News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th April 2004


Li Zhensheng: Red-colour New Soldier presents the only known existing photographic documentation of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China between 1966 and 1976. These were times when child turned against parent and pupil against teacher, with tens of thousands of young revolutionaries mobilised as Red Guards, while countless others were executed, imprisoned or sent to work camps, accused of being enemies of the masses. Starting in 1963, the photographer Li Zhensheng spent almost 20 years working for the Heilongjiang Daily, a Communist newspaper in Northern China, with full access to events. His unique archive of images conveys the madness of this time: stage-managed public trials, recantations, the cult of personality, mass demonstrations, executions and re-education campaigns. In 1969 Li himself was sent to a 're-education school' in a desolate rural region north of Harbin for two years. When the new Chinese leadership ordered the destruction of all evidence of what happened, at great personal risk, Li hid and preserved thousands of photographs in his furniture and under his floorboards, and these were later smuggled to the West. This exhibition brings together over 130 of his photographs, along with personal documents from the period.Hou Bo & Xu Xiaobing: Mao's Photographers features photographs taken by Hou Bo, who worked with her husband Xu Xiaobing at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine. They were close to Mao from the period leading up to the Revolution through to the end of his life, producing many of the iconic images, from Mao's declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949, to his swim in the Yangtze River at the age of 73 in 1966. During the Cultural Revolution, as the personality cult that engulfed Mao came to its height, his image and Little Red Book of quotations were distributed in their millions throughout China. Hou Bo's portraits appeared in nearly every office, factory, classroom, shop and home, showing Mao as a charismatic leader, a teacher, a strategist and an internationalist. This exhibition includes over 60 photographs of the most notable political figures of these years, including not only the widely disseminated portraits of Mao, but intimate shots of him with his family, that have rarely been seen.The Photographers' Gallery, London until 30th May.

Spinball Whizzer is first out of the bag of this year's new theme park attractions, aiming to create the feeling of what it would be like to be a human pinball. Not only are riders catapulted up and down a steep twisted 450 yard track at speeds of up to 40mph, but each car does 360 degree spins - up to 90 times in one and a half minutes. Meanwhile the popular Flume has been given a bath time makeover - out go the rustic log boats and in come bathtubs - accompanied by rubber ducks, taps, bath plugs, and intermittent showers, plus a final giant power shower to complete the experience. These join the existing thrillseeker experiences: Air - the first ride to simulate the motion and sensation of free flight, Oblivion - the world's first vertical drop ride, and the legendary Nemesis - combining 4G force and weightlessness. Further information and virtual rides can be found on the Alton Towers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Alton Towers until 31st October.

Durer And The Virgin In The Garden is a classic exercise in pragmatism, centred on the painting 'The Virgin with the Iris'. It was purchased as being the work of the renaissance artist Albrecht Durer, but scholars subsequently dismissed it as a copy or pastiche. However, a discovery made during the recent restoration of the painting, supports the theory that it actually did originate in Durer's workshop in the early sixteenth century, and draws on a number of his meticulous studies of plants, flowers and other motifs. During this examination of the painting using infrared reflectography, a remarkably detailed underdrawing was revealed, which may be the work of Durer himself. Capitalising on this discovery, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see the underdrawing and compare it with Durer's other work. Through a series of drawings and prints, bringing together some of Durer's most famous watercolours, most on show in London for the first time, the exhibition traces the development of the artist's images of the Virgin and Child in a garden. The works include: 'Irises', 'The Virgin with the Animals' and the 'Great Piece of Turf', plus 'Peonies' by Martin Schongauer, a watercolour that was owned by Durer himself, and a painting by Durer of the Virgin and Child. National Gallery until 20th June.


The Adventures Of Tintin At Sea commemorates the 75th anniversary of the first adventure undertaken by the most famous Belgian with the distinctive haircut. The exhibition examines the development of the comic strip, with the oldest existing drawing of Tintin, how the characters came to be named and developed, and other original artwork, much of which has never been on public display before. These strips are a chronicle of 20th century preoccupations in their stories, and have been a major influence on pop art in their style. The exhibition also looks at the life of Tintin's creator, including a silkscreen portrait of Herge (Georges Remi) by Andy Warhol, on public display in Britain for the first time, together with personal effects, objects and photographs. One of Tintin's most distinctive features is that his adventures reflect a degree of reality uncommon in most comic strip books. Herge had an interest in scientific developments, and believed in the importance of placing Tintin in a real and believable world. Many of the stories and drawings were based on accurate research, achieved by taking clippings from magazines, visiting museums, and consulting friends and experts. Unfamiliar materials from the museum's collection reveal the inspiration behind Tintin's adventures at sea, and highlight the accuracy with which they were created. Among these are 1930s life jackets, star maps, models of ships that are featured in the stories, and a working one-man shark-shaped submarine. National Maritime Museum until 5th September.

