News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th March 2005

Commencing

Matisse, His Art And His Textiles: The Fabric Of Dreams is the first exhibition to explore the relationship of textile designs to Matisse's paintings. Textiles were a primary source of inspiration to Matisse throughout his life. He started acquiring fabrics from an early age, and accumulated an extraordinary collection, from traditional French fabrics to Persian carpets, African wall hangings, Moroccan embroideries and jackets. The exhibition is a selection of Matisse's fabrics and costumes, together with some 30 paintings, and a number of drawings and prints to which they relate. Alongside a display of brilliantly coloured silk swatches from Bohain are the sober low key still lifes that Matisse produced in his early years as a Beaux-Arts trained painter working within a northern tradition. The fabric that liberated Matisse in the most radical phase of his career was a length of flowered, cotton 'toile de Jouy', seen in many works, particularly 'Still Life with Blue Tablecloth' and 'Portrait of Greta Moll'. When Matisse began painting in Nice, he turned his studio into a private theatre, where models in Arab robes and turbans, silk sashes and harem pants, posed on divans, carpets and cushions in front of screens draped and dressed with lengths of fabric. Later he was galvanised by Kuba fabrics from Zaire, small raffia strips and oblongs woven into geometrical patterns that he called 'African velvets', which lie behind his last great invention, the paper cut-outs. Royal Academy of Arts until 30th May.

Hotel Futuro is the first solo show in the UK of recent film-works by Finnish artist Mika Taanila, and includes the premiere of his latest piece 'Optical Sound'. Taanila's works are collages of archive materials, found footage of amateur films and documentary, combined with electronic music. A common theme is his fascination with science fiction, and the futuristic ideas and utopias imagined in the recent past, focusing on the technological dreams of the previous generation. 'Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow' explores the history of an icon of space age design, the 100% plastic Futuro House, an egg shaped, prefabricated portable building designed by Matti Suuronen. 'The Future Is Not What It Used To Be' is about the scientist and artist Erkki Kurenniemi's 1960s avant-garde music and film, and the early history of microcomputers. 'A Physical Ring' is based on fragments of found footage, documenting physics test that took place in the 1940s, transformed into a visual fantasy steeped in hypnotic effects, accompanied by a minimalist soundtrack. 'Optical Sound' is based on a live performance of the Symphony for 12 Dot Matrix Printers by the Canadian artist duo [The User], intercutting close ups of the mechanical parts of the printers performing the piece, taken from surveillance cameras placed inside the machines, with images of the ASCII files's score being played. Spacex Gallery, Exeter until 30th April.

Rupert Bear, Punch And Much More: The Art Of Alfred Bestall is a survey of the work of the man who drew Rupert Bear for nearly fifty years. From 1935 to 1965 Bestall wrote and illustrated the daily strip that appeared in the Daily Express, and contributed to the famous annuals that began in 1936, and continue to this day. Although Mary Tourtel was the original creator of Rupert, Bestall played a significant part in his development, among other things, changing his jumper from blue to the now famous red, and adding new characters in over 270 adventures. He is particularly known for the specially drawn double spread vista endpapers in the annuals. The exhibition not only shows a wide range of Bestall's Rupert material, but also his earlier incisive cartoons that appeared in Punch, the dreamy watercolours he created for The Tatler, and illustrations for many other magazines. Cartoon Art Trust Museum, London until 30th April.

Continuing

Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting celebrates knitting as an end in itself, without the usual need or expectation to produce something with a practical function. It brings the domestic craft of knitting into the 21st century, with a snapshot of how contemporary knitting is used as a medium for art practice - no scarves or cardis here. With exhibits ranging from knitted sex adverts and subversive toys, to giant cobwebs and knitted interiors, it proves that there is more to knitting than just sticks and string. By exploring tradition, history, process, skill, materiality, individuality and future technologies, the show celebrates the creative potential and contemporary appeal of this craft tradition. It highlights the work of 15 international artists who are pushing perceived boundaries within knitting, and features a range of innovative and experimental work created with both new and traditional techniques, with work ranging from the lyrical to the eccentric. Exploring the process involved in knitting, and highlighting the skill of the medium, are Janet Morton's knitted furniture, Ruth Lee's lacy, ephemeral 'Spirit Dresses' and Susie McMurray's 3D hangings, which have been French-knitted from human hair. In recognition of the obsessive side of knitting, and the current fashion for knitting groups, is the collaborative work of Francoise Dupre and the guerrilla knitting of the Cast Off knitting club. Equally quirky are Donna Wilson's rebellious creatures and Kelly Jenkins's edgy wall pieces based on adverts and cards from the sex industry. Crafts Council Gallery until 8th May.

