Private View held by Richard Andrews
Elizabeth brings together over 350 objects in the greatest collection ever assembled of personal items, paintings, jewellery, manuscripts, fine art objects and exhibits exploring the life and reign of Elizabeth I. Under the guest curatorship of current historical authority hottie David Starkey, Britain's first golden age is celebrated, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Elizabeth's death. Exhibits encompass both the state and the personal, ranging from the transcript of Elizabeth's first speech as Queen, to her pearl, ruby and diamond locket ring, containing miniature portraits of herself and her mother, Anne Boleyn. Among the rarely or never before seen artefacts are her minister William Cecil's shopping list of the good points of her suitor, Francis Duke of Anjou; an orpharion (a musical instrument similar to a lute) made for Elizabeth; the last letter sent by the love of her life Robert Dudley, which she kept in a casket under her bed for 15 years until her death; her leather gloves and riding boots; portraits of Elizabeth and her courtiers by Nicholas Hilliard, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger and Elder, Isaac Oliver and George Gower; and drawings made at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Inevitably virtual reality has muscled in on actual reality with an interactive Elizabethan Discovery Gallery, which explores her life with 'multisensory learning displays'. Curious how all museums now labour under the bizarre delusion that seeing something on a screen is somehow a more real and valuable experience than seeing the actual object. National Maritime Museum until 14th September.
Newnham Paddox Art Park is a new 30 acre open air lakeside art gallery presenting up to 100 modern works in contemporary and classical styles for viewing and purchase in a unique wooded setting. The park is part of a 1,000 acre Grade 1 listed 18th century romantic landscape designed by Capability Brown on the 3,000 acre estate of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. Among those artists featured in the opening show are David Begbie, Nic Fiddian-Green, Olwen Gilmore, Amy Goodman, Rob Maingay, Polly Rome, Jill Tweed, Gail van Heerden and Althea Wynne. Wooded walks afford five views of the lakes and park, which contains many rare specimen trees which have been collected by previous generations of Denbighs on their journeys abroad since 1433. Newnham Paddox Art Park, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, 01788 833513 Thursdays to Sundays until 30th October.
Lichfield: The Early Years 1962 - 1982 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the start of Patrick Lichfield's career as a photographer, which has developed along the twin themes of his personal involvement in fashionable society and his aristocratic connections. Bringing together over 30 works, it focuses on his early career as a leading participant and chronicler of the Swinging Sixties, including his period with Vogue. It features the iconic group 'Swinging London', which includes Roman Polanski, David Hockney, and Antonia Fraser; individual portraits such as a nude of Marsha Hunt for the musical Hair, and a striking colour image of Yves St Laurent in Marrakesh; and the St Tropez wedding of Mick and Bianca Jagger. The display concludes with his definitive and intimate photographs of the Queen and the Royal Family taken in the 1970s, including the large group portrait of 26 Royals at Windsor in 1971, and culminates in the photographs of wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. National Portrait Gallery until 31st August.
Linley Sambourne House has reopened after a two year conservation and restoration programme, and now includes the studio. It is a fine example of a late Victorian London townhouse in Classical Italianate style, with four floors above a basement, and it survives with almost all of its extensive furniture and fittings intact. The cartoonist, illustrator and photographer Edward Linley Sambourne made it his home for 36 years from 1874, soon after it was built, and decorated it in the fashionable aesthetic style of the period. The house remained in the family largely untouched until 1980, when it was taken over by the Greater London Council and opened as a museum. Sambourne specialised in grotesque caricatures of people and animals, and was a prolific contributor to the magazine Punch for 43 years. Approximately 1000 cartoons, drawings and sketches and nearly 15,000 photographs, cyanotypes and glass plate negatives survive as part of the Linley Sambourne collection, many of which adorn the walls. Visits to the property are by guided tour only, lasting around one and a half hours, led by an actor in period costume, who gives an insight into the life and times of the Sambourne family. Linley Sambourne House, 18 Stafford Terrace London W8, 020 7602 3316 extn 305, Saturdays and Sundays continuing.
