News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th December 2005


Beatrix Potter: Artist And Illustrator reveals unknown works by the writer and illustrator most famous for Peter Rabbit and other characters in her Little White Books. Many of Potter's most original works were neither reproduced nor exhibited during her lifetime, and her fame rests on only a small part of her output. This exhibition of over 250 works is a broad survey of her art in all its variety: early nature sketches, pen and ink animal studies, watercolours of flora and fauna, unfinished and first drafts of her illustrations, designs and watercolours, and later landscapes, together with early editions of the books. Potter took as meticulous and scientific approach to cataloguing the natural world around her as any professional natural historian. She produced about 500 fungus and lichen drawings, including microscopic studies that were scientifically interesting, and came close to discovering the antibiotic properties of penicillium mould in the course of her research. Among the unpublished materials on display are a series of illustrations for Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Accompany the drawings and paintings are memorabilia, photographs, notes and letters. These show that Potter's relationship with the publisher of the Little White Books was not always a happy one, and that she never liked the iconic image of Peter Rabbit walking on his hind legs, which she dismissed as "that idiotic prancing rabbit". Dulwich Picture Gallery, London until 22nd January.

The Art Of White explores how the colour white in art has come to depict a raft of emotions that stand as powerful symbols. 80 works, spanning 500 years, from religious scenes to still lifes, portraits to photographs, and snow scenes to sculpture, illustrate how the colour is far from neutral. Purity, innocence, moral goodness, sterility, peace, spirituality and meditative silence are all expressed through the use of the colour in works by artists as varied as Picasso, Martin Creed, Robert Ryman, Turner, Constable, Landseer, Valette, Philip Wilson Steer, Rossetti, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Andy Goldsworthy and Michael Craig-Martin. The inspiration behind the exhibition is L S Lowry's obsessive use of white in his paintings. He studied how white paint changed colour over time, and discovered that his preferred lead based white paint gradually turned to shades of cream and brown. A selection of Lowry works on display reflect this obsession, from his depiction of pollution laden industrial skies from the 1930s to solitary figures isolated against dense white backgrounds painted towards the end of his life. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned work by Natasha Kidd, comprising a network of copper pipes running above the gallery through which white emulsion paint is circulated. The flow is interrupted by series of taps, which results in a constant stream of paint drips running down a set of steel plates, leaving streaks on the smooth metal surfaces, with variable pumping pressure causing ever changing paint distribution, creating bumps, ridges and 'stalactite' paint formations. The Lowry, Salford until 17th April.

Presenting A Cooling Image features photographs from the Lafayette studio glass plate negative archive. Discovered on a London building site in 1988, the portraits in the Lafayette archive encapsulate the upper echelons of society at the turn of the 20th century. Covering the period from 1885 to 1933, there are images of royalty, aristocracy, the noted and the notorious. Society hostesses and debutantes captured in these portraits all carry a fan, as a costume accessory or as integral part of their outfit, often for presentation at court, and displayed alongside them are similar or corresponding fans This exhibition aims to place each fan in its historical and social context, reflecting on who may have owned it, and when and where it may have been used. From the stiff formality of the Marchioness of Winchester, photographed in her official robes for Edward VII's coronation in 1902, to the understated elegance of Miss Mary Latta's fashionable attire for presentation at court in 1923, the Lafayette archive records the transformation of fashion from the rigid corsetry of Queen Victoria's era to the fluid dropped waists of the 1920s flapper. Such stylistic alterations are equally noticeable in accessories, including the fans on display. As well as formal occasions, there are images from Fancy Dress balls, usually high profile social events such as the Devonshire House Ball, attended by Royalty. This is the first time that many of the 30 images on show have been seen publicly since they were first made. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 26th March.


Canaletto In Venice features the works that have largely shaped the British and the world's view of Venice. Canaletto's paintings and drawings fixed the 18th century city of canals, palaces, churches and squares in the popular imagination, and introduced townscapes as a genre. His greatest patron (and agent) was Joseph Smith, the British Consul in Venice, and the sale of Smith's entire collection to George III in 1762 brought into royal ownership the world's finest group of Canaletto's works, including an outstanding series of Venetian views. Fourteen panoramic paintings of the Grand Canal form the centrepiece of this exhibition, and are displayed together with 70 works on paper, the largest group of Canaletto's drawings ever shown in the UK. They offer a complete portrait of daily life in the heart of the city, from the quayside houses and workshops on the Grand Canal's upper reaches, through some of the most famous sights, such as the Piazzetta and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, to the less well known churches and squares including San Giovanni Battista dei Battuti on the island of Murano, together with the festivities of a regatta, and Ascension Day celebrations around St Mark's Square. Among the highlights of the drawings are Canaletto's record of the Campanile undergoing repairs after a lightning strike, and a series of 'capricci', in which he rearranged the actual Venetian topography to create a city of his own imagination. The large Capriccio with a monumental staircase is among the greatest works of Canaletto's career. The Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace until 23rd April.

