News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th December 2001


World City Galleries: 1789 - 1914, which have just opened, are the largest expansion in the Museum of London's 25 year history. Charting the birth of modern London, they explore the growth and change between the French Revolution and the First World War, illustrating the technological advances that altered life in the city, and attracted new inhabitants from all corners of the world. Film footage, photography, oral history recordings and over three thousand artefacts tell the story of the first great metropolis of the industrial age. Objects, costumes and ephemera, many previously unseen, range from Queen Victoria's parliamentary robes and Nelson's jewelled sword, to one of the earliest motorised taxis. It was during this period that London became the wealthiest, most powerful, and most populated city in the world, at the centre of an ever expanding empire. Londoners saw the introduction of the world's first postage stamp, the underground railway, the Great Exhibition, the formation of the Metropolitan police force, and compulsory schooling, but also the Great Stink, the Newgate whipping post, sweated labour, open sewers and numerous incurable diseases. Further information and an online exhibition about the Festival Of Britain can be found on the Museum Of London's web site via the link opposite. Museum Of London continuing.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, after its spectacularly successful launch last year, looks like becoming as regular a feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. The rink, which is bigger than last year and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed on the southern half of the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Gothenburg, home of the house's architect William Chambers, has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks 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. At last London can return to the Thames Frost Fairs of yesteryear. Further information and advance booking details can be found on the Somerset House web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Somerset House until 20th January.

Dawn Of The Floating World is an opportunity to see around 140 of the finest Japanese prints and paintings from the early ukiyo-e period (1660-1765), considered among the rarest and most highly valued Japanese art works extant. Ukiyo-e or 'pictures of the floating world' capture the daily life of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter and entertainment district of Edo (present day Tokyo) after the shogun's new capital was rebuilt following the great fire of 1657. Featuring work by pioneer artists Hishikawa Moronobu and Okumura Masanobu, with subjects ranging from the birth of Kabuki theatre to the world of the Royal courtesan, it provides a historic insight into 17th century Japan. Exhibits range from tiny book illustrations to huge street signs. Acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the early 20th century, the works have never been exhibited outside the city, and many, including a scroll of 11 explicitly erotic scenes by Torii Kiyonobu, have never been displayed in public before. This means that after 300 years the colours remain as fresh as when they were painted. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th February.


Christmas Past: 400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes looks at the meanings and origins of our Christmas and New Year customs, including the holly and the ivy, mistletoe and kissing boughs, decorations, trees, fire and candlelight, carol singing and the Yule log. Also featured are traditional foods and drink, with wassailing, parties, mulled wine, cakes and puddings. Twelve period living rooms decorated in authentic festive styles from 1600 to 2000 reflect our changing social habits, and show how Christmas as we now know it has evolved. There is an accompanying programme of decoration, card making and other craft workshops, candle lit entertainment, talks, carols and other Christmas music, right through to the burning of holly and ivy on Twelfth Night, with seasonal food and drink available. The museum is located in fourteen almshouses built in 1715 by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. Geffrye Museum until 6th January.

Making Spirits Bright is a changing programme of events indoors and out though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - plus a steam engine, a Victorian carousel and free explorer rides and guided tours. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes performances by choirs, brass bands and a piper, an exhibition of flower paintings and prints, demonstrations of seasonal cooking and flower arranging, and storytelling, plus food and drink, and appearances by Father Christmas. There are free evening openings in December and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 6th January.

British Galleries 1500 - 1900, have been transformed, producing the most comprehensive display of British design and art anywhere in the world, with over 3000 exhibits on view. The £31m lottery funded project is the V&A's largest for over half a century. The fifteen galleries, occupying 10% of the entire floor space of the museum, tell the story of British design from the Tudor to the Victorian periods, with an unrivalled collection of furniture, textiles, dress, ceramics, glass, silver, prints, painting and sculpture. They contain some of Britain's most significant cultural treasures, including Henry VIII's writing desk, James II's wedding suit and the Great Bed of Ware. Every major name in the history of British design is represented, including Grinling Gibbons, Robert Adam, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as manufacturers such as Wedgwood, Doulton and Liberty. The galleries combine modern displays and five restored period rooms, together with the latest technology to enable visitors to identify the characteristic shapes or motifs of different styles, explore a painting, or date a design. There are also video and audio programmes, including music and commentaries on selected objects, and facsimile books and artefacts to touch and handle. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Braco Dimitrijevic: Triptychos Post Historicus is a collaboration between the Ikon Gallery and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, presenting the first exhibition of work in Britain since 1985 by one of Europe's most influential contemporary artists. His pieces juxtapose items from all aspects of human experience, combining works of art, natural phenomena and manufactured objects - previously at the Tate, a Modigliani, a pumpkin and a wardrobe. Here, Dimitrijevic makes a number of new works based on loans of paintings from both collections, including Vincent Van Gogh, Frans Hals, Luca Signorelli, Edouard Manet and Domenico Beccafumi. As an example, Evaristo Baschenis still life of musical instruments, is augmented by three cellos spiked in the floor in front of it, along with some fruit. Easy to dismiss as 'an ultimate makeover programme', in fact these are actually quality pieces that genuinely bring a fresh insight into familiar works. The Art Bus provides free transport between the venues on selected weekends throughout the exhibition. The Barber Institute and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until 20th January.

