News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th March 2004

Commencing

We Are The People: Postcards From The Collection Of Tom Phillips presents over 1,000 photographs of ordinary people in postcard form, selected from the extensive collection of the artist and postcard addict Tom Phillips. In the first half of the 20th century, the picture postcard transformed the art of portraiture from elite pastime to popular craze. With photographic equipment cheaper, and film faster, studios sprang up in every town, and also outdoors on every seaside promenade. In this new medium, poacher and gamekeeper, boss and labourer, manager and clerk were suddenly equal, as everyone became a postcard. Phillips has developed his own idiosyncratic filing system for his collection of over 50,000 postcards, and it is reflected in the themes of this exhibition, including Picnics, Make Believe, Aspidistra, Man And Child, Bathers, Fantasy Transport, Music and Women In Uniform. Studio portraits introduced new possibilities for fantasy and aspiration, as sitters could pose against classical pillars or velvet drapes, in their Sunday Best or fancy dress, and at the wheel of a dummy motorcar or in a cardboard aeroplane. These postcards originate from many different photographers and studios across Britain, and reflect the changing fashions and trends in commercial portrait photography of the period, as well as the changing tastes in dress and pastimes of the sitters. Entertaining, intriguing, humorous, and at times haunting, they provide not only a glimpse into history, but also an invaluable visual record of British society as a whole. National Portrait Gallery until 20th June.

The Humour Of Embarrassment: H.M. Bateman's 'The Man Who' Cartoons celebrates the acquisition of 61 prints of 'The Man Who' cartoons by Bateman, one of the foremost British cartoonists of the early 20th century. These drawings originally appeared as colour double page spreads in The Tatler in the 1920s and 1930s, during one of the most glamorous periods of its history. A Bateman drawing is frequently characterised by an immensely expressive and rhythmical line, with characters convulsed by the intensity of their emotions. In 'The Man Who' cartoons, individuals, through ignorance, impudence or folly, do 'The Thing That Isn't Done', and draw the wrath or derision of society down upon their heads, as with 'The Guardsman Who Dropped It' or 'The Shop Assistant Who Lost His Temper'. Bateman's originality is based on the way he drew people: not as they looked, but as they felt. If they are embarrassed, people say they feel very small, and Bateman took the phrase literally. As well as the original Bateman drawings, the exhibition also features a number of more recent pastiches by contemporary cartoonists, such as Ralph Steadman, John Jensen, Dave Brown and Steve Bell. There are accompanying illustrated talks about Bateman's work by his biographer Anthony Anderson, and cartoonist Les Coleman. The Cartoon Art Trust Museum, London until 22nd May.

A Most Desperate Undertaking: The British Army In The Crimea, 1854 - 1856 marks the 150th anniversary of the Crimean War, the first in which the British media played a key role, with William Howard Russell's reports from the front line appearing regularly in The Times. The Army was woefully ill prepared, and Russell's reports highlighted the suffering of the soldiers, blaming the Army Command for its inept and erratic supply system, disregard for adequate cooking provision, and neglect of basic sanitation in its hospitals. The storm of indignation he raised unseated the government and led to rapid reform. This exhibition tells the story of the war from the perspective of the soldiers, whose fortitude inspired the first democratic medal for gallantry, the Victoria Cross. It analyses the role of the Army Command, and the impact made on the course of the war by civilians such as Russell, Roger Fenton, one of the world's first war photographers, and Florence Nightingale, who implemented hospital reforms. Among the exhibits are the order directing the Charge of the Light Brigade; a lamp used by Florence Nightingale; a telescope belonging to Lord Raglan, Commander of the Army; the diary and VC won by Captain Walker at the Battle of Inkerman; Roger Fenton's photographs; the journal of Captain Nolan, the first cavalry officer to be killed during the Charge of the Light Brigade; and numerous drawings, letters and personal artefacts relating to the ordinary soldiers. National Army Museum continuing.

