News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th May 2006

Commencing

What's For Dinner? Half A Century Of British Eating Habits examines how the dramatic changes that have overtaken our eating habits over the last fifty years reveal the changes that have taken place in society. How we eat, where we eat, what we eat, and with whom, reflects both our place in the social and ethical diversity of Britain today, and also embodies our personal relationships with family, friends and neighbours. Fifty years ago the average woman spent 1 hour 40 minutes a day cooking for her family, and dinner was eaten as a group at the table in a dining room, whereas today, a cooking time of 8 minutes for a meal eaten in front of the television by a single person household is common. These changes are not just reflected in the food itself, but in the paraphernalia used to prepare, cook and eat it, as well as the spaces in which it is consumed. 'Contemporary' designs and new ideas in the late 1950s included the hostess trolley and oven-to-table cookware, whereas now it's woks and thumb plates. Gone are embroidered tablecloths, napkin rings, cruets and canteens of cutlery with special fish knives and forks - instead it's salt and pepper grinders and all in one fork-knife-spoon splades. The exhibition brings together video interviews, anecdotes, statistics, advertisements, photographs, recipes, magazines, packaging, tableware, utensils - and even the smell of boiled cabbage - to present a picture of a 'brave new world' that seems far more distant than just fifty years ago. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Middlesex University Cat Hill Campus, Barnet until 29th October.

A Modern Bestiary (While Darwin Sleeps…) is a contemporary version of a medieval bestiary: an illuminated manuscript describing both real and imaginary animals, in order to draw moral lessons from their different characteristics and types of behaviour. Each of the featured artists either creates their own fantastical species, or else reorders the animal kingdom into unexpected categories, where imagination triumphs over reason. Yuri A's film 'Unk', catalogues man made beasts, ordering hundreds of toy and souvenir animals into a sequence both alarming and comic. Tom G. Adriani's video 'The Boy Who Chose Sleep' mixes fantastical pencil drawings with still photographs to tell the stories of creatures which come to life through a boy's imagination. Ebony Andrews's taxidermied animals are transformed into extraordinary tableaux and quasi-functional objects. Paul Bush's film 'While Darwin Sleeps...' catalogues the infinite variety of the insect kingdom, revealing 3000 still images of insect species. Dawn Hannah's vinyl wall text proclaims that 'Monsters do exist'. Kate McLeod's neoclassical plaster sculptures are based upon human-canine cross breeds, akin to the mythical creatures described in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'. Bryndis Erla Hjalmarsdottir's animals create a tragicomic 'theatre of the absurd' recalling a W B Yeats poem. Robert Morgan's film 'The Cat With Hands' combines gothic horror with breathtaking imagery in a dark tale of metamorphosis. Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 1st July.

Felicitas Volger: The World Of Light provides a rare opportunity to see the unusual work of the German photographer who became the third wife of sculptor Ben Nicholson. They shared a passion for the abstract, and had a profound effect on each other's work. Put simply, Volger photographed landscapes in such a way that the resulting images look like abstract paintings. Volger's use of strong colour to construct abstract geometrical forms moved colour photography into an entirely new area. This exhibition, the first in Britain for over 30 years, comprises around 50 large scale photographs, spanning a career that lasted for almost 50 years. Having met in the St Ives artist colony, Volger and Nicholson moved to Switzerland, where they were both inspired by the natural grandeur of the dramatic mountain scenery. They would often work together - she would take photographs while he would sketch. In Switzerland the couple were part of another artist colony, which included Jean Art, Mark Rothko, Hans Hartung and Mark Tobey. Volger later travelled widely, photographing the dramatic natural landscapes of Tibet, South Africa, China, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. This collection of Volger's images is complemented by a small display of Nicholson's sculptures. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 9th July.

Continuing

Satirical London: Three Centuries Of Satire, Sex And Scandal reveals the absurdity and stupidity of the London scene over the last three centuries, with over 350 social and political satires in all media. The display spares no one, with images often shocking and always spiced with popular prejudices, from caricatures of the great and not so good, whether in etchings of George III or Prince Charles teacups, to the 'types' recognised by all Londoners: a line up of bankers, businessmen, aldermen, pickpockets, prostitutes and urchins. The exhibition includes William Hogarth's prints dissecting the social mores and manners of 18th century London; James Gillray's engravings attacking the art establishment; Thomas Rowlandson's Georgian images; illustrations by George Cruickshank, William M'Connell and John Leech from the serialised Victorian novels of Charles Dickens, William Thackeray and Anthony Trollope; cartoons from Punch (The London Charivari), launched in 1841, which made satire available to a wider public; the more contemporary and savage cartoons of Private Eye launched a century and a quarter later; the Spitting Image latex heads of Margaret Thatcher and the Queen Mother; plus Toby jugs, 'sculptoons', snuff boxes, chamber pots with reviled characters inside, and the English phenomenon of the novelty teapot. In addition, the original front of Mrs Humphrey's print shop at 27 St James's, immortalised by Gillray in his 1808 print 'Very Slippy Weather', is reconstructed to show how window displays brought irreverent prints to the masses. The London Muesum until 3rd September.