Conrad Shawcross: The Steady States introduces three specially commissioned sculptures, designed for the galleries in which they are shown. They combine Shawcross's interest in sculpture, science and philosophy, and demonstrate the intellectual rigour, technical dexterity and sense of drama associated with his work. The pieces draw upon complex themes within the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics and musical theory. Shawcross is particularly interested in how these elements combine and link with modern theories about the universe, such as 'the big bang' and 'string theory'. Despite the fact that all this sounds futuristic, the works have an old fashioned homemade Heath Robinson quality. 'Space Trumpet' (inspired by a primitive radio telescope) is like a huge gramophone horn waiting for a black and white dog the size of King Kong to stare at it. 'Harmonic Tower' is a massive version of a Harmonograph (the Victorian predecessor of the spirograph), which is the size of a Baywatch lookout tower. 'Loop System Quintet' comprises five wooden machines connected by a single drive-shaft that draw different but interconnected 'knots' of light in space (in ratios predetermined by the cogs that drive them related to theories of musical harmony) as though they were waving gigantic sparklers at a bonfire party. Seeing is disbelieving. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 26th February.

Sacred Silver And Stained Glass is new £1.6m gallery designed by John Ronayne. It features some of the finest examples of ecclesiastical metalwork in the country, from richly decorated medieval reliquaries to simple non-conformist communion vessels, together with stained glass from the 12th century to the present day. The gallery has the feeling of a cathedral nave with both natural light and a lighting system illuminating the objects. Christian objects from a number of denominations, including Protestant, Catholic, Non-Conformist and Greek Orthodox, and a small number of Jewish objects are on show. They are presented in the context of the beliefs they reflect, exploring patronage, how and why different types of silver vessels were used, and how changing religious practices affected their shapes and forms. Highlights among the 300 silver objects include: a German monstrance depicting The Last Supper, made in Augsburg in 1705 by Johann Zeckel; a 17th century Torah mantle and Italian silver filigree rimmonim; and a pair of Charles II silver-gilt 'sick cups' from 1683, used for giving communion to the sick at home. Flanking the gallery on both sides are displays of around 250 pieces of stained glass, claimed to be the best museum collection in the world. Highlights include: Gothic panels from Canterbury Cathedral, Saint-Denis and The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; 16th century glass from Rouen; and a panel from the great west window of Fairford Church in Gloucestershire dating from about 1500, depicting an angel of the Last Judgement. The display also explains the materials and techniques used in making stained glass. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

The Regency Country House is the first ever comprehensive survey of the key English country houses of 1800 to 1830. In the mid 20th century, after several decades of neglect and the estimated loss of 1,700 English country houses, the surviving houses of the Regency period took on a new lease of life, partly thanks to Country Life authors such as Christopher Hussey, who played a significant role in the rediscovery and popularisation of the Regency period, a time when the English country house took on many of the qualities and attributes that we still take for granted today. The exhibition is illustrated with material from the Country Life Picture Library. It encompasses the princely palaces and houses associated with the Prince Regent, nobleman's houses such as Tregothnan, and Eastnor Castle, and gentleman's houses such as Southill, Bedfordshire and Sheringham. The work of leading country houses architects is featured, including the Wyatt dynasty, Henry Holland, John Nash, C R Cockerell, Robert Smirke, William Wilkins, Thomas Hopper, Humphry Repton and Sir John Soane. It is through the work of these architects that the exhibition explores major architectural themes of the Regency, from the emergence of the Graeco-Roman style to the Gothic Revival, the Picturesque and Cottage Ornee (rustic buildings of picturesque design) and the influential role of Thomas Hope, whose country house and garden at Deepdene influenced the revival of the Italian style of garden design. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 25th February.

Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon And The Pre-Raphaelites marks the centenary of the death of the little known Pre-Raphaelite painter, and is the first full scale display of his work since then. Solomon enjoyed early success, with paintings of biblical and classical subjects, and was regularly hailed by the critics as a genius. Indeed, Edward Burne-Jones is said to have called him "the greatest artist of us all". However, his career was effectively destroyed when his homosexuality became public knowledge in 1873. Soloman ended his life a destitute alcoholic in an East End workhouse, half forgotton, and even working as a pavement artist, but still producing powerful drawings and watercolours. This exhibition reveals the life and work of this complex artist, offering a chance to rediscover the outsider of British painting, and reassess his place in 19th century art. It brings together over 150 paintings, pencil and pen and ink drawings, watercolours and photographs, many of which have not been seen in public since Solomon's own lifetime, together with works by Solomon's friends and contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Anthony Frederick Sandys, Walter Crane and the Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff. Among the highlights are 'A Young Musician In The Temple Service During the Feast of the Tabernacle', 'The Child Jeremiah', 'Love in Autumn' and 'The Marriage Ceremony'. Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery until 15th January.