Faberge is a selection from the Royal collection of over 300 pieces by Carl Faberge, the greatest Russian jeweller and goldsmith of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection is unparalleled in size, range and quality, and was acquired almost uniquely through the exchange of personal gifts between the Russian, Danish and British Royal families. Faberge revived traditional techniques of enamelling, multi-coloured gold decoration and the use of carved semi-precious hardstones, but applied them with unsurpassed skill and great originality. He sought inspiration in many sources, from antiquity and Oriental art to the contemporary Art Nouveau movement. The assimilation of these different styles, using raw materials of supreme quality and craftsmanship of the highest standard, gave Faberge's work its unique character. Tsar Alexander III of Russia appointed Faberge Supplier to the Imperial Court in 1885. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra's enthusiasm for Faberge's work encouraged the jeweller to open a London branch in 1903. Their taste was for animal sculptures, modelled from life at the Sandringham Estate farm, and deceptively simple wild flower ornaments. Queen Mary, consort of King George V, acquired four of Faberge's celebrated Easter Eggs, three of which had been made for the Russian Imperial family. These are the greatest expression of Faberge's ingenuity, and their year long production was carried out in great secrecy. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until 12th October.
Restoration Lives: Samuel Pepys And His Circle marks the tercentenary of the death of the famous diarist, who recorded his observations about life in London after the Restoration - one of the most dramatic periods in British history. The 1660s not only foreshadowed the 1960s as a period of immense vitality, confidence and reinvention in the arts and public life, but also included the horrors of the Plague and the Great Fire. Pepys was among those who brought Charles II back to England to be crowned King, and as a successful civil servant was at the centre of events, with access to influential social and political circles. His diary records both key historical events, and his relationships with hundreds of men and women of the period. Portraits on display include many of those who knew Pepys well, such as Navy colleagues, actresses, painters, his patron Edward Montagu, and King Charles II himself. Portraits of his associates John Harman, William Petty, George Monck and Christopher Wren have been brought out of storage especially for this exhibition. There is also a bust of Pepys long suffering wife Elizabeth. National Portrait Gallery until 28th September.
Guy Bourdin is the first retrospective of the influential French photographer known for dramatic fashion photographs, which owe more to documentary reportage than high gloss. Instead of the studio shot or glamorous location, his pictures look like Crime Scene Investigation officers have taken them in situations where the victim just happened to be wearing expensive clothes. In one, even the body has been removed, leaving just the chalk outline and the shoes. Bourdin was at the height of his career from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s, when he was working predominantly for French Vogue and Charles Jourdan shoes. An aura of voyeuristic violence, fear and cruelty surrounded his work, and a genuine unease is discernable in the models featured - although he often cropped their heads from the picture. Bourdin's 'colourful' personal life only added to the legend, not least because of the attempted and successful suicides of a number of the women with whom he was involved. As well as the photographs themselves, the display includes films made on fashion shoots revealing how he worked. There are also photographs, slides and notebook pages which record the images that Bourdin chased throughout his life, offering an insight into the his unrelenting mission to shape his experiences into a visual form. Both the character and the images used in the film The Eyes Of Laura Mars, about a fashion photographer who recreates visions of murders, owe a great deal to Bourdin. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th August.
Thames At War: Secrets, Spies And Spitfires gives an insight into the strategic importance of the Thames during the Second World War, and highlights the significant role played by the people who lived and worked alongside it. Photos, artefacts and audio and video recordings tell the stories of the riverside armed forces, volunteers and communities mobilised to assist in the defence of the nation and in war production. Many of the legendary Little Ships that evacuated stranded troops from the beaches at Dunkirk were Thames cruisers belonging to houses backing on to the river. As the war progressed small boat building firms switched to producing military craft such as motor torpedo boats and air sea rescue launches. The local people were recruited into The Upper Thames Patrol, which stood by for a mission to blow up all the bridges if an enemy invasion took place. Large country houses along the Thames Valley housed key military operations, such as Danesfield House, which was the Central Interpretation Unit for the RAF's photographic reconnaissance work, and Caversham Park, which was home to the BBC Monitoring Service. River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames until 2nd November.