Continuing

Roy Lichtenstein is the first major retrospective of the American father of Pop Art in the UK for 35 years. Lichtenstein shot to international fame with his paintings based on cartoon characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Popeye - but it was his blown up comic strip scenes of wartime action and romantic melodrama, such as 'Whaam!', 'Ohhh… Alright…' and 'In The Car', and his paintings of everyday objects culled from advertising, including 'Coffee Cup', 'Golf Ball' and 'Radio' that established the Pop Art movement. These paintings surprised and shocked the public in the early 1960s twice over. Firstly, for their precise, mechanical style: big, brash and immediate, in bold primary colours (often created by dots as in the original comic strips) within thick black outlines. Secondly, for their provocative use of subjects, taken from the worlds of commerce and popular culture. From the late 1960s onwards Lichtenstein extended the range of his imagery, applying the same techniques to still lifes, figure studies, landscapes and interiors. He examined colour, pattern and form, spatial illusions and the styles and iconic images of modern life, with increasing complexity and an ironic humour. This exhibition presents over 80 paintings and drawings, spanning nearly 40 years, providing an opportunity to see not only his most famous works "in the flesh" but also some relatively little known pieces. Viewed in retrospect his work reveals a simplicity, economy and subtlety that far outstrips the other pillar of the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol. Hayward Gallery until 16th May.

Dinomites takes visitors back 150 million years to a prehistoric world, and brings them face to face with baby and juvenile dinosaurs. With lifelike models, complete with sound effects and a jungle setting, the display examines their cycle of life, from birth to death. From the fearsome predator, the Tyrannosaurus rex, to the almost mild mannered leaf eating Stegosaurus, the exhibition shows the power and majesty of these formidable creatures. Alongside the models, interactive displays reveal a wealth of dinosaur information, including which of the dinosaurs roamed over England, how the Styrachosaurus used their horns, and what made a typical meal for the Velociraptor. The exhibition is complemented by rare fossils, depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, which come from the museum's permanent collection. A wide range of family events and activities accompany the show during the Easter and summer holidays. Further information can be found on the Horniman Museum web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Horniman Museum until 31st October.

Due South: Art And The Antarctic By John Kelly is a record of a three month journey to the bottom of the globe made last year with the scientists of the British Antarctic Survey. Working with a variety of media, Kelly recreates the vast and isolated environment of the polar landscape, showing what it is like to survive - as artist, scientist or animal - at the edge of the world. The exhibition encompasses paintings, sketches, photographs, sculpture, sound samples and found objects, such as bones and feathers. It includes a visual diary of Kelly's experiences during his voyage from the Falkland Islands across the notoriously stormy seas to the South Orkneys, and his stay at Signy Island station, including his involvement with the scientific work conducted there. The island offers a wide variety of landscapes and wildlife, ranging from the penguin colonies of the Gourlay Peninsula, through the elephant seals of the flats, to Signy's ice cap. A recreated interior of a polar hut, complete with shelves of scientific equipment, bottles, oilcans, animal bones and twine is a reminder of the early days of polar exploration, when scientists in the field made do with the basics. Working as an artist in the world's last great wilderness presented certain problems, including how to overcome the high winds and low temperatures. Sketching equipment was adapted to these extreme conditions and time spent working on the ice had to be short and intense. Natural History Museum until 1st August.

Brilliant is an exhibition of contemporary lighting from the strictly functional to the wildly ostentatious. It shows the range of new lighting forms, fabrics and technologies, from domestic lamps to futuristic lighted textiles. The first space has a series of interlinked rooms in which designers Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Sharon Marston, Tord Boontje, Georg Baldele, Francesco Draisci, Kazuhiro Yamanaka, Paul Cocksedge and Arik Levy explore the potential of light. Some work with the basic symbol of electric light - the light bulb - while others look to new technologies such as fibre optics and LEDs. Using shadow play and projection, and by exploiting the possibilities of materials, technologies and visual effects, the designers reveal how light is a powerful shaper of space. Bruce Munro even takes it outdoors offering a 'Field Of Light' in the garden. The second part of the exhibition features hundreds of domestic lights and 'light-objects' by designers who have produced some of the most innovative products of recent years, including Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Gitta Gschwendtner and Karim Rashid. These embrace all manner of materials, forms and manufacture - sculptural and functional, ambient and directional, hi-tech and handmade. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th April.

