News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th November 2005


Samuel Palmer: Vision And Landscape celebrates the range of one of the most original and appealing of British landscape painters of the Romantic era. Palmer's rich and sensual images of the countryside combine a vivid sense of vision with intimacy and tenderness, but there is also an undertow of mystery, even tragedy, in much of his work. His purpose, to reclaim the spiritual element in English landscape, represents the intuitive, pastoral and nostalgic aspects of the Romantic period at their most intense. Palmer's best known works are the paintings and drawings he produced at the beginning of his career, when he was part of an artistic community at Shoreham in Kent. It was these pictures, which seemed so modern in their experimentation, that made him a powerful influence on many artists in the 20th century. However, he never enjoyed more than modest success for the muted form of lyrical landscapes that he practised, although he produced work of high quality, including views of known places such as 'Tintagel Castle', and idealised scenes such as 'A View of Ancient Rome'. The exhibition traces the deliberate 'primitivism' of his early work, inspired by William Blake, Milton and Durer, through his public career in the 1840s, to the revival of his 'inner sympathies' in the 1860s, with a series of watercolours and etchings for works by Milton and Virgil. Among the highlights of some 150 watercolours, sketches and etchings are 'Cornfield by Moonlight', 'The Magic Apple Tree', 'In a Shoreham Garden', 'A Hilly Scene', 'The Bellman' and 'The Lonely Tower'. The British Museum until 22nd January.

Point Of No Return: Photographs By Thomas Joshua Cooper marks the midway point of 'The World's Edge - The Atlantic Basin Project', Cooper's epic endeavour to record the extremities of land that surround the Atlantic Ocean. So far, he has mapped the western seaboard of Africa and Europe. In doing so Cooper explores nature and humanity's place within it - the physical and psychological boundaries of civilisation, and the urge to push those boundaries further. From 1969 Cooper has observed a vow to only make outdoor pictures using a 19th century AGFA wooden field camera, each remote site the subject of just a single exposure. The resulting photographs, in rich black and white, chronicle his journey in a story of vast seas, with the changing coastline or the occasional horizon offered as the only boundary. They appear to both document fact, and offer a mysterious other worldly vision. Cooper's work attempts to evoke the pioneering voyages of discovery of the 17th century with their spirit of wonderment, and several of the chosen locations have particular relevance to the journeys of navigators such as Columbus and Magellan. His mapping of the landscape in black and white detail also follows in the tradition of American photographers such as Timothy H O'Sullivan. The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester until 4th December.

Dancing To The Music Of Time: The Life And Work Of Anthony Powell explores the world of one of the most important English novelists of the 20th century. Powell was a key member of a group of writers, among them Cyril Connelly, George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, who came to prominence in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is best known for his twelve novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, about London society in the first half of the 20th century, taking its title from the Nicolas Poussin painting, which is featured here. The exhibition focuses on Powell's life, his friends and contemporaries, and his career as a novelist and art collector. Among the objects on display are portraits of Powell and his friends, and many original manuscripts and illustrations relating to his opus. These include typescripts of the novels, his manuscript notebook, drawings for book covers by Misha Black, Osbert Lancaster and Mark Boxer and promotional posters. Powell's acute sense of humour is evident in his scrapbooks and a photo album documenting a spoof detective mystery 'The Tranby-Croft Case' acted out by Powell and his wife, together with Francis Watson and Gerald Reitlinger during a weekend in 1937. Works of art from Powell's own collection include drawings and paintings by J F Lewis, Sickert, Vuillard and Picasso. These are seen together with letters, post cards, documents, photographs, books, furniture and other objects from his idiosyncratic Somerset home The Chantry. The Wallace Collection until 5th February.


Rubens: A Master In The Making tells the story of Peter Paul Rubens's ascension from working as a pupil of a minor Antwerp artist, to become the dominant international painter of his time. It is the most thorough explanation of what was called 'the fury of the brush' ever attempted. The story begins in Antwerp, with works such as 'The Battle of the Amazons' and 'The Battle of Nude Men', where Rubens is sketching the movement and placement of bodies to create the energy and motion that was to become the signature of all his paintings. On his 8 year study trip to Italy, he was exposed to the Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Raphael, and the revolutionary style of Caravaggio, whose influence is revealed in paintings such as 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'St George' and 'Hero and Leander'. Three versions of 'The Judgement of Paris', using different mediums: oil on oak, oil on copper and oil on panel, show Rubens's evolution in style, from undefined bodies to more defined physiques. A group of Genoese portraits from 1606 offer the opportunity to focus on works that are by Rubens's hand alone, undiluted by any workshop assistance. The culmination of the show is a group of Rubens's best known heroic images, created from an amalgam of sources on his return to Antwerp. These include 'The Descent from the Cross', 'The Entombment' 'Samson and Delilah', 'The Massacre of the Innocents', 'Ecce Homo' and 'Roman Charity' - works that were last seen together in Rubens's studio. National Gallery until 15th January.

