News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th June 2009


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 10,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Ann Christopher, Eileen Cooper and Will Alsop, with the theme Making Space. Highlights include a gallery of film curated by Richard Wilson, which includes his own site specific installation; an architecture gallery with projects by Zaha Hadid, Eric Parry, Norman Fostwer and Piers Gough; and Bryan Kneale's 'Triton III' stainless steel sculpture of concave and convex forms in the courtyard. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of the late Jean Cooke, featuring some of her key paintings, including 'Jamais je ne pleure et jamais je ne ris'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 16th August.

Tennyson Transformed is part of the celebrations of the bicentenary of the birth of the Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, confirming that his influence on Victorian culture was not just literary. The exhibition explores how Tennyson's life and work was interpreted by artists, illustrators, photographers and other creative practitioners. It includes the poet's papers, rare first editions and artworks illustrating his poetry, by contemporaries such as William Holman Hunt, Millais, J W Waterhouse and Arthur Hughes. Among the highlights are Julia Margaret Cameron's haunting photographs for 'Idylls Of The King'; and James Mudd's brooding and handsome portrait photograph of Tennyson, sporting his wide brimmed hat, unkempt locks and curled moustache - this is what a Romantic poet is supposed to look like. The Collection, Lincoln, until 31st August.

Super Contemporary celebrates the creativity of London's designers, with 15 commissions that take a fresh look across architecture, industrial design, graphics, fashion and communications in the capital. The exhibition illustrates how, with their pursuit of new, better and braver, ideas, these creatives are pushing at the forefront of design, and inventing for new worlds. David Adjaye, Industrial Facility and Thomas Heatherwick take key features of the London streetscape, the bus shelter, the telephone box and the lamp post, and re-imagine their design possibilities aesthetically and practically. El Ultimo Grito, working with Urban Salon, turn Trafalgar Square and Nelson's column into a sky garden. Ron Arad calls for the reinstatement of the much missed neon tower at the Hayward Gallery. Paul Smith, BarberOsgerby, Tom Dixon and Paul Cocksedge address the perennial problems of litter, noise, pollution, rain and surveillance, with solutions such as a rabbit rubbish bin. Nigel Coates offers his thoughts on a future for Battersea Power Station, and Zaha Hadid has a vision for the city of London. Wayne Hemingway has produced an outlet to help student designers and entrepreneurs, Ross Phillips provides interactive video pods, and Kit Grover turns folk law into a pin broach. An accompanying pictorial timeline places iconic London designs of the last 50 years against the world events that bred them. Design Museum, until 4th October.


Henry's Women brings together portraits of each of Henry VIII's wives for the first time, along with some of their personal objects, and paintings of Henry himself, and his daughters, Mary I and Elizabeth I, as part of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The exhibition features the earliest surviving panel portrait of Katherine of Aragon, which incorporates symbolisms of the Queen's struggle to remain Henry's wife; a possible contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn, currently dated to the reign of her daughter, Elizabeth I; a portrait of Anne of Cleves, possibly offered to envoys in 1539 prior to her meeting the king; a portrait recently re-identified as Catherine Howard; the earliest full length portrait of Elizabeth I as queen; and a portrait of Mary I, thought to be a marriage portrait for her marriage to Phillip II of Spain. Each wife is united with a personal object related to her fate, including a lock of Kateryn Parr's hair taken from her corpse; the marriage annulment document of Henry and Anne of Cleves; the only surviving letter of Catherine Howard, written to her alleged lover Thomas Culpepper; the music book written for Anne Boleyn by one of her alleged lovers Mark Smeaton; together with Henry's own rare and beautifully crafted rosary. The exhibition is staged Henry's Council Chamber, which is open to the public for the first time. It was one of the first rooms to be built by the king when he took possession of the Palace, and is dressed in rich silk fabric hangings, decorated with golden Fleur de Lis and the Tudor rose. Hampton Court Palace until 3rd August.