Disguise is a collection of work by artists who have made it their business to play at being someone else, to the point in some cases, that the assumed persona has taken them over: their art is self creation rather than self expression.The show examines style, fashion and identity, to explore how we create and change our image, through photography, video and sculpture. All the artists adopt extreme forms of disguise to reflect on how we use it in our daily lives in our dress, make-up or behaviour. Highlights include: Fergus Greer's images of 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery in a series of extraordinary costumes which manipulate his silhouette; Cindy Sherman's photographs of herself as a series of women you might spot in an American supermarket; Nikki S Lee's radical transformations of her image and lifestyle to be accepted into a community of senior citizens or lesbians; Marcus Coates's videos that explore the boundaries between humans and animals; Yasumasa Morimura's images of himself digitally infiltrated into Pre-Raphelite paintings; and Laura Ford's childlike characters in ineffectual disguises. Manchester Art Gallery until 6th June.

Blasting The Future! Vorticism In Britain 1910 - 1920 examines this important British artistic movement, and its turbulent relationship with Futurism. Vorticism is one of the most important and distinctive avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, and was Britain's most significant contribution to the development of Modernism. Established by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism aimed to liberate British culture from the legacy of the Victorian era, promoting a dynamic art that would embrace and reflect the industrial age, through an imagery of hard-edged, geometric and often completely abstract forms. The Vorticist manifesto appeared in the first issue of the movement's official publication Blast. Its signatories included William Roberts, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and the American poet Ezra Pound, who gave the movement its name. It was greatly indebted to the Italian Futurist movement, which was very active in London during the early years of the 20th century, but the British artists consistently rejected such comparisons, and fiercely defended their independence. All of the major Vorticist artists are represented in this display of 45 works, and in addition, figures such as Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg - who were sympathetic to the aims of the movement but never belonged to it - as well as Britain's only true Futurist, C.R.W. Nevinson. Estorick Collection, London until 18th April.

Concluding

Quentin Blake: 50 Years Of Illustration is a retrospective of the drawings of the man best known as the illustrator of the works of Roald Dahl, and for being the first Children's Laureate, appointed in 1999. Spanning his 50 year career, it features everything from his earliest drawings, published in Punch when he was 16, through cartoons seen in The Spectator, to illustrations from nearly 300 books. The latter include his highly successful collaborations on children's books with both Dahl and other writers, such as Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen and John Yeoman, and his own writing in which he created characters such as Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage, as well as illustrations from classic books for adults. The comprehensive display, with rough designs, preliminary drawings and finished originals, as well as the final publications, provide a unique insight into the working methods of one of Britain's best loved illustrators. The exhibits come from the collection of The Quentin Blake Gallery of Illustration, which is planning to set up a permanent space to display the thousands of drawings in its archive. The Gilbert Collection at Somerset House until 28th March.

William West And The Regency Toy Theatre celebrates a great British institution on the 150th anniversary of the death of its inventor. In 1811, William West, a London haberdasher, began to issue sheets of engraved figures from current theatrical productions as an amusement for children. The phrase 'penny plain and twopence coloured' was coined to describe these prints, hand-coloured in deep hues. When children started to use them to perform the plays on miniature stages, West found that he had accidentally stumbled on a new career. He developed and perfected the idea over the next twenty years, commissioning wooden theatres for sale, and publishing plays that crossed the boundary from souvenir to practical toy. Later works by his successors John Redington and Benjamin Pollock are possibly better known, but this exhibition is devoted to West's pioneering work in creating the English toy theatre. It offers an insight into the childhood pursuits, scenic art, production style and popular culture of the period. The Regency toy theatre is closely related to the development of the architecture of its time, displaying the same historical and exotic styles, and effects of colour, perspective and lighting that were familiar to theatre audiences. This exhibition features the best of West's characters and scenes from the 146 miniature plays he produced. Associated material shows his sources, including scene designs, playbills and scripts, from the exotic melodramas produced at Covent Garden, Drury Lane, the Olympic and Astley's Amphitheatre. Sir John Soane's Museum until 27th March.

Travels With Edward Lear reveals a different side to the man who is best known as the author of some of the most idiosyncratic nonsense verse in the English language. Lear was in fact an outstanding watercolourist, who specialised in topographical and natural history subjects. After studying under the Pre-Raphaelite master Holman Hunt, Lear made his living throughout his life from art, by both selling his works and teaching - even giving drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. The 32 works in this exhibition are a recent acquisition and are on display for the first time. They are all depictions of locations in the eastern Mediterranean, which Lear painted during his grand tours in the 1840s and 1850s. Lear channelled his amusement at the quirkiness of human nature into his verse, which he illustrated accordingly. These sensitively observed watercolours reveal a comparable fascination with the marvels of the natural landscape, expressed in an entirely different way. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 21st March.