News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th June 2010


Rude Britannia: British Comic Art examines the role of humour in British visual culture, from the 1600s to the present day. Through a diversity of art forms, including painting, drawing, sculpture, the comic, film and photography, visual humour is explored in many dimensions. The exhibition is presented and interpreted by some of the country's best known cartoonists and comedy writers, including Steve Bell, Harry Hill, Gerald Scarfe, and the team at Viz Magazine. Drawing on material far beyond the traditional realm of visual satire, the display brings together art, installations and performances, with works by contemporary artists such as Angus Fairhurst contrasted with key historical pieces by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank. Radio, film and new media play a part in the show, reflecting how technological developments have consistently reinvigorated the genre and engaged new audiences. The exhibition reveals the wide variety of ways in which Britain's thriving tradition of comic art has taken shape, and the links between comic practices of the past and present: Donald McGill's saucy seaside postcards are shown alongside works by Aubrey Beardsley and Sarah Lucas, in a section devoted to all things bawdy; Britain's love of the absurd and the visionary is represented by such diverse material as Edward Lear's illustrations, Spike Milligan's cartoons and David Shrigley's sculpture; and politics, social commentary and morality are each explored, from Hogarth's satires of Georgian society to Gerald Scarfe's caricatures of the Thatcher government. Tate Britain until 5th September.

Silent Witnesses: Graphic Novels Without Words brings together the work of internationally recognised artists and illustrators from around the world working in graphic novel form. Spanning publications from the early 20th century to the present day, the works contained in the display are distinct in that all use the capacity of images alone to communicate narrative, functioning entirely without the use of text. The exhibition thus examines the underlying structure and mechanics of developing a graphic novel, exposing it as a unique art form. It looks at the novel in the true sense, as an extended sequence conveying a narrative. The show includes preparation and working drawings, writings, flat plans, sketch books, character studies and associated works, alongside complete book works, to reveal the various developmental stages in creating a graphic novel. The exhibition combines works from a wide range of cultural contexts, from modern popular works, with scratchboard images by Eric Drooker produced for his novel 'Flood', to woodcuts by Frans Masereel for his 1925 work 'Die Stadt', to original drawings by Sara Varon for her books 'Sweater Weather', 'Robo and Hund' and 'Chicken and Cat'. Also in the show is a large scale flat-print version of 'A-Z' by Lars Arrhenius, a novel produced on the A-Z map of London. Other artists featured include: Hendrik Dorgathen, Max Ernst, Matt Forsythe, Alexandra Higlett, Laurence Hyde, Jason, Andrzej Klimowski, Peter Kuper, Chris Lanier, Otto Nuckel, Shaun Tan, Zoe Taylor, Lynd Ward and Jim Woodring. The Collection, Lincoln, until 30th August.

The Deep plunges visitors into the abyss, 11,000 metres down in the ocean, revealing a weird and wonderful deep sea environment. Combining specially created imagery, real specimens - some on display for the first time - and life size interactive installations, the exhibition takes visitors on an immersive voyage to the planet's final frontier. With bizarre creatures that have adapted to their harsh world in unique ways, it reveals the extraordinary yet fragile biodiversity that exists in the deep oceans, and the work of scientists who are helping to preserve this important ecosystem. Highlights include: over 50 real deep sea creatures, preserved for scientific research; a sperm whale skeleton, together with the creatures that can live on a whale carcass for up to 50 years; a replica of a bathysphere steel ball used to go down to the depths by the first deep sea explorers in the 1930s, just 1.5m across, alongside a life size walk in model of a contemporary submersible; delicate glass models of sea creatures made in the late 1800s by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka; a Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of 4m; a 'mermaid' - actually created from a modified guitar fish; a giant squid and a sperm whale in simulated battle, suspended from the gallery ceiling; a viperfish, with fangs so big they cannot fit in its mouth and slide up the front of its face; and historic specimens and reports from the first major oceanography expedition, made by the Royal Navy ship HMS Challenger in 1872. Natural History Museum until 5th September.


Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance And The Camera provides an insight into photographic images made surreptitiously or without the explicit permission of those depicted. Spanning a variety of 'lens-based media' from the late 19th century to the present day, the exhibition offers an illuminating and provocative perspective on subjects both iconic and taboo. Aided and abetted by the camera, voyeurism and surveillance provoke questions about who is looking at whom, and whether for power or for pleasure. The show examines the history of what might be called 'invasive looking' by bringing together more than 250 works of photography and film by well known figures including Brassai, Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank,Nan Goldin, Dorothea Lange, Lee Miller, Thomas Ruff, Paul Strand, Weegee and Garry Winogrand, plus images made by amateur photographers, press photographers, and automatic systems such as CCTV. Taking the idea of the unseen photographer as its starting point, the show includes images of clandestine, informal or candid situations, impromptu and even intimate moments, made by photographers who have worked in ingenious and inventive ways, often using small or easily concealed cameras. The exhibition includes examples of erotic photography, the cult of celebrity and the paparazzi, and the phenomenon of surveillance. Highlights include images from Brassai's Secret Paris of the 1930s, Walker Evans's subway portraits, Weegee's photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and recent work by artists and photographers such as Philip-Lorca di Corcia and Shizuka Yokomizo. Tate Modern until 30th October.

The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked uses new research to look at the mystery and intrigue surrounding the Lewis Chessmen. The exhibition comprises the whole collection of 83 ivory pieces, which are displayed with a range of other objects to illuminate their background. The display explores the stories surrounding their discovery, and shows how the characters reflected society at the time they were made. The Lewis Chessmen were discovered on the western shore of the Isle of Lewis in 1831, as part of a hoard of walrus ivory. The chessmen, between 3 and 4 inches high, are in the Romanesque style that was universal in northern and western Europe in the Middle Ages. With a few face pieces and most of the pawns missing, there are enough pieces to indicate they are from at least four chess sets, together with 14 plain ivory disks like the counters for playing board games. The pieces were probably made in Norway in the late 12th or early 13th centuries. As the largest and finest group of early chessmen to survive, they are one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in Scotland. Few chessmen survive at all from the Middle Ages, and these are unparalleled in their high quality, humour and intricacy of design. A new study by the museum challenges the widely held view that they were part of a merchant's hoard when they were buried on Lewis, and suggests that they may have been used for games other than chess. It also proposes they may have been buried in a different place in Lewis than previously thought, and that the pieces may have been carved by up to 5 different craftsmen. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 19th September.

Empire Mail: George V And The GPO looks at the passions of King George V, the 'philatelist king', and the extraordinary advances in design and innovation in the General Post Office of the period. The reign of George V spanned from 1910 to 1936, an era of conflict and great change, which saw the development of a number of communication methods that brought the world closer together. Featuring posters, vehicles, pillar boxes, philatelic rarities and footage from the GPO Film Unit, the exhibition explores themes such as innovations in mail transportation, the first Atlantic air crossing, the rise of graphic design in the 1920s and 1930s and war time memorabilia. The items on display include a sheet of unused Edward VII Tyrian plum stamps, plus the only one known to have been used, sent on an envelope to George V on 5th May 1910 when he was Prince of Wales, which arrived the next day when he had become king, following the death of his father. Other highlights include original artwork, dies, plates and essays from many of the stamps of George V's reign, including the Seahorses and the 1924/1925 Wembley Empire Exhibition; stamps created by Lawrence of Arabia and Lord Baden Powell; items relating to the RMS Titanic, which carried mail; and gems from King George V's own stamp collection, such as Bermuda 'Perots', Cape Triangular errors, an unused Post Office Mauritius 2d stamp and a 1d used on a 'ball cover', which are among the rarest and most valuable in the world. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 25th July.

