News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th April 2010


Leighton House Museum has reopened following a £1.6m restoration and refurbishment programme. One of the most remarkable buildings of the 19th century, the house was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. The Arab Hall is a two storey internal courtyard designed to display Leighton's priceless collection of over a thousand Islamic tiles, mostly brought back from Syria, Turkey and Persia, in which is set a box-shaped Mashrabiya window transplanted from a building in Cairo, and a mosaic fountain. A golden mosaic frieze encricles the room, elaborate decorative paintwork illuminates the domed ceiling, and coloured marble clads the walls evoking a compelling vision of the Orient. The opulence continues through the other richly decorated interiors, with gilded ceilings and walls lined with peacock blue tiles by the ceramic artist William De Morgan. On the first floor is Leighton's grand painting studio with a great north window, dome and apse, which was also the venue for Leighton's celebrated musical evenings. The house reopens with a special exhibition that reassembles Leighton's collection of paintings, hanging in their original positions for the first time since the collection was dispersed in 1896. The paintings include works by many of Leighton's contemporaries, including Burne-Jones, Millais, Watts and Costa. In addition, there is a film and photographic exhibition on the refurbishment process. Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London, continuing.

Underwater brings together artworks created during the past decade inspired by the sea and the underwater world. The exhibition features works by 10 international contemporary artists, from sculpture and paintings to video and soundscapes, with depictions of sublime seascapes, mermaid-like creatures and monsters of the aquatic. Exhibits include videos by Bill Viola, in which two lovers intertwine as they slowly descend into dark waters, Janaina Tschape, where a woman's head rocks from side to side, just beneath the water's surface, and Dorothy Cross, with a woman wafting in sunlit water that teems with jellyfish, her hair billowing with their pulsating forms; drawings by Ellen Gallagher, conjecturing a monstrous creature that has evolved in the far depths, part natural history specimen, part science fiction, and Ed Pien, suggesting a nightmarish underwater realm, in which ghastly creatures do battle; Daniel Gustav Cramer's photographs of the seabed with towering rocks and rising silts; a motorized model submarine by Cut and Scrape lurching about in the clutches of a giant squid, straight from the pages of Jules Verne; tapering metallic sculptures by Klaus Osterwald, suspended as a shoal from the ceiling, emitting the strange chirrupings of fish, as recorded by underwater microphones; Shirley Kaneda's paintings, precise yet free squiggles that are a play on refraction and reflection; and Seunghyun Woo's sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna, suggesting liquid movement and distortion. Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, until 20th June.

Christen Kobke: Danish Master Of Light is the first solo exhibition of paintings by one of the greatest talents of Denmark's Golden Age outside his homeland. This exhibition comprises 48 of Christen Kobke's most beautiful and distinguished works, spanning a variety of genres: landscape, topography, portraiture and his oblique depictions of national monuments informed by an avant-garde sensibility. They present some of the most innovative aspects of his work, including outdoor sketching, his fascination with painterly immediacy and his unique treatment of light and atmosphere. The paintings include scenes from his home town, such as 'The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen', 'View of the Citadel Ramparts Towards Langelinie and the Naval Harbour' and 'Cigar Seller at the Northern Exit from the Citadel'; portraits of many of his family and closest friends, such as 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother, Cecilia Margrete, nee Petersen'; detailed representations of fellow artists, such as 'Portrait of the Landscape Painter Frederik Sodring'; of rural scenes, such as 'View from Dosseringen Near the Sortedam Lake Looking Towards Norrebro'; and of Danish national monuments such as 'Frederiksborg Castle, View Near the Montbro Bridge' and 'Roof Ridge of Frederiksborg Castle'. These are possibly the smallest paintings (some less than 12 inches wide), with the longest (and most specific) titles. Denmark's 'Golden Age' has become known as 'the age of Kobke', and his precise and clear-cut manner, sharp focus and pristine light are now synonymous with the image of this time of unsurpassed creative flowering. National Gallery until 13th June.


