News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th December 2003


Roadside Architecture is an exhibition of recent photography by John Margolies, who has been recording disappearing vernacular architecture in a one man odyssey across America for over 30 years. Commercial outlets designed to look like the products they purveyed - such as a gigantic hamburger or petrol pump - were once a common feature on the highways and byways of America. However, the coming of the freeways has seen the demise of the 'mom and pop' businesses that spawned them, and they are fast disappearing. Margolies, an expert on roadside architecture, a commercial archaeologist, a cultural populist and an avid chronicler of the all-American culture of the automobile, has recorded iconic drive-ins, diners, gas stations, movie palaces, main streets and miniature golf courses to name but a few. He has traced the evolutionary tradition of gas station design, history, and lore - from horse-drawn pumps of the early 1900s to the convenience stores of today, particularly 'the golden age' from 1920 to 1940, when humble outlets evolved into palaces of petroleum. Margolies also looks at movie theatres - the drive ins and the cinema cathedrals - which enjoyed their hey day from 1930 to 1960, but have now disappeared, having been absorbed into the amorphous malls. The Building Centre, London 020 7692 6209 until 17th January.

William Stott Of Oldham 1857 - 1900: A Comet Rushing To The Sun is the snappy title of the first major exhibition for over 100 years of work by the 19th century artist. After studying in Oldham and Manchester Stott went to Paris, where he achieved rapid success, exhibiting regularly at the Paris Salon. On returning to England, he was prominent among Whistler's followers, until The Birth Of Venus, his painting of Whistler's mistress Maud Franklin depicted naked, which caused a rift between the two artists. This exhibition includes over 80 paintings and pastel drawings from throughout Stott's career, showing the wide range of styles and influences he explored in his work. These include figures in landscape for which he is particularly well known, such as the early works Girl In A Meadow and The Ferry, that helped to establish his reputation as an important British Impressionist painter, and landscapes themselves - dramatic Alpine scenes and seascapes of the Cumbrian coastline at Ravenglass. Much of his later work moves towards the Pre Raphaelitism, being highly decorative and depicting scenes from mythology and the legends of King Arthur. Gallery Oldham until 24th April.

Winter Wonderland is one of Europe's largest Christmas extravaganzas that is packed with attractions. They include an Enchanted Forest; a 12 rides of Christmas theme park and funfair, with a giant Ferris wheel, log flume and a new inverted roller coaster called Tsunami; Santa's Workshop, with a starlight journey, elves and presents; the largest temporary skating rink in the country; an international circus; a super cinema with cartoons, live characters, games and prizes; a Lego area with cars and models; and a traditional German Christmas market, with stalls offering all kinds of gifts, foods and decorations; plus a variety of seasonal food and drink. It ends on New Years Eve with a Grand Finale, featuring live music, an explosive countdown to midnight with illuminations, fireworks and laser displays lighting up the sky, a disco and a stand up comedy area. Entry is free for children under 13 and senior citizens. Further information can be found on the WW web site via the link from the Others Festivals & Events section of ExhibitionsNet. The Millennium Dome 6th to 31st December.


Christmas Past: Seasonal Traditions In English Homes is a glimpse of the traditions, rituals and decorative styles of Christmases over the last 400 years, from kissing under the mistletoe to decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties. Twelve rooms in the Grade 1 listed group of fourteen almshouses, a chapel and their gardens that comprise the museum, from the 17th century with oak furniture and panelling, through the refined splendour of the Georgian period, and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity, seen in a 1930s flat, and a mid century 'contemporary' style room, sparkle with authentic festive decorations of their times. Special events include workshops creating Georgian Christmas decorations with natural materials, and traditional Christmas card making; festive food and unusual gifts; and candle lit evenings of carols and storytelling. It all ends outdoors with traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, celebrated with carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake. The Geffyre Museum until 6th January.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, covering 9000sqm and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is transformed, with music playing, and illumination from flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy the traditional fare of baked potatoes, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. Somerset House until 26th January.

Making Spirits Bright is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - plus a Victorian carousel, a steam traction engine ride, free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants, and Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes performances by choirs and brass bands; an exhibition of British Landscape In Winter photographs; demonstrations of seasonal cooking and flower arranging; carols and storytelling; and a recreation of a rural winter scene; plus festive food and drink. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 4th January.

Thomas Jones In Italy features the work of one of the most innovative, yet least known British artists from the second half of the 18th century. Jones small oil-sketches, painted during travels around Italy in the 1770s and 1780s, are masterpieces of observation and concision, while his 'Memoirs' are the most complete and compelling records of an artist's life at the time. Neither were known until about 50 years ago, when their rediscovery led to the recognition that a major artist had been all but forgotten. This exhibition includes 70 informal oil-sketches, drawings and watercolours, painted in Rome and Naples, and the surrounding countryside. Jones speciality was architectural landscapes, or to be precise the depiction of walls - the more decrepit the better - and thus he was in his element in southern Italy. Although the sketches were made as records of locations, to be incorporated in later paintings created in his studio back in England, the acuteness of their observation and their freshness make them works of art in their own right. Among those included here is 'A Wall in Naples' of about 1782, recognised as a masterpiece of the oil-sketch tradition. National Gallery until 15th February.

