News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th October 2003


Sigmar Polke: History Of Everything showcases recent work by one of Germany's most significant artists, who incorporates something often lacking in both contemporary art and Germans - humour. Since the early 1960s Polke has experimented with a wide range of styles and subject matter, bringing together imagery from unexpected sources both historical and contemporary, including photographic and printed material such as advertisements, illustrations and cartoons. He has used a variety of different materials and techniques, including commercial patterned fabrics instead of canvas, and mixed together traditional pigments with solvents, varnishes, toxins and resins to produce spontaneous chemical reactions. Polke explored the visual effects of mechanical technology reproduced by hand, imitating the dots of enlarged newsprint by painting with the rubber at the end of a pencil. His series of 'Printers Mistakes' are production glitches enlarged to become abstracts or even figurative motifs. Polke likes to make works with specific venues in mind, and this display features recent pieces originally created for the Dallas Museum of Art from imagery found in Texan newspapers, referring to the gun culture of the West, and America's role in global politics. The group of around 100 pieces also features several large scale works made specifically for London, with examples of his latest technique of 'Machine Painting'. These are his first completely mechanically produced works, made by tinting and altering images on a computer and then photographically transferring them on to sheets of fabric. Tate Modern until 4th January.

Half Term Events is a programme of different daily animal, nature and craft based activities (both indoor and outdoor) taking place throughout the second half of October at what was previously known as the National Forest Discovery Centre. These range from collecting leaves and using them to make masks and pictures, and examining how animals make their preparations for winter hibernation, to dressing up and walks through 'haunted' woods for Halloween, and a firework display. On Seed Gathering Sunday, rangers will guide visitors through the woods to collect seeds, fruits and nuts of wild field rose, guelder rose, silver birch, dogwood, ash helicopters and rowan berries - plus of course acorns and conkers - and offer advice about how to plant and care for them when visitors get them home. Year round attractions boast 23 different outdoor activities, including lakeside walks, ponds, mazes, wildlife, sculpture trails, nature trails, an assault course, train rides and playgrounds. Indoors there are 4 discovery zones where visitors can get close to the forest and experience its life and energy, such as seeing the world through the eyes of a spider or crawling through a living leaf, plus regular workshops, craft and music events. Further information can be found on the Conkers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Conkers, Ashby de la Zouch, until 1st November.

Art For Votes' Sake: Visual Culture And The Women's Suffrage Campaign marks the centenary of the formation of the Women's Social and Political Union with an exhibition of materials employed in the 25 year long struggle to achieve the vote for women. Determined to fire the public imagination, suffrage artists exploited everything from traditional embroidery to the latest printing technologies, while some suffragettes like 'Slasher Mary' vandalised great paintings as a form of protest. An eclectic array of material is on show, much of it for the first time. An enamelled pendent by Ernestine Mills, an oil by Bertha Newcombe and drawings by Sylvia Pankhurst are displayed alongside new media such as experimental posters, post cards and photo journalism. Embroidery includes richly appliqued banners incorporating rare painted and printed scenes and aprons made by individual members. Portraiture was used to create public recognition, and there are examples of leading figures appearing in cartoons, paintings and photographs. Among the smaller items are jewellery, picture handkerchiefs, button badges, campaign journals and leaflets. Complementing the exhibition, there is a chance to browse the cultural and literary life of the time, and examine how writers such as George Bernard Shaw, Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf reacted to the campaign, alongside fiction from the Women Writers Suffrage League such as Gertrude Colmore's 'Suffragette Sally' and Elizabeth Robbins 'The Convert'. The Women's Library until 20th December.


Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch Of Brilliance is devoted to Rubens oil sketches, long regarded as one of the most remarkable aspects of his work. They illustrate the wide range of his preparation, and reveal the development of his pictorial ideas. By bringing together preparatory material from a small number of commissions, the exhibition provides a concentrated account the innovative and original use of the oil sketch in Rubens working process in creating paintings. These projects include the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, the altarpiece of Antwerp cathedral - The Descent From The Cross, and the now lost ceiling of the Jesuit church in Antwerp. Loosely painted grisailles, exploratory bozzetti, more finished modelli and drawings provide an insight into the genesis of several of the artist's most important compositions. Although Rubens delegated the execution of many of his commissions to assistants, the sketches were all his, and each is a work of art in its own right. Comprising some forty seven oil sketches supplemented by ten related drawings and a small number of finished paintings, the exhibition draws on the collections of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, together with material from the National Gallery, Dulwich College Picture Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 8th February.

