News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th September 2006


Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment And Design provides an insight into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci through the pages of his notebooks, with ideas about art, science and nature that are unparalleled in the graphic work of any other thinker from any age. The exhibition features 60 examples of Leonardo's drawings, with several brought to life by large scale models of his designs, including a 30ft glider, and sophisticated computer animations. The works are grouped in four displays: 'The Mind's Eye' explores the relationship of the eye to the brain - the detailed proportional relationships between all various parts of the face, torso and limbs, presented as a series of geometrical problems that Leonardo attempted to solve. 'The Lesser And Greater Worlds' illustrates the ancient idea of microcosm and macrocosm - that the human body contained within itself, in miniature, all the operations of the world and universe as a whole, featuring detailed studies of the heart and the operation of its valves, as well as images of water in motion, which reminded Leonardo of the curling of hair. 'Making Things' focuses on Leonardo's spectacular theatrical designs, entertaining inventions such as water clocks and fountains, and his vision of architecture, including studies of buildings and a spiral staircase. 'Force' highlights Leonardo's 'cinematographic' images of figures in action, which examine the continuity of motion in space in a way that no one had captured previously, including studies of flying creatures and their anatomy, leading on to investigations into the possibility of man powered flight. Victoria & Albert Museum until 7th January.

In The City Of Last Things takes its title from the dystopian city in Paul Auster's novel In the Country of Last Things: 'a haunting picture of a devastated futuristic world which chillingly shadows our own'. Katja Davar, Paul Noble and Torsten Slama use drawing and animation to present their projections of alternative urban and social possibilities. Katja Davar's 'Forking Ocean Path' addresses the self destructive nature of mankind, and imagines the possible consequences, through 3D animation and large scale drawings. Davar presents an undersea world devoid of human life, and in one animation, a creature, part marine and part machine, slowly floats upwards through the remnants of an industrial city at the bottom of the ocean. Paul Noble's 'Unified Nobson' comprises extremely large pencil drawings depicting a fictitious industrial town. Modelled on the new towns devised in the early 20th century to create a perfect fusion of the urban and rural, the drawings offer aerial perspectives over a fantastical cityscape in which each blocky construction is crafted out of a grouping of letters that identifies its owner or function. Torsten Slama's coloured pencil drawings from the cycle 'Gardens of Machine Culture' are inspired by Chinese paintings, and recall the aesthetics of vintage science fiction, as Modernist architecture and industrial constructions merge with rocky landscapes, sparsely grown with vegetation. The depicted worlds are anti-cities in which industry and architecture, like the humans who built them, are part of an evolved nature. Site Gallery, Sheffield until 21st October.

Henry Moore: War And Utility comprises pieces produced between 1938 and 1954, revealing the profound influence of the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and the austere post-war decade on his work. Over 160 items include key sculptures, together with maquettes, stringed pieces, studies, lithographs, textiles and the shelter drawings that brought Moore fame as a war artist in the early 1940s. Sculptures such as 'Upright Internal External Form' explore the encroaching and smothering influence of technology, and the Warrior pieces, such as 'Warrior with Shield', honour the sacrifice of combatants. The forms of the 'Family Groups', first seen sitting amidst the destruction of the blitz, are resolute against the surrounding machines of chaos and fear. With his Hampstead studio bombed, and access to his country home difficult, Moore began to sketch the devastation caused by bombing above ground, as well as producing some of his most powerful and moving drawings of Londoners sheltering from the blitz underneath the city. 70 pages from the two 'Shelter Sketchbooks' and a selection of the finished 'Shelter Drawings' are included in the display. Moore's responses to post war austerity can be seen in a selection of printed textile designs, and in the lithographs such as 'Sculptural Objects'. The reconstruction of public spaces resulted in a series of major commissions, such as the 'Harlow Family Group', the 'Festival of Britain Reclining Figure' and the iconic 'King and Queen'. Imperial War Museum until 25th February.


Sixties Graphics celebrates the huge explosion of talent in London in the mid 1960s, the era of Swinging London, with a display of graphic material including posters, magazines, photographs, album covers and other printed ephemera such as badges, from 1965 to 1972. Graphic work for now rare ephemeral publications, such as Oz and International Times, charts the emergence of 'counter-culture', the 'underground press' and the full flowering of Psychedelia, revealing the mix of idealism and visual experimentation that characterised the period. On show are key works by Peter Blake, and many of the most celebrated posters by artists Nigel Waymouth and Michael English (who worked together as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat), Martin Sharp and others, together with iconic images of music heroes of the day, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Also included are graphics for 'underground' gatherings, together with colourful posters advertising the legendary music and light events at clubs such as UFO and Middle Earth. Many highlights of the exhibition come from the exceptional collection formed by Barry Miles, a key figure in the 1960s and founder of Indica Bookshop, the unofficial headquarters of the London alternative scene. The display documents some of the most important artistic, cultural and social aspects of this vibrant, though recently maligned, era. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th November.