What Women Want is an exhibition assessing what women have campaigned, fought and longed for, both past and present. It includes a diverse range of iconic objects, such as the banners carried by suffragettes campaigning for the right to vote, and early editions of Spare Rib and Nova magazines, as well as more personal objects such as T-shirts and badges that convey the beliefs and desires of their owners. The journals of women who travelled the world a century ago demonstrate a desire for adventure and freedom beyond the confines of conventional Edwardian society, whilst in the 1980s, women made journeys to the Peace Camps at Greenham Common. Such campaigns for global peace and security are counterbalanced with visual material from campaigns against domestic violence, demanding safety and security at a basic personal level. Nigella Lawson's baking bible 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and Barbara Cartland's 'Recipes for Lovers' stand in stark contrast to Erin Pizzey's The Slut's Cookbook, just as the 1970s 'Why be a Wife' campaign (slogan: Is there life after marriage?) contrasts with the aspirational glamour and idealised romance of Asian Bride magazine. The advent of plastic surgery as a 'lifestyle choice' is a contemporary phenomenon, but concerns with health, beauty and body image go a long way back, as shown in books and magazines from The Dress Review in 1903 to Marie Claire in 2003. The Women's Library, London until 26th August.


Forgotten Empire: The World Of Ancient Persia reveals the wealth and splendour of the largest empire the Ancient Near East ever saw, which stretched from North Africa to the Indus Valley and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, between 550 and 330 BC. The power of its Great Kings is reflected in statues and iconic objects of rulers Darius, Cyrus and Xerxes. The awe-inspiring scale of the palaces at Persepolis and Susa is suggested by monumental architectural pieces, including ornate carved stone slabs depicting Ancient Persian priests, servants and tributaries, and a 12ft high column from Persepolis, topped by a fearsome bull capital. The immense wealth of the empire is revealed in lavish tableware, including intricately carved gold and silver bowls, horn shaped drinking cups and polished stone trays, jewellery from the imperial capitals at Pasargadae and Susa, together with examples of ornate gold grave goods. The exhibition examines the innovations of the Persian kings, which helped to control their empire, including a system of devolved administration and government, a complex road network and an imperial postal service that ran from Sardis to Susa. The expansion of the empire is illustrated through objects that are witness to the interface with its distant corners such as Egypt, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Greece. The legacy of the Persian kings is examined with the famous Cyrus Cylinder, sometimes referred to as the first declaration of human rights because of its reference to religious toleration. British Museum until 8th January.

Roger Fenton: Photographs 1852-60 showcases the work of one of the most important 19th century photographers, with over 90 images surveying all aspects of his groundbreaking career. Fenton set out to be a painter, studying in London and Paris, but in 1851, he took to the newly invented process of photography. While Fenton's photographic career lasted little more than a decade, his work features some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the medium, a fact reflected by the scope of his influence. In 1852 he made what are believed to be the first photographs of Russia and the Kremlin; in 1853 the British Museum invited him to document some of their collections; and he helped to found the Photographic Society (which later became the Royal Photographic Society). Fenton's landscape and architectural views came to the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with whose help he travelled to Balaclava to document the Crimean War. On his return, Fenton travelled throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, making ambitious studies of the countryside, cathedrals and country houses. While several of Fenton's photographs on display are distinguished by their evocative depictions of light, atmosphere, and place, others demonstrate his appreciation of the solidity, permanence, and integrity of English architecture. Tate Britain until 2nd January.

From Futurism To Arte Povera: Works From The Marcello Levi Collection is selected from one of the leading collections of contemporary art in Italy. Over sixty years ago, Marcello Levi began with works by members of the Futurist movement, such as Giacomo Balla and Gerardo Dottori, and then became one of the earliest supporters of Arte Povera. His friendship with the artists enabled him to acquire a remarkable series of works that have rarely been shown in public. Arte Povera was a movement founded in the second half of the 1960s. Literally meaning 'poor art', the term refers to the choice of humble materials such as earth, iron, wood and rags, with which the artists aimed to challenge conventional means of creative expression, reduce the artificial gap between art and life and react against the commercialism of the art market. Like Futurism, it emerged at a time of dramatic socio-economic change, against a backdrop of political upheaval and technological expansion. Unlike the earlier movement, however, Arte Povera was internationalist in outlook and sceptical about industrialisation. Among the artists represented here are Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto, together with Kurt Schwitters, whose collages constructed from discarded items such as bus tickets, magazine clippings and other such 'debris' represent a highly innovative approach to materials which may be seen as anticipating that of Arte Povera itself. Also included are works by Modernists such as Man Ray, Joseph Beuys, Paul Klee and Andy Warhol. Estorick Collection, London until 18th December.