News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th August 2009


The Sound And The Fury: The Power Of Public Speaking dips into the National Sound Archive, which is home to every conceivable variety of human speech, from spoken poetry, prose and drama, through transcribed and quoted speeches in the in the press, to the oral testimony of ordinary people from all walks of life. This exhibition offers a historical review of the art and the power of public speaking in all its forms, with audio drawn from over a century of recorded sound, accompanied by images from the national newspaper collection. The essence of the art of oratory is the art of persuasion, of converting an audience to a strongly held personal belief, and the recordings and images presented here document every shade of the political and social spectrum, from Florence Nightingale, Gladstone and Lloyd George in the earliest years of recorded sound, to some of the most iconic, intriguing and amusing speeches of recent decades. Impassioned social protest is a recurring theme, with Allen Ginsberg addressing a crowd on the plight of imprisoned White Panthers leader John Sinclair; American comedian Dick Gregory speaking at Kent State University, where National Guardsmen had shot and killed four student protesters; and Matthew Parris speaking on gay rights at Cambridge University Union. From more recent years there is Salman Rushdie, speaking at the ICA on the day his book had been publicly burned in Bradford and withdrawn from its shops by WH Smith; and the writers Tom Stoppard and Martin Amis standing up for Rushdie at the Stationers Hall in London. The British Library until 31st December.

New Radicals: From Sickert To Freud charts the period from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, when British art, while under the influence of developments across Europe (Impressionism, Post-impressionism and Surrealism) produced some peculiarly inventive, and at times eccentric, artists, and tells the stories behind some exceptional works of art. The sickly yet sensuous canvases of the Camden Town Group set the scene as painters such as Walter Sickert and Harold Gilman attempted to adapt the post impressionist penchant for sun drenched landscapes to the smog bound streets of north London. Comparably Ivon Hitchens's gestural semi-abstracts and David Bomberg's landscapes have a particularly English rainy day aura. The exhibition also examines the work of a variety of distinct and individual artists whose work stood apart from their contemporaries, including Cecil Collins, L S Lowry and Lucian Freud. Key works that show the new artistic direction in the early part of the 20th century include Walter Sickert's 'Bathers, Dieppe' and Harold Gilman's iconic portrait 'Mrs Mounter'. Modernist works include Paul Nash's 'Telecommunications' and 'Landscape of the Moon's Last Phase'. Amongst works that point towards a highly distinct and individual approach are Christopher Wood's 'French Cyclists', Cecil Collins's 'A Song', L S Lowry's 'The Fever Van' and Stanley Spencer's 'Villas at Cookham'. Walker Art Gallert, Liverpool, until 20th September.

Bathing Beauties explores the role that good architecture can play in economic and cultural regeneration. The exhibition evolved from a competition, which inspired 240 international architects, artists and designers to compete for commissions to build their beach hut designs along the Lincolnshire coast. The display comprises over 100 of the most exciting models from this competition, including structures based on ideas of global warming and mind travel; huts incorporating wind turbines, saunas and viewing platforms; and occasional oblique nods to sandcastles and stripy windbreaks. While the beach hut is perceived as a treasured feature of our coastal landscape, as quintessentially British as fish and chips and the knotted handkerchief, in reality they are usually little more than a painted shed. This exhibition is a collection of dreams of what they might be. Striking, unconventional and surprising, many of the models celebrate the idea of happening upon something by chance when strolling along the beach, whilst others are bold and imaginative exercises in the use of space, light and line. There is a specially commissioned film providing some background to the work on display, and a full scale copper-clad revolving beach hut in the form of a clamshell called Oyster Pleasance, designed by A-Models in collaboration with Will Alsop. Alongside the exhibition, is a display of objects, including costumes and souvenirs, which explore the history of seaside holidays in Cumbria. Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, until 20th September.