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 Postman Pat and dinosaurs. 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 the '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; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan, and 'The Power And The Glory', a 5m high tower of Blackpool's own junk extracted from the recycling bins and re-animated into a tower of power, light and colour; Blachere Illumination's 'Wonderland', a sparkling canopy curtain of LED lights floating as if suspended in mid air, mysteriously supporting 6 giant chandeliers; 'Guernica Three', a 50ft high Thunderbird 3 rocket, decorated with scenes from Picasso's Guernica painting; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 5th November.

Stubbs: A Celebration marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Britain's greatest sporting painter George Stubbs. This exhibition brings together a group of around 30 of his greatest paintings, showing the quality and range of his output as a painter of animals, of rural life, and portraits. Stubbs's treatment of country sports and rural life were meant to elevate and dignify these subjects. Long admired for his paintings of horses, Stubbs's art reflects an age of innovation and change in British culture. This selection draws attention to his treatment of exotic animals, imported from abroad, his precise approach to portraiture, his technical daring, and his enduring images of the British countryside. In the last years of his life he undertook a series of anatomical drawings that aimed to fuse art and science, but these remained unpublished and misunderstood. Among the highlights of the painting of exotic animals, including cheetas, antelope and moose, are: 'A Nylghau' commissioned by the surgeon and anatomist William Hunter as a means of illustrating his lectures; 'The Duke of Richmond's First Bull Moose', a present from the Governer-General of Canada; 'A Cheetah and a Stag with two Indian Attendants', commemorating and incident when a cheetah was let loose in Windsor Great Park; 'Horse Frightened by a Lion', one of a series of painting on this theme, allegedly based on an event witnessed by Stubbs in North Africa; and 'A Monkey', one of two versions, reflecting Stubbs's continued interest in anatomical studies. Tate Britain until 14th January.

Sixties Fashion, 40 years on from Time Magazine's famous 1966 Swinging London cover, looks at the central role played by the boutique and street style in bringing the phenomenon to the world's attention. It spans the mid 1950s, when Mary Quant established her first boutique, to the early 1970s, and the demise of decadent allure of Biba. The display of around 60 garments shows how a series of key 'looks' evolved in London, and reflects their impact on international trends: 'Mayfair Elegance & Chelsea Rebellion' showcases Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, including Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, alongside more radical Mary Quant pieces; 'Piccadilly Peacocks' focuses on the tailors who 'broke the stuffed shirt barrier' in menswear, including pioneers Mr. Fish and Rupert Lycett Green; 'Knightsbridge Chic' shows the response of middle market designers and department stores to the new fashions, employing new talent influenced by Quant and other trend setters; 'Carnaby Street And The King's Road' examines the quintessential swinging designers and entrepreneurs at the heart of Swinging London, such as John Stephen, Michael Rainey, Foale & Tuffin and Ossie Clark; 'Kensington Haze' documents the shift from clean mid 60s cool to the escapism and nostalgia typified by Thea Porter and Biba; and 'Out Of London' reflects parallel themes and influences beyond the UK, looking at designers working in Paris and New York, such as Pierre Cardin and Yves St Laurent. Archive films of fashion shows and shopping in the most fashionable boutiques are also on show. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th February.

Painting The Cosmos: Landscapes By G F Watts is the first exhibition devoted to the landscape painting of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts. The show includes both finished pictures, intended for exhibition and sale, as well as more private sketches and studies. A particularly noteworthy feature is a group of Watts's virtually unknown landscape studies in watercolour, which have never been exhibited before. Although Watts is best known for his portraits and allegorical subjects, he painted landscapes throughout his career. The exhibition begins with work from his first visit to Tuscany in 1845, where he took 'a violent fancy for landscape'. Later works demonstrate the extent and variety of his interests, with lovingly observed parts of the Surrey countryside at one extreme, and visionary subjects fraught with meaning, painted with an expressionist force that anticipates 20th century abstraction, at the other. Highlights include vividly painted views of sites in Italy, the Greek islands, Egypt, the French Alps, and the Scottish Highlands. Imaginative scenes include 'After the Deluge', with a fiery sun filling the composition. Views such as 'The Alps near Monnetier' and 'Invernesshire', painted on elongated canvases to encompass the vast spaces to which he was drawn, exemplify the grandeur of Watts's vision. The 100 year old Arts and Crafts building, created by Watts and his wife, which houses his extensive studio collection, was the first purpose built art gallery in Britain dedicated to the work of a single artist. Watts Gallery, Compton, nr Guildford, Surrey until 20th November.