Domestic (f)utility transforms the Artists' House gallery into a place where domesticity is no longer quite what it seems. Everyday household objects are subtly changed, so that they no longer perform the tasks for which they were designed, creating the kind of disconcerting twisted reality you find in a David Lynch film: dusters no longer dust, and angle poise lamps cannot be adjusted. The exhibition includes work by Barnaby Barford - four china milk jugs joined together by their spouts; Gavin Turk - polystyrene cups cast in bronze; Susan Cttts - stilettos made of paper; Nina Saunders - a chair consumed by its cushion; Anya Gallaccio - apples made of porcelain and chitting potatoes made of bronze; Cecile Johnson-Soliz - immoveable coffee pot, tea pot and cups that are part of the worktop on which they rest; plus pieces by Gereon Krebber and Koichiro Yamamoto. New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury until 3rd May.

Archigram celebrates the exuberant, pop-inspired visions of the group that dominated avant garde architecture throughout the 1960s. Founded in 1961 by six young London architects - Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron and Michael Webb - Archigram has remained an enduring inspiration to architects and designers to the present day. Despite the fact that none of its major projects were ever built, its experiments have influenced many famous buildings, from Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's Pompidou Centre in Paris, through Rogers's Lloyds building in London, to Future Systems's new Selfridges in Birmingham. Nevertheless, the group's 1960s visions of a technology driven future now have the same naive charm as the 'shape of things to come' science fiction projections of the 1930s. A recreation of the Archigram office - itself as idiosyncratic as any of the group's creations - contains the designs for Ron Herron's Walking City, with eight-legged buildings the size of skyscrapers rolling through Central Park; David Greene's Living Pod, like a gigantic Lunar Module; Blow-out Village, an entire town that inflates from a hovercraft; Plug-In City, a range of updateable domestic and commercial modules that could be attached to service points supplying water, electricity and communications; The Suitaloon, a garment that becomes a home; and Instant City, a portable entertainment centre that could bring urban life to remote areas. Architecture for the Sgt Pepper generation. Design Museum until 4th July.

Heaven On Earth: Art From Islamic Lands is a display of the finest decorative arts of Islam - calligraphy, textiles, jewels, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and The Khalili Collection in London. The artefacts range in date from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and in origin from Spain through the Arab world to Persia and the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition is in four galleries. The first celebrates the majesty of God, with calligraphy used as a vehicle for the Qur'an - literally the word of God - from manuscripts to woven prayer rugs, and lustre tile panels from shrines, bearing verses and rich arabesque decoration. The second shows how figurative art was used in the service of earthly rulers, with bronze and ceramic birds and animals, metalwork, stone relief carving and early Iranian silver, including the 'Bobrinsky' bucket covered with dense decoration in silver and copper. The third contains jewels from the Mughal treasury, with boxes, flasks, dishes, cups and bracelets encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and richly embroidered robes and other fine silks. The last gallery celebrates the interaction of East and West. A 10th century rock crystal lamp, carried off by Crusaders and mounted in gold and enamels in Italy in the 16th century, sits alongside sabres, daggers and other arms, richly embellished with jewels. There are also oil paintings of Qajar rulers wearing such arms, and of the ladies of their courts, in imitation of Western art, offering a curious blend of Oriental and European styles. Linking the galleries are framed miniatures from Persian manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries, some religious in theme, and others reflecting Islamic court life. The Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 22nd August.

Four New Galleries and new street frontage have just opened in a £7.5m redevelopment scheme at the Coventry Transport Museum. The Introductory Gallery explains the importance of Coventry's transport heritage and demonstrates the size and scale of the Museum's collection. Another new gallery is devoted to the 1980s and 1990s, and completes the existing Walk Through Time feature, from the 1860s to the present day. It traces the demise of Coventry's car industry in the 80s, and explores the globalisation of car companies, increasing environmental concerns, and the growth of interest in cycling - particularly BMX-ing and skateboarding. An interactive Futures Gallery examines road safety, the environment, and the high tech developments that will provide the new transport systems of the future. Another new gallery houses the museum's two World Land Speed Record Cars, ThrustSSC and Thrust2. An Education/Technocentre, and an area for temporary exhibitions complete the new features. They join the largest collection of British Road Transport in the world, with over 240 cars and commercial vehicles, 250 bicycles, 94 motorcycles, 25,000 models, and over 1 million other items on view. Among the highlights are the 1935 Daimler limousine used by Queen Mary, King George VI's Daimler, and Field Marshal Montgomery's Humber staff car. Coventry Transport Museum continuing.

