News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th July 2005


Nelson & Napoleon is the first exhibition to explore together the lives of the two national leaders and adversaries, Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte. It examines how the men earned their reputations, their personal lives and the political and military conditions that brought them to the fore. The exhibition shows the impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon on Britain, concentrating on Napoleon's rise to power and his early career, before looking in depth at the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most significant sea battles in history. It also shatters some of the myths about both the battle and the two leaders. Presented in both English and French, the exhibition illustrates the impact on world history of the actions, decisions and behaviour of these charismatic and controversial leaders. It includes recent discoveries, rare and unseen material, letters, iconic paintings, models, weapons, maps, medals and personal items, amounting to some 300 objects in all. Among the highlights are: the uniform in which Nelson was killed, Nelson's pigtail, cut off at his request to be sent to Emma Hamilton, Nelson's hand drawn battle plan and innovative tactics for the Battle of Trafalgar, the sword used to proclaim Napoleon Emperor, one of the few surviving letters from Emma Hamilton to Nelson, the surgery kit used to remove the bullet from Nelson's body on board HMS Victory, Napoleon's English lesson notes written at St Helena, the Ingres painting of Napoleon as First Consul, and the uniform worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo. National Maritime Museum until 13th November.

Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, a new £31.5m building designed by Benson + Forsyth is a modern version of a Lakeland barn built with traditional materials, close to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere. It now houses the trust's collection of books, manuscripts and artwork relating to the Romantic period. This comprises some 30,000 manuscripts and letters, 12,000 books and 8,000 prints, paintings and drawings connected with English romanticism, including 90% of Wordsworth's surviving working papers. The centre consists of a three storey building with a separate rotunda built alongside, which is linked by a glass bridge. On the top floor, a reading room offers contemporary and significant editions of poetry for researchers, as well as Wordsworth's own library and many rare first editions. The middle floor is a work space where art and documents can be cared for and restored. The rotunda includes an introduction to the context of Dove Cottage and the rest of the site, as well as Wordsworth, his contemporary poets and the Romantics generally. Among the treasures in the collection are Joseph Wright's painting of Ullswater and Place Fell together with a manuscript copy of Wordsworth's poem about the same view, copied by his sister Dorothy, Wordsworth's lifemask by Benjamin Robert Hayden, and the collection of rare books that the centre acquired last year, with complete sets of Shelley and Keats first editions, as well as other Wordsworth and Coleridge first editions. Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere continuing

The Changing Face Of London brings together the architectural megaprojects that are transforming the capital, displayed with models, computer graphics and drawings. It is the inaugural show at New London Architecture, two new galleries at The Building Centre, designed by A-EM Architects, devoted to all that is new in architecture, planning, development and the built environment in London. The exhibition pinpoints the substantial number of developments proposed for the metropolis and examines their implications for the future. Around £100bn worth of major redevelopment, regeneration and infrastructure projects is planned for London over the next two decades, a scale of change that has not been seen for three quarters of a century. Some 400,000 new homes and around 8m square metres of office space are planned to provide for the expected 700,000 growth in population. Over 20 projects in the show range from the new towers in the City of London 'cluster', to Heathrow Terminal 5, and include the redevelopment of White City, Paddington, Kings Cross, Elephant and Castle, Battersea Power Station and the creation of Stratford City and the Olympic Park. The centrepiece of the permanent display is a 1:1500 model of central London, covering an area from Paddington in the west to Stratford in the east and Battersea in the south to King's Cross in the north. It is surrounded by a display of a cross section of new architectural projects that have either been completed in the last year or already have planning permission. New London Architecture at The Building Centre, 26 Store Street London WC1 until 10th September.


The World's Most Photographed examines the lives and legends of ten well known figures from history: Muhammad Ali, James Dean, Mahatma Gandhi, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Adolf Hitler, John F Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Queen Victoria. By unearthing photographs that have previously been lost, suppressed or hidden, or those that were simply allowed to slip from view, the exhibition explores the nature of celebrity and iconography, going beyond the carefully constructed public image, to reveal more about the personalities and lives of the sitters. Around 100 photographs juxtaposing iconic pictures with unknown ones, lay bare a little of the real people. Among the surprises are a series of macabre photographs of James Dean in a funeral parlour, unreleased for over 30 years; the story of a schoolboy who outwitted 'Colonel' Tom Parker, scooped the world's press and sold his unique snaps of Elvis in the school canteen; an illustration of how Mahatma Gandhi manipulated his appearance to bind his nation, and used photography to challenge and undermine the British Empire; the single image that threatened to destroy the career of Marilyn Monroe; and the how John F Kennedy's frailties and infidelities were concealed, and the myth of 'Camelot' was created and sustained. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October.