Toy Boats charts how miniature ocean liners, paddle steamers and battleships once captured the imagination of generations of children. The exhibition features over 100 toys, games, catalogues and photographs revealing how the craze for all things maritime drove toy companies to make toy boats of every size and description. It explores the range of toy boats made by European manufacturers from 1850 to 1950, a period marked by rapid advances in maritime technology. As nations raced each other to build bigger and better ships, toy makers were swift to exploit the publicity and follow up with toys that captured the spirit of these famous vessels. Toymakers experimented with a range of technology to power the boats, from twisted rubber bands and clockwork springs to burners producing steam, and early batteries. Late 19th century town planning introduced parks with decorative ponds and fountains, which gave children a space to play with toy boats. This, along with the increase in family seaside holidays, created an appeal which inspired toy makers to compete in creating finer and more sophisticated ships, which also appealed to adults as collectors' curios. Among the highlights are: Dolphin, one of the oldest clockwork ship models in the world, crafted by a family carpenter for the Duke of Northumberland in 1822; HMS Terrible, a large and very rare steam propelled battleship made in Germany around 1905; Hohenzollern, a clockwork propelled replica of Kaiser Wilhelm II's yacht, made around 1900; a rare build-your-own wooden model kit produced to commemorate the launch of RMS Queen Mary in 1936; Italia, a steam propelled cruiser, measuring nearly a metre long, made in France in 1885; and Salamandre, a steam propelled battleship, made of tinplate, copper and wood, with a team of 32 wooden sailors and a small clockwork torpedo boat. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 31st October.

Visions Of An Industrial Age features large scale reproductions of a unique series of images of Preston captured on camera in the 1850s. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse of a medieval market town that was undergoing a radical transformation. Taken only 70 years after the first cotton mill was built, these photographs are the oldest known photographs of Preston. They are the work of amateur photographer Charles Wilson, who lived and worked in the town, and was a member of a number of local societies and organisations. The images document the town whose population had increased from 7,000 to 70,000 in the previous 75 years as the industrial revolution unfolded. Photographs include new railway bridges, the gardens of Ribblesdale Place, the historic Market Place, housing in the Avenham area, where Wilson lived, and other places with which he had personal connections.

The Story Of Preston charts the development of Preston as a market town and centre for cotton manufacturing in the 19th century. Among the items on display are: a 17th century family portrait of a Puritan family who once lived on Fishergate; an early 19th century dolls' house which belonged to the Pedder family who founded Preston's first bank; the 'Maudland Cock' weathervane from St Walburge's church; and the Yard Works model of the huge cotton manufacturing complex once operated by Horrockses, made in 1913 for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the town.

Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, Visions Of An Industrial Age until 4th September.

Westminster Abbey Chapter House has reopened after a £3m 18 month programme by 20 craftsmen and stonemasons to conserve and restore the fabric of the building. The octagonal East Cloister, with a vaulted ceiling and delicate central column, which dates from the 1250s, and was originally lauded as 'beyond compare', is one of the largest in England. The monks met there every day for prayers, to read a chapter from the rule of St Benedict, and discuss the day's work. Henry VIII's Great Council, which was effectively the beginning of the English Parliament, first assembled there in 1257. The House of Commons regularly used the room in the 14th century, before they transferred to the Palace of Westminster. After having been a monastic and royal treasury, and repository for Exchequer records from the 1540s, it was restored in the 1870s by George Gilbert Scott. The room is lavishly adorned with rare medieval sculpture, wall paintings of the Apocalypse and the Last Judgement, stained glass windows, and a 13th century stone altar that survived the Reformation. It also contains the finest medieval tile pavement in England, with richly coloured designs including royal coats of arms. In the vestibule of the Chapter House is the oldest door in Britain, dated to the 1050s. The restoration has seen 32 new stone gargoyles carved to Gilbert Scott's original designs, among a total or 64 across 8 pinnacles. Westminster Abbey continuing.