Exquisite Bodies provides an insight into a strange and forgotten chapter in medical history, with a spectacular display of anatomical models, which were used not only to teach but also to titillate the public in Victorian Britain and Europe. During the 19th century, museums of anatomical models became popular attractions, and in London, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona, the public could learn about the inner workings of the body through displays that combined serious science with an element of fairground horror. This exhibition enables visitors to reflect on what these models tell us about Victorian attitudes to anatomical knowledge, and issues including sexual reproduction, contagious disease and death, (and also indulge the same dubious fascination with the macabre). A combination of the beautiful and the grotesque, the 50 examples here range from superbly accurate specimens designed for private use teaching in anatomical theatres, to models destined for often illiterate audiences in the less salubrious parts of cities, where displays highlighted the widespread fear of sexually transmitted diseases. Produced during an era of scientific rationalism, these strange surrogates seem on one hand to illustrate contemporary medicine's interest in empirical knowledge, but at the same time, reveal a range of complex beliefs about life, sex, disease and death. By the early 1900s the popularity of these attractions was on the wane. In Britain their contents were labelled obscene and attacked by campaigners intending to expose 'quackery', while in Europe they endured for some time longer, often trading on their reputations as freak shows or 'monster parades'. The Wellcome Collection, London, until 18th October.

Raphael To Renoir: Master Drawings From The Collection Of Jean Bonna is the only showing in Britain of an exceptional selection of 120 European master drawings, watercolours and pastels by many of the greatest names in Western art. They come from the distinguished private collection formed over the past 20 years by Jean Bonna. The exhibition offers the rare opportunity to view outstanding examples of European drawings spanning some 500 years, showing the unbroken line of drawing from the Italian Renaissance to late 19th century France. Central to the discipline of drawing throughout this time was the study of the human figure. The principal strength of the collection lies in the Italian and French schools, including artists such as Raphael, Carpaccio, Andrea del Sarto, Guercino, Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain, Canaletto, Watteau, Fragonard, Goya, Francois Clouet, Parmigianino, Federico Barocci, Boucher, Jacopo Vignali, and, from the 19th century, Ingres, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Seurat and Redon. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 6th September.

Cosmos & Culture: How Astronomy Has Shaped Our World traces 400 years of telescope technologies, explores the changing perceptions of man's place in the cosmos, and examines the role astronomy has played in our everyday lives. It provides in depth opportunities for visitors to see how different instruments work, and discover the stories of the people who made and used them, through actual artefacts, models, illustrations and photographs. Among the highlights are Thomas Harriot's 17th century maps of the Moon, Jupiter's satellites and sunspots; the 7ft telescope William Herschel used to discover Uranus from his back garden in 1781; a letter written by George III to Herschel, accompanying his £200 in annual salary as King's Astronomer; a model of an astrological clock from Hampton Court Palace; the largest telescope ever constructed in Britain, built to study X-rays from high-energy cosmic events; a 1543 first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus's book offering scholars a new vision of the cosmos, with the Sun rather than the Earth the centre of the universe; DRIFT I, a joint UK/US detector, seeking the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the universe; a Zeiss planetarium projector, built to train German pilots in the Second World War, and later used in the museum's planetarium; a prototype part for the latest Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, one of the most sensitive experiments ever designed; and a typically British amateur telescope made of bean cans, car parts and coat hangers. The Science Museum, continuing.

Keats House, where the poet John Keats was living when he composed some of his best known poems, including Ode to a Nightingale, has reopened after a £500,000 restoration project, designed to reflect its appearance during his lifetime. Among the works carried out were: the redecoration of all the rooms, based on the analysis of surviving paint and wallpaper and expert advice on Regency interior design; the opening up of the first floor landing revealing the original paneling; the restoration and opening of a small dining room in the basement; the conservation of the oil paintings; the installation of new display cases, which enable more small items to be seen, some of which have never been on display before; the repainting of outside of the house with lime wash, as used on the house in the early 19th century; and the redesign of the garden in a more original form. Keats House, or Wentworth Place as it was originally known, was built in 1814 as two semi-detached houses. John Keats came to live the smaller, eastern side in 1818. After his death, the actress Eliza Jane Chester, who already owned the larger part of the property, bought Keats's house, knocked through the walls to create a single dwelling, and added the drawing room at the eastern end. The house is now home to a collection of books, letters, paintings, prints and artefacts, owned by, and relating to Keats, including two portraits of Keats painted by his friend Joseph Severn, a gilt bust produced after his death, the engagement ring that he gave to Fanny Brawne, and a lock of her hair in a frame. Keats House, Keats Grove, Hampstead, continuing.