Cecily Brown: Paintings is the first major solo exhibition in Britain of the sensuous and flamboyant paintings by this English born but New York resident artist. It is a survey of her work over the past ten years across themes of the figure, landscape and the relationship of painting to its own history. Brown is a 21st century baroque. Her large scale canvasses are densely worked and packed with imagery in which grappling figures and pastoral landscapes explode into an abstract frenzy of illicit views and fragmentary parts. Brown's repertoire is indebted as much to porn magazines, comic books and Hollywood movies as it is to De Kooning, Rubens, Bacon, Goya, and Hogarth. Brown engages with the experience of painting as an intensely physical act, and as a result, her works express a sense of joy in the application of paint to canvass. The sheer energy of her work is a contributing factor in the current revival of interest in painting. The exhibition presents a selection of Brown's most significant paintings, including 'Performance', 'Wood', 'Two Figures in a Landscape', 'Bacchanal', and work from the 'Black Painting' series, together with her recent large scale paintings, in which Cezannesque compositions slide into wildly rendered 'junkscapes'. Also included is the film Four Letter Heaven, a sexy watercolour animation that marked a turning point in Brown's career. Modern Art Oxford until 28th August.

Touch Me looks at contemporary design in products and installations that relate to the sense of touch, from site specific art and design commissions to games, live science experiments and a garden of the senses. Designers are now creating novel objects that engage more playfully with the sense of touch. Some explore unexpected materialsm, some reinvent how we use objects and technologies in order to produce more satisfying encounters, and some are even creating designs that aspire to promote richer human relationships. There are around 90 items in a series of room settings covering home and work environments. In the kitchen, Julia Leihener's 'Thups' are drinking glasses which rest on the thumb for the new generation of texters and computer gamers; IDEO's range of SoMo prototype mobile phones experiment with unusual interactions in the office; Yoshi Saito's 'Hug Chair' in the living room, is a contemporary take on the traditional kissing seat, which encourages people to hug each other when they sit down; and a variety of pleasurable sensations - from silks to jewellery - are available in the bedroom. In an interactive garden of the senses, visitors can play games, take part in live science experiments, engage all their senses in an immersive sensory room, challenge each other to a game of 'chicken' on the 'Painstation', play table tennis on MIT Medialab's 'PingPongPlus' table that plays tricks, or take part in a human scale PacMan game using Spacehoppers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 29th August.

Cedric Price - Doubt, Delight And Change celebrates the visionary ideas of one of the most innovative architects and influential architectural thinkers of the late 20th century. Convinced that architecture should be liberating and life enhancing, and encouraging people to 'think the unthinkable', Price embraced 'doubt, delight and change' in visionary projects, most of which were sadly never built, from 1960, when he founded his practice, until his death in 2003. As well as presenting Price's most important projects together for the first time, this exhibition attempts to deconstruct them. They range from the 1960s, with revolutionary Aviary designed at London Zoo with Frank Newby and Lord Snowdon; the Fun Palace, a 24 hour laboratory of fun for theatre director Joan Littlewood; and the Potteries Thinkbelt, a proposal for a radically new kind of university; through the 1970s Inter-Action Centre, a multi purpose community centre; and Wespen, a multi use animal pen that converted into a landscape with a sundial; and the 1980s South Bank Project, which embraced both the artistic and commercial buildings, and with The Thing, anticipated the London Eye; to the 1990s Magnet scheme of short life structures to solve everyday problems. Price built so little that his reputation and influence is chiefly based on the radicalism of his ideas and proposals. This exhibition brings them to life, by exploring the thinking and working practise that imbued his architecture. Design Museum, London until 9th October.

Francis Bacon: Portraits And Heads explores in depth Bacon's vivid portraits of friends, lovers, other artists - and himself. With over 50 works, it demonstrates Bacon's attempt to revitalise the art of portraiture after the Second World War. The show comprises small single heads from the late 1940s, echoing the imagery of 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', the painting that launched his career; a group of large single portraits from the 1950s, some full length, in which the human figure is depicted as an integrated whole; and from the 1960s, slightly under life size close ups of well known Soho figures, such as Lucian Freud, Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorne, Peter lacy and George Dyer. Beginning with 'Study for Three Heads', these small canvasses, usually 14 inches by 12 inches, are often grouped in threes. This format - the triptych - gave Bacon the opportunity to show three different aspects of the same personality, or contrasting images of two or more different people, sometimes including himself. The exhibition also features a number of full length portraits from the 1960s, with subjects standing, seated or reclining. Bacon increasingly became the main subject of his art, and he is seen in a variety of roles and states, from combative and self assured to spectral and faint near the end of his life. National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 4th September,

