News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th December 2006


The Museum Of Childhood has reopened following a £4.7m transformation by architects Caruso St John, which restores the 130 year old building to its former Victorian glory. It houses Britain's most important collection of childhood objects comprises dolls and dolls' houses, games, puppets, toys, costume, books, nursery items, art and furniture from 16th century to the present day. Highlights of the project include a new entrance; a Front Room Gallery located in the foyer, dedicated to displaying artwork and installations from the community programme; new displays in the mezzanine galleries based around the themes of Creativity and Moving Toys; a learning centre that doubles the capacity for school groups, a designated space for community art and craft workshops; and a reconfiguration of the north basement to create improved lunchroom and cloakroom facilities. There are two opening exhibitions:

Happy Birthday Miffy celebrates the 50th anniversary of the children's character Miffy, and her creator and illustrator, Dick Bruna, the Netherlands' most successful children's author, with a retrospective of Bruna's original artwork, including silkscreen prints, books, photographs and original illustrations.

Bethnal Green Illuminations is a display of illuminated chandeliers created by groups from local schools, colleges and community projects, which launches the Front Room Gallery. The pieces make reference to Dale Chihuly's glass chandeliers, patterns in nature and chandeliers in the dolls house collection.

The Museum Of Childhood, Bethnal Green London, Happy Birthday Miffy until 18th March - Bethnal Green Illuminations until May.

Fine And Fashionable: Lace From The Blackborne Collection is the first major exhibition of lace in Britain, showcasing one of the finest collections of lace in the world, put together by father and son Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, who were master lace dealers in 19th century London. Conscious of the growing interest in antique lace, for fashion and for its own importance, they began a quest for authentic examples, building up a study collection and a deep knowledge of the subject that earned them international recognition. This exhibition features 200 historical pieces of lace from the Blackborne collection, many never before on public view, together with contemporary lace work designed by Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Bertola, and fashion students at Northumbria University, taking the Blackborne lace as their inspiration. These works are displayed alongside costumes, woven silks, decorative arts, and paintings, illustrating the use of lace in fashion and furnishings. The exhibition focuses on the design and quality of European lace from the 16th to the 20th century, revealing it as the ultimate fashion accessory and more expensive than jewellery. Worn by both sexes, fine hand made lace served to highlight the wealth and status of the wearer. The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle until 26th April.

Christmas At Kew: Magic, Not Manic is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. Outside, the gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh; there is an Ice Rink in front of the Temperate House; a Victorian horse and carriage ride; free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants; a Victorian carousel; the hop on hop off Kew Explorer travelling round the whole garden, which includes a commentary; plus Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell - and for the first time he's accompanied by real reindeer. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes the story of Jack And The Beanstalk given a botanical twist as a 'plantomime'; performances by choirs, hand bell ringers and brass bands; and craft sessions with advice on how to make natural decorations and presents; plus festive food and drink of all kinds. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 1st January.


London: A Life In Maps traces an epic visual journey through maps, topographical views, prints, engravings and ephemera, demonstrating how the obsessions, aspirations and concerns of Londoners drove the expansion and transformation of the metropolis over successive generations. Beginning with a gold coin from 310 depicting the walled Roman settlement of Londinium, it progresses through the ever larger, more detailed depictions of the Tudor and Stuart eras, and the improvements and squalor of the 18th and 19th centuries, to renderings of the city's current Olympic plans. Highlights include: a 15ft high single map of North London shown unified for the first time; the original hand drawn map for the reconstruction of London made within months of the Great Fire of 1666, together with the John Evelyn's diary describing the disaster; unaccredited Renaissance panoramic views of London; German bombing and invasion maps of 1940, showing targets for the bombers, and routes for the invading forces, together with an LCC Bomb Damage Map, showing the devastation in the Docks; a gold penny from Londonwic of about 810; Robert Hooke's original hand drawn plans for the Monument to the Fire; a sheet from the hand coloured 'Master Map of London Poverty' compiled for Charles Booth; drawings by Robert Adam for a grand gateway to London at Hyde Park Corner of 1778; detailed fire insurance plans showing squalor by the Thames in the 1850s, and the interior of Harrods in 1900; the real history of the A-Z from 1652 onwards; and a psychedelic panorama of Carnaby Street in 1970. The British Library until 4th March.

