Private View held by Richard Andrews
Atlantic Worlds is a new gallery that explores the interrelationship, connections and exchanges created between Britain, Africa and the Americas between 1600 and 1850, and looks at the impact and legacy of empire on three continents. It reveals how geographical exploration and the navigation of the Atlantic opened up new trade routes from the early 17th century onwards, and brought Europeans into contact with different cultures, setting in motion a dynamic of conquest and exploitation, as well as trading and cultural exchanges, which ultimately resulted in military conflict, in order to protect the new relationships that were forged. Paintings, prints, drawings, maps, models of ships, weapons, decorative arts and ethnographic materials are amongst the 220 objects on view. These include a 16th century Spanish astrolabe; gold weights, fashioned in the form of muskets, used for weighing gold dust by the Akan people of Southern Ghana during the 18th and 19th centuries; a detailed daily logbook from the slave schooner Juverna, written by Master Robert Lewis, which records the vessel's maiden voyage between Liverpool, West Africa and Surinam during 1804 and 1805; a North American shot pouch, made from moose and caribou skin, with porcupine quillwork embroidery and woven panels of triangles and rectangles reflecting Metis, Cree and Chippewyan influences; a harpoon gun used on Resolute, an auxilliary steam whaler of 680 tons, part of the Dundee fleet, which was crushed by the Arctic ice and sank in 1886; a copy of the American Declaration of Independence; and an 18th century guillotine, used in the Haitian uprising. National Maritime Museum, continuing.
Victorian Visions: 19th Century Photography offers an insight into the Victorian view of the world through around 40 original photographs, grouped into early works, landscape, documentary, women photographers and portraits. They include images made by major pioneers of photography, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Lady Hawarden, Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Robert Howlett and B.B. Turner. Among the highlights are: Julia Margaret Cameron's works echoing Pre-Raphaelite paintings in their romantic subject matter; Lady Hawarden's intense photographs of female sitters, often her own daughters, making use of natural light, reflections and a careful choice of viewpoint and props; B B Turner and Roger Fenton's landscapes, which follow in the tradition of British landscape painting; Paul Martin's photographs of day trippers enjoying the beach at Yarmouth Sands, a new leisure activity made possible by the building of the railways; a selection of carte de visite (small portrait photographs exchanged between friends and stuck into albums) of various eminent Victorians such as Charles Dickens and William Gladstone; and documentary images that record the desolation of the Crimea War, and the groundbreaking nature of Victorian engineering. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, Liverpool, until 16th March.
William Blake: 'I still go on / Till the Heavens and Earth are gone' is an exhibition marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake. The unconventional artist, whose works encompassed hallucinations on Peckham Rye and poems of biblical turmoil, combined the prosaic with the visionary. A collection of Blake's designs and watercolours from both public and private collections is displayed alongside some of his most famous illustrated books and colour prints. The highlight is a group of eight recently discovered plates from the 'Small Book of Designs', which have never been on public view before. As part of gallery's contribution to the anniversary celebration, it has published a facsimile of William Blake's first printed book of poems, the 'Poetical Sketches' of 1783, from a copy which includes the author's handwritten corrections, which is also on display. Tate Britain until 1st June.
The Vault is a new gallery displaying some of the finest and most valuable gems, crystals, metals and meteorites from around the world. Each exhibit has a story to tell, whether of the American gold rush, African diamond mining, or in the case of meteorites dating back 4.5bn years, the history of the solar system. Among the treasures in their natural form are: a diamond embedded in what is known as yellow ground, like a shark's tooth jutting sharply from a piece of rock found in California; the Latrobe nugget, one of the largest and finest groups of cubic gold crystals in the world, found at a mine in Australia; large clusters of rubies clinging to pieces of limestone marble; an aquamarine and rose crystal the size of a grapefruit clasped in the coarse grain rock on which it grew; the Devonshire Emerald, one of the biggest uncut emeralds in the world, from Columbia; and the extremely rare Nakhla meteorite from Mars, which fell to earth in Egypt in 1911. The cut stones are just as impressive, including: the Aurora collection of 296 coloured diamonds; the famous Star of South Africa, which started the South African diamond rush; an 898 carat aquamarine gemstone the size of an orange; a huge 2,982 carat topaz from Brazil; and the Heron-Allen amethyst, looted during the Indian Mutiny and believed to be 'cursed and stained with blood', as everyone who owned it suffered disaster and misfortune. Natural History Museum, continuing.