A Particular English Music: John Betjeman 1906 - 1984 marks the centenary of the birth of the man often acclaimed as the best loved poet of the 20th century. His acute, witty, nostalgic, sometimes melancholy poems and prose pieces managed in their deceptively simple way to capture an essential Englishness.

Betjeman's textbook middle class upbringing and career: born in Highgate, London, educated at Marlborough and Oxford, on the staff of the Architectural Review, a journalist and, during the Second World War, working for various government departments, provided him with the ammunition for his satirical poems about lost suburban proprieties and aspirations. The exhibition celebrates Betjeman's life, his writing and his many enthusiasms in manuscripts, letters, books, photographs and memorabilia.

Pop Goes The Library: 50 Years Of The Album Charts is an audio display recognising the 50th anniversary of the album chart. Each of the LPs that reached the number one spot during that time is available at a number of listening stations, so visitors can choose from over 10,000 tracks, and discover how musical tastes have changed over the last half century. This is reflected in the range from the first number one, Frank Sinatra's 'Songs for Swinging Lovers', through Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Spice Girls and Take That, to this year's Arctic Monkeys and Gnarls Barkley.

The British Library, until 8th October and 31st December.


French Drawings: Clouet To Seurat (Part 1 - Drawings From About 1500-1700: Clouet To La Fage), explores the innovations of the French drawing style, and traces the major artistic developments, through around 50 highlights from the earliest part of the national collection of French drawings. This includes sheets rarely seen today, because of their sensitivity to light, from royal court portraits of the 16th century by members of the Clouet family, to the elegant Mannerist style of Francesco Primaticcio and others working at the chateau of Fontainebleau. The collection also boasts rich holdings of the major masters of the Baroque, such as Jacques Callot, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, many of which entered the collection in the 18th and 19th centuries. The show is arranged chronologically, with major works and lesser ones jostling side by side - and a few of the lesser knowns prove surprisingly impressive. Some key artists are represented by more than one work, others by only a sketch. The entire collection covers the history of drawing and printmaking as fine arts, and comprises approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints, dating from the beginning of the 15th century up to the present day. The second part of this exhibition, from Watteau to Seurat, follows in October. The British Museum until 1st October.

The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, which are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year, the focus of the special display is the Queen's evening dresses and personal jewellery, with 80 spectacular gowns, from the 1940s to the present day, worn for both official engagements and private family events. The exhibition shows the work of the leading British couturiers Norman Hartnell - full-skirted dresses in sumptuous silks and duchesse satins, embellished with virtuoso embroidery - and Hardy Amies - deceptively simple and accomplished tailoring exquisitely decorated with beads, crystal and pearl - together with creations by designers of more recent years. The selection of jewellery includes private gifts to The Queen from members of the Royal Family to mark special occasions, and some of the most famous and historic pieces in the collection, such as Queen Mary's True Lover's Knot Brooch, the Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Emerald Necklace and two brooches set with stones from the famous Cullinan Diamond. Visitors can also enjoy a walk in the 39 acre garden with its 19th century lake, which provide a haven for wild life in the centre of London, and offer views of the Garden Front of the Palace. Buckingham Palace until 27th September.

John Hoyland The Trajectory Of A Fallen Angel: Paintings 1966 - 2003 traces the work one of Britain's leading abstract painters, highlighting the evolution of his paintings over four decades, affirming his position as a major, innovative force in post war British painting. Hoyland has produced a body of work that eliminates literal depiction of the observed world. His art uses shape, colour, texture and the movement of paint to evoke a world of emotion and imagination. After a landmark visit to New York in 1964, where he met leading Abstract Expressionists, he forged his distinctive personal style, producing large scale abstract paintings which advanced a startling use of simple shapes and high key colour. Paintings such as '28.2.66' defied the modernist insistence on the flat reality of the picture surface, emphasising instead the quality of virtual, illusory space. During the 1970s, Hoyland produced paintings that are thickly painted and richly textural, as in 'Verge 12.10.76'. Insistently abstract, these works possess an extraordinary material physicality. Since the 1980s, Hoyland's paintings have developed far beyond their early formal emphasis, embracing imaginative invented allusions and the suggestion of other worlds, as in 'Quas 23.1.86' and 'Black Something 8.2.90'. Tate St Ives until 24th September.