Judith Tucker: Resort (vii) comprises a series of recent paintings, drawings and notebooks, exploring the Baltic seaside resort of Ahlbeck. This collection takes its inspiration from pre-Second World War holiday photographs brought by Judith Tucker's grandmother when she escaped from Germany in 1938. Through visiting the resort and exploring the evocative mixture of decay and lavish restoration, Tucker became intrigued with the relationship between certain temporary structures and the landscape, notably the ubiquitous Strandkorbe. These shanty town structures, hybrids between beach huts and deck chairs, offer temporary shelter against the flat vastness of the Baltic. Huddled together in groups, they take on an almost anthropomorphic quality, providing a resonant motif for these melancholic coastal landscapes. Tucker's studio made paintings, based on location drawings from her notebooks, employ oil paint, combined with a wide assortment of glazing techniques and varnishes, as well as metallic leaf, marble dust and pearlescent pigments. The resulting surfaces shimmer with a spectral light, and different aspects of the image become visible at different times, according to the light and the position of the viewer. The large scale of the drawings means that the figures within the Strandkorbe, who seem to be absorbed in various private, everyday activities, appear to be almost three quarter life size. 20-21 Gallery, Scunthorpe, until 20th January.

The Story Of Boosey & Hawkes is the featured display in a new space housing some 1,600 instruments selected from the collection of over 7,000 objects from around the world made to produce sound. It tells the history of the brass and woodwind instrument makers Boosey & Hawkes, with items from their recently acquired archive, and over 100 instruments, including a 6ft 6in tuba, originally from the roof of its factory in Edgware, which can actually be played. Also in the gallery, The Carse Collection of brass and woodwind instruments, the Dolmetsch Collection of early English keyboards, and the Wayne Collection of concertinas (together with the personal collection and archive of Charles Wheatstone its inventor), sit alongside 3,500 year old Egyptian clappers, a 1937 Carlton jazz drum kit and new instruments from Belarus, Uzbekistan and India. The displays examine the important place music occupies in our lives and in the lives of other peoples around the world. The collection aims to acquire sound and video recordings with the documentation for each new instrument, and the sound of many of the items can be heard at sound stations. Normally the instruments are not played in order to ensure their preservation, but specially commissioned reproduction instruments can be handled and played. The gallery includes a performance and demonstration area, where visitors can listen to a recital, or watch an instrument maker studying at close quarters one of the rare instruments in the collection. Horiman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, continuing.

At Home In London 1600 - 1800 is a major new development adding four new period rooms, with newly aquired original furniture, and two interpretive galleries. The rooms, decorated and furnished with scrupulous authenticity, demonstrate significant shifts in middle class domestic conditions and behaviours, and in the choices of materials, decorative finishes and styles that were available and affordable. Room 1 (1630) is a hall in a timber framed house in the City of London, the main living space at the time. The walls are panelled oak, and the main furnishings, also oak, include a court cupboard inlaid with fruitwood, a set of joined stools, a draw-leaf table and an armchair. Room 2 (1695) is a parlour in a post Fire Of London house, used for receiving visitors. It reflects the new types of furniture and decorative arts becoming common in domestic interiors, walnut caned chairs, a writing desk, a mirror, a clock, drinking glasses, china and delftware. Room 3 (1745) is a parlour typical of houses in Spitalfields and Soho, showing the influence of 'politeness' as an appropriate mode of behaviour, a place to take tea and play card games. Furnishings include India-back side chairs, a mahogany tripod table, a blue japanned corner cupboard, an ebonised bracket clock, and a portrait of a woman by Arthur Devis. Room 4 (1790) is a parlour typical of Bloomsbury, used for informal evening entertaining. The treatment of the walls reflects the introduction of wallpaper and carpets, together with a taste for lighter colours. Furnishings, include a bureau with a sloping top for writing, a card table, a Pembroke table, mahogany carved back chairs, a pier glass, paintings and prints. Geffrye Museum, London, continuing.

Douglas Gordon: Superhumanatural is the first major solo exhibition of Gordon's work in Scotland since the showing of his celebrated work '24-Hour Psycho' (which slowed Alfred Hitchcock's film down so that it takes 24 hours to view) at Tramway in Glasgow in 1993. Gordon works with film, video, photographs, objects and texts, examining issues such as memory and identity, good and evil, life and death. One of his latest works is 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait', which follows in real time the movements of the footballer during an entire game. This exhibition showcases early pieces, explores the Scottish aspect of Gordon's art and also premieres new works. The Royal Scottish Academy is featuring 'Pretty Much Every Film and Video Work from About 1992 Until Now', shown on a bank of 50 video monitors in the sculpture court; works from four photographic series '100 Blind Stars', 'Self-Portraits of You + Me', 'Staying Home and Going Out' and 'What Am I Doing Wrong'; and some of his most celebrated installations, 'Play Dead: Real Time', in which an elephant pretends to be shot, 'Feature Film', '24-Hour Psycho' and 'Through A Looking Glass', which combines two versions of the mirror scene from Taxi Driver out of sync, so they appear to talk to each other. The Royal Botanic Garden is showing a complete collection of his wall texts in Inverleith House; the video installation 'Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake)', combining a child who thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary, The Song Of Bernadette and The Exorcist, in the Caledonian Hall; and 'Plato's Cave', one of three new works, in the Wash House. Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh until 14th January.

