News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th December 2004


Faces In The Crowd - Painters Of Modern Life From Manet To Today turns on its head the presumption that all forward movements in 20th century art were through abstraction, by exploring modernity through realist art. Taking Edouard Manet as its starting point, and moving through figures such as Rene Magritte, Umberto Boccioni, Pablo Picasso, Eduardo Paolozzi, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and Cindy Sherman, this exhibition traces a history of avant-garde figuration. In doing so, it presents a story that is just as radical as that of the abstract. Manet's vividly realist scenarios or Jeff Wall's cinematic tableaux offer a compelling snapshot of the modern. By contrast, Edvard Munch or Francis Bacon present a tortured or exhilarated inner life. Whereas for Alexander Rodchenko, Joseph Beuys or Chris Ofili, the figure can be a harbinger of change: symbolic, revolutionary or transgressive. This exhibition includes not only painting, but also sculpture, photography and the moving image, with each work pivotal to the story of Modernism. Representations of the human figure are seen as expressions of modernity, becoming ciphers for the experience of modern life; as images of modern life, picturing both the epic and the everyday; or as agents of social change, where avant-garde realism proposes new world orders. Whitechapel Gallery until 27th February.

A Site For Un-building is Alec Shepley and Steve Dutton's take on urban geography, domesticity and architecture. Model rooms made of plywood stack up to create high-rise towers, in which propped up photographs of city landscapes, and looped video performance works, intermingle. Their constructions are deliberately disjointed - 'built and unbuilt' - reflecting the fact that nothing stands up or holds together any more. Shepley and Dutton's DIY nightmares are a 21st century version of the 19th century romantic folly, but instead of thinking of the ruin as the remains of something long gone, their idea is that the ruin might be of a site connected to a sense of change and renewal, of something in progress. They are interested in 'ruin' as something that is failing to keep a hold on itself - an on-going mistake or miscalculation that nevertheless reveals new formations. With their constructions, and the multitude of 'found' objects that appear amongst the installation, Shepley and Dutton are asking if the model domestic spaces that they have created are depictions of ruin, or merely the base material for the ruination of the space. Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown until 15th January.

Christmas Past: Seasonal Traditions In English Homes is a glimpse of the traditions, rituals and decorative styles of Christmases over the last 400 years, from kissing under the mistletoe to decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties. Twelve rooms in the Grade 1 listed group of fourteen almshouses, a chapel and their gardens that comprise the museum, from the 17th century with oak furniture and panelling, through the refined splendour of the Georgian period, and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity, seen in a 1930s flat, and a mid century 'contemporary' style room, sparkle with authentic festive decorations of their times. They reveal how relatively recent many of the supposedly ancient traditions are, and some forgotten ones that are worth reviving. Special events include workshops creating Georgian Christmas decorations with natural materials, and traditional Christmas card making; festive food and unusual gifts; and candle lit evenings of carols and storytelling. It all ends outdoors with traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, celebrated with carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake. The Geffyre Museum until 6th January.


A Magical Christmas is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. 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 - and for the first time, there is an Ice Rink in front of the Temperate House; plus 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; and Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes for the first time, a laser show in the Palm House; plus performances by choirs and brass bands; a display of the various species of Christmas trees decorated in traditional styles, with advice on how to achieve the effects; carols and storytelling; and festive food and drink. 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 3rd January.

Wonderful - Visions Of The Near Future is a collaboration between artists and scientists, working together to make new discoveries that develop industrial prototypes based on concepts taken from art, and test our responses to ethical questions. Among the weird and wonderful items on view throughout the building and at other venues in the city are: 'Rodentia Chamber Music' by Gail Wight with Kris Treanor, an ensemble of traditional chamber instruments made in Perspex, populated by mice that 'play' them by triggering small electronic switches, called whisker switches, as they scurry through the instruments; 'Jellyfish Lake' by Dorothy Cross, that reflects on the non-form of jellyfish, and how weird we must appear to them; 'CowBoard' by Richard Dedomenici, a demonstration of a prototype controller device that enables cows to access the Internet; 'Alter Ego' by Alexa Wright with Alf Linney, a mirror that interacts with the viewer's facial features, based on the use of computer imaging in facial reconstructive surgery; 'Staining Space' by Jane Prophet with Neil Theise, addressing the challenge of representing that which cannot be seen, inspired by stem cell theory; and 'Realtime' by Third Angel, an exploration into the effects of the contemporary acceleration of society in our daily lives, that culminates in Hurrysickness. Cornerhouse, Manchester until 9th January.