Stubbs And The Horse focuses on the equestrian theme in the work of George Stubbs, not only the greatest of all British horse painters, but arguably the greatest painter of horses in the history of European art. Quite simply, Stubbs sought to capture the individual character of each horse, in the same way that any portrait painter does with his subject. Assembling some of Stubbs's finest paintings and most beautiful anatomical drawings and engravings, the exhibition explores the social, cultural and intellectual environment in which they were produced, providing an insight into the importance of the horse in 18th century British culture. Fundamental to Stubbs's unrivalled understanding of horses and their physiognomy, are the anatomical drawings and prints that he painstakingly made in an eighteen month period from 1756, which are featured extensively. They were the first anatomical studies of horses to be published since the 16th century, and were drawn directly from the dissections that Stubbs personally performed in a farmhouse in Horkstow. The exhibition comprises 35 paintings, including the life size portrait of 'Whistlejacket', 32 works on paper and 2 enamelled works - a technique that Stubbs developed with Josiah Wedgwood. It includes Stubbs's 'sublime' paintings of horses attacked by lions, and his classically inspired, frieze-like studies of mares and foals at stud farms, as well as riding portraits, conversation pieces and scenes from the stableyard and racecourse. National Gallery until 25th September.


Think & Wonder, Wonder & Think features the work of over twenty contemporary East London artists, who have been inspired by the unique toys, games and costumes in the permanent collection. Their creations are displayed alongside and amongst the objects that motivated them, providing a treasure hunt for visitors. Inspired by the dolls' houses, Kezia Cantwell-Wright has constructed a miniature tower block (more representative of the surrounding area than the Victorian building that houses the museum); while David Musgrave has made a tiny humanoid to sit among the mechanical toys; Dustin Ericksen has created his own display case, in which he has put photographs of the exhibits (perhaps pandering to what appears to be the current thinking in museums that seeing a video of an object is better than seeing the object itself); Lali Chetwynd is staging performances by local children; and there are works by Brian Griffiths, Jeff McMillan and Cornelia Parker, plus a tree planted for the porcelain dolls to enjoy, and a sculpture of seaside memories provoked by a display of buckets and spades. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 31st July.

Great Escapes examines and illustrates some of the extraordinary escape attempts made by Allied servicemen from German prisoner of war camps in the Second World War. It compares fact - much of which seems too far fetched to be true - with the fictional versions seen in the films The Wooden Horse, The Great Escape and Colditz. The ingenuity employed in engineering the escapes themselves - be it tunnelling under, or flying over the walls - and subsequent survival - supplying clothes and identity papers to avoid recapture - is revealed. The exhibition includes the first public display of objects recently excavated from the original tunnels. Among the exhibits are forged identity tags and papers, rubber stamps carved from boot soles, a Monopoly game used to smuggle in hacksaw blades, tins from Red Cross parcels converted to shovels, and German currency concealed inside records. Also on display are replicas of the wooden vaulting horse used as the cover for tunnelling at Stalag Luft 111, and the glider constructed but never actually used at Colditz. In addition to the original artefacts, interactive and hands-on displays allow children and adults to try on disguises, forge an identity pass, crawl through an escape tunnel, find out facts about escape attempts, and use their ingenuity to plan their own escape route from Colditz. Imperial War Museum, London until 31st July.

Circling The Square: Avant-garde Porcelain From Revolutionary Russia is a comprehensive survey of the remarkable avant-garde ceramics produced by the extraordinarily unlikely combination of the Imperial Porcelain Factory of Russia and Boshevic Revolutionary designers in the heady times immediately following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Inspired by the promise of a new society, leading artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Rudol'f Vilde, and Kuz'ma Petrov-Vodkin, supplied the factory with bold and innovative designs, often incorporating stirring images and slogans in support of the new regime. "Proletariat of the World Unite" and "Blessed is Free Labour" shown with interlocking axes and scythes, executed in the exquisite colours, finish and standard of the 150 year old Lomonosov factory in St Petersburg, is a culture clash of a dimension rarely experienced. In 1923 the factory started producing an extraordinary range of porcelain with purely abstract designs by the Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich and his students Nicolay Suyetin and Ilya Chashnik. Sadly after the mid 1920s the purity of the vision was lost, replaced by scenes of dreary heroic workers and factory chimneys. In addition to a wide selection of this unique porcelain, the exhibition features a group of design drawings by the leading Russian artists of the early 20th century, many of which have not been exhibited before. The Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 31st July.