Alan Fletcher: Fifty Years Of Graphic Work (And Play) features a selection of work from the archive of one of the most influential figures in the history of British graphic design. Co-founder of Fletcher/Forbes/Gill in the 1960s, and Pentagram in the 1970s, his enduring legacy includes the identities of Pirelli, Reuters and the V&A, while more recently as Creative Director of Phaidon Press, he had a major impact on book design, with titles such as The Art Book and The Silver Spoon. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the Design and Art Directors' Association - D&AD. Fletcher synthesised the graphic traditions of Europe and America into witty and personal style. He called himself a 'visual jackdaw', forever on the lookout for something others might overlook, to take back to his studio and transform. The exhibition explores the ingenuity of Fletcher's commercial work for high profile clients, including Olivetti, ICI, Penguin, Shell and Lloyds, alongside personal projects in lettering, collage and illustration, with which he entertained himself and the public. This retrospective, charting his journey from art school to guru, includes many of his best known works, including the bus poster for Pirelli, which made it appear that the passengers were wearing its slippers; the photo-fit portrait of Prince Charles for the National Portrait Gallery; the brand name EVIAN rearrainged as NAIVE; and the classic shapes poster for Designers' Saturday London Event 1982. Design Museum, London until 18th February.


Dutch Winter Scenes is a timely exhibition focussing on winter landscapes. In the 17th century, north western Europe suffered a series of unusually severe winters, known as 'The Little Ice Age'. Snowfall was heavy, and canals and rivers regularly froze over. Intent on portraying their surroundings as naturalistically as possible, Dutch landscape painters grappled with the aesthetic possibilities and practical problems of capturing these icy conditions. Through increasingly harsh winters, they continued to find inspiration in their frigid surroundings, experimenting with composition, colour and the effects of light. In the highly competitive Dutch art market, winter scenes became a popular specialisation. Interpretations varied, with some artists focussing on the pleasures or hardships of the winter weather, while others explored the evocation of winter light and the frost filled atmosphere. These intriguing paintings celebrate the resilience of the Dutch people as they go about their daily business, even finding joy in the winter weather. Probably the best known work on show is Hendrick Avercamp's circular 'A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle'. Among the other artists whose works are featured are Jan Beerstraaten, Jan van Goyen, Aert van der Neer, Isack van Ostade, Adriaen van de Velde and Esaias van de Velde. National Gallery until 2nd January.

Bronte Abstracts are a series of works made over the past year by the contemporary British artist Cornelia Parker, in response to artefacts in the parsonage in which the Bronte family lived, and the sisters wrote their novels. The house is now displayed as a 'period home', with the Brontes' furniture, domestic objects, artworks and personal belongings, set out to give an impression of the house in their own time. Cornelia Parker's works are displayed throughout the parsonage alongside these original contents to encourage new ways of looking at the collection and at contemporary art, to celebrate the connections between creativity, past and present, and reflect the way in which the Brontes' lives and works have continued to inspire writers and artists across three centuries. The works include scanned and electron microscope images of items from the collection, including a split end of Anne's hair, pinholes made by Charlotte, the tines of a comb burnt by Emily, and a quill, together with images of amendments to Charlotte's manuscript of Jane Eyre, held in the British Library. In addition, there are sound installations in certain rooms that document a visit made by two psychics to the parsonage, and a video recording of Phyllis Cheney, who claims descent from Branwell. Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth until 31st December.

First And Last Loves: John Betjeman And Architecture features the writings, recordings and films of John Betjeman, in a celebration of his life long passion for architecture. The exhibition brings together rare archive material, photographic and film footage, as well as original art work from Betjeman's friends and contemporaries, such as John Piper. It is an intimate show, rather like visiting Betjeman's library and being able to look around his own rooms, hung with his pictures and decorated with objects he liked. From his bicycle tours of Oxford as a young student, to his hard fought campaigns to save endangered Victorian masterpieces such as St Pancras Station in the 1960s, architecture remained Betjeman's great love. Following a spell at the Architectural Review in the 1930s, he went on to edit the iconic Shell Guides, which steered motorists around historic buildings county by county, and after the Second World War, became increasingly well known as for his television work, which reached its peak with the classic film Metroland. As well as encouraging a better understanding of Britain's greatest towns and buildings, Betjeman was a tireless promoter of the marginal, the overlooked and the obscure. His love for Victoriana (he was a founder member of the Victorian Society in 1958) and his passionate pleas to preserve Britain's railway architecture is credited with instigating the great revival of interest in buildings of the 19th century. The exhibition provides both a feast of new material and a rare opportunity to view vintage footage of one of the greatest architectural writers and broadcasters of the 20th century. Sir John Soane's Museum, London until 30th December.