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, covering 9,000sqm and capable of accommodating some 2,000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 11.15pm, and as darkness falls, the courtyard is transformed, with music playing, and illumination from flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades, together with a 40ft Christmas tree at the north end. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy the traditional fare of baked potatoes, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners, and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. This year London has gone skating crazy and there are also Ice Rinks at Hampton Court, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Marble Arch. Somerset House until 30th January.

William Nicholson: British Painter And Printmaker reveals the breadth of Nicholson's work, encompassing intensely observed still lifes, psychological portraits, minimalist landscapes that move towards abstraction, book illustrations, theatre posters, and radical woodcut prints. The first major review of his work to be held in London in sixty years, this exhibition includes many works that have rarely been seen in this country, with some 68 paintings and over 50 prints. They range from early graphic work of the 1890s to the late still lifes of the 1940s. Among the woodcuts are all 26 prints from The Alphabet, a poster for Don Quixote, and a portrait of Queen Victoria, which established Nicholson at the forefront of the international print revival in the 1890s. Highlights among the painted portraits include studies of such friends as the writer Max Beerbohm and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. The majority of his paintings are small and jewel-like, however, the First World War work 'The Canadian Headquarters Staff' is a vast canvas showing a group of Officers standing in front of an aerial photograph of the ruined cloth hall at Ypres. Nicholson's book illustrations are represented by popular children's titles 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams, and his own 'Clever Bill' and 'The Pirate Twins'. Nicholson's work shows an artist whose independence of vision was seemingly untouched by any of the many revolutions in art during his lifetime. Royal Academy of Arts until 23rd January.

Queen Alexandra And The Art Of Photography provides an insider's view of the lives of the royal families of Europe from the 1880s to the First World War. Queen Alexandra, the consort of King Edward VII, was a talented artist and the most celebrated royal photographer of her time. Her interest in photography began in 1885, after George Eastman presented her with one of his new roll-film cameras. Over the next 20 years she went on to take part in several Kodak exhibitions. Queen Alexandra's photographic albums, often embellished with watercolour decoration and annotated with impromptu anecdotes, are unique personal diaries that provide a detailed record of the life of the British royal family and their European relations. In addition to the albums and photographs, the display also includes the Queen's Kinora, an early machine for viewing short films.Treasures From The Royal Library is a selection from the collection that has been located here since the reign of William IV. In addition to over 50,000 printed books, the Library contains coins and medals, orders of chivalry, prints, maps, fans, and one of the finest collections of Old Master drawings in the world. As works of art on paper are easily damaged by exposure to light, they cannot be on permanent display. The current selection includes drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Hans Holbein.The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle until 25th April.

Designing Modern Life - A History Of Modern Design is an ambitious exhibition that explores how design has transformed daily life over the last century. By reconstructing innovative projects that dominated future developments in design, the exhibition shows how ingenious designers have harnessed advances in materials and technologies, as well as cultural, social and behavioural changes, to transform the way we work, rest and play. These include the model modern apartment designed by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand in 1920s Paris; a London Transport underground platform of the 1930s, showcasing its pioneering graphics; one of the rooms designed by Arne Jacobsen for his showpiece SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in the 1950s; and a 1960s office equipped by Dieter Rams. The exhibition also deconstructs the design histories of specific objects, including the book - from pioneering 1930s Penguin paperback to contemporary books designed and made by Irma Boom - the humble chair, album covers and recent phenomena such as the website. A specially created installation by Spanish designer Marti Guixe of 'Statement Chairs' features items that are both pieces of furniture and commentaries on modern design. In addition, each month a design guru selects 10 examples of good contemporary design costing no more than £10. Design Museum until 27th November 2005.