Great North Museum has just opened after a 3 year refurbishment of the Hancock Museum site, incorporating collections from the Hancock Museum, Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities, the Shefton Museum and the Hatton Gallery. The £26m project, designed by Terry Farrell and Partners, has seen the fabric of the Grade II listed building restored, an extension added to the rear, and a new high-tech museum created inside. This displays a selection of objects from the combined collections, amounting to some 500,000 artifacts, in the best contemporary way. Highlights include a large scale, interactive model of Hadrian's Wall; The Living Planet, showing the evolutionary process over 350m years of natural history, including full size models of an elephant, a great white shark, a polar bear, a giraffe and moa skeleton; an interactive Bio-Wall, featuring hundreds of creatures, revealing how they live and how they survive in such extreme places as the Arctic and deserts; live animal tanks and aquaria, with wolf fish, pythons, lizards and leaf cutting ants; a geology gallery housing a glittering display of gems and crystals; spectacular arms, art and archeological remains from Ancient Greece; Egyptian treasures, such as the mummy of Irtyru and a statue of Ramses II; a planetarium; and, of course, a life size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton. Great North Museum, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, continuing.

Richard Long: Heaven And Earth provides an opportunity to view the work of the British artist who extended the possibilities of sculpture beyond traditional materials and methods, radically rethinking the relationship between art and landscape. Long's work is rooted in his deep affinity with nature, developed during solitary walks. Comprising over 80 works, selected across 4 decades, the exhibition includes large-scale mud wall works, and new photographic and text works documenting walks around the world, plus a big selection of the artists' books, postcards and other printed matter. Long's walks have taken him through rural areas in Britain, and as far afield as the plains of Canada, Mongolia and Bolivia. He never makes significant alterations to the landscapes he passes through, but adjusts the natural order of wilderness places, up-ending stones, or making simple, geometric shapes. Long's work explores relationships between time, distance, geography, measurement and movement. He usually works in the landscape, and presents his work in various forms, which include artists' books and postcards, but sometimes uses natural materials in the gallery. The exhibition includes key early works such as 'A Line Made by Walking', made in a field, where Long walked back and forth until the flattened grass caught by the sunlight became visible as a line, a path going 'nowhere', which he then photographed; and six major stone sculptures, such as 'Norfolk Flint Circle', an eight metre sculpture consisting of a single layer of flints lying close together on the floor laid in the gallery, as on his walks, in simple geometric configurations such as circles, lines, and ellipses. Tate Britain until 6th September.

The North-West Passage: An Arctic Obsession examines the myths and realities of the centuries long British endeavour to find the 'passage round the pole'. The fabled North-West Passage, the sea route linking the North Atlantic with the north Pacific Ocean, was sought by explorers as a lucrative short cut for trade between Europe and the East. The exhibition looks at some of the extraordinary stories, feats of endurance and tragedies that surround famous attempts by Sir John Ross, Sir James Clarke Ross, Sir William Parry and Sir John Franklin. Franklin's expedition of unprecedented scale, in vessels equipped with the latest technological innovations, was to become one of the greatest disasters of Arctic exploration, as both ships and their entire crews vanished. The display also provides a glimpse into the survival strategies used by 19th century explorers to combat the Arctic's harsh climate (including on Franklin's expedition, cannibalism when the food supply was exhausted). Over 120 objects - portrait and landscape paintings, letters, maps and ethnographic items, together with food supplies and equipment retrieved by later expeditions - highlight British attempts to explore and map the Arctic. Highlights include drawings that record early encounters with the Inuit, from John Ross's 1829-33 expedition; the flagstaff which Sir James Clark Ross erected to mark his discovery of the North Magnetic Pole in 1831; and letters and relics, including snow goggles and a pocket chronometer, recovered from Franklin's doomed voyage of 1845. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 3rd January.

Rank: Picturing Social Order is the first exhibition uniting artists, researchers and information from public agencies, to look at how British society has been represented, from the Renaissance to the present day. It brings together nearly 100 contributors, placing masterpieces from national art collections next to images made for the urban poor from the Working Class Movement Library, and those for Victorian middle class collectors from libraries and archives. The show reveals the shape of society through objects from different social strata, as well as representations of 'ranks', 'classes', 'orders' and 'estates'. Thus, pictures of myths and stereotypes of national life sit alongside those based on hard fact. All seek to visualise the ways in which societies are, and have been, ordered and classified. Among the objects old and new are Fra Didacus Valades's 'The Great Chain of Being'; Thomas Hobbes's 'Leviathan'; George Cruikshank's 'The British Bee Hive: A Penny Political Picture for the People'; William Frith's 'Derby Day'; Ernest Jones's 'The Factory System as Hell'; Eric Gill's 'Dumb-Driven Cattle'; Victor Bergin's 'Possession'; Ciaran Hughes's 'Meet Mr and Mrs Average'; and Evan Holloway's 'Capital'. Though not all the images here can be described as great art, collectively they provide a striking portrait of social disparity - and how it has changed - through the centuries. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 11th July ~ Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, 24th July until 5th September.