Utagawa Hiroshige: The Moon Reflected is an opportunity to see the woodblock prints of famous Japanese landscapes by the 19th century Japanese artist. This exhibition features the series of prints, 'Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces', Hiroshige's first attempt to produce landscapes in the unusual vertical format, and 'Thirty-six Views of Fuji' - stylistically quite distinctive, although made using the same traditional woodcutting technique - as well as a number of sketchbooks, and the famous 'Snow', 'Moon' and 'Flowers' triptychs. These works, assembled from three separate prints, epitomise Hiroshige's vision, extraordinary for their breadth and ambition. The artist's last series, exhibited here, 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo', was originally intended to be 100 prints, but there are more, due to popular demand, with imagery featuring fascinating details amidst a range of evocative landscapes. Rivers, hills, bridges and temples are depicted in these compositions, each work revealing their different aspects depending on the weather, time of day and season. In these works Hiroshige uses to extreme his disconcerting techniques of radical cropping of the image, and a dominating foreground object - such a tree - that almost obscures the landscape, supposedly the subject of the print, so that the viewer is not quite sure what s/he is looking at. Ikon Gallery Birmingham until 20th January, and Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, 8th March to 26th April.
Shutting Up Shop presents a selection of photographs by John Londei of small independent shops, found on journeys covering the length and breadth of Britain. In 1972 Londei started taking pictures of retailers, often family run businesses, well established in their local communities, striving to capture the timeworn presence of these already anachronistic businesses:¬ the butchers and bakers, button makers, cobblers, fishmongers and chemists. Over a 15 year period Londei photographed some 60 shops, but when he retraced his steps in 2004, and revisited the shops, he found that only 7 were still in business. This display captures a bygone age. Proud proprietors are pictured outside their enterprises, such as Frank Gedge, owner of a contraceptives shop opened in Stoke-on-Trent in 1935, and Oliver Meek, 86 years old, and last in a line of basket makers stretching back seven generations in the small town of Swaffham in Norfolk. The interiors of some of the more idiosyncratic shops are also shown as a backdrop to their proprietors, with Philip Poole photographed in his perfectly organised pen shop, His Nibs, formerly of Drury Lane in London, and Bill and Joan, standing at the counter of the provisions store they have run together in Lincolnshire since 1947. For Londei, the shopkeepers were vital to the portraits of the shops, as running the shop meant so much more to them than a business - as though they had turned the premises into living entities. National Portrait Gallery, until 4th May
Space Age: Exploration, Design And Popular Culture examines the impact space exploration has had on everyday life, through popular culture, literature, film, design and merchandising. The exhibition explores how human fascination with space has developed, from the emergence of astronomy in around 2,000BC to NASA's future plans to put humans on Mars. Alongside science fiction and fantasy, it explains the realities and facts of space science, showcasing rare objects including a piece of a Mars meteorite, an original Cosmonaut suit belonging to Yuri Gidzenko, an Indo-Persian celestial globe showing stars and constellations, a model of SpaceShipOne, designed to take tourists into space, packets of NASA space food, and a Fisher Space Pen (the pen that defies gravity). At the height of the space race in the 1960s and 1970s the 'space age' feel filtered into both home and fashion, often using new synthetic materials, and some of the design classics which resulted are featured, including fabric designs by Eddie Squires, a Pastilli chair by Eero Aarnio, lunar wallpaper designed by Michael Clarke, an original Mathmos lava lamp designed by Edward Craven Walker, and clothing bearing a striking similarity to that worn in science fiction television programmes, such as Andre Courreges's iconic 'fembots' and Pierre Cardin's 'cosmos' collection. Science fiction itself is represented by film and television memorabilia in profusion, from a poster for Fritz Lang's 1929 film Frau im Mond, considered the first real space film, through the inevitable Star Wars and Star Trek, to the current regeneration of Dr Who. Museum of Childhood, Bethnel Green, London until 6th April.
Joseph Wright Of Derby In Liverpool offers an insight into a previously little known period of three years in the career of Joseph Wright, as he responded to the growing market for portrait painting among the town's burgeoning merchant class. During his time in Liverpool, between 1768 and 1771, Wright was remarkably busy, painting not only portraits, but also his trademark candlelight works. His account book, on display at the exhibition, reveals that in 1769 he was completing a portrait on average every 9 or 10 days. The exhibition features more than 80 of Wright's works, including the portrait of Richard Gildart, painted when the former mayor was 95 years old, probably the first Wright did in Liverpool as it is the only one dated 1768, together with portraits of Sarah Clayton, John Tarleton, Fleetwood and Frances Hesketh and Susannah Leigh. During this period Wright was also painting more typical groups of people by candlelight, such as 'The Philosopher' (known as 'The Hermit'), 'An Academy by Lamplight, 'Two Boys Blowing a Bladder', 'Two Girls Decorating a Cat', 'A Blacksmith's Shop' and 'The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone, Discovers Phosphorus'. Also featured are Wright's first candlelight painting 'Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator', and a portrait of Peter Perez Burdett and his wife Hannah, painted before he came to Liverpool. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 24th February.
