Private View held by Richard Andrews
William Beckford 1760-1844: An Eye For The Magnificent celebrates the achievements of the millionaire, travel writer, novelist, composer, visionary, builder of towers, and one of the greatest collectors of all time. Reputedly England's wealthiest man, Beckford indulged his passion for gothic architecture, design and history, and was one of the first British collectors of oriental and islamic works. His influence, through both his enthusiasm and sponsorship, shaped the taste of a generation of architects, designers, artists, sculptors and craftsmen. Beckford reconstructed a vast gothic abbey at Fonthill, where he lived behind five miles of twelve feet high spiked walls, filling it with his commissions and acquisitions. This exhibition covers the entire gamut of his collection, with paintings, furniture, silverware, pottery, object d'art, and architectural designs and models, across the diverse cultures that were his passion. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 14th April.
Introduction To Robotics provides an opportunity to learn the basic skills needed to build your own robot. Tutorials and practical sessions develop knowledge and skills, producing a robot that can be taken home and further refined. And we're not talking about something that will do the housework, but a machine that means that an appearance on Robot Wars will be just a step away. The Big Idea, which claims to be 'the world's first inventor centre', is a hands on exhibition devoted to the process of inventing, aiming to unlock the quest for knowledge and understanding in its visitors. It does this by showing how things work, using interactive models to strip away the secrets of the every day and the esoteric. Among the attractions is The History Of Explosions, a 'pink knuckle' experience that goes from Big Bang to the Atom Bomb in seven minutes. Every visitor receives a free inventor kit to build at home, ranging form an electric racing car to a burglar alarm. The Big Idea, Irvine, weekends until 10th March.
Warte Mal! (Hey Wait!): Prostitution After The Velvet Revolution is an extensive installation by Swedish artist Ann-Sofi Siden, combining architectural, sculptural, cinematic and documentary elements. It recreates the experience of life in Dubi, a small town on the Czech-German border, once a spa, which since the collapse of the eastern block, now exists almost solely for the purpose of prostitution. Siden spent some time staying at the notorious Motel Hubert, and recording interviews with the girls, their pimps, their clientele, bar owners and the police. Together with her written diary, and a photographic and video record of daily life in the town, she has assembled a unique picture of a society where corruption, abuse and human exploitation is routine, but which the human spirit challenges with solidarity, compassion and dignity. Siden's arrangement of video monitors in glass booths and large scale projections give the viewer a sense of walking through a community, of witnessing peep shows and panoramas, and sharing intimate confidences. Hayward Gallery until 1st April.
Warhol traces the evolution of Andy Warhol's work, from his first use of crude printing in the 1950s, through more sophisticated silk screen techniques, to the monumental canvases scattered with diamond dust and the Rorschach ink blot paintings that he made in his later years. Warhol was one of the most influential yet enigmatic artists of his time, whose genius was to take the material he was producing in his early career as a commercial artist, and turn it into high art. He recognised that massed produced art could be used to reflect a massed produced culture. Thus the early coke bottles and soup cans, gave way to Marilyns and Maos, and newspaper stories of car crashes and electric chairs, the individually hand painted to printed multiples. Taking this to a logical conclusion, he set up his factory, and deemed that anything it produced was 'Warhol' and 'art' even if he hadn't actually participated in its creation. Warhol divined the evolution of a fame based culture, crystallised in his quote that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, and while not the first artist to be a celebrity, was the first celebrity artist. Tate Modern until 1st April.
20 Years Of Postman Pat is an interactive exhibition which celebrates the world of Consignia's best known employee. Under 5's have the opportunity to explore Greendale, meet Pat and his black and white friend Jess, take a peek into Ted Glenn's workshop (and see what happens when it closes for the night), and hear Postman Pat in different languages. Older children and adults can learn about the production of the series, and revisit their childhood by browsing through a collection of memorabilia. The combination of Ivor Wood's animation, John Cunliffe's storylines, and Bryan Daly's theme tune, has made Pat one of Britain's most popular pre school characters. As well as appearing on television in over 40 countries from Brazil to Japan, touring the country in a stage show, clocking up book sales approaching 15 million, (and being among the most borrowed children's books from Public Libraries), Pat has spawned a vast amount of merchandise, much of which is on display. Museum Of Childhood until 7th March.
Cooks And Campaigners is the first exhibition at the new location of The Women's Library, which is now part of a museum and cultural centre that has been created in the former Whitechapel Public Baths and Wash House. The opening coincides with the 75th anniversary of the library's foundation. The exhibition is a selection of items from the library's collection made by 40 personalities, including Cherie Booth, Trevor Phillips, Mary Quant, Janet Street-Porter, Bill Morris, Bonnie Greer, Roy Strong and Kate Adie. It covers all aspects of women's lives, ranging from suffrage propaganda items such as tea cups and card games, through teen and home making magazines, to the changing face of fashion. The reading room houses the most extensive collection of women's history in the UK, comprising over 60,000 books and pamphlets, 2,400 periodical titles, 350 special collections of personal papers, and records of societies and associations, plus a wealth of posters, photographs, post cards and other visual material. It reflects the lives of women over the last 300 years, covering the campaign for the vote, the struggle for education, social, political and medical history, domestic affairs, equal opportunities, the law, cookery and fashion. The Women's Library until 4th July.
