News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th March 2005

Commencing

Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting celebrates knitting as an end in itself, without the usual need or expectation to produce something with a practical function. It brings the domestic craft of knitting into the 21st century, with a snapshot of how contemporary knitting is used as a medium for art practice - no scarves or cardis here. With exhibits ranging from knitted sex adverts and subversive toys, to giant cobwebs and knitted interiors, it proves that there is more to knitting than just sticks and string. By exploring tradition, history, process, skill, materiality, individuality and future technologies, the show celebrates the creative potential and contemporary appeal of this craft tradition. It highlights the work of 15 international artists who are pushing perceived boundaries within knitting, and features a range of innovative and experimental work created with both new and traditional techniques, with work ranging from the lyrical to the eccentric. Exploring the process involved in knitting, and highlighting the skill of the medium, are Janet Morton's knitted furniture, Ruth Lee's lacy, ephemeral 'Spirit Dresses' and Susie McMurray's 3D hangings, which have been French-knitted from human hair. In recognition of the obsessive side of knitting, and the current fashion for knitting groups, is the collaborative work of Francoise Dupre and the guerrilla knitting of the Cast Off knitting club. Equally quirky are Donna Wilson's rebellious creatures and Kelly Jenkins's edgy wall pieces based on adverts and cards from the sex industry. Crafts Council Gallery until 8th May.

A Tale Of Two Cities is actually a misnomer - it's two exhibitions about one city at two different times, contrasting the Edinburgh of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the city of today. John Kay was a barber with a shop in Parliament Square, but it is his 900 witty caricatures of the great and the not so good of Regency Edinburgh for which he is best remembered. Here are sharply observed portraits of the real Adam Smith, Deacon Brodie and Admiral Duncan among others, together with local types such as The Daft Highland Laird and Jamie Duff The Idiot. Twenty eight etchings, a group of watercolours, an oil and a sketchbook take the viewer back two hundred years. These are contrasted with twenty three laser prints by Iain McIntosh, a contemporary graphic artist, whose Edinburgh characters have entertained the readers of Alexander McCall Smith's recent novel, 44 Scotland Street. Based on a 'daily novel' published in The Scotsman (like Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City) this is set in a fictional building in a real street of multiple occupancy flats, in which real life characters such as Ian Rankin, Gavin Hastings and Tam Dalyell, rub shoulders with today's Edinburgh archetypes. John Kay's satirical etchings inspired Iain McIntosh, who uses both traditional and digital techniques, and the two exhibitions, arranged side by side, pay tribute to a city and its characters. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 8th May.

Thomas Banks: Britain's First Modern Sculptor marking the bicentenary of his death, is the first ever exhibition of work by the man Joshua Reynolds hailed "the first British sculptor who had produced works of classic grace". A gifted sculptor and one of the most influential artists of his time, Banks's work ranged from exquisitely carved bas-reliefs of historical and poetical subjects, to dramatic neoclassical compositions of the epic class, which reinvented the male nude in dramatic compositions that pushed marble to its limits. His greatest works had such emotional power that they reduced onlookers to tears, but his radical political beliefs secured his position as the scourge as well as the toast of the English art establishment. Banks spent seven years working in Rome in the international circle of artists there, and then became sculptor to Catherine the Great in St Petersburg, before returning to Britain, where he produced some of his most original and influential sculptures as church monuments. Regarded by fellow artists as 'a violent democrat' Banks was arrested on suspicion of treason, and the last work he finished, a bust of Oliver Cromwell, was ordered removed from the Royal Academy exhibition as 'an improper object'. Colour photographs, specially commissioned for the exhibition, which present Banks's finest church monuments afresh as works of art, accompany eleven works that are part of the permanent collection. Sir John Soane's Museum until 9th April.