The Enchanted Palace is a series of installations by contemporary fashion designers based on the stories of the 7 princesses who once lived in Kensington Palace. Designers Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmont and Echo Morgan have created experiences in various areas of the state apartments, culminating in an opportunity of 'meeting the princesses face to face'. Highlights include Queen Victoria's bedroom, the chamber in which she awoke to learn she was queen, which features an avant-garde interpretation by William Tempest of a period dress, including 2,000 origami birds; The Room of Royal Sorrows, the bedchamber of Queen Mary II, Aminaka Wilmont's dramatisation of her travails as she tried in vain a produce an heir, with dozens of antique glass bottles known as "tear catchers", in which tears were put in times of mourning; and Vivienne Westwood's dramatic corseted Dress for a Rebellious Princess, inspired by King George IV's daughter Princess Charlotte, on show in the King's Grand Staircase, amid black veiled candle lanterns and shriveled autumn leaves. The event is an effort to create a unique multi-sensory, magical and, at times, quietly eerie experience, in the middle of the palace's £12m makeover, disguising the industrial evidence of building work that is due to be completed in 2012. Visitors are given an 'enchanted map' with which to embark on a personal tour through the hidden corners of the state apartments in search of the princesses, while actors from WildWorks theatre company provide an interactive element to the experience. Kensington Palace until June 2012.

Photographing Fashion: British Style In The 1960s shows how fashion in Britain in the 1960s ranged from demure dresses and ensembles, by now little remembered ready to wear firms such as Reldan and Nettie Vogues, to dolly bird designs by the new 1960s fashion stars, such as Mary Quant and Jean Muir. The exhibition features a selection of images from the Ernestine Carter Collection of hundreds of black and white photographic prints and original fashion drawings, commissioned by the 'grande dame' of the British newspaper fashion editors, who was Women's, and later Associate, Editor of The Sunday Times from 1955 to 1968. The importance of Ernestine Carter's fashion pages could not be underestimated in the 1960s - as far as young designers were concerned, a piece by her was a hallmark of approval. This display gives a potted history of fashion in Swinging 60s Britain, from former Bond girl Tania Mallet modelling an Empire line evening dress by Sambo for Dollyrockers in 1963, through to Celia Hammond - almost fresh off the Hippy Trail - in her Indian inspired evening dress from only five years later in 1968. Accompanying the photographs are original garments from the period, including a version of the hessian effect pinafore style mini skirt by Mary Quant seen in a photograph from 1965, and menswear by names such as Mr Fish, plus fashions and accessories incorporating the use of new materials and styles, such as oversized sunglasses and paper dresses. Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bath, until December.

Michelangelo's Dream provides an opportunity to see Michelangelo's masterpiece 'The Dream (Il Sogno)', which has been described as one of the finest of all Renaissance drawings. It was executed when Michelangelo was at the height of his career, and exemplifies his unrivalled skill as a draughtsman, and his extraordinary powers of invention. The exhibition examines this celebrated work in the context of an exceptional group of closely related drawings by Michelangelo, as well as previously unexhibited original letters and poems by the artist, together with other works by his contemporaries. Michelangelo's 'presentation drawings' are a group of highly refined compositions, which the artist gave to his closest friends. These beautiful and complex works transformed drawing into an independent art form, and are amongst Michelangelo's finest creations in any medium. 'The Dream' is likely to have been part of the group of drawings that Michelangelo gave to a young Roman nobleman called Tommaso de'Cavalieri during the first years of their close friendship. This group forms the heart of the exhibition, and includes 'The Punishment of Tityus', 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'A Bacchanal of Children' and 'The Rape of Ganymede', which have not been seen together for over 20 years. The exhibition contains the earliest surviving letter from Michelangelo to Cavalieri, dated 1 January 1533, in which the artist expresses his delight that Cavalieri had agreed to accept the gift of some drawings, which were primarily intended to teach him how to draw. A further highlight is a group of drawings by Michelangelo of Christ's resurrection, which concentrate on the heroic nude figure of the reborn Christ, leaping free of the tomb and the bondage of life on earth, including 'Risen Christ', widely celebrated as one of the most magnificent and potent figures in Michelangelo's art. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 19th May.