Must-Have Toys features favourite toys from the last 100 years, brought together for the first time, in the most comprehensive collection of desirable toys ever assembled in the UK. The toys have been selected from both classics - like the teddy bear, which first appeared in 1903, through Meccano, and the Spacehopper, to Beyblades - and surprise best sellers of one particular year - such as Britain's Combine Harvester, the number one toy in 1978. The exhibition reflects how design and technology has influenced the toy industry, with plastic first used to make toys for babies in the 1930s, moving on to the creation of Mr Potato Head, Lego and Bob the Builder. Dolls have always been popular, but in the Swinging Sixties, Sindy and her arch rival Barbie were new and radical teenage dolls, who took their look from the fashion world around them. Sindy was the first toy in Britain to star in her own television commercial. Boys had to wait for Action Man who became popular in the 1970s. In more recent years the influence of film and television has revolutionised the toy industry, with the emergence of merchandise, which started with Star Wars, paving the way for Buzz Lightyear, Power Rangers, Tracy Island and Harry Potter. There are hands on opportunities for children (and adults) throughout the exhibition, including a giant snakes and ladders game and Twister, plus a programme of activities and events scheduled at weekends and during the Christmas holidays. Museum Of Childhood At Bethnal Green until 9th January.

Eyes, Lies And Illusions is a treasure trove of optical devices and illusions, from magic lanterns, shadow plays, tricks of perspective and anamorphic images, to kaleidoscopes, zoetropes and other early forms of animation. Drawing on the collection of the German experimental film maker Werner Nekes, this exhibition includes over 1,000 of the most astonishing feats of optical wizardry, dating from the Renaissance to the early years of cinema. Alongside these are works by modern and contemporary artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Christian Boltanski, Tony Oursler and Carsten Holler, which demonstrate how perceptual ambiguities and paradoxes continue to fascinate and inspire artists today. Among the highlights are: 19th century hidden images, visual puzzles and optical riddles in a huge variety of forms; 'Witch' mirrors that multiply reflections to infinity; a camera obscura that shows the traffic on adjoining Waterloo Bridge upside down; shadow puppets of angels and devils circling the walls and concealed in unexpected corners; Line Describing A Cone, a seemingly 'solid' beam of light created from a projected white spot that grows into a complete circle filled with smoke; viewing devices made from prisms and mirrors presenting an inside-out, back-to-front illusion where solids appear void; and a reconstruction of an 'Ames Room', an Alice In Wonderland experience where visitors themselves are part of an astonishing shrinking and enlarging illusion. Hayward Gallery until 3rd January.

The Pissarro Family At Home is a selection of works by the Impressionist Camille Pissarro, and subsequent members of the Pissarro family, drawing on the Pissarro Family Archive, a gift made by the widow and daughter of Lucien Pissarro in 1950, giving an insight into the Pissarro family's domestic life spanning three generations. It includes a number of oil paintings by Camille Pissarro, his eldest son Lucien, and Lucien's daughter Orovida, as well as drawings, sketchbooks, letters, and other documentary material. An unusual aspect of the Archive is the number of family portraits, revealing that although not generally known for their portraiture, the human figure occupied a prominent position within the work of Camille and Lucien throughout their careers. The Pissarros also painted many landscapes of where the family lived and worked, and they drew friends and visitors who came to their homes, usually in informal or intimate settings. Highlights include Camille's 'View from my Window, Eragny-sur-Epte', his most successful experiment in the pointillist style; 'Mme Pissarro sewing beside a Window', an intimate portrait of his wife absorbed in a domestic task; and a portrait in oils of Lucien. Among the paintings by Lucien are views of the house and garden at The Brook, Hammersmith, where he settled in 1900, and portraits of his parents, wife, and daughter. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 2nd January.