Continuing

Enchanting The Eye: Dutch Paintings Of The Golden Age is a selection of works from the Royal Collection, one of the world's finest groups of Dutch 17th century paintings. The 51 pictures in this exhibition embrace genre scenes, portraits, still-lifes, history paintings, landscapes and seascapes. They include works by the great masters of the period, among them Rembrandt's 'Christ and St. Mary', 'Magdalen at the Tomb' and his 'Self-Portrait' of 1642, landscapes by Aelbert Cuyp, and Johannes Vermeer's 'The Music Lesson' and 'A Lady at the Virginals'. Among the genre paintings - the depiction of everyday life - artists such as Frans van Mieris the Elder, Gabriel Metsu and Gerard ter Borch show the preparation of food, eating and drinking, and the enjoyment of music inside the home. The confidence of the Dutch, one of the richest and most powerful nations in 17th century Europe, is reflected in portraits by Frans Hals, Jan Molenaer and Hendrick ter Bruggen. A number of paintings in the exhibition came to the Collection as contemporary works, 'The Artist's Mother' by Rembrandt, presented to Charles I, was among the first examples by the painter to enter a British collection. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 30th October.

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.

Londoners At Work is an exhibition of eighty photographs, many of them on display for the first time, that capture over one hundred years of working life in London. They show the diversity of London at work - in offices and factories, warehouses and docks, on the river, in the street and at home, and in addition, chart the changing nature of work and workplaces over the period. In doing so, they portray authority, companionship, exploitation and emancipation, poverty and pride. Images such as Wolf Suschitsky's atmospheric 1930s photograph of men asphalting wooden blocks in the Charing Cross Road; and J Penry-Jones's West African seamen on the P&O Steamer Barrabool in Tilbury around 1925; or the many unknown photographer's pictures of a Bryant & May home worker and her children in Bethnal Green around 1910 making matchboxes for between eight and nine shillings a week (45p-50p), rows of typists in the factory-like book keeping machine room of the Port of London headquarters in the 1930s, and stevedores unloading a lighter in the London Docks in 1961, offer glimpses of lost worlds. With their focus on people and their relationship to work, a dominant part of everyone's lives, these images have the power to draw the viewer in, arouse their curiosity, amuse and even dismay. The Museum in Docklands until 5th June.

The Hunterian Museum has reopened following a £3.2m refurbishment to encourage the public to explore the wealth of material that has been a source of inspiration to surgeons, scientists and artists for over two hundred years. The collection, begun by John Hunter in the 18th century, is a mix of comparative anatomy and pathology specimens; complete skeletons, bones, skulls and teeth; dried preparations, corrosion casts and wax teaching models; historical surgical and dental instruments, together with modern surgical instruments and technologies; as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture. It traces the story of surgery from its roots in the mediaeval Guild of Barber-Surgeons, through the anatomical tables commissioned by John Evelyn in the 1640s, and over 3,000 specimens prepared and collected by Hunter himself. A new gallery entitled The Science of Surgery combines surgical instruments and medical equipment, pathological specimens and archive material to provide a unique insight into the development of surgery since the 18th century. Among the 'highlights' are the skeleton of Charles Byrne, the 7ft 7in 'Irish Giant', the brain of Charles Babbage, the mathematician who invented the computer, and a collection of picked babies and deformed animals floating in formaldehyde far more ghoulish than the recently departed shark. The Hunterian Museum, The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London continuing.

100 Years - 100 Chairs offers a view of the different periods of industrial design in the 20th Century by examining one of the most basic products. A revolution started at the beginning of the 20th century, when Gerrit Rietveld designed furniture with simple lines, while Marcel Breuer created the first tubular steel chairs, Alvar Alto was the first to use plywood, and Jean Prouve started to use techniques and materials from the aeronautical industry. Following the Second World War, American designers began to collaborate closely with industry as Charles Eames, Ero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia worked to make good design accessible to the general public. Meanwhile in Europe, furniture design was a developing mainly in Scandinavia, with Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen creating wooden furniture, and in Italy, where designers used more novel materials like plastic. The malleability of these materials, and the development of new types of foam, gave rise to creative fantasy in the sixties, with Pop Art providing a source of inspiration for designers Verner Paton and Joe Colombo. Since then, designs by Memphis, Archizoom, Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, and Frank Gehry have become even more radical. Drawings, sketches and documents accompany the chairs, which are shown in specially designed interiors evoking the historical context in which they were created. Six films reveal the manufacturing process of some of the specimins, and give an insight into different production techniques. CUBE Manchester until 5th May.

