News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th September 2007


The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army features the largest group of objects relating to the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty ever to be loaned abroad by the Museum of the Terracotta Army and the Cultural Relics Bureau of Shaanxi Province in Xi'an, China. The exhibition is the first to be housed in the original Reading Room at the heart of the British Museum. The majority of the 120 objects come from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor, a tomb complex that is unparalleled in terms of its extent and magnificence. Arguably the most famous archaeological site in the world, it was discovered by chance by villagers in 1974, and excavation has been ongoing at the site since that date. The exhibition features around 20 complete terracotta warrior figures of different ranks - an extraordinary feat of mass-production, as each figure was given an individual personality, although they were not intended to be portraits. In addition, there is a replica figure, decorated in the original brightly painted colours. Displayed alongside these iconic figures are examples of significant recent finds, which have very rarely been seen outside of China. Terracotta acrobats, bureaucrats, musicians and bronze birds have been discovered on the site, designed to administer to or entertain the Emperor in his afterlife. They are of crucial importance to the understanding of his attempts to control the world even in death. The exhibition demonstrates the historical and archaeological context of these famous objects, as well as detailing the most recent research and excavation. It also presents a reassessment of the First Emperor himself, the man who created China as a political entity. British Museum until 6th April.

The Stanley Spencer Gallery has reopened after a refurbishment programme that has seen the introduction of a mezzanine floor, which has significantly increased the display space. It is the only gallery in Britain devoted exclusively to an artist in the village where he was born and spent much of his life.

Cookham and its surrounding area remained a source of inspiration throughout Stanley Spencer's life, and formed the setting for numerous idiosyncratic biblical and figure paintings, as well as landscapes. The gallery occupies the former Victorian Methodist Chapel where Spencer was taken to worship as a child. It contains a permanent collection of his work, together with letters, documents, memorabilia, and the pram in which Spencer wheeled his equipment when painting landscapes. The reopening show features highlights from the collection of major works by Spencer, including the newly acquired portrait of Eric Williams of Wooden Horse fame, 'View from Cookham Bridge' and a pencil drawing 'Ecstasy in a Wesleyan Chapel'. Other highlights include 'The Betrayal', 'The Last Supper', 'St. Veronica Unmasking Christ', 'Christ Overturning the Money Changers' Table', 'Christ preaching at Cookham Regatta', 'Listening from Punts', 'Beatitudes of Love: Contemplation', 'Sarah Tubb and the Heavenly Visitors', 'Neighbours', 'The Month of March: Dressmaking, 'The Fairy on the Waterlily leaf', studies for the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere and drawings for the 'Shipbuilding on the Clyde' series. The Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, Berkshire, continuing.

Henry Moore At Kew is the largest collection of Henry Moore's work ever to be displayed in one place, and includes a combination of pieces that have never been brought together before, some which have never been seen in London. 28 large scale sculptures can be seen throughout Kew's 300 acres of formal gardens, glasshouses, lakes and natural landscape, as they change through the seasons. The exhibition highlights the inspiration that Moore took from nature, and his enjoyment of seeing his works in a landscape setting. From 1958 Moore began creating works of sculpture on a very large scale that broke the confines of the traditional gallery space, and demanded to be seen in the open. Also, Moore always wanted his sculpture to be free standing, capable of being seen in the round. Here, some works are displayed in groups, while others are completely isolated in the landscape. The sculptures range from his more realistic figures to wholly abstract pieces, including 'Large Reclining Figure' made of polystyrene and white resin, 'Mother and Child: Blocked Seat', 'Draped Reclining Mother and Baby', 'The Wall', 'Double Oval', 'Hill Arches' and 'Locking Piece'. The exhibition is supported by events and activities, including an exhibition explaining how Moore worked, with 12 maquettes (some of the works on view), 'found objects' that were the inspiration for much of his sculpture, and illustrate how his influences evolved into art, together with a selection of his tools, plus The Art Of Henry Moore film, guided tours and lectures. Kew Gardens, until 30th March.


France In Russia: Empress Josephine's Malmaison Collection brings together some of the paintings, sculpture and furnishings that Napoleon's consort Josephine acquired for her chateau of Malmaison, which were purchased by Tsar Alexander I in 1815. In addition to 16th and 17th century paintings by Claude, Potter and Teniers, sculpture by Canova and decorative arts, the exhibition also includes luxury items borrowed from Josephine's fashionable country retreat, such as textiles, personal effects and letters. Among the highlights are: Antonio Canova's contemporary life size marble sculpture 'Dancer', commissioned by Josephine; Claude Lorrain's 'Landscape with Tobias and the Angel' from the four part Times of Day series; Francois Gerard's iconic portrait of Josephine, originally on display at Malmaison; 22 pieces from a 213 piece porcelain dessert service, including the a series of 'picture plates' reproducing paintings from Josephine's collection, such as Metsu's 'Breakfast' and Francois Fleury Richard's 'Valentina of Milan'; Paulus Potter's almost life size definitive dog painting 'A Wolfhound'; a clock base in the form of a triumphal arch by the Florentine mosaicist Giacomo Raffaelli; a console table with sphinx legs and sea-bed mosaic top by Jacob Desmalter; Francois Flameng's informal painting 'Reception at Malmaison', showing Napoleon in game of tag with his stepdaughter in the grounds, watched by members of the families; 'The Gonzaga Cameo', showing a double portrait of an emperor and his wife; and personal effects belonging to Josephine, including a silver embroidered court dress and an ecritoire designed by the goldsmith Martin-Guillaume Biennais, together with letters on widely diverse subjects. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 4th November.