Art Of Light: German Renaissance Stained Glass sets out to demonstrate that the best stained glass from the Renaissance period fully reflected, and even rivalled, the latest developments in painting, while exploiting to the full the vibrant properties of light. The exhibition brings together a group of some of the finest examples of 15th and early 16th century German stained glass, and juxtaposes them with a selection of paintings from the same period and from the same regions of Germany, along with some surviving examples of designs for stained glass. Many of these paintings originally hung in ecclesiastical settings, which frequently also included brilliantly coloured, boldly designed and exquisitely made stained glass windows. German stained glass of this period made use of the same imagery as painting, showed similar visual innovations and, increasingly, the designers of stained glass windows were also painters of panel pictures. There is a special focus, including prints, drawings, paintings and glass, on three artists who designed for stained glass as well as creating paintings: Albrecht Durer, Hans Baldung Grien and Jorg Breu. The exhibition culminates in a full scale recreation of one of the multi-scened glass panels from the Abbey of Mariawald. One of the greatest achievements of the glass painters of the early 16th century, the panels reveal the full range of the art of this period, including exceptionally beautiful landscape depictions. National Gallery until 17th February.
An American Passion For British Art: Paul Mellon's Legacy marks the centenary of the birth of one of the world's greatest collectors of British art, with a selection of major works from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art. It provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience some of the finest works of British art from the 15th to early 20th centuries. The exhibition features more than 150 works, including prints, drawings, paintings, rare books and manuscripts, with many objects that have not been seen in Britain they were purchased. Among these are early Americana and exceptional rare books and manuscripts including works by William Blake. Items range in scale from miniatures by Hilliard and small scale works on paper, to large scale oil paintings. The representative collection of great British watercolours includes paintings by JR Cozens, Thomas Girtin, Richard Parkes Bonington and Paul Sandby. The oil paintings featured comprise works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Stubbs Constable, Canaletto, Hogarth, and Turner - including his outstanding marine painting, 'Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed' on view in the UK for the first time since it was purchased in 1966. Royal Academy of arts until 27th January.
Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts And Craft Movement In Scotland looks at developments in art, architecture and design across Scotland between 1880 and 1939. It examines how Arts and Crafts artist-designers changed perceptions about the place of art in Scottish society. Hand, Heart and Soul refers to the three characteristics of the movement. The Hand is that of the designer of maker in an age of increasing mechanisation. The Heart is a reference to the commitment the practitioners showed to their art and to the wider needs of society. The Soul is a reference to the commonly held sense of Celtic identity and tradition. Through the furnishing of public buildings, exhibitions, church craft and home design, it aimed to restore beauty to everyday experience. This found expression in such diverse fields as furniture, textiles, jewellery and metalwork, glass, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, mural decoration and architectural design and crafts. Exhibits include Charles Rennie Mackintosh's stained glass window design for the Glasgow School of Art, depicting a scene from the story of Tristan and Isolde; Phoebe Anna Traquair's embroidered triptych 'The Savoir of Mankind'; a gold and enamel cup set with amethysts by Helena Mary Ibbotson; Francis Henry Newbery's painting 'Daydreams', which unusually depicts a contemporary female figure; a richly decorated plate and dish by Elizabeth Amour Watson's Bough Studio; and videos and photographs of buildings, such as Skirling House, designed by Ramsey Traquair, and Mackintosh's Hill House in Helensburgh. Millennium Galleries, Sheffield until 20th January.
Walter Sickert: The Camden Town Nudes features paintings of the female nude produced by Walter Sickert in and around Camden Town between 1905 and 1912, which are among his most significant contributions to 20th century British art. The exhibition brings together over 25 of the artist's finest canvases and related drawings, to provide the first major account of his reinvention of the nude as a subject for modern painting. It explores the ways in which Sickert developed an uncompromisingly realist approach to the nude, in order to address major social and artistic concerns of the early 20th century. Rather than the familiar treatment of the unclothed figure as an abstracted ideal of beauty, Sickert's nudes appeared to be naked women in real contemporary settings. His four famously enigmatic Camden Town Murder paintings are brought together for the first time, as the most powerful expression of his fascination with the darker aspects of urban life in Edwardian London. They are accompanied by a selection of working drawings for these paintings that reveal Sickert's remarkable practice of exploring different narrative possibilities before arriving at the final image. Other highlights include 'La Hollandaise', 'The Iron Bedstead', 'Mornington Crescent Nude' and 'The Studio: The Painting of a Nude' in which his studio is the subject of the work itself, with his own arm shown cutting across the foreground of the composition, caught in the act of painting. The Courtauld Gallery, London until 20th January.