Rembrandt: The Printmaker celebrates the father of modern etching, who produced more than 300 prints over a period of 40 years. Rembrandt profoundly affected subsequent graphic art, encompassing some of the most radical and contemporary forms of expression. The exhibition of 60 works shows the range of his work, including, biblical scenes, landscapes, character studies and self portraits. Among the highlights are his masterpiece as a printmaker, 'Christ Healing the Sick', (which was known as the 'hundred guilder print', because it changed hands several times for what was then an enormous sum); the nocturnal scene of 'The Three Crosses' exemplifying his command of light and darkness - two different versions are shown, giving an insight into his working methods; the landscape 'The Three Trees', which creates, in layer upon layer of tone, graduations of distance and atmosphere; contrasted with the rapid sketch from nature 'Six's Bridge' (allegedly produced after wager that he could complete an etching in the time it took a servant to fetch a pot of mustard from a nearby village); together with a series of self portraits: at the age of 24, open mouthed with wild, curly hair, wearing an expression that he then transposed to the face of a beggar in a study of the same year, in his 30s, wearing Renaissance costume, leaning on a sill in a pose inspired by Titian, and a decade later, humbly working at a window with etching needle in hand. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, until 18th June.

Undercover Surrealism: Picasso, Miro, Masson And The Vision Of Georges Bataille presents a fresh view of Surrealism, set against the cultural cross currents of Paris in the late 1920s. Painting, film, sculpture, music, photography, masks, manuscripts and ritual objects are all subject to the forensic eye of writer and critic Georges Bataille. His magazine Documents, which ran from 1929 to 1930, confronted the movement, juxtaposing art, ethnography, archaeology and popular culture in such a way that conventional notions of 'primitive' and 'ideal' were overturned. Bataille described himself as Surrealism's 'enemy from within', and his dark, materialist vision of human desires and radical pessimism challenged the idealism of the surrealists with a radical questioning of Western values, of notions of the primitive, ritual, popular culture and of the whole edifice of high art. The exhibition features works by both well known and lesser known artists, including Miro, Dali, Klee, Giacometti, Brancusi, Boiffard, De Chirico, Arp, Nadar, Belmer, Meguerditchian, Bunuel and Ernst, and an entire room of Picassos. The principle of juxtaposition, and of the unexpected visual links that animated Documents, are played out throughout the exhibition, with counter positions such as that of Hollywood film and Picasso's 'Three Dancers', and Faujour's photographs of Parisian slaughterhouses and Masson's paintings, together with the rhythm of Duke Ellington. Hayward Gallery until 30th July.

Kew Palace, King George III's country retreat, has reopened following a 10 year £6.6m conservation and restoration programme. The interiors have been faithfully redecorated and furnished as the Royal family would have known them. George III, Queen Charlotte and their family spent time at Kew away from the public eye while the King recuperated from his illness. A domestic Royal residence, Kew's small and modest layout and appearance was a stark contrast to typical Royal palaces with grand and opulent State apartments. Following detailed archaeological and archival research, the interior decor of the palace's first floor rooms have been returned to their former glory, with bright green verditer wallpaper, contrasting with vivid black, gold and red furnishings. Fitted carpets, a relatively new fashion in early 1800, have been recreated using designs from an historic archive, and traditional techniques employed to produce handmade green and black flocked wallpaper, and furnishing fabrics and chintzs. This insight into Georgian taste and style is revealed in the Drawing and Dining Rooms, The Queen's Boudoir and the Bedchambers of Queen Charlotte and Princess Elizabeth. Among the objects and artefacts displayed, including personal belongings of King George, Queen Charlotte and their children, are a replica of a wax life mask of the King created by Madame Tussaud, a Dolls House made by the young Princesses, a harpsichord that belonged to George III's father, a waistcoat worn by the King later in his life, and the chair in which Queen Charlotte died at Kew in 1818. Kew Palace, continuing.

Van Gogh And Britain: Pioneer Collectors consists of paintings and drawings by one of the most influential figures in 20th century art, acquired by British collectors in the period before 1939. In focusing on this early taste for the artist, the exhibition reveals that some 90 works formed part of British collections before the Second World War. Works on display include 'Portrait of Alexander Reid', 'Wheat Field with Cypresses', 'Vase with Oleanders and Books', 'Orchard in Blossom', 'Landscape at Auvers in the Rain', and 'Farmhouse in Provence'. The exhibition also features rarely seen archive material relating to the collectors of Van Gogh's work, including catalogues of the earliest exhibitions held in Britain, newspaper reviews of these exhibitions, photographs, and correspondence relating to the works.

Francis Bacon and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt is a complementary exhibition, with Francis Bacon's 'Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh', inspired by Van Gough's working self portrait 'The Painter on the Road to Tarascon', considered by some to be Bacon's most animated work. Shown alongside, are a series of self portrait sculpted heads by the 18th century Viennese Court sculptor Messerschmidt. Both Bacon and Van Gogh were painters of physical sensation, and Messerschmidt's 'Character Heads' record the artist's own tortured expressions - a register of the human condition in its rawest form.

