Private View held by Richard Andrews
Valentino: Master Of Couture celebrates the life and work of the legendary Italian fashion designer. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of the world of Valentino Garavani, known simply as Valentino, who founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s, and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world's most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood stars. It showcases over 130 hand crafted designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow. Featuring dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet, as well as designs commissioned by private clients, the show brings together a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier. The atelier crafted design each so diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete. The detailing is incredibly intricate, but as the dresses have rarely been seen outside the runway shows and events, this is the first opportunity for their fineness to be appreciated. Among the highlights are the vintage dress worn by Julia Roberts when she won an Academy Award in 2001, Jackie Onassis's wedding dress from the 1968 White Collection, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece's pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown, which she wore to marry Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece in 1995. In a reversal of the usual roles, visitors progress down a catwalk, and the 'audience' is dressed in Valentino's designs, with evening gowns, dresses, trouser suits, minis, capes and kaftans, providing a journey through fashion from the 1950s to today. Somerset House, London, until 3rd March.
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning: The Authentic Moment In British Photography is inspired by Alan Sillitoe's groundbreaking 1958 'kitchen sink' novel, and the subsequent film adaptation directed by Karel Reisz. The novel appeared at the time of a spate of accounts of urban working class life by academics, playwrights, novelists and documentary filmmakers. Taking seminal moments from the book and film, this exhibition explores the depiction of the social changes in contemporary photography, focusing in particular on working class culture in the late '50s and '60s. Through some 200 images it highlights the various approaches taken by a generation of photographers drawn to the regions in an attempt to capture the 'authenticity' of ordinary lives. The exhibition features photographs by so-called 'Young Meteors' John Bulmer and Graham Finlayson, who worked for newspapers such as The Manchester Guardian and the latest print media magazines; Roger Mayne and Shirley Baker, who initiated their own briefs generating new contexts for their photographic studies; and Maurice Broomfield, an industrial photographer, who diligently portrayed the nobility of factory workers for company reports; plus a selection of previously unseen stills from Reisz's iconic film. Their works are complemented by that of other national photographers who have been subsequently overlooked, as well as an array of accomplished local amateurs. Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham, until 10th February.
Trog, Flook And Humph Too! features cartoons, caricatures and cartoon strips by Wally Fawkes and Humphrey Lyttelton. Wally Fawkes - 'Trog' - is one of the most highly regarded British cartoonists of the post‐war era, who excelled in four different types of cartooning ‐ cartoon strips, caricatures, editorial and pocket cartoons. Fawkes's cartoon strip Flook evolved from a children's strip into Britain's satirical strip cartoon, and he produced powerfully condensed political cartoons for the Daily Mail, New Statesmen, Private Eye, Times, Punch, Observer and Sunday Telegraph, and his pithy pocket 'Mini‐Trog' combined wicked mockery with a lightness of touch and needlepoint precision. But Fawkes is admired above all for his peerless caricatures, with subjects including everyone from George Best and Francis Bacon to John Gielgud, George Melly, Michael Jackson, Brigitte Bardot and the Queen, as well as greats from the world of jazz such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitgerald. 'Trog' and 'Humph' were lifelong friends, as when trumpeter Lyttelton left George Webb's Dixielanders to form his own band in 1948, he invited clarinettist Fawkes to join him, and they played and recorded together over many decades. The exhibition includes over 120 cartoons, caricatures and cartoon strips from the 1945 to 2005 by Wally Fawkes with a small selection of cartoons by Humphrey Lyttelton. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until 28th February.
Modern British Childhood explores the transformation of childhood in Britain during the tumultuous 64 years between the London Olympic Games of 1948 and 2012. This spans a period that starts with rationing cards and children playing on bombsites wearing homemade hand me downs, and ends with 'Happy Meals', computer games and mass-produced clothing. The exhibition traces this revolution through education, health, family, entertainment, fashion and play, as well as considering the impact of politics and the economy, with the aid of artworks, clothing, toys, books, childcare items, television programmes, film and photography. The exhibition has four major themes. First, that for most children horizons have broadened and material conditions have improved immeasurably since 1948, although both poverty and inequality persist; secondly, childhood and children's lives are now firmly centre stage in family and national life and in public policy; thirdly, technology has transformed children's lives, affecting education, entertainment and play, as well as fundamentally changing the way children experience the world and communicate with each other and with adults; and fourthly, society has become more risk-averse and children's lives more structured and controlled, so that the numbers of children playing or walking to school without adult supervision has fallen dramatically. Among the items on display are Muffin the Mule, the puppet from the 1940s BBC broadcast For The Children; an early prototype of the Maclaren Pushchair inspired by an umbrella's folding mechanism; and a Teddyfone - a mobile phone designed for the under 5s. Museum Of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2, until 14th April.
