News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th November 2010


Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition showcases more than 300 artefacts retrieved from wreck of the RMS Titanic over one and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the life of the White Star Line ship. It touches on every important aspect of the Titanic's story, from construction, launching, and life on board, through the tragic sinking and dramatic rescue of over 700 people, to the discovery of the ship 73 years later, and the innovative recovery and conservation of some 5,500 objects made over the 25 years since then. The exhibition has been created with a focus on the Titanic's human stories, told through authentic artefacts and re-creations of the ship's decks, first and third class cabins, cargo hold and boiler room. Delicate bottles of perfume, china and crystal decanters bearing the logo of the White Star Line, the bell that hung over the crow's nest, the telegraph used to relay orders from the bridge to the engine room, a Gladstone bag and other items of luggage, and many other objects collected from the wreck site, offer poignant connections to lives abruptly ended or forever changed by one of the world's greatest maritime tragedies. 14 of the artefacts on view are on display for the first time, their conservation having only just been completed. There is also video footage of this summer's expedition when scientists were mapping the wreck site. A gallery is devoted to the stories of passengers and crew with a London connection, ranging from fashion designer Lady Duff Cooper to stewardess Violet Jessop. The O2 Bubble, Greenwich, until 1st May.

Chinese Ceramics And The Early Modern World traces the remarkable journey of Chinese ceramics throughout the globe. Between 1300 and 1800, ceramic objects manufactured at southern Chinese kilns were some of the most universally desired products in the world. From humble Cambodian traders to the shahs of Iran and the princesses of Europe, the wide dissemination of Chinese ceramics testifies to cross-cultural encounters on a truly global scale. Both functional and collectable, ceramic objects were also the bearers of culture that could be interpreted or absorbed in different ways, and Chinese imports influenced many of the indigenous ceramic traditions they encountered. In particular, the exhibition focuses on a European aspect of this dissemination of Chinese ceramics, known as 'China Mania'. It investigates the rise and resilience of porcelain collecting, comparing European notions of material beauty and desire with those of China. The ceramics of all kinds on display show the rich diversity, beauty and quality of the porcelain produced in this period, easily illustrating why it was so sought after. There is much beyond the willow-pattern plate. Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, until 12th December.

Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography features works by contemporary artists who use the principles of photography but work without a camera. The essence of photography lies in its seemingly magical ability to fix shadows on light-sensitive surfaces, but these artists create images on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper. They are always 'an original' because they are not made from a negative. Floris Neususs has dedicated his career to extending the practice of the photogram process, and his works deal in opposites: black and white, shadow and light, movement and stillness, presence and absence, and in the translation of three dimensions into two. Pierre Cordier uses the chemigram process, applying photographic developer to the paper to create dark areas and fixer for lighter tones, further changing the patterns and effects by adding products such as varnish, wax, glue, oil, egg and syrup. Garry Fabian Miller makes abstract images in the darkroom, using only glass vessels filled with liquids, or cut-paper forms to cast shadows and filter light, with many of his works exploring the cycle of time over a day, month or year, through experiments with varying durations of light exposure. Susan Derges makes photograms of water, using the landscape at night as her darkroom, submerging large sheets of photographic paper in rivers and using the moon and flashlight to create the exposure. Adam Fuss's work concerns the discovery of the unseen, dealing with time and energy rather than material form, and as well as mastering numerous historic and modern photographic techniques, he has developed an array of symbolic or emblematic motifs. Victoria & Albert Museum until 20th February.


Journey Through The Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book Of The Dead explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death through rich textual and visual material. The 'Book', used for over 1500 years between around 1600 BC and 100 AD, is not a single text, but a compilation of spells thought to equip the dead with knowledge and power that would guide them safely through the dangers of the hereafter and ultimately ensure eternal life. The exhibition opens a window onto the complex belief systems of the ancient Egyptians where death and afterlife were a central focus. Beautifully coloured illustrations show the many stages of the journey from death to the afterlife, including the day of burial, protection in the tomb, judgement, and entering the hereafter. These include the fields and rivers of the Netherworld, the gods and demons whom the deceased would meet, and the critical 'weighing of the heart' ritual, the judgement that would determine whether the soul was admitted into the afterlife, or condemned to destruction at the hands of the monstrous 'Devourer'. Although the earliest texts appeared on the mummy shrouds of royal families and high officials, papyrus became the texts' main medium and remained so for more than 1,000 years. Due to the fragility of the papyri and their sensitivity to light it is extremely rare for any of these manuscripts to be displayed in public. Highlights include the longest Book Of The Dead in the world, the Greenfield Papyrus, which measures 37 metres in length and has never been shown publicly in its entirety before, and the paintings from the papyri of Ani and Hunefer, together with an array of painted coffins, gilded masks, amulets, jewellery, tomb figurines and mummy trappings. State of the art visualisation technology provides new ways of accessing and understanding this key source in the history of world religions. British Museum until 6th March.