Compton Verney, Warwickshire until 18th June

Sixty Years Of Sculpture In The Arts Council Collection presents 60 works by the leading figures and the rising stars of British art, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection. Presented chronologically, the show starts with some of the earliest acquisitions, including pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, continues with work by a 'Next Generation' of sculptors such as Anthony Caro and William Tucker, and concludes with some of the newest acquisitions by artists including Gareth Jones and Eva Rothschild. Among the highlights are Anya Gallaccio's 'can love remember the question and the answer', featuring 60 scarlet gerbera flowers set behind the glass panels of an antique door, which will decay during the course of the exhibition; film of a performance by the 'living sculptures', Gilbert & George; Tony Cragg's rainbow coloured installation made from discarded everyday objects; and Anish Kapoor's sculpture featuring heaps of coloured pigment.

James Turrell: Deer Shelter Skyspace is a new work by the 'sculptor of light', who for over 40 years has used light and space to create art installations that extend and enhance perception - from indoor pieces, which attempt to baffle the senses by creating an illusion of infinite diffused light, to 'Skyspaces'. Behind an 18th century Grade II Listed deer shelter, Turrell has created a permanent 'Skyspace', consisting of a large square chamber with an aperture cut into the roof, through which the visitor is offered a heightened vision of the sky, seemingly transformed into a trompe l'oeil painting. This has made a place of contemplation and revelation, harnessing the changing light of the sky.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, Sixty Years Of Sculpture until 25th June.

Concluding

All Spirit And Fire: Oil Sketches By Tiepolo features the work of the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who is principally known for his monumental frescoes and altarpieces. Yet much of his finest work can be appreciated in the small oil sketches that he made in association with these grand compositions. They exemplify the qualities of 'all spirit and fire', which contemporaries saw as characteristic of Tiepolo's work. The sketches were produced as quick studies from life, capturing a first artistic idea, and used as a small version of a large scale painting, for presentation to a patron, or reference by his workshop. The evolution of key commissions is reconstructed through the juxtaposition of some 35 drawings and paintings, including groups that have not been seen together since they left the artist's studio. These range from Tiepolo's first surviving oil study for a ceiling fresco in the Palazzo Sandi in Venice, to a group of sketches made late in his career in Spain. They offer an examination of how Tiepolo's preparatory works in the different media of paint, chalk and ink informed his creativity throughout his career. One of Tiepolo's most distinctive characteristics was his constant development and reinvigoration of motifs and narrative ideas in new forms. This is illustrated by six paintings and drawings of Anthony and Cleopatra, from the decoration in the Palazzo Labia in Venice, developed from earlier paintings, through two oil sketches 'The Banquet of Cleopatra' and the 'Meeting of Anthony and Cleopatra', to even later ideas for his 'Cleopatra' cycles. Courtauld Institute Gallery until 29th May.

Searching For Shakespeare is the biggest ever exhibition to focus on Shakespeare in his own time, drawing directly on original records relating to the playwright and his contemporaries. The centrepiece is the first portrait presented to the newly founded National Portrait Gallery in 1856, which is considered to be of William Shakespeare, and is known as the 'Chandos' portrait. However, the identity of this picture is still considered unproven and there is no certain lifetime portrait of England's most famous playwright. Displayed together for the first time alongside the 'Chandos' portrait, are five other 'contender' portraits, purporting to represent Shakespeare, and once thought to derive from the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibition presents the results of new technical analysis and research on several of these pictures, casting new light on the search for Shakespeare's authentic appearance. It demonstrates that the 'Chandos' portrait has the strongest claim to be an authentic likeness, and a presentation reconstructs its probable original appearance. The exhibition also features portraits of Shakespeare's contemporaries - actors, playwrights and patrons, original 17th century costumes, jewellery, silverware and manuscripts. Among the treasures are Shakespeare's will, manuscripts recording the plays performed at the court of James I, the purchase of a house in Stratford upon Avon, the acquisition of a family coat of arms, the Parish Register (the single most important document for determining the essential details of Shakespeare's biography) and a drawing of the Swan Theatre - the only known contemporary drawing of an Elizabethan stage. National Portrait Gallery until 29th May.

Roger Hiorns is the first major solo exhibition in Britain of the artist who transforms everyday objects into something unconventional. It comprises work from the last five years, together with a new commission. The first section is the largest assembled selection of Hiorns's copper sulphate dipped car engines, where BMW 8 series engines become coral-like forms cocooned within a crust of blue crystals. The engine of 'The Architect's Mother' is attached to similarly dipped cardboard models of cathedrals, suggesting religious relics, while in 'Nunhead', two engines are placed opposite one another suggesting the profiles of heads. The second element of the exhibition consists of Hiorns's ceramics, in which variously shaped vessels containing soap solution are suspended from the ceiling. The feeding of air into them results in the creation of a white foam, which grows upwards in columns, before eventually