A Tale Of Two Cities is actually a misnomer - it's two exhibitions about one city at two different times, contrasting the Edinburgh of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the city of today. John Kay was a barber with a shop in Parliament Square, but it is his 900 witty caricatures of the great and the not so good of Regency Edinburgh for which he is best remembered. Here are sharply observed portraits of the real Adam Smith, Deacon Brodie and Admiral Duncan among others, together with local types such as The Daft Highland Laird and Jamie Duff The Idiot. Twenty eight etchings, a group of watercolours, an oil and a sketchbook take the viewer back two hundred years. These are contrasted with twenty three laser prints by Iain McIntosh, a contemporary graphic artist, whose Edinburgh characters have entertained the readers of Alexander McCall Smith's recent novel, 44 Scotland Street. Based on a 'daily novel' published in The Scotsman (like Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City) this is set in a fictional building in a real street of multiple occupancy flats, in which real life characters such as Ian Rankin, Gavin Hastings and Tam Dalyell, rub shoulders with today's Edinburgh archetypes. John Kay's satirical etchings inspired Iain McIntosh, who uses both traditional and digital techniques, and the two exhibitions, arranged side by side, pay tribute to a city and its characters. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 8th May.

Thomas Banks: Britain's First Modern Sculptor marking the bicentenary of his death, is the first ever exhibition of work by the man Joshua Reynolds hailed "the first British sculptor who had produced works of classic grace". A gifted sculptor and one of the most influential artists of his time, Banks's work ranged from exquisitely carved bas-reliefs of historical and poetical subjects, to dramatic neoclassical compositions of the epic class, which reinvented the male nude in dramatic compositions that pushed marble to its limits. His greatest works had such emotional power that they reduced onlookers to tears, but his radical political beliefs secured his position as the scourge as well as the toast of the English art establishment. Banks spent seven years working in Rome in the international circle of artists there, and then became sculptor to Catherine the Great in St Petersburg, before returning to Britain, where he produced some of his most original and influential sculptures as church monuments. Regarded by fellow artists as 'a violent democrat' Banks was arrested on suspicion of treason, and the last work he finished, a bust of Oliver Cromwell, was ordered removed from the Royal Academy exhibition as 'an improper object'. Colour photographs, specially commissioned for the exhibition, which present Banks's finest church monuments afresh as works of art, accompany eleven works that are part of the permanent collection. Sir John Soane's Museum until 9th April.

Enchanting The Eye: Dutch Paintings Of The Golden Age is a selection of works from the Royal Collection, one of the world's finest groups of Dutch 17th century paintings. The 51 pictures in this exhibition embrace genre scenes, portraits, still-lifes, history paintings, landscapes and seascapes. They include works by the great masters of the period, among them Rembrandt's 'Christ and St. Mary', 'Magdalen at the Tomb' and his 'Self-Portrait' of 1642, landscapes by Aelbert Cuyp, and Johannes Vermeer's 'The Music Lesson' and 'A Lady at the Virginals'. Among the genre paintings - the depiction of everyday life - artists such as Frans van Mieris the Elder, Gabriel Metsu and Gerard ter Borch show the preparation of food, eating and drinking, and the enjoyment of music inside the home. The confidence of the Dutch, one of the richest and most powerful nations in 17th century Europe, is reflected in portraits by Frans Hals, Jan Molenaer and Hendrick ter Bruggen. A number of paintings in the exhibition came to the Collection as contemporary works, 'The Artist's Mother' by Rembrandt, presented to Charles I, was among the first examples by the painter to enter a British collection. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 30th October.

Thinking The Unthinkable - Or, Against Nature features the imaginative transformations seven contemporary artists and two historical predecessors have worked upon the natural world, blending fantasy and reality to create new types of flora and fauna. It comprises: Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations of Lewis Carroll's creatures in Alice Through The Looking Glass; the early 20th century photographs of Frances and Elsie Wright and The Cottingley Fairies; Tessa Farmer's sculptures of 'hell's angels' and 'fairies' so small they can only be viewed using a magnifying glass; Daniel Brown's digital animation recreating the endless patterns of growth that exist in the natural world; David Harrison's nocturnal oil paintings revealing nature flourishing amongst the debris and dereliction man has wrought on the environment; Karen Melvin's constructed still lives, inserting figures made of photographic paper into sun drenched landscapes; Nicholas Pace's photo-realist paintings made after natural history dioramas in Victorian museums; Kelly Richardson's animated video tracking shot of an archetypal North American white-picket-fence suburban street - but with a house defying the laws of nature rotating 360 degrees; and Laura Youngson Coll's baroque environment of miniature wax sculptures combining skeletons of unknown species with bizarre, unclassifiable flowers and plants. Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 16th April.