William Orpen: Politics, Sex And Death is the first major public display of the artist's work since 1918, reflecting the fact he has suffered the fate of many painters of the Edwardian era: a kind of benign neglect. The exhibition reveals the full variety of Orpen's work, from his revitalisation of the nude, depicted in modern, natural or domestic situations, which shockingly contravened 19th conventions, to his extraordinary allegories and war paintings, where instead of showing the heat and action of battle, he portrayed its aftermath, with the cost in human terms. It includes conversation pieces, such as 'Homage to Manet' and 'A Bloomsbury Family', which demonstrate his interest in the old masters, from Velasquez to Hogarth and even the early work of Cezanne. There are also the series of Orpen's self portraits, which he executed throughout his life, often painted in a mirror, seen as part of the composition, and many of which mock his own character with a mixture of humour and bitterness. His experiences as an official war artist haunted him for the rest of his life, and the exhibition includes a selection of the portraits, landscapes and allegorical paintings that reflect his disillusion with the war and the ruin of his health. In all, the show includes over 80 oils and 40 drawings brought together from around the world for the first time. Imperial War Museum until 2nd May.

Concluding

Andy Goldsworthy: Passage is an exploration of the possibilities of a relatively new Norman Foster designed private gallery, whose proportions and 11,000 sq ft floor space, give Tate Modern's Turbine Hall competition. Goldsworthy has produced numerous site specific works all over the world, and specialises in bringing the outdoors indoors. In the 24 ft high Gallery 1, he has deposited an 18ft high stone tower, formed of granite pieces transported from a beach in Scotland (the largest weighing one and a half tonnes) that rely on purely their density and a system of sanded cavities for their balance. Timber enclosures surround the granite, but allow the bold visitor into its core for a more intimate inspection of the natural joints. Survivors can move on to Gallery 2, a 150ft long low ceilinged space, housing a 40ft long winding clay piece, created by applying mixture of hay and human hair soaked with slip to bind clay around tree branches. The walls are lined with photographic images of icicles, stalks, branches, leaf sculptures and a 3km long moonlit chalk path. Finally, in the more intimate Gallery 3, Goldsworthy has created a series of 6ft long wooden boxes at floor level, for visitors to examine snaking and rounded forms of sweet chestnut leaves, held together by thorns. All good 'what I did in my autumn half term holiday' stuff. Further information can be found on the Albion web site, via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. Albion, London until 31st March.

Living Paint: J D Fergusson traces the Scottish Colourist's connection with France, and the influence of the Post Impressionists and the Fauves, that profoundly changed his style at the turn of the twentieth century. It also looks at the importance that John Duncan Fergusson placed on his Highland Celtic ancestry, and the key role he played in encouraging other artists in Scotland, and promoting Scottish art. The exhibition of around fifty portraits, nudes, landscapes and still lifes, in the distinctive Colourist style that marries bright colours with everyday subjects, is a broad selection of Fergusson's work, demonstrating his experimental and varied output. Of all the Colourist group, Fergusson in particular benefited from contact with avant-garde artists in Paris, and his response to this artistic revolution was ahead of any of his British contemporaries. The exhibition includes some of his most famous works, including 'The White Dress: Portrait of Jean', 'At My Studio Window', 'Danu, Mother Of The Gods and 'Jean Maconochie'. The Fleming Collection, London until 24th March.

Jannis Kounellis, in his first one person exhibition in the UK in over ten years, presents a unique installation of new and earlier works, dating from the 1960s to the present, specially conceived for these gallery spaces. Jannis Kounellis, the Rome based Greek artist, has been a major figure in contemporary art for over forty years. He played a central role in the Arte Povera (literally poor art) movement of the 1960s, redefining sculptural practice with his radical and highly original sculptures, performances and installations. Poetic and deeply stirring, his carefully staged installations evoke shared experiences of people, places and history. Sacks of coal, sheet steel, Victorian gas lamps and unspun cotton are among his materials, together with elements from the natural world such as fire, earth and organic matter - even live parrots and horses. Kounellis's interventions in historic spaces, such as his installation throughout the working monastery of San Lazzaro in Venice in 2003, or that which he created for the bombed interior of the National Library in Sarajevo in 2004, reveal his ability to respond with great sensitivity to a given site. Modern Art Oxford until 20th March.