Victoria & Albert: Art & Love examines the unique partnership of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their shared enthusiasm for art. The exhibition focuses on the period of Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert, from the time of their engagement in 1839 to the Prince's death in 1861, and challenges the popular image of Queen Victoria - the melancholy widow of 40 years. Through 402 works, including paintings, drawings, photographs, musical scores, jewellery and sculpture, Victoria emerges as a romantic and open minded young woman. For Victoria and Albert, art was an important part of everyday life, and a way they expressed their love for each other. Around a third of the objects in the exhibition were exchanged as gifts between the couple to mark special occasions. They range from the simple and sentimental, such as a set of jewellery in the form of orange blossom, to examples of early Italian painting, including Bernardo Daddi's 'The Marriage of the Virgin', and Perugino's 'Saint Jerome in Penitence', both given by the Queen to the Prince for his birthday. Personal items include never before seen drawings from Victoria's sketchbook, including a self portrait and sketches of her children, and the manuscript of a song, annotated by Victoria: 'Composed by dear Albert at Windsor Castle & sent to me by him Jan. 5. 1840. Among the highlights are a 'secret' portrait of the Queen and an 8sqm painting of the couple and their first 5 children by Franz Xaver Winterhalter; Victoria's elaborate silk costume for the Stuart ball in 1851, designed by Eugene Lami; a throne and footstool, carved from ivory, a gift from the Maharaja of Travancore; a gilt table fountain inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra palace, with horses modeled on Arabs from the royal stable; and an Erard grand piano, with a gilded case painted with monkeys playing trumpets, tambourines and violins. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 31st October.

John Tunnard: Inner Space To Outer Space is the first major exhibition for 30 years of one of the most accomplished, yet frequently overlooked British painters of his generation. Nature-loving, star-gazing, bearded jazz extraordinaire John Tunnard's paintings were inspired by his many and varied interests, and drew on both surrealist fantasy worlds and developments in science and engineering. Tunnard found a way to create a stippled surface that looks textured, seemingly grainy to the touch, but which was entirely flat, seen to greatest effect in 'Fulcrum' and 'Man, Woman and Iron'. Although Tunnard began painting romantic landscapes the 1930s, it was when he moved into abstracts that he found his voice, with works perfectly capturing the post war 'Festival of Britain' 1950s style. He had a strong feel for pattern, which might be explained by his earlier career as a textile designer. The exhibition is grouped into the themes of Tunnards interests: Music and Surrealism, Nature and Landscape, and Science and Space Travel. Highlights include 'Plein Air Abstraction', 'Vane', 'Holiday' from the School Prints series, 'The Return', 'Self Portrait' and 'Messenger'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 6th June.

Gargoyles And Shadows: Gothic Architecture And 19th Century Photography examines the relationship that developed between photography and architectural practice in the 19th century. The exhibition explores how photography facilitated the re-discovery of an idealised past, as seen in the popularity of Picturesque views and Gothic Revival architecture. The display also addresses the role played by photography in documenting architectural heritage, by John Ruskin amongst others, in securing a record for buildings facing demolition, and its use as a tool for preserving the national architectural heritage. Photographs were also a significant source of inspiration to architects, not least in the Gothic Revival, where architects like Pugin drew upon Gothic design, and its perceived spirituality and nationalism, in the designing of buildings such as the Palace of Westminster. The exhibition includes a range of photographs dating from the 1850s to around 1915, by the leading British, French and Italian photographers of the day. The photographs are all of Gothic or Gothic revival buildings, in Britain and Europe. Alongside them are a selection of drawings, sketch books, watercolours and prints. Victoria & Albert Museum until 16th May.