The Swords Of Middle Earth features proof copies of 4 heroic swords used in the The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, based on J R R Tolkien's epic tale of Middle-earth. The evocatively named swords were crafted in the past two years by swordsmith Peter Lyon, and award-winning production workshop Weta, the creators of the original swords for both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film productions. They are not simply props but real fighting weapons. The two-handed sword Anduril, originally called Narsil, was forged by the dwarf weaponsmith, Telchar of Nogrod was used by King Elendil against Sauron, during the battle of Dagorlad. The hand-and-a-half sword of Aragorn, when he went under the name Strider, a long, elegant and plain fighting sword bears a simple blade with neither flourish nor adornment, with a grip bound in leather. The two-handed sword of the wizard Gandalf, which was named Glamdring, and was forged by Elves in the First Age for Turgon, has a blade that is slightly leaf-shaped, and glows blue or white when evil Orcs or Balrogs are nearby, as do all Elven blades. Sting, the sword of Frodo Baggins, was given to him by his cousin Bilbo Baggins, who found it in a Troll-hoard in the caves beneath The Misty Mountains, Gondolin, and although only a dagger, it was of sword-length for a small Hobbit. Royal Armories, Leeds, until 28th February.
The Museum Of Curiosity has a mission to "fuel curiosity in those who have it, and to reignite it in those unfortunate to have forgotten they ever did". The museum is inspired by the 'Wunderkammern' of Renaissance Europe: collections put together by wealthy, well travelled patrons that sought to represent a microcosm of the world by drawing together diverse and wonderful objects from natural history, religious relics, historical and archaeological artifacts together with works of art. The idea is drawn from British curiosity collector Sir Hans Sloane whose celebrated collection of 71,000 objects, chiefly natural history specimens, coins, books and other curios became the founding basis of the British Museum and Natural History Museum, when the nation was bequeathed it after his death in 1753. The specimens include a tray of eyeballs, a human skeleton, a Walrus' penis bone carved with 13 human skulls, the tusk of a woolly mammoth, a selection of early medical instruments, and an ice age wolf skull. The difference is that whereas you can't buy the exhibits at the British Museum', here you can. Such objects are offered for sale, alongside specially commissioned works by artists that follow an unusual bent from taxidermists to creators of microscopic insect skeleton fairies. The Museum Of Curiosity, at Pertwee, Anderson & Gold Gallery, 15 Bateman Street, London W1, continuing.
Constable, Gainsborough, Turner And The Making Of Landscape explores the development of the British school of landscape painting. During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a shift in style in landscape painting, represented in this exhibition in the works of Thomas Gainsborough, the emotionally charged and sublime landscapes of JMW Turner, and John Constable's sentimental, romantic scenes. These landscape painters addressed the changing meaning of 'truth to nature' and the contemporary discourses surrounding the definitions of the Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque. The exhibition comprises some 120 works of art, including paintings, prints, books and archival material by these three towering figures of English landscape painting. Highlights include Gainsborough's 'Romantic Landscape', Constable's 'The Leaping Horse' and 'Boat Passing a Lock', and Turner's 'Dolbadern Castle' and etching and mezzotint 'Norham Castle on the Tweed'. A number of works by their contemporaries Richard Wilson, Michael Angelo Rooker and Paul Sandby are also exhibited, with prints made after 17th century masters whose work served as models: Claude, Poussin, Gaspard Dughet and Salvator Rosa. Letters by Gainsborough, Turner's watercolour box and Constable's palette are also on display. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th February.
Barbara Hepworth: The Hospital Drawings reveals the remarkable series of drawings and paintings made during the late 1940s, illustrating surgeons at work in operating theatres within Post-War Britain. Following the hospitalisation of her daughter, Barbara Hepworth struck up a friendship with Norman Capener, a surgeon at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter. Through this friendship, Hepworth was invited to witness a variety of surgical procedures at Exeter and the London Clinic. Over a 2 year period, from 1947 to 1949, Hepworth produced around 80 works in the series. As well as pencil, ink and chalk drawings, many were executed in both pencil and oil paint on board, and as such, can be seen as both paintings and drawings. With over 30 works on display, including Hepworth's sketchbook, this exhibition focuses on a less well known aspect of Hepworth's work, her skill as a draughtsperson. The display reveals how drawing was an important means of exploring forms that influenced her work as a sculptor. Hepworth was particularly fascinated by the rhythmic movement of hands during the medical procedures unfolding before her, recognising a close affinity between the work and approach both of physicians and surgeons, and painters and sculptors. Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield, until 3rd February.