Relics Of Old London: Photography And The Spirit Of The City offers an insight into photography's historic, and ongoing, role in documenting the texture of the urban environment. Prompted by the imminent demolition of the Oxford Arms, a galleried inn near St Paul's, to make way for the expansion of the Old Bailey in 1875, the Society for the Photographing of Relics of Old London was established. The society decided to use photography as a means of documenting buildings that represented old London that were threatened with destruction, and publishing the results in an annual report. To accompany it, from 1881 onwards, a descriptive text was added, providing a historical background to each of the buildings. This exhibition presents a selection of these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s taken by A & J Bool, and later, Henry Dixon & Son, which capture some of the buildings and streets that were the legacies of earlier centuries, with many showing examples of Tudor or Stuart architecture. In the mid 19th century, these were periods which were often considered to be the most romantic in English history. Both photographers created views within the picturesque aesthetic that was to remain popular with British photography well into the 20th century. As suggested by their name, the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London's principal concern was with the disappearance of an older pre-industrial London. By including buildings of a more domestic scale, the Society showed that urban vernacular architecture was both of historic interest and architectural merit, equally, if not more, at risk than grander public buildings. Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd June.

Underwater brings together artworks created during the past decade inspired by the sea and the underwater world. The exhibition features works by 10 international contemporary artists, from sculpture and paintings to video and soundscapes, with depictions of sublime seascapes, mermaid-like creatures and monsters of the aquatic. Exhibits include videos by Bill Viola, in which two lovers intertwine as they slowly descend into dark waters, Janaina Tschape, where a woman's head rocks from side to side, just beneath the water's surface, and Dorothy Cross, with a woman wafting in sunlit water that teems with jellyfish, her hair billowing with their pulsating forms; drawings by Ellen Gallagher, conjecturing a monstrous creature that has evolved in the far depths, part natural history specimen, part science fiction, and Ed Pien, suggesting a nightmarish underwater realm, in which ghastly creatures do battle; Daniel Gustav Cramer's photographs of the seabed with towering rocks and rising silts; a motorized model submarine by Cut and Scrape lurching about in the clutches of a giant squid, straight from the pages of Jules Verne; tapering metallic sculptures by Klaus Osterwald, suspended as a shoal from the ceiling, emitting the strange chirrupings of fish, as recorded by underwater microphones; Shirley Kaneda's paintings, precise yet free squiggles that are a play on refraction and reflection; and Seunghyun Woo's sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna, suggesting liquid movement and distortion. Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, until 20th June.

Francis Bacon: In Camera explores the works of one of Britain's most important 20th century artists from the perspective of his working processes. The exhibition features significant oil paintings by Francis Bacon from 1944 to1989, including 5 works never seen in Britain before, alongside the artefacts and images that inspired them, including archival material from his studio, photography and film stills. Bacon always asserted that his paintings appeared as if by magic, but close examination of visual imagery from his studio shows that Bacon followed a complex and idiosyncratic form of preparation, based largely on film and photography. What is revealed are photographs, often twisted and torn, and papers ripped and folded, in a process that in many ways becomes a method of preparatory drawing. Bacon colluded in the myth of his own spontaneity, yet sheets from a notebook found at his studio show careful planning - akin to laundry lists - of exactly what he planned to paint on a particular day. For all Bacon's legacy of portraits, he only ever painted four sitters from life, and their experiences reinforce the hidden side of the artist's approach. When Lucian Freud arrived at Bacon's studio to sit for a portrait he discovered the painting virtually finished (based on a photograph of Franz Kafka). In 1949, Bacon's fusion of a Velazquez portrait with stills from the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's iconic film Battleship Potemkin was crucial to his developing agenda to make figurative art 'modern'. The exhibition explores the influence of films by directors such as Bunuel and Resnais, together with photographs by Muybridge and John Deakin, which informed Bacon's reconfigurations of the human body. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 20th June.