Hughie O'Donoghue: Painting Caserta Red comprises a series of paintings that trace and highlight the wartime experiences of O'Donoghue's father, from conscription, through war in Europe, to his return to Manchester. Inspired by letters, photographs and postcards sent home by his father to his mother between 1943 and 1946, O'Donoghue's work brings to the forefront the story of an individual's experience in exceptional times. Unusually for a contemporary artist, O'Donoghue works on a large scale in oils on linen canvas in the grand tradition of painting, building up thin layers of paint and varnish. His epic scale reflects the sweep of history with which he is dealing, but the works do not record the dramatic military engagements of traditional history painting, rather they are the story of the everyday events in the life of an anonymous army, which normally go untold. The collection includes a spectacular new work created especially for this, the first art exhibition to be held in the landmark space created by idiosyncratic architect Daniel Libeskind in his award winning building that opened last year. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester until 18th January.

How To Live In A Flat: Modern Living In The 1930s looks at the new phenomenon of the 1920s and 30s - purpose built flats for the middle classes. They were the height of modernity, small yet convenient, with the most up to the minute facilities and appliances, and were promoted as offering luxury, style and sophistication. This exhibition looks at the planning, the equipment, the furnishing and the lifestyle associated with this alternative to the family home. Using the latest materials and technology of the time, flats were fitted out and furnished in a streamlined modern style that contrasted sharply with the traditional 'Tudorbethan' semis that sprang up everywhere between the Wars. Apartments were a chic urban alternative, which were responsible for launching the craze for 'built in everything'. William Heath Robinson satirised the ingenious use of space and the development of multifunctional furniture in his book How To Live In A Flat which gives this exhibition its title. This was the moment that interior design entered the domestic environment for the first time. Flats may have given their occupants much less space than they were used to, for instance separate rooms for eating and living were merged into one, but they also offered unheard of luxuries, such as refrigerators, central heating and constant hot water, which changed the way the residents lived their lives. The Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Middlesex University, Barnet, Herts until 28th March.

Pre-Raphaelite And Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection is the first public exhibition of over 300 works by Pre-Raphaelite and other masters from one of the largest collections in private hands. Spread over 11 galleries, it features paintings by Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Waterhouse, Stanley Spencer, Tissot and Alma-Tadema, complemented by examples of furniture by Pugin and Burges, ceramics by William de Morgan, tapestries by Burne-Jones, and items executed by the workshop of William Morris. Lloyd Webber's life long passion has accrued a distinguished collection that now numbers over 15 works by Rossetti, including A Vision of Fiammetta and the coloured chalk study for the Blessed Damozel; early and late works by Millais, such as the finished watercolour version of Ophelia and the landscape Chill October; and a variant of Holman Hunt's Shadow of Death. The exhibition also features over 30 paintings, drawings and tapestries by Burne-Jones, including The Fall of Lucifer and the tapestry The Quest of the Holy Grail; one of Richard Dadd's most important fairy paintings, Contradiction: Oberon and Titania; and a group of paintings by Waterhouse including St Cecilia and Pandora. Other highlights are books printed by William Morris' Kelmscott Press, including the Kelmscott Chaucer and News from Nowhere; and Frilli's life size sculpture Nude Reclining In A Hammock; plus works that illustrate scenes from contemporary life, such as Tissot's The Captain and the Mate, and Atkinson Grimshaw's Dulce Domum. Current critics may sneer at the typical Pre-Raphaelite female subject as the Victorian equivalent of 'heroin chic', but the public undoubtedly shares Lloyd Webber's passion. Royal Academy Of Arts until 12th December.

Circling The Square takes a cue from the part pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square to celebrate over 160 years of its history through the eyes of generations of photographers. The display includes over 70 images that map the changing identity of a space that has been described as 'the blank slab upon which Britain has inscribed its modern history'. They capture the continuing cycle of political demonstrations, celebratory events and visitors (both famous and anonymous) to Trafalgar Square over the years, featuring work by big name photographers including Henri Cartier Bresson, Don McCullin, Norman Parkinson and Oliver Toscani, together with numerous uncredited press agency snappers. Subjects include suffragette riots, the coronation procession of King George VI in 1937, V E Night, a young Elizabeth Taylor being mobbed by pigeons, Michael Foot, Bertrand Russell, the poll tax demonstrations of 1990, and football's World Cup in 2002, plus intriguing and often humorous portraits of the innumerable tourists who have visited the Square, to sit on the famous bronze lions, bathe in the fountains and feed the pigeons. National Portrait Gallery until February.