Bubbles And Bankruptcy: Financial Crises In Britain Since 1700 looks at the story of bubbles, manias and crashes in Britain over the last 300 years. The display reveals the extraordinary stories of mismanagement, speculative frenzy, fraud and failure that permeate the history of finance. From the nation's first major speculative bubble, caused by the South Sea Company in 1720, to the UK banking crisis in 2008, the display uses original share certificates, prospectuses, banknotes and other objects to explain how, why and when financial crises have happened. As well as identifying its causes, the display shows how society has responded to crisis. Prints, contemporary cartoons, protest badges and modern works of art all reflect the potential for social, political and satirical commentary. Highlights include James Gillray's print 'Political-ravishment, or the old lady of Threadneedle-Street in danger!'; Steve Bell's 'Bank Levy' depicting a banker as a distraught fat cat in a suit having its claws clipped by the Chancellor George Osborne; a champagne bottle given out by Northern Rock to its employees when the Building Society demutualised to become a bank in 1997; and Justine Smith's sculpture made from real UK banknotes built into a house of cards. From the story of the man who sold land in a country that didn't actually exist, to the scandal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was sent to prison for financial corruption, the display shows how three centuries of bubbles and bankruptcies are still highly relevant to the British financial system today. British Museum until 5th May.
The First Cut features work by contemporary artists who radically rethink the possibilities of working with paper, and take it beyond its natural boundaries. By transforming books and magazines, maps and currency, using origami, cutouts, silhouettes, creating dresses, animations, sculptures and installations, the 31 international artists in this exhibition demonstrate the huge potential and power of such a humble and fragile material, transforming it into fantastical works of art. Giant sculptures inspired by far away galaxies spiral from the wall; there is a walk-through forest of paper trees; miniature worlds explode from vintage staple boxes and emerge from the page of a book; flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery; guns and grenades are fashioned from paper currency; and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues. Meanwhile, fragile paper dresses and shoes, as well as sculptural dresses fashioned out of maps and money respond to the historical costume displays and grandeur of their Georgian setting. The delicacy and vulnerability of their sculptural form belies the gravity of the issues they confront, including ecology, geo-politics, mapping and trade, as well as identity, the body and memory. Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Gallery of Costume until 27th January.
Hollywood Costume brings together some of the most iconic costumes from over a century of filmmaking, charting a journey from early Charlie Chaplin silent pictures to the motion capture costume design for 'Avatar'. The exhibition comprises over 130 costumes, with classics from the Golden Age, including Dorothy's blue and white gingham pinafore dress designed by Adrian for 'The Wizard Of Oz' , Scarlett O'Hara's green 'curtain' dress designed by Walter Plunkett for 'Gone With The Wind' and the 'little black dress' designed by Hubert De Givenchy for Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', with the latest Hollywood releases, including Consolata Boyle's costumes for Meryl Streep in 'The Iron Lady' and Jacqueline Durran's costumes for Kiera Knightley in 'Anna Karenina'. It explores the central role of costume design, from the glamorous to the very subtle, as an essential tool of cinema storytelling, illuminating the designer's creative process from script to screen, and revealing the collaborative dialogue that leads to the invention of authentic people within the story. The exhibition also examines the changing social and technological context in which costume designers have worked over the last century. From Joan Crawford's blue gingham waitress uniform in 'Mildred Pierce' by Milo Anderson, through Elizabeth Taylor's dress as 'Cleopatra' by Irene Sharaff, to the white 3 piece suit worn by John Travolta in 'Saturday Night Fever' by Patrizia Von Brandenstein, these costumes are united by their one purpose of serving the story. Using montages, film clips and projections, the clothes are placed in their original context, alongside interviews with key Hollywood costume designers, directors and actors talking about the role costume plays in creating a character. The steps of the costume designer's research process are explored using designs and sketches, photographs showing costume fittings, budget breakdowns and script pages to show dialogue that discloses character defining clues. Victoria & Albert Museum until 27th January.
In Front Of Nature: The European Landscapes Of Thomas Fearnley is the first British exhibition of the work of one of Scandinavia's most important painters. The fjords, forests, mountains, torrents and glaciers of Scandinavia and Switzerland, the lakes and picturesque country buildings of Cumbria, and the sun-drenched plains, hillsides, rocks and sea-shores of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean are brought vividly to life in the work of the Victorian artist Thomas Fearnley. Of British ancestry, but born and brought up in Norway, Fearnley was thought by some critics during his lifetime to possess a talent for landscape that rivaled Turner's. Although Fearnley toured Britain several times, painting views of the Lake District, and is today revered as one of the fathers of Norwegian paintings, in this country he is now virtually unknown. This exhibition, which aims to restore the reputation of this supremely talented artist of the Romantic era, comprises iconic large landscape paintings, including 'The Grindelwald Glacier', oil sketches and drawings, some of which have never before been seen in public. Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, until 27th January.