Memories, Moments And Other Curiosities is a collection of sculpture and 'cabinets of curiosities' by Nicola Dale, Claire Douglass, Liz Frolich, Simon Le Ruez and Kelly McCallum, based on personal experience, disintegration and domestic spaces, expressed in different ways, reflecting their individual approaches. Nicola Dale illustrates the proposition that 'our view of history changes depending on our position' by cutting long leafed flowers from the pages of the populist history book 'The People's Century' to create a memorial wreath. Claire Douglass's mixed media works refer to comparisons between her memories of growing up in Britain with friends from different ethnic backgrounds. Liz Frolich's works echo that of an archaeologist and collector of curios, juxtaposing objects and materials that come together to tell a story. Simon Le Ruez makes delicately disquieting sculptures that use materials subversively, to create physical and psychological tensions. Kelly McCallum is interested in how things age, and how they decay or are preserved, creating works that combine Victorian taxidermy with insects and precious metals. Saltburn Galllery, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, until 7th October.

London Open House is the annual scheme that allows public access to architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital. Over 600 buildings of all kinds, both historic and new, include Dulwich Picture and Royal Academy galleries, Imperial War and Horniman museums, Hackney Empire and Royal Court theatres, St John's Smith Square and the LSO St Luke's concert halls, Home Office and Foreign and India Office, BBC Broadcasting House, Bush House and Television Centre, and Channel 4 building, Westminster Hall and Portcullis House, Tooting Bec and Brockwell Lidos, Foster and Partners and Hopkins Architects offices, Roof Gardens Kensington, 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin), British Library, Old Turkish Baths Bishopsgate, Bank of England, Old Royal Naval College Greenwich, Reform Club, Lincoln's Inn, City Hall, Guildhall, Royal Courts of Justice, Stratford International station and the 2012 Olympic Park construction site. There are also talks, conducted walks and other accompanying special events taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. Last year, over 360,000 visits were made during the two days. Entrance is free, but because of limited access, a few of the buildings require prebooking. Further details and how to obtain a directory of participating buildings can be found on the London Open House web site via the link from Festivals in the Others section of ExhibitionsNet. Across London on 15th and 16th September.

The Changing Face Of Childhood: British Children's Portraits And Their Influence In Europe looks at how the representation of children in British art changed over the centuries, and how these changes were taken up by European artists.

In the 1630s Van Dyck painted Charles I's children as innocent creatures subjected to the established style of courtly representation. 100 years later Gainsborough set new standards, with keenly observed renditions of child like behaviour, and subjects who were placed in their own environment. As painted by Joshua Reynolds, and his successor Thomas Lawrence, they were no longer stiffly posed miniature reflections of their aristocratic parents, but genuinely child like, running wild in landscapes that reflect their personalities. This new way of seeing children as independent characters became popular throughout Europe, and as a result, European artists like Angelika Kauffman travelled to England to see the works, and contributed to the wide dissemination of this 'modern' portrait type. All over Europe in the second half of the 18th century interest in children's portraits spread, not just among the nobility, but among the newly emerging bourgeoisie. Highlights include Gainsborough's 'The Painter's Daughters', Peter Lely's 'Young Man as a Shepherd', Joshua Reynolds's 'Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire and Her Daughter Lady Georgina Cavendish', Thomas Lawrence's 'The Children of Lord George Cavendish', Henry Raeburn's 'The Allen Brothers', William Beechy's 'Sir Francis Ford's Children Giving a Coin to a Beggar Boy' and Francis Cotes's 'The Young Cricketer: Portrait of Lewis Cage'. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 4th November.

The Memory Of Place is a site specific installation by Scottish glass artist Keiko Mukaide, which draws on religious ceremony from her native Japan, to create a site of ritual contemplation, using fire, water, glass, stone and light. It is Keiko's response to her sense of the sadness and emptiness of the space, the visual remains of the former church's medieval interior, with the stained glass, gravestones and carvings remaining from its past as a sacred site, and the discovery by geomancer Graham Gardner of energy ley, underground streams and blind springs beneath the building. Keiko has constructed a pool of water, which fills the nave of the church, flowing towards the transept, where a suspended column of glass rods is dramatically top lit, suggesting a spiritual path to a higher place. It was inspired in part by the Japanese religious ceremony, Shoro nagashi, in which people release lanterns on to a river in mid summer, symbolising their ancestors' spirits ascending to heaven, and reflecting the timeless bond between them and those who went before. Visitors are invited to become involved with the installation by lighting a votive candle and floating it on the pool. St Mary's Church, Castlegate, York until 28th October.

Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Among featured tableaux in this year's free show are 'Decodance' designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, and monsters from Dr Who. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from 8pm to midnight most nights.

The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include 'Artificial Sunshine - The Story Of The Illuminations' exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Andy McKeown's 'Kaleidoscopia', in which images provided by visitors are kaleidoscoped and projected on to buildings across the town; Blachere Illumination's 'Wonderland', a sparkling canopy curtain of LED lights floating as if suspended in mid air, mysteriously supporting 6 giant chandeliers; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan; and Kate Walker's 'Rain', consisting of multiples of lamp-worked glass with water inside, suspended on fibre optic lighting, like a cloud suspended in space made up of hundreds of glass raindrops. Blackpool Promenade 31st August to 4th November.


Temptation In Eden: Lucas Cranach's 'Adam And Eve' is the first exhibition in England devoted to the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany's greatest Renaissance artist. Eve's temptation of Adam was a subject which was ideally suited to Cranach's gifts as a portrayer of landscape, animals and the female nude, and to which neither Protestant nor Catholic theologians could object, combining devotional meaning with pictorial elegance and invention. Over 50 depictions of this subject survive by Cranach and his workshop, and this is arguably the most beautiful, beguiling and inventive. The painting is particularly admired for its treatment of the human figure and for the profusion of finely painted details, including rich menagerie of birds and animals, and profusion of vegetation. It is shown together with Cranach's associated paintings, possibly painted to be viewed as a group, 'Adam and Eve', 'Apollo and Diana', 'Cupid Complaining to Venus', and 'A Faun and his Family', for the first time in several hundred years. A number of animal studies are also displayed, to show the complex processes that went into transforming these real beasts into their idealised representation. These drawings, together with engravings and woodcuts, offer a unique opportunity to consider Cranach's powers of observation and story telling, as well as his skills as a graphic artist, qualities that also characterise his paintings. A further section of the exhibition examines how the painting was made, revealing changes and refinements introduced during its execution. The Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery at Somerset House, until 23rd September.

The Dawn Of Colour celebrates the centenary of the Autochrome and the birth of colour photography. Whilst the fundamental principles were understood by the 1860s, colour photography remained elusive, and the search for a practical process of colour photography became photography's 'Holy Grail'. This exhibition reveals how several pioneers succeeded in making colour photographs but their processes were complicated and impractical. Photographic plates of the time were sensitive only to certain colours, and only when 'panchromatic' plates, sensitive to all colours were introduced, was the way clear for the invention of the first practicable method of colour photography - the Autochrome process - by Auguste and Louis Lumiere. Best known as film pioneers with their invention of the Cinematographe in 1895, they had also been experimenting with colour photography for several years. Autochrome plates are covered in microscopic red, green and blue-violet coloured potato starch grains, and when the photograph is taken, light passes through these colour filters to the photographic emulsion. Along with the search for, and explanation of, the process, the exhibition features Autochromes by famous photographers, such as Henry Essenhigh Corke, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Etheldreda Janet Laing, Mervyn Joseph Pius OGorman, John Cimon Warburg and Lionel de Rothchild, as well as examples by anonymous amateurs, covering a wide range of subjects - portraiture, still-life, travel and documentary photography. National Media Museum, Bradford until 23rd September.

Sacred: Discover What We Share is a display of some of the world's earliest surviving, most important and beautiful religious texts from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Many of the lavishly illustrated or decorated books and manuscripts have never, or seldom, been on public display before, and this is the first time that texts from these three faiths have been displayed and explored together, side by side, in a major British exhibition. The rare and exquisite texts are treated thematically, exploring points in common, looking at the ways in which they have been produced, interpreted and used. Among the treasures on display are: the Old English Hexateuch, the earliest copy in English of part of the Old Testament, produced in the first half of the 11th century, featuring over 400 illustrations; the Lisbon Hebrew Bible, one of the last great examples of Jewish art from Iberia, completed in 1482, containing many intricate floral and arabesque designs as well as superb ornamental Hebrew lettering and micrographic embellishments; the 'Golden' Haggadah, one of the most lavish and luxurious of all manuscripts ever created of the Passover Ritual, the miniature paintings all having backgrounds of tooled gold leaf, produced circa 1320; Sultan Baybars' Qur'an, one of the finest of all Qur'an manuscripts, written in large letters of gold in seven folio volumes, each containing a magnificent double frontispiece, with intricate Islamic geometric patterns; and a Book of Psalms in Arabic, a 16th century illuminated Christian manuscript, heavily influenced in its decoration, script, and layout by the manuscripts of Islam. The British Library until 23rd September.