Londoners At Work is an exhibition of eighty photographs, many of them on display for the first time, that capture over one hundred years of working life in London. They show the diversity of London at work - in offices and factories, warehouses and docks, on the river, in the street and at home, and in addition, chart the changing nature of work and workplaces over the period. In doing so, they portray authority, companionship, exploitation and emancipation, poverty and pride. Images such as Wolf Suschitsky's atmospheric 1930s photograph of men asphalting wooden blocks in the Charing Cross Road; and J Penry-Jones's West African seamen on the P&O Steamer Barrabool in Tilbury around 1925; or the many unknown photographer's pictures of a Bryant & May home worker and her children in Bethnal Green around 1910 making matchboxes for between eight and nine shillings a week (45p-50p), rows of typists in the factory-like book keeping machine room of the Port of London headquarters in the 1930s, and stevedores unloading a lighter in the London Docks in 1961, offer glimpses of lost worlds. With their focus on people and their relationship to work, a dominant part of everyone's lives, these images have the power to draw the viewer in, arouse their curiosity, amuse and even dismay. The Museum in Docklands until 5th June.

Concluding

Iron Ladies: Women In Thatcher's Britain is the first exhibition to consider the impact of 'Thatcherism' on British women in the 1980s, and to look at the ways in which Margaret Thatcher's presence as a role model affected women's lives. Cold war ideology, political and social protest and the changing status of women in the workforce are all examined, alongside consideration of Margaret Thatcher's experiences as Britain's first female prime minister, and her subsequent legacy for women and the women's movement. Using a wide range of original material, including previously unseen visual and archival documents, recordings, photographs, posters, leaflets, badges, memorabilia and clothing of the period, the exhibition addresses central issues from this defining period of recent history. Artifacts used conjure up representations of the Eighties include a gym outfit with leg-warmers beside a Jane Fonda video, a red and white polka dot baby-doll dress beside The Sloane Rangers' Handbook, and of course, one of the legendary handbags. An extensive programme of talks, study days and events accompany the exhibition. Women's Library until 2nd April.

Andy Goldsworthy: Passage is an exploration of the possibilities of a relatively new Norman Foster designed private gallery, whose proportions and 11,000 sq ft floor space, give Tate Modern's Turbine Hall competition. Goldsworthy has produced numerous site specific works all over the world, and specialises in bringing the outdoors indoors. In the 24 ft high Gallery 1, he has deposited an 18ft high stone tower, formed of granite pieces transported from a beach in Scotland (the largest weighing one and a half tonnes) that rely on purely their density and a system of sanded cavities for their balance. Timber enclosures surround the granite, but allow the bold visitor into its core for a more intimate inspection of the natural joints. Survivors can move on to Gallery 2, a 150ft long low ceilinged space, housing a 40ft long winding clay piece, created by applying mixture of hay and human hair soaked with slip to bind clay around tree branches. The walls are lined with photographic images of icicles, stalks, branches, leaf sculptures and a 3km long moonlit chalk path. Finally, in the more intimate Gallery 3, Goldsworthy has created a series of 6ft long wooden boxes at floor level, for visitors to examine snaking and rounded forms of sweet chestnut leaves, held together by thorns. All good 'what I did in my autumn half term holiday' stuff. Further information can be found on the Albion web site, via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. Albion, London until 31st March.

Living Paint: J D Fergusson traces the Scottish Colourist's connection with France, and the influence of the Post Impressionists and the Fauves, that profoundly changed his style at the turn of the twentieth century. It also looks at the importance that John Duncan Fergusson placed on his Highland Celtic ancestry, and the key role he played in encouraging other artists in Scotland, and promoting Scottish art. The exhibition of around fifty portraits, nudes, landscapes and still lifes, in the distinctive Colourist style that marries bright colours with everyday subjects, is a broad selection of Fergusson's work, demonstrating his experimental and varied output. Of all the Colourist group, Fergusson in particular benefited from contact with avant-garde artists in Paris, and his response to this artistic revolution was ahead of any of his British contemporaries. The exhibition includes some of his most famous works, including 'The White Dress: Portrait of Jean', 'At My Studio Window', 'Danu, Mother Of The Gods and 'Jean Maconochie'. The Fleming Collection, London until 24th March.