Fashion And Fancy Dress: The Messel Family Dress Collection 1865-2005 chronicles and interprets the clothes worn by six generations of women from one remarkable family. The exhibition features 55 outfits, drawn from a unique collection of garments, never before exhibited, exploring how treasured items of clothing, collected and preserved over time, represent family memory and heritage. A singular artistic and creative eye runs through the six generations, encompassing English, Irish, French and Chinese style, a love of fancy dress, and a specific choice of fashion designers. From the 1870s onwards the women of this extended family - Mary Anne, Marion, Maud, Anne, Susan, Alison and today Anna - fulfilled their social obligations to dress correctly, while demonstrating a strong individual style and a gentle aesthetic eccentricity. As well as garments worn on Society occasions - wedding, christening, evening, sporting, Coronation and mourning - the exhibition also features the Messel embroidery workshops, the development of the Nymans embroidery workshop. It also reflects the family's love of jewellery and fancy dress, used in re-enactments of their 18th century ancestors, and at other fancy dress balls from the 1910s to the 1930s. Throughout the exhibition, items of dress and accessories are set in their social context through period photographs, film footage and rarely seen portraits. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until 5th March.

Roger Fenton: Photographs 1852-60 showcases the work of one of the most important 19th century photographers, with over 90 images surveying all aspects of his groundbreaking career. Fenton set out to be a painter, studying in London and Paris, but in 1851, he took to the newly invented process of photography. While Fenton's photographic career lasted little more than a decade, his work features some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the medium, a fact reflected by the scope of his influence. In 1852 he made what are believed to be the first photographs of Russia and the Kremlin; in 1853 the British Museum invited him to document some of their collections; and he helped to found the Photographic Society (which later became the Royal Photographic Society). Fenton's landscape and architectural views came to the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with whose help he travelled to Balaclava to document the Crimean War. On his return, Fenton travelled throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, making ambitious studies of the countryside, cathedrals and country houses. While several of Fenton's photographs on display are distinguished by their evocative depictions of light, atmosphere, and place, others demonstrate his appreciation of the solidity, permanence, and integrity of English architecture. Tate Britain until 2nd January.

Self Portrait: Renaissance To Contemporary is the first large scale exhibition to bring artists' own images together across periods and places within the tradition of western painting, from 1433 to the present day. It explores the diversity of the image with which the artist is represented through painted self portraits by 56 of the world's greatest artists, from Jan van Eyck to Chuck Close. Works by artists renowned for their self portraits, such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Kahlo and Bacon, are included alongside less well known artists, such as Pieter van Laer, Johannes Gumpp and Hans Thoma. The international range of artists represented includes Carracci, Degas, Velazquez, Hogarth, Kauffmann, Corinth, Reynolds, Zoffany, Courbet, Nolan, Warhol, Hopper, and Freud. Focusing on the self portrait through oils, the exhibition traces continuity and change in the genre, and the particular importance of the medium of oil paint to its development. It is especially concerned with the ways in which portrait likenesses can express the creativity and inventiveness of the artist. By showing the different ways in which artists have chosen to paint their own image, the exhibition opens up questions of consciousness, process and identity. The exhibition includes seven early works from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the collection of self-portraits begun by the Medici - now displayed in the 'Vasari corridor'- is the most important and famous group of self portraits in the world. National Portrait Gallery until 29th January.

Immortal Pharoah: The Tomb Of Thutmose III is an exact replica of the burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs. Ruling during the Eighteenth Dynasty, from 1479 to 1426 BC, Thutmose III belongs to the country's most glorious era. The walls of the tomb contain a complete depiction of the Amduat (Book of the Dead) the oldest Egyptian book of the netherworld, which chronicles the pharaoh's journey through the afterlife. According to ancient beliefs, in order to gain eternal life everyone who dies has to successfully complete a 12 hour journey mirroring the journey of the sun god from dusk till dawn. Mummification and the leaving of treasures were ways of helping to protect the dead through this journey, to ensure that they secured eternal life and not eternal damnation. The Amduat was believed to contain the secret to eternal life, holding the crucial knowledge that was needed to help people pass a series of tests to see if they were worthy of immortality - helping them to use their wits and knowledge, including magic, to beat demons and serpents. Thutmose's tomb is the oldest discovered burial site featuring the entire book. It comprises 12 separate panels - one for every hour of the journey - filled with elegant line drawings in black and red showing the pharaoh moving through the underworld. An array of original exhibits and artefacts illustrates the themes of the Amduat, and the rituals surrounding burial, mummification and the belief in resurrection. City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until 8th January.