Dinosaurs Unleashed is the Britain's largest animatronic, life sized dinosaur experience, with 24 full size dinosaurs in a new outdoor interactive enclosure - in Oxford Street, opposite the Marble Arch Marks & Spencer. It is a Jurassic Park style prehistoric adventure on a truly epic scale, offering the chance to get up close and personal with the largest and most fearsome creatures the Earth has ever seen, walking alongside the giants of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Visitors can meet Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, marvel at massive Diplodocus three times the length and double the height of a double-decker bus, come face to face with infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, taller than the tallest giraffe, and tremble at the sight of small but vicious Velociraptors. A prehistoric aquarium using the latest computer graphics brings the prehistoric underwater world to life. Alternatively, visitors can put themselves in the picture in the 'scream' experience or in the 'green screen' theatre The exhibition is entirely based on current scientific thinking, with expert paleontologists ensuring that it is as accurate as possible. As they say: it's the family day out that London's been waiting 65 million years for. Parklife, 455-497 Oxford Street W1, until 3rd May.

Mrs Delany And Her Circle is the first exhibition to survey the entire life and the full range of a significant figure in natural history in Georgian England. Mary Delaney was a pattern of accomplishment and curiosity for her contemporaries, and became a model to subsequent generations. The exhibition brings together art, fashion and science: fields that are now generally conceived as separate realms of cultural practice, but that were intimately connected in the varied circles in which Mrs Delany thrived. The centre pieces of the show of collages, drawings, letters and embroideries, include sections of Delany's court mantua, the court dress magnificently embroidered with naturalistic flowers dramatically displayed against a black satin background, the first time that these surviving sections of fabric have been brought together; and her 'paper mosaic' botanical studies of flowers, collages of coloured papers with watercolour and body colour on black ink background, part of her magnum opus the 'Flora Delanica'.

Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship & The Order Of Things is an accompanying site-specific installation by artist Jane Wildgoose, which is a celebration of the friendship between Mrs Delany and Margaret Cavendish, second Duchess of Portland. The extravagant cabinet of curiosities evokes the 'Promiscuous Assemblage' described in the catalogue that accompanied the sale of the Duchess's 'Portland Museum', a collection of natural history specimens, fine and decorative arts, and curiosities, at a 38 day auction comprising over 4,000 lots. Wildgoose offers a perspective on the ways in which the natural history collections of the 18th century reflect the interlacing of the manners, taste, friendships and material culture of the people who assembled them.

Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 1st May.

Inventions: Discover The Muslim Heritage In Our World traces the story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world, from the 7th century onwards. The exhibition looks at the social, scientific and technical achievements that are credited to the Muslim world, whilst celebrating the shared scientific heritage of other cultures. Featuring a diverse range of exhibits, interactive displays and dramatisation, it shows how many modern inventions, spanning fields such as engineering, medicine and design, can trace their roots back to Muslim civilisation. The star exhibit is a 6m high replica of the 'Elephant Clock', a visually striking early 13th century timepiece, whose design fuses together elements from many cultures, alongside which is a short film with Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari, inventor of this fabled clock. Other highlights include: a model of an energy efficient and environmentally-friendly Baghdad house; a 3m reproduction Al-Idrisi's 12th century world map; a model of Zheng He's Chinese junk ship, a 15th century wooden super structure over 100m long; a reproduction of a 9th century flying device; medical instruments from a thousand year ago, many of which are still used today; and a model of a 9th century dark room, later called Camera Obscura, with which Ibn al-Haytham revolutionised our understanding of optics. In addition, there are parallel stories of invention from other cultures and civilisations, illustrated through a display of rare objects, many of which have never been on public display before. These include devices used for weighing and measuring, surgical instruments, astronomical devices, intricately crafted ceramic pots and textiles. Science Museum until 25th April.