Tom Hunter: Flashback is a series of portraits by photographer Tom Hunter, commissioned in anticipation of new Galleries of Modern London, which will open next spring. Hunter is known for making photographs of contemporary subjects inspired by classical paintings, often including newspaper headlines. Here, taking some of the people involved with the new galleries, Hunter created stage sets using objects from the museum's collection. Like a time lord travelling from one period to the next, Hunter has stolen moments from several eras, juxtaposing historical London with modern icons, such as a Vespa scooter with a museum designer dressed in a 1770s panier dress; a project assistant wearing a 1960s mini dress standing in front of a 1920s Lyons Corner House window; the chairman leaning on a Model Y Ford 8 car in a 1750s silk frock coat and periwig; and a project manager wearing a 20th century 'nippy' waitress's mob cap and black dress in an 18th century prison cell. Hunter's intention was to convey the freedom to travel in time, as visitors do when they walk through a museum, but unlike a museum, which sets out to make sense of history, he sets out to confuse, by creating surprising portraits that steal from different times and fashions. The portraits are rich with colour yet intensely dark, reminiscent of the old masters style. Museum of London, until spring 2010.


Madness & Modernity looks at the relationship between mental illness, the visual arts and architecture in Vienna around 1900. The exhibition presents the range of ways madness and art interacted in Vienna, from designs for utopian psychiatric spaces, to the drawings of the patients confined within them. It shows how psychiatry influenced early modernism in the visual arts, and how modernism shaped the lives and images of mentally ill people. Vienna was one of Europe's leading centres for psychiatric innovation around 1900, and there was an overwhelming sense of the Viennese living in 'nervous times'. Anxieties about mental health were allied to anxieties about the modern, capitalist city, with its new technologies, modes of work and play, and speeds of life. The experience of modernity gave a new impetus to the study of madness. The exhibition comprises around 80 exhibits, including the work of artists such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, and leading modernist designers and architects Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner, who sought to create a new kind of environment for the care and confinement of mentally ill people. As well as original paintings, drawings and design objects, the display also includes artworks by asylum patients, therapeutic equipment, architectural models and drawings, and two specially commissioned films by the artist David Bickerstaff. These contrast the buildings of Wagner with the kind of asylums they were designed to replace, taking viewers on a journey through the spaces of Vienna asylums of the 18th and 20th centuries. The Wellcome Collection, London, until 28th June.

Symbolism In Poland And Britain brings a group of works by Polish Symbolist artists together with paintings by their British contemporaries, exploring the relationship between the two schools around 1900. The side by side presentation of Polish and British works allows links to be traced, and influences and inspirations to be discovered. Artists include Edward Burne-Jones, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Alfred Gilbert, Jozef Pankiewicz, John Singer Sargent, Stanisuaw Wyspianski, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Jozef Mehoffer, Frank Cowper, Witold Wojtkiewicz, John Collier and Jacek Malczewski. Highlights include Jozef Mehoffer's 'Strange Garden', portraying the artist's wife and son; Jacek Malczewski's 'Eloe with Ellenai', inspired by a patriotic history poem; Witold Wojtkiewicz's 'Christ and the Children' and 'Meditations'; Stanisùaw Wyspianski's 'Apollo'; and Lawrence Alma-Tadema's portrait of the pianist Ignacy Paderewski. Tate Britain until 21st June.

Constable Portraits: The Painter And His Circle is the first exhibition dedicated to John Constable's portraits, and the insights they bring to his art, life and relationships. Spanning 30 years, the exhibition of some 50 works includes oil portraits, watercolours and sketches. Broadly chronological, it begins with images of the artist himself alongside portraits of his friends and family, created when he was a young man. It includes intimate portraits of Constable's wife, Maria Bicknell, produced in the early years of their romance and marriage. Portraiture, like letter writing, played an important part in their protracted courtship because they were frequently parted for long periods. It was only in the later 18th century that the commissioning of portraits had expanded beyond the aristocracy to middle class clients, including clergymen and their wives, doctors, landed gentry and families made wealthy through trade, represented here by portraits of Revd John Fisher, Mrs Pulham, Mrs Tuder and Mrs Edwards, who seem like characters from a Jane Austen or George Eliot novel. The exhibition ends with images of Constable in later life, and his son, Charles, painted before he went to sea at the age of 14. National Portrait Gallery until 14th June.