Robert Brownjohn celebrates the work of the graphic designer who created many of the most memorable images of the 1960s, from the titles for the James Bond films From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, through graphics for the Obsession exhibition at the Robert Fraser Gallery, to the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed. Famed for his flamboyant lifestyle as well as his talent, Brownjohn studied under modernist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and made his name as an innovative typographer and image maker with award winning advertising campaigns in late 1950s New York. He moved to London in 1960, working first in advertising and then in films and commercials, where he had the iconic idea of projecting text onto the faces and bodies of dancers and models. Catching the experimental spirit of the time, Brownjohn's audacious choice of images brought the emerging graphic design industry and modernist visual theory into mainstream culture. Shocking though his work could be, it was always refined by formal rigour and ingenious combinations of typography, illustration and found materials. Sadly, Brownjohn's 'live fast die young' philosophy resulted in only a brief, though spectacular, career. With material from his personal archive, this exhibition explores his work and enduring legacy. Design Museum until 26th February.


The Mating Game examines some of the most bizarre and beautiful courtship behaviours found in the animal world. The exhibition looks at the different senses animals use to locate a mate, and the methods they employ to win them over, from colour and sound, to unusual acrobatics and gift giving. It uses real animal specimens and 'interactives' - where visitors can guess the animal by the smell and sound it produces. Animals that live over a wide area rely on sound to find a mate. Male and female elephants live independently for most of their adult lives, so females emit a series of powerful low-pitched calls, which can be heard up to four kilometres away. Whales also communicate over huge distances, and the song of the humpbacked whale can be heard underwater hundreds of kilometres away. Lasting up to 30 minutes, it is the longest and most complex song known in the animal world. Sight is frequently used to attract and identify potential mates and colourful displays are most dramatically seen among fish, reptiles and birds. Although most mammals rely on smell and are less colourful, the male mandrill, a type of baboon, is a notable exception, with blue and red markings on the body of the most dominant male, which attracts females and repels junior males. Other animals resort to bribery in order to attract a mate, by giving gifts. A male tern starts his courtship by bringing the female a small fish, held crosswise in his beak, demonstrating his ability to provide for her and for their future offspring. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 27th November.

Alison Turnbull brings together paintings from the recent series of works, 'World in a Chamber', a pictorial investigation into the idea of the botanic garden, by the Colombian born but London resident artist. For some years Turnbull's work has dealt with the varied ways in which we conceive and transform the spaces we inhabit, fusing the representational with the abstract. Previous exhibitions have consisted of paintings that take the language of architectural representation - plans, sections and elevations - as generative starting points. These found drawings are then transformed by colour and by the very specific physical activities that activate the painted surface. In 2002 Turnbull turned to architecture as applied to gardens, how plant collections are organised, and man's attempts to impose control over nature. Typical of this series is a work made after visits to Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight. Derived from two found drawings of the site - one, a guide to the present day garden, overlaid onto the other, a plan of the 19th century hospital that previously occupied the site - the painting incorporates lines and blocks of luminous colour floated on a neutral ground, anchored by fine lines of graphite. Also in the exhibition are 'Black Borders' a new series of works on paper inspired by the botanic garden in Oxford, where there is a planting scheme known as the Black Borders, which contains exclusively black, or almost black, plants. Turnbull takes the idea of the black border as the point of departure for a group of meticulous and intensely worked drawings. ArtSway, Lymington until 20th November.

70 Years Of Penguin Design marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books with a display of some 500 of its iconic book covers. Drawing on material from the Penguin archives that has never been exhibited before, the display shows how the company has responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing cheap paperback editions of distinguished books, for just sixpence per title. Its distinctive approach to cover design and typography was equally advanced, and has become an integral part of publishing and graphic design history, beginning with the simple bands of colour and the classic Gill Sans typeface. The display is divided into three themes. 'A Living Book' displays the changing covers of The Great Gatsby, showing how this popular classic has taken on various guises from 1950 to the present day. 'Covers Living With British Culture' are represented by Wartime Specials and designs from the swinging sixties, such as The Medium Is The Massage, where a printer's error was incorporated into the title, and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. 'Cover Design Now', goes through the design process of covers today, from paper to computer screen and back to paper again, such as the innovative Great Ideas series, shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Award. The display is rich in original art work, and hand drawn roughs, corrected proofs and in house notes bring the finished designs to life. Victoria & Albert Museum until 13th November.