Edvard Munch: Prints is the most substantial display of prints by the Norwegian painter to be exhibited in Britain in a generation. Featuring 40 of the finest prints from throughout Edvard Munch's career, the works have been specially chosen to illustrate his development as a graphic artist, as well as the important themes of his art. Munch responded early to Impressionism, and developed an individual and highly influential focus on the internal workings of the human mind. His great images - most famously 'The Scream' - treat the psychological traumas that were being described for the first time by his contemporary Sigmund Freud. Munch's international success was in large part due to his prints. Among the highlights, in addition to 'The Scream', are 'The Sick Child', with which he first aroused international attention; the woodcut 'Woman's Head against the Shore'; the controversial lithograph 'Madonna'; the atmospheric woodcut 'Melancholy'; the striking 'Self-portrait' lithograph; the woodcut 'The Girls on the Bridge'; the lithograph 'Separation II'; the late woodcut 'Moonlight by the Sea'; 'the lithograph Vampire'; and 'Ashes', from his 'Frieze of Life', which has sections devoted to love, anxiety and death. Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, until 5th September.

Samuel Johnson And London follows the bookseller, poet, compiler of the Dictionary of the English Language, and coiner of the aphorism "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life", his friends and collaborators around the 18th century city, and looks at the many facets of his varied literary career and legacy. Among the original books, letters and artefacts on display are: a copy of A Dictionary of the English language; Johnson's poem 'London'; a copy of 'Logick' by Isaac Watts, showing Johnson at work; Hester Lynch Piozzi's, 'letters to & from the late Samuel Johnson'; accounts kept by the printer William Strahan, regarding the dictionary; a copy of Thomas Rowlandson's 'Picturesque Beauties of Boswell'; a letter from Johnson to the King's librarian; an Invitation from John Wilkes to Johnson; an 'Ode by Dr Johnson to Mrs Thrale upon their supposed …. Nuptials'; a copy of 'The Beauties of Johnson'; a list of members of 'The Club'; a copy of James Boswell's 'The Life of Samuel Johnson'; corrected proofs of Johnson's 'Preface on Dryden'; Boswell's letter to Johnson's friend Bennet Langton; and a ticket for Johnson's funeral. The British Library until 30th September.


Clemens von Wedemeyer - The Fourth Wall is a new film installation, which investigates the uncertain distinction between fact and fiction. Clemens von Wedemeyer's work is composed of 8 different film fragments, all referring to first contact between anthropologists, explorers and groups of people living in remote jungle locations who have never previously had contact with Western civilisation. An example of such 'first contact' is that of the discovery of the Tasaday in the Philippines. First encountered by the West in 1971, a tiny ethnic group that became an instant news story as a contemporary instance of Stone Age living. In the 1980s they were once again the subject of international press attention when anthropologists and journalists declared them a hoax. Since then, the Philippine government has declared them authentic, but there are still people who believe their appearance was fabricated. Von Wedemeyer is fascinated by the question of whether the Tasaday's performance in front of the world's TV cameras was real, or a piece of theatre. Other film fragments, staged variously around the building, revolve around this event like satellites, pointing to other notions of first contact. The Curve, Barbican until 30th August.

Garden And Cosmos: The Royal Paintings Of Jodhpur is an opportunity to view a unique type of Indian royal court painting from the 17th to 19th centuries. The exhibition features 56 paintings from the royal collection at the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur, none of which has ever previously been seen in Europe. It explores the two distinct styles of painting that flourished over the period, 'Garden', the ornate style depicting the temporal pleasures of courtly life and the verdant forests where scenes from the great Indian epics took place, and 'Cosmos', the metaphysical paintings concerned with philosophical speculation and the origin of the universe. The paintings were created for the personal pleasure of the maharajas who ruled over north western India, and as such, they represent the varying aesthetic tastes and differing political and spiritual views of three generations at the Jodhpur court. During this period, the region produced a distinctive and inventive painting style, which brought together traditional Rajasthani styles and combined them with styles developed in the imperial court of the Mughals. Thus, the paintings range from glorious gardens in desert palaces to opulent images of cosmic origins, depicting the political, cultural and spiritual vitality of Jodhpur and indicating the sophisticated way in which artists conveyed profound spiritual conceptions. The paintings included in the exhibition range from a handful of miniatures to monumental artworks depicting the palaces, wives and families of the Jodhpur rulers. British Museum until 23rd August.

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.