R100 & R101 Airships At Cardington marks the 80th Anniversary of the R101 disaster with an examination of the British airship industry in the 1930s. The exhibition charts the story of how a small village became the country's major airship centre. Starting with the building of the huge airship sheds at Cardington (which still remain today), it then explores the government's grand plans for long distance airship travel across the British Empire. Film, photographs and objects bring to life the construction of the R100 and R101 airships in the Royal Airship Works, the stories of their staff and crew, and the R101's final fateful flight to India in October 1930, crashing in a field in France en route. The exhibition includes a wide variety of artifacts on display together for the first time, with personal belongings, unique documents and objects, including a passenger bunk bed from the R100 showing what life was like onboard these giants of the sky, designed to be 'floating hotels'. The R101 boasted two decks with luxury cabins, a dining room accommodating 60 people, a smoking room, and a spacious lounge of 5,500 square feet on its upper deck. Although airship building slowed down dramatically after the crash of the R101, the exhibition also shows how this was far from the end of the story of Cardington, which has seen regular attempts to resurrect the airship concept right up to the present day. Bedford Museum until 19th December.

The Glasgow Boys: Drawings And Watercolours is a selection of works by the informal grouping of artists who were inspired by progressive French painting, and produced some of the most decorative and adventurous painting in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. The group of around 20 artists became known as the 'Glasgow Boys', whose leading figures, James Guthrie, George Henry, E A Hornel, John Lavery, Arthur Melville, James Paterson and E A Walton, treated watercolour and pastel as mediums just as noble as paint. The 80 works on display feature drawings and watercolours that mainly belong to the second half of the artists' careers, when their early interest in rustic realism had been replaced by a commitment to decorative and aesthetic effect, and a wider range of subject matter. Highlights include James Guthrie's 'To Pastures New' and 'The Hind's Daughter', George Henry's 'Noon' and Edward Arthur Walton's 'A Berwickshire Fieldworker', among the studies of individual figures; James Paterson's 'Moniaive' and James Guthrie's 'Winter', both of which show a desire to experiment in an almost abstract manner with the forms and shapes found in landscape; Arthur Melville's 'A Byway in Granada', in which he achieved its strong contrast between light and dark by dropping pure pigment onto untouched areas of the wet paper; George Henry's 'A Japanese Pottery Seller' and 'Japanese Beauty', which mark a high point in his career; and John Lavery's 'The Tennis Party' and William Kennedy's 'Stirling Station', which record modern urban life. Royal Academy of Arts until 23rd January.

Cezanne's Card Players is the first exhibition to focus on the these famous paintings of peasant card players and pipe smokers. They have long been considered to be among Paul Cezanne's most iconic and powerful paintings, standing alongside his 'Bathers' series as the most ambitious and complex figurative works of his career. The exhibition brings together the most comprehensive group of these works ever assembled, including 3 of the 'Card Players' paintings, 5 of the most outstanding peasant portraits, and the majority of the rarely seen preparatory drawings, watercolours and oil studies. Cezanne's depictions of card players was one of his most ambitious projects and occupied him for several years. It resulted in 5 closely related canvases of different sizes, showing men seated at a rustic table playing cards. Alongside these he produced a larger number of paintings of the individual farm workers who appear in the 'Card Players' compositions, major examples of which are reunited here for the first time. Cezanne devoted himself to his peasant card players, often repeating his compositions, striving to express the essence of these sun-beaten farm workers whom he found so compelling. Rather than posing his models as a group playing cards, Cezanne made studies of them individually, and only brought them together as opponents on the canvas itself. The men are not shown as rowdy drinkers and gamblers, in the way that, for centuries, peasants had been depicted in rural genre paintings. Rather, they are stoical and completely absorbed in the time-honoured ritual of their game. The Courtauld Gallery, London, until 16th January.

Tutankhamun - His Tomb And His Treasures breaks new ground in the presentation of cultural history - 'virtual archaeology'. It is a complete recreation of the tomb of the Egyptian God King Tutankhamun, as it was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. Visitors experience the wonder of over 1,000 burial artefacts - perfect replicas produced under the scientific supervision of renowned Egyptologists - in the space in which they were buried 3,300 years ago, and close enough to touch. The tomb contained not only the coffin of the king, but also golden shrines, statues, jewellery, cult objects, chests, chairs, amulets, weapons, a golden chariot, and the jars that contained the king's preserved organs, as well as the legendary golden death mask. These items were intended to equip the young Pharaoh on his journey to the afterlife. Owing to the delicate and immensely valuable nature of original historical artefacts, removing them from the safe and carefully controlled confines of a museum environment presents huge risks, no matter how much care is taken, and increasingly, many historic treasures can no longer even be viewed in museums. So, instead of displaying a mere handful of the original treasures locked away at a distance behind glass barriers, in this exhibition it is as if visitors are actually reliving the events of the historic excavation, and viewing the world famous treasures as though they were there themselves. In addition, there is a display about how Howard Carter made the discovery of the tomb. Museum of Museums, The Trafford Centre, Manchester, until 27th February.