Damien Hirst, a retrospective of the man with the formaldehyde is the exhibition which launches what will undoubtedly be the gallery of the year. Charles Saatchi has moved his collection from Boundary Road to the cultural heart of London on the South Bank. It comprises most of Brit Art's best known pieces, from Hirst's sheep, shark and giant anatomical model, to Tracey Emin's bed, not forgetting Marc Quinn's infamous head made of his own refrigerated blood (boasting the urban myth of a meltdown caused by a cleaner turning off the power) all of which Saatchi bought before various furores made them famous - not to say infamous. They are now displayed in what is euphemistically called the Riverside Building, but which most Londoners still call County Hall, home of the former London County and Greater London Councils. The gallery has hoovered up much of the remaining unused parts of the building, from wood panelled and memorial bedecked council chamber, entrance hall and grand staircase, to simple individual offices (and even the boiler house for new artists) and given a welcome simple restoration to the period features. The jury is out as to whether Brit Art sits comfortably in these surroundings, but the general public now has easy and continuing access to the works they have read a great deal about but never actually seen. So as well as all the tanked stuff, here are Hirst's A Thousand Years (see the maggots eat the cow, metamorphose into flies and head into the insect-o-cutor); Spot Mini, a mini car covered in spots (he does exactly what he says on the tin) driving down the stairs; and much more besides. The Emperor's new clothes? At least now everyone can decide for themselves. The Saatchi Gallery, Riverside Building - Damien Hirst until 31st August.
Julia Margaret Cameron: 19th Century Photographer Of Genius showcases the work of one of the most important, yet least known figures in the history of photography. Presented with a camera as a gift from her daughter, at the age of 48 she embraced photography with a passion bordering on obsession. Cameron's subject matter consisted exclusively of portraits and fancy dress historical tableaux. From a well-to-do colonial background in India and Ceylon, she came to Britain with an entree into artistic, political and scientific society. With her portraits she created many of the images of great Victorians by which we know them best. These include Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, John Herschel (who coined the term 'photography'), Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ellen Terry, Anthony Trollope and G F Watts. Taking inspiration from Arthurian legends, allegorical tales, classical literature and the Bible, she would create heroic scenes employing her servants, friends, and even passers by as human props. Cameron claimed that her style - luminous, and slightly out of focus - was entirely accidental, but she brought to photography something of the qualities of her pre-Raphaelite painter contemporaries. She still holds the record for the highest auction price paid for a 19th century British photograph of £147,000 in 2001. This exhibition brings together over 100 of Cameron's greatest images. National Portrait Gallery until 26th May.
From Warehouse To My House: Loft Style In The Domestic Interior is an exhibition of photographs by David Secombe, exploring the ways in which the loft style has been adapted to different types of building. The domestic spaces photographed for this project include the genuine - old industrial buildings that have been converted into living spaces, the bizarre - architect designed modifications to a Georgian period property, and the created - new-built properties that look to the industrial aesthetic for their inspiration. All of the interiors are in London but are not restricted to a single neighbourhood. This show, which includes the words of the people who inhabit the photographed interiors, focuses on personal, contemporary taste and style in the urban living room.
Gutted: An Exhibition Of Photographs By Etienne Clement is a collection of images of abandoned domestic interiors, taken at the Holly Street housing estate in Hackney, East London, as the tower block was being stripped and prepared for demolition by explosives. Clement endeavoured to capture the echo of recent occupation and to record the empty shell of a discredited piece of urban planning. What has been left behind, and the condition in which these interiors were found, lead the viewer's imagination on a journey of speculation about the hidden stories that lie in these empty, uninhabited domestic spaces. Geffrye Museum, London until 25th May.
Arthur's Ark: A Silver Bestiary offers an opportunity to take a close look at some of the extraordinary birds and beasts in Sir Arthur Gilbert's silver collection, formed over four decades by a passion for great English and continental craftsmanship. Exhibits range from a life-size swan table centre made in England, to a tiny Indian rhinoceros which decorates a rare rhino horn cup, probably made in Flanders around 1590. The pieces include a gilded South America parrot made in Germany; an eagle gripping a lamb in its beak curving over a Georgian sauceboat; and lions supporting a pair of Stuart firedogs that once graced a Royal fireplace. The permanent collection features over 300 pieces of silver made between 1500 and 1830, from table settings to items made for religious and political ceremony, including two pairs of Russian Orthodox Church gates and a pair of Indian howdahs - chairs for riding elephants. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House London until 20th May.