From Quill Pen To Computer: The Bank Of England's Staff From 1694 celebrates the personalities who have conducted the business of the now august institution (which opened in rented premises with a staff of just 19) and reflects on how their working methods and conditions have changed. Objects, paintings, prints, books, documents and photographs bring to life people such as William Maynee, an Accountant's Office clerk found guilty of forgery of Bank notes, who was hanged in 1731; William Guest, a teller who committed High Treason by filing gold coins, and was drawn on a sledge to Tyburn and hanged in 1767; and Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind In The Willows, who was Secretary of the Bank for ten years from 1898, and is believed to have drawn inspiration for some of his characters from fellow workers. Although the Bank is not known for innovation, in 1894 it was amongst the first organisations in the City to employ women on clerical duties, causing shock waves among many business establishments. The exhibition reveals the skills required in earlier times, when prospective employees had to pass an examination involving handwriting, orthography (that's spelling), arithmetic, English composition and geography. To demonstrate how working conditions have changed, one of the latest computers in use in the Bank has a scrolling display of images of newly refurbished offices, together with the contrasting 18th, 19th and early 20th century workplaces. The Bank of England Museum until 27th October.


Exclusive! Tales From The Tabloid Front Line - 100 Years Of The Daily Mirror examines how the work of those engaged in producing newspapers has changed, as the industry has embraced a century of sweeping technological advances. The exhibition is divided into six areas, analysing the jobs of workers at different stages in the process. Technicians shows how the new Bartlane machine was used to transmit images around the world in 1920, and how the first wireless tests from an aeroplane to a receiving station on the ground were pioneered. Photographers contrasts how snappers were once weighed down by vast amounts of kit, including the actual De Vere Long Tom camera used to get close up pictures of the coronation in 1953, and how today they can function with just a camera‚ mobile and laptop. Reporters includes the then state of the art laptops that were issued in the 1980's, and the other equipment used over the years to get the stories back to the office - from tickertape machines to mobiles. Newsroom shows how raw words and pictures are shaped into a front page, with examples of some of the major science and technology news stories of the last 100 years. Editors looks at how a succession of editors have styled the Mirror‚ originally launched as a paper for women, creating the now established tabloid feel. Printers charts the revolution from 'hot metal', with pages assembled letter by letter, to digital technology, with pages set on a screen in the newsroom sent direct to the printing machines. Science Museum until 25th April.

Connected London: 125 Years Of The Telephone looks at the accelerating pace of change in communications in the capital. It charts the milestones of the journey, with a Bell patent telephone of 1878; the first London phone directory, issued in 1880, which listed just 250 subscribers; a standard 'No.1' wall telephone of 1910, with a separate ear piece; the first Red public telephone kiosk of 1926; the launch of the Speaking Clock in 1936; the introduction of the '999'emergency service in 1937, followed by the arrival of Dr Who style blue police telephone boxes; the gold 2 millionth London telephone of 1954; a warbling Trimphone of 1966, the UK's first mobile phone call made by Ernie Wise from St Katharine's Dock in 1985; and the most advanced mobile phone, the Sendo X, which soon to be launched in Britain. As well as the actual hardware, there are film and sound recordings that recreate the very different experience from today, when calls handled personally by operators. In addition, the exhibition explores how Londoners connected with each other before the phone, with a letter sent by pigeon post in 1846, a letter sent from Paris to London by balloon in 1870, and Suffragette telegrams of 1911. It also looks at the phenomenal success of the mobile, with ever increasing capabilities, and speculates on possible future developments, like e-voting and e-trading. Museum of London until 25th April.

Haunted: Hanna ten Doornkaat is a series of photographs which transform the detritus of urban life into intricate artworks of great beauty. Hanna ten Doornkaat creates narrative scenes commenting on our increasingly fraught relationship with nature, using non-degradable rubbish and packaging. Thus she painstakingly forms a butterfly from a Wrigley's spearmint wrapper, and a tiny beach hut from a Macdonald's carton, which she then places in a natural setting and photographs in extreme close up. In our daily lives we are surrounded by marketing symbols through a profusion of objects and images that have direct and indirect effects on our landscapes. Ten Doornkaat's fictional scenarios highlight the visual degradation of the urban landscape to which we have become inured, and point up how we have embraced a disposable culture, becoming divorced from nature. In other images, ten Doornkaat has used a reverse technique, meticulously digitally erasing forms she believes to be detrimental to the environment, using a kind of reverse drawing to remove that which she finds offensive. A minor gem. Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea until 24th April.