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future / Destination Mars is a double bill of exhibitions, allowing interplanetary fiction to meet fact, in examining the possibilities of space exploration. The first exhibition documents the adventures of Dan Dare and his crew from the Interplanet Spacefleet, travelling to asteroids and beyond, battling with aliens, and fending off global disasters. Originally conceived by Marcus Morris as a sky pilot (or interplanetary Vicar), and created by Frank Hampson, the 1950s Eagle comic strip featured many scientific ideas that later became reality, such as the space shuttle, and how the mechanics of space suits work. This is the largest exhibition of Dan Dare material yet assembled, with artwork, memorabilia and merchandise, and a wide range of artefacts and items used in their creation, displayed in a mock-up of the original artist's studio in Epsom. The story of the British Space Programme from 1955 to 1971 provides a link between Dan Dare and the modern exploration of Mars in the second exhibition. Using interactive displays, the latest scientific knowledge of Red planet and its history is revealed, including a simulation of a survey mission across its surface, and an assessment of whether it could support life. Museum Of Science & Industry In Manchester until 18th January.

History Of Modern Design In The Home traces the development of domestic design - both the spaces people live in, and the objects they surround themselves with - from the late 19th to early 21st centuries. It tells the stories behind landmarks in modern design that have transformed our homes and the way we use them. There is a series of living rooms, ranging from the elegance of a Bauhaus Master's House in 1920s Germany, through a prefabricated house built by Charles and Ray Eames in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and one of Verner Panton's pop-inspired 1960s dining rooms, to a contemporary live-work space specially designed by the Bouroullec brothers. The show examines how advances in technology and the introduction of new 'shapeable' materials, such as plywood and plastic, were exploited, and how fashion has become a major influence in the home. As well as reconstructing the iconic interiors that influenced design in particular decades, the exhibition deconstructs the design and development of influential objects. These include the bentwood furniture with which the Austrian manufacturer Thonet pioneered mass production in the late 19th century; the introduction of the first Penguin paperback book and early Anglepoise lamp in the 1930s; and recent innovations such as Apple's Powerbook computer and iPod player. Design Museum until September.


Sigmar Polke: History Of Everything showcases recent work by one of Germany's most significant artists, who incorporates something often lacking in both contemporary art and Germans - humour. Since the early 1960s Polke has experimented with a wide range of styles and subject matter, bringing together imagery from unexpected sources both historical and contemporary, including photographic and printed material such as advertisements, illustrations and cartoons. He has used a variety of different materials and techniques, including commercial patterned fabrics instead of canvas, and mixed together traditional pigments with solvents, varnishes, toxins and resins to produce spontaneous chemical reactions. Polke explored the visual effects of mechanical technology reproduced by hand, imitating the dots of enlarged newsprint by painting with the rubber at the end of a pencil. His series of 'Printers Mistakes' are production glitches enlarged to become abstracts or even figurative motifs. Polke likes to make works with specific venues in mind, and this display features recent pieces originally created for the Dallas Museum of Art from imagery found in Texan newspapers, referring to the gun culture of the West, and America's role in global politics. The group of around 100 pieces also features several large scale works made specifically for London, with examples of his latest technique of 'Machine Painting'. These are his first completely mechanically produced works, made by tinting and altering images on a computer and then photographically transferring them on to sheets of fabric. Tate Modern until 4th January.

Zoomorphic examines how many of today's leading architects are using animal forms as their inspiration to take modern architecture structurally, visually or organically in a new direction. This is being made possible by new building materials, computer design software, more sophisticated structural engineering and the suspension of the old rules of architectural integrity and good taste. Not since Art Nouveau a century ago has there been such an eruption of new building inspired by the natural world. This exhibition pulls together world wide buildings and projects at the forefront of this new movement, and explores the reasons for the animal analogy, displaying architectural models and photographs alongside skeletons and specimens of the species that have influenced them. Among those whose work is featured are Will Alsop, Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Nicholas Grimshaw and Renzo Piano. The projects considered include the Milwaukee Art Museum, with a roof that rises like a bird with outstretched wings; Waterloo International Terminal, whose glazing panels are articulated like the scales of a lizard; and the Swiss Re tower, where not only the appearance, but the structure, and even the ventilation system bear analogy with sea sponges (not to mention gherkins). Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th January.

Art For Votes' Sake: Visual Culture And The Women's Suffrage Campaign marks the centenary of the formation of the Women's Social and Political Union with an exhibition of materials employed in the 25 year long struggle to achieve the vote for women. Determined to fire the public imagination, suffrage artists exploited everything from traditional embroidery to the latest printing technologies, while some suffragettes like 'Slasher Mary' vandalised great paintings as a form of protest. An eclectic array of material is on show, much of it for the first time. An enamelled pendent by Ernestine Mills, an oil by Bertha Newcombe and drawings by Sylvia Pankhurst are displayed alongside new media such as experimental posters, post cards and photo journalism. Embroidery includes richly appliqued banners incorporating rare painted and printed scenes and aprons made by individual members. Portraiture was used to create public recognition, and there are examples of leading figures appearing in cartoons, paintings and photographs. Among the smaller items are jewellery, picture handkerchiefs, button badges, campaign journals and leaflets. Complementing the exhibition, there is a chance to browse the cultural and literary life of the time, and examine how writers such as George Bernard Shaw, Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf reacted to the campaign, alongside fiction from the Women Writers Suffrage League such as Gertrude Colmore's 'Suffragette Sally' and Elizabeth Robbins 'The Convert'. The Women's Library until 20th December.