The Glasgow Boys were the predecessors of the Scottish Colourists, whose exhibition made such an impact last year. The Boys were a group of young painters in the last two decades of the 19th century. During the winters, they congregated in the studio of one of their number in Glasgow, which bore the closest resemblance to a Paris atelier in Scotland. In the summers, the group travelled widely in Europe, the Middle East and Japan, producing work that was characterised by its vigour and bold use of colour. They shared an enthusiasm for realism and 'plein air' - outdoor scenes presented in a spontaneous manner. There are works here by their leading talents, including George Henry, John Lavery, Arthur Melville and James Paterson. This is the inaugural exhibition of the Fleming Collection, one of the most important private holdings of Scottish art in the country, comprising over a thousand works in all media, from 1800 to today, It includes the Boys, the Colourists and their successors the Edinburgh Group. The collection previously decorated the offices of Flemings, the merchant bank, but has now been passed to a foundation, which has created a new space to house the works, enabling them to be seen by the public for the first time. The Fleming Collection, 13 Berkeley Street, London W1, 020 7409 5732, until 28th March.
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is the new home of London Zoo's elephants, following their recent move, which ended a 170 year association with Regent's Park. After an acclimatisation period the elephants were introduced to their new companions, taking into account their different personalities and status within the two herds, and now they are meeting the public. The new extended elephant park enclosure, covering seven acres, has five linked outside areas, including a grass paddock with two separate houses, two pools, a mud wallow and dust baths. As part of the European Endangered Species Programme, the herd will form the largest group of breeding females in Britain. They will play an important role in the conservation effort to save the Asian elephant, which faces the possibility of extinction in the wild in the next thirty years. There will be two births in the existing group this year. The park recently celebrated the birth of the 50th white rhino since its programme began in 1970, and holds the best white rhino breeding record in the Europe, which worldwide is only surpassed by San Diego Zoo. Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, Bedfordshire continuing.
Paris: Capital Of The Arts 1900-1968 traces the major developments in visual arts that took place in Paris throughout the first seven decades of the twentieth century, from the Exposition to the student riots. It explores the impact of the social, political and economic scene of Paris, and traces the major art movements that emerged. By focusing on specific areas of Paris at specific periods, the show examines the significance of the city's evolving social and intellectual centres. It comprises over 250 paintings and sculptures by 160 artists of many nationalities, who chose to work in the city. These include Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Chagall, Duchamp, Modigliani, Ernest, Brancusi, Dali, Mondrian, Man Ray, Giacometti and Christo. Though bearing witness to a truly impressive beginning, it actually charts the downfall of Paris as the world's artistic centre, with less to offer after the Second World War, as New York picked up the baton with the pop art movement. Royal Academy of Arts until 19th April.
Light Motifs: An Aomori Float And Japanese Kites is a spectacular display of traditional illuminated lanterns and kites as only the Japanese know how to create them. The centrepiece is a Nebuta, one of the giant lantern floats decorated with dramatic scenes, which are paraded through the streets of Aomori in northern Japan during a fire festival each August. It has been specially constructed at the museum by Takashi Kitamura and a team of ten people from Aomori. A Nebuta is a wood and wire structure covered with paper, inside which between 500 and 800 light bulbs are installed. It is then decorated with ink and paint, with melted paraffin wax used to provide a barrier between the colours and to create a translucent effect. The themes illustrated in the floats are taken from historical, religious and folk tales, but also contain visual puns referring to current events. Some 5 to 10 metres high, they have articulated flaps at the top that are lowered to pass under street signs and cables. Anything up to sixty floats form a procession, which is accompanied by musicians and dancers. This exhibition also includes kites of all sizes and shapes, including one so huge that it takes twenty people to launch it. British Museum until 3rd March.
David Burrows, over the last decade, has carved out a particular niche with his 3D floor collages/installations detritus art, creating narrative situations, which he himself has described as "the dregs of an office party". The impact of his pieces is in great part due to the fact that that the violence of the subjects, such as a mountainside plane crash or an accident involving a pizza delivery boy, is at odds with the pop-art aesthetic of the works themselves. These are meticulously cut from his trademark 'foamtastic' sheet foam rubber. The scene here, in his first solo show in the UK, is a Tarrantinoesque lakeside picnic, where even the colours of the water lilies are violent. Alongside the sculptural installation, Burrows exhibits photographic representations of other fabricated scenes, mixing real objects and synthetic spillages, including the aftermath of a rock concert and a massacre at a McDonalds birthday party. A genuinely unique voice not to be missed. f a projects, London, 020 7928 3228 until 23rd February.
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.