Explore History: 1940 marks the 70th anniversary of a year in which momentous events determined the eventual outcome of the Second World War: Churchill's rise to power, the introduction of rationing, the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and the Blitz. The exhibition showcases some of the icons of 1940, such as the Spitfire, the 'hero' of the Battle of Britain; Tamzine, one of the famous 'little ships' that played such a significant role in Operation 'Dynamo' at Dunkirk; personal items belonging to Pilot Officer Frederick Cecil Harrold, who was killed when his Hurricane was shot down on 28th September 1940, including his pilot 'wings', and a dented cigarette case; and Sapper Alexander Graham King's accordion, which he played on the beaches of Dunkirk in a bid to boost morale during the evacuation. The display, encompassing films, photographs, sound recordings, documents, art, books, artefacts and ephemera, is accompanied by multimedia touchscreens offering visitors the chance to explore the stories behind each exhibit and event of 1940. Imperial War Museum, London continuing.


Storm Force features a diverse collection of paintings and watercolours on the subject of man battling against the almighty elements of the sea. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from the first public view of the newly restored Robert Ernest Roe painting of the infamous local storm of October 1880, which lasted for 3 days, together with its 2 sister paintings of the same theme. Among the Victorian works on display are a selection of watercolours by H B Carter. There are also canvasses by contemporary artist Len Tabner, who paints from life - actually working outdoors in the storm. Accompanying the paintings and watercolours is a display of traditional fisherman's ganseys. These are unique garments that can help identify the fisherman, with each pattern linked to the town of origin and the family of the wearer, handed down from generation to generation. Ganseys can take months to complete and have a specific form and method of construction. Made from a highly twisted woollen yarn sometimes called 'seaman's iron', which is usually navy blue, they are knitted seamlessly and 'in the round' on five needles. Scarborough Art Gallery until 28th November.

Salvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness And Magic features the work of one of the boldest and most powerfully inventive artists and personalities of the Italian 17th century. Salvator Rosa invented new types of painting: allegorical pictures, distinguished by a haunting and melancholy poetry; fanciful portraits of romantic and enigmatic figures; macabre and horrific subjects; and philosophical subjects, bringing into painting some of the major philosophical and scientific concerns of his age. Rosa's early works, particularly the landscapes, are bright and rich in picturesque motifs - crumbling towers, boats on the seashore, colourful travellers crossing perilous bridges, bandits lying in wait in rocky ravines - but he moved towards a grander style, and his mature art is characterised by a free technique, rich chiaroscuro and dark but strong colours creating a suggestive atmosphere. The exhibition ranges from self-portraits and other fanciful portraits to landscapes - pastoral, heroic and anchorite. Some of these are stark works, and the power of the elements pulses through them, of wind, water, fire and cloud. They are linked in theme to the paintings of magic and science, conveying a 17th century sense of the awesome grandeur of the natural world revealed by the new science. Highlights include 'Archytas', 'Lucrezia as Poetry', 'Allegory of Fortune', 'The Death of Empedocles', 'Jason Charming the Dragon', 'The Death of Regulus', 'The Frailty of Human Life' and 'Witches at their Incantations'. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, until 28th November.

Kitagawa Utamaro is a survey of woodblock prints by the renowned 18th century Japanese artist. The exhibition focuses on images of women, in particular the courtesans of Yoshiwara, the regulated brothel district in Edo (now Tokyo). Kitagawa Utamaro formed a partnership with a master publisher, which enabled him to gain a wide reputation as a chronicler of the Yoshiwara district and, more generally, as a leading exponent of ukiyo-e ('pictures of the floating world'). Images of bijinga ('beautiful people'), Kabuki actors, landscapes and city life were typical of ukiyo-e, espousing a life lived only for the moment. They informed, amused and distracted their audience by depicting available pleasures. Utamaro's images of the women of Yoshiwara, often conceived in series, functioned as sophisticated advertisements or guides to a sensuous world, untroubled by overt references to the difficulties of work and politics. Gestures, demeanour, clothing, accessories and the decor of the womens' accommodation, rather than their personal features, are scrutinised and described in accompanying calligraphy. The exhibition also includes a number of Utamaro's explicitly erotic works, called shunga ('spring pictures'). Issued as albums of sheet prints and as illustrated books, they are unambiguous in their intention to titillate. Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until 14th November.