The Lord Of The Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition provides a behind the scenes look at how the world of Middle Earth was created, and demonstrates the technologies employed to enable the characters to be brought to life. On a straightforward level there are hundreds of costumes, armour, props, jewellery and weapons used in the making of the films, including Gandalf's cloak, Galadriel's dress and twelve complete sets of armour. Given the unusual nature of most of the characters, there is an extensive display about animatronics and make up techniques, with a collection of prosthetics such as Hobbit feet, Orc teeth, Troll ears, Lurtz's facial prosthetic, and the contact lenses used to give the Orcs their unique look. To create the locations, many intricate models, miniature sets and maquettes were constructed, and among those featured are Frodo's vision of the ruined Hobbiton Mill, The Tower of Orthanc, and Sauron's tower, Barad-dur. The films could not have been made without the use of digital effects, and the techniques of motion capture and motion control - the combining of 'real' and 'digital' action - and CGI (computer-generated-image technology) are explained, revealing how Gollum was created. The exhibition also contains immersive experiences, enabling visitors to walk in and be surrounded by a 'ring of fire' as they see The One Ring, and interactive exhibits, with a 'scaling' demonstration, showing the technology used to enable human actors to play creatures both larger and smaller than real life. Visitors can even 'morph' into a hobbit. Science Museum until 11th January.


Shakespeare In Art considers how the world's greatest and most performed dramatist provided inspiration for many of Europe's greatest artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With some seventy works, by artists such as Hogarth, Delacroix, Romney, Blake, Huskisson, Millais, Turner and Holman Hunt, there are many different views of Shakespeare's plays, some visionary, some horrific, many romantic, others contemporary and realistic. This exhibition includes a wide range of styles, from Rococo to Sublime, from Classic to Romantic, and looks also at theatrical production and scenography. This Shakespeare is familiar, but different from ours, reflecting both the changes in presentational styles of productions, and the individual preoccupations of the artists involved in them. The painters recorded both the 'acted' and the 'imagined' Shakespeare. Zoffany and Fuseli painted scenes from Macbeth, but while Zoffany records a famous production, starring David Garrick and Mrs Cibber - emoting beneath a towering horsehair wig, literally dressed to kill in the height of contemporary fashion - Henry Fuseli's The Weird Sisters is a nightmarish vision of the Witches, from the darkest recesses of his unconscious. Other great actors whose portraits are featured include John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons, Charles Kemble, George Frederick Cooke and Charles Macklin. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 19th October.

Between Us: Mariele Neudecker is a mini retrospective of the German born artist who uses landscape as a source of inspiration. It features video, photographic works and a number of her signature 'tank' pieces. The Land Of The Dead is a film shot looking directly down from a hot air balloon as it flies over the desert landscape around Luxor in Egypt, revealing that the seemingly uninhabited terrain is actually teeming with evidence of humanity - everyday life, small scale farming, a moving car, and the sounds of a distant barking dog. Think Of One Thing comprises four tanks housing mountainous peaks cloaked in the dense concoctions created to simulate mist and rain. These miniature landscapes in glass vitrines, filled with water and treated with salt solutions and dyes, create a similar feeling of flight over a romantic fairytale landscape in the viewer. Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, 0151 709 5297 until 18th October.

Grace Robertson: A Sympathetic Eye celebrates the work of one of the pioneering British photojournalists with images of everyday life and everyday people from the 1940s to the present day. Among the pictures in this wide ranging exhibition is her documentation of a London women's pub outing, which she photographed for Picture Post and Life Magazine in the late 1940s, and the world of a poverty stricken Welsh hill farmer and his sheep captured in 1951. Recent work includes photographs of younger women who have grown up with very different expectations from those that most women faced when she began her career. Robertson's work is often described as "sympathetic and heart warming", yet beneath the geniality is a sharp scrutiny of British society. The pictures challenge perceived stereotypes and are never simply nostalgic, always revealing the truth beneath the surface. Robertson's attention to extremes of age is always present in her work, with images of childhood innocence and studies of old age reflecting both the constants and the changes in life during the last half century. The Millais Gallery, Southampton, 023 8031 9916 until 18th October.