Handel House Museum is the culmination of a decade's work to restore the house where Handel lived for 35 years, together with the upper floors of the adjoining house, and open it as London's first composer museum. This is the house in which Messiah, Music For The Royal Fireworks, Israel In Egypt, George II Coronation Anthem and most of the organ concertos were written. The decoration scheme has been recreated as authentically as possible, Handel being the first owner in 1723, and the contents are based on an inventory taken shortly after his death there in 1759. The collection brings together original manuscripts and letters, early published editions of his works, portraits and sculpture, together with furniture and furnishings, and two specially built harpsichords, which will be played for visitors. Three original fireplaces from Tom's Coffee House in Covent Garden, where many of Handel's works received their first public performances, have been installed in the main rooms. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions, the first of which charts the refurbishment of the building. Handel House Museum, London continuing.

The Fine Art Of Photography celebrates the Scottish National Photography Collection, which contains around 27,000 images, many with a Scottish connection, covering the 150 year period from the beginnings of the medium to the present day. The 200 photographs in this show include the pioneering work of D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson, as well as that of other 19th century Scots, Thomas and J. Craig Annan, William Donaldson Clark, William Carrick and John Thomson. Among the 20th century works are Bill Brandt's Gorbals studies, Annie Leibovitz's portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Eve Arnold's Malcolm X, plus Douglas Gordon's self portraits as Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 13th January.


Surrealism: Desire Unbound is the first major British assessment of the Surrealist movement for twenty five years. During this period surrealist images have moved from the avant-garde fringe to the stuff of advertising campaigns, so the question is, can the works fulfil their original brief? On the strength of the pieces selected here the answer is yes. The usual suspects appear, including de Chirico, Dali, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Dalí, Giacometti, Man Ray, Magritte and Miro, together with other lesser known artists, and surrealist pieces by those whose main body of work lies outside the movement. The exhibition reveals the group's obsession with desire and sexuality and how it encompassed everything they did. Through painting, sculpture, installation and film, it charts the varied paths chosen to bypass conventional reason and rationality in order to explore the mind's potentially limitless capacity to imagine, dream and invent. The exhibition is dramatically staged in 13 themed sections, each taking its title from a well known work. Further information and an Online Surrealism Shop can be found on the Tate web site via the link opposite. Tate Modern until 1st January.

Words And Things examines the nature of meaning and identity in an age of perfect copies and image manipulation, where information is driving out knowledge. Cheryl Donegan, shows the process of the evolution of a work from video clip to painting; Mark Dion looks at the preservation and display of historical objects at the Hunterian Museum; Simon Starling considers the boundaries between the value of rare design objects and valueless everyday materials; and net art pioneers JODI have stripped away the characters and buildings from the video game Quake to reveal 12 versions of the source code that lies behind them, but which can be played in a wholly different way.

Ed And Ellis In Ever Ever Land is the result of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen's investigation into the notion of Scottishness. This has been conducted by conversation and correspondence during the two year closure of the Centre for Contemporary Arts for a £10m redevelopment designed by Page & Park. Further information can be found on the CCA web site via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. CCA Glasgow until 23rd December.

Lantern-lit Tours feature guides in full period costume who give visitors a taste of the atmosphere of a historic palace after dark. They bring to life the events that took place, together with the personalities involved, and the intrigue and gossip of court life, during a period of almost two hundred years, when this royal residence on the Thames was at the centre of court life, politics and national history. The tour includes the King's Apartments, designed by Sir Christopher Wren for William III, the King's Private Dining Room, the Orangery, the King's Great Bedchamber, the Haunted Gallery and the Great Hall, where digital imaging allows visitors to see part of the 16th century tapestries in their original colours. Tours, which may be unsuitable for young children, and require booking in advance, are on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6.30pm, 7.00pm and 7.30pm. Hampton Court Palace until 16th December.