's work over a period that spans Margaret Thatcher to David Cameron. Steve Bell's attacking style has earned him the respect and admiration not only of his peers, but even of commentators politically opposed to him. His uninhibited inventiveness can be scatological but is always witty and finely honed. The exhibition comprises over 200 of Bell's leader cartoons, strip cartoons and comic pages produced for the Guardian and other periodicals. The works document many of the major events of our age: Thatcherism, the Falklands War, the Poll Tax, the death of Princess Diana, the rise of New Labour, the Iraq War, the war on terror, the international banking crisis and the coalition government. His viewpoint is one that takes the consternation of his audience and elucidates it in cartoons that are works of art in their own right. However, what marks Bell out as the leading cartoonist of his generation, is that in addition to iconic images poking fun of political leaders, such as John Major in his underpants and George Bush as a chimpanzee, he has a sensitivity that enables him to capture the grief of tragic events with unsentimental poignancy. Ronald Searle has said that Bell is in the true tradition of Thomas Gillray. The Cartoon Museum, London, until 24th July.

Festival Of Britain 60th Anniversary celebrations are spread over the entire 21 acre Southbank site. The outdoor festival experience is divided into four distinct 'lands', which take their inspiration from some of the themes of the 1951 South Bank exhibition: People of Britain, Land of Britain, Sea and Ships and Power and Production. The artists, designers and curators involved in creating the lands include Ben Kelly, Michael Marriott, Colette Bailey and Clare Cumberlidge. Visitors can find out about the Festival in the Museum of 1951 in the Royal Festival Hall, featuring memorabilia, artworks, personal histories, models, memories and photographs, including the newly restored 'Patchwork of the Century', which showcased political and social achievements of women during the previous 100 years; John Piper's 'The Englishman's Home', the 50ft mural celebrating English architecture; 2 panels from Feliks Topolski's 'Cavalcade of the Commonwealth' mural; and Reg Butler's sculpture 'Birdcage', the only surviving artworks from the Festival. Outdoors, visitors can go on a seaside holiday by the river, where there is a 70m urban beach and 14 artist commissioned beach huts; relax at the bar/cafe in a new garden on the rooftop of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, created in partnership with the Eden Project; visit the British countryside and its wildlife, including a giant straw fox; enjoy traditional vintage funfair rides, including Austin cars and a helter skelter; cool off in Jeppe Hein's Appearing Rooms fountain; listen to live music on the bandstand in Southbank Centre Square; have their 4D image encapsulated in crystal, or a memento photograph taken on a Royal Ensign motorbike and sidecar; and eat and drink al fresco at weekly markets and pop-up structures across the site, including a retro fish and chip van, a popcorn tricycle, and the Bombay beach-inspired cafe Dishoom Chowpatty Beach. Southbank, London until 4th September.

Atkinson Grimshaw Painter Of Moonlight is the first major exhibition in over 30 years devoted to self-taught Victorian artist. The exhibition charts John Atkinson Grimshaw's career from his early Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 1860s, to the series of tiny, subtly toned oil paintings, produced at the end of his life, which captured the extraordinary light of sun, snow and mist on the beach - small symphonies in green and grey that link him with his friend and close contemporary, James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Grimshaw defied his strictly religious parents and left a good job with the railway to become an artist. He rapidly made a name for himself as a painter, first for Pre Raphaelite style landscapes, and then for his interpretation of the Victorian city and the new urban experience of its inhabitants, in nocturnal urban scenes, with distinctive leafless trees silhouetted against the moonlit sky. Grimshaw was not afraid to experiment, making theatrical fairy paintings and allegorical portraits of fashionable women, who could as easily have stepped out of a painting by the French artist Tissot. The exhibition brings together over 50 major works, including 'Silver Moonlight', 'In the Gloaming (A Yorkshire Home)', 'Blea Tarn, First Light', 'The Bowder Stone, Borrowdale', 'Autumn Glory: the Old Mill Cheshire', 'Leeds Bridge', 'October Gold', In Peril' and 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi'. Also included in the show are Grimshaw's sketchbook and photograph album, which illuminate his research techniques, and newly discovered family photographs, which reveal his private life: his tenderness towards his children, his love of nature and his sense of fun. Mercer Gallery, Harrogate, until 4th September.

At Home in Japan - Beyond The Minimal House aims to question the widespread Western stereotype of the minimal Japanese house, characterised by large empty spaces devoid of people and things. The exhibition goes behind the doors of contemporary urban homes to find out how private domestic lives are actually lived in Japan today. It re-evaluates contemporary Japanese life through an ethnographic lens, re-examining a variety of aspects of the home, from decoration, display, furniture and the tatami mat, to eating, sleeping, 'gifting', cleaning, hygiene, and worship. The display recreates the layout of a standard urban apartment, with an entrance hall, a 'western style' room, tatami room, bathroom, and, finally, the LDK - living-dining-kitchen - area, the largest communal space inside the home. Each of the rooms is filled with a selection of the everyday possessions with which inhabitants might surround themselves. Through an active engagement with these day-to-day spaces and objects, visitors can not only experience a degree of what it feels like to be at home in contemporary Japan, but also to encounter another culture on an empathetic level, instead of gazing at and imagining its exotic nature from a distance. The exhibition is based on original ethnographic research by Dr Inge Daniels from Oxford University, carried out over a one year period inside 30 urban homes in the Kansai region (including Kobe, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka), and project specific photography by Susan Andrews from London Metropolitan University. Geffrye Museum, Hoxton, London, until 29th August.


Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer 1908 - 1974 is the first exhibition for 50 years devoted to the work of the woman photographer at the heart of the creative avant-garde. The display of almost 100 photographs by Ida Kar offers a fascinating insight into the cultural life of post Second World War Britain, and an opportunity to see both iconic works, and others not previously exhibited. It charts Kar's life and career from her first studio in Cairo in the late 1930s through her move to London in 1945, where she was introduced to the British art world through the family of Jacob Epstein and her husband Victor Musgrave. The exhibition includes striking portraits of artists such as Henry Moore, Georges Braque, Gino Severini, Feliks Topolski, Stanley Spencer, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Le Corbusier, Barbara Hepworth and Bridget Riley, and writers such as Iris Murdoch, Jean-Paul Sartre, Doris Lessing, Colin MacInnes and T S Eliot. Among the portraits on display for the first time are of artist Yves Klein, shown at his first highly controversial London exhibition in 1957 in front of one of his famous monochrome works, in the distinctive blue-colour he was later to patent as his own; the 'art strike' artist and political activist Gustav Metzge, taken at an exhibition entitled 'Festival of Misfits'; and Royston Ellis, a poet and friend of John Lennon who inspired the song 'Paperback Writer'. Kar was instrumental in encouraging the acceptance of photography as a fine art when, in 1960, she became the first photographer to be honoured with a major retrospective in London, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Other material on display from the photographer's archive includes letters, a sitters' book and a portfolio book made in 1954 of her trip to the artists' studios of Paris. National Portrait Gallery until 19th June.

Robot - A Collection of Robots, Cyborgs and Androids brings together a group of robots in all their guises, some are friendly, others helpful, and a few simply scary. The exhibition encompasses full size robots, robot parts, film props, and promotional costumes and toys, plus collectible robot models. Visitors have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the metal stars of the big screen such as the Planet Robot, thought to be inspired by Robby the Robot from the Hollywood movie Forbidden Planet; a vintage Robocop and a B9 robot torso made by Andy Shaw, the original Dalek builder; Fem-bots represented by the beautiful Grace; a promotional battle droid; a rare Sonny, who starred alongside Will Smith in the film I, Robot; R.A.D. personal robots as featured on Tomorrow's World; and the famous Scooter 2000; plus The Terminator and Judge Dred. In addition to the exhibition, 'Riveting Robots' workshops with robots to make, art and craft activities and prizes to win in robot themed party games, plus a giant robot sculpture to make and a have-a-go obstacle using radio controlled robots, will take place during school holidays and bank holiday weekends. The Historic Dockyard Chatham until 17th June.

David Hockney: Bigger Trees Near Warter is the first time this huge painting has been seen outside London. 'Bigger Trees Near Warter', is the largest painting David Hockney has ever produced, and measures 40ft wide and 15ft high (12m by 4m). Featuring two copses, a huge sycamore tree, buildings and early flowering daffodils, the painting in oils is comprised of 50 individual canvas panels, and takes inspiration from a site at Warter in the Yorkshire Wolds. It was painted 'en plein air' (outside) in 6 weeks - 3 weeks preparation and 3 weeks of furious painting before the arrival of spring changed the composition. Hockney used digital technology to help him complete the work, creating a computer mosaic of the picture that enabled him to 'step back' and see it as a whole. Thus the painting neatly combines a return by Hockney to his Yorkshire roots, with his continuing exploration of new technology. Films, including Bruno Wollheim's documentary A Bigger Picture, showing Hockney at work, are being shown in the same gallery, alongside additional information on how Hockney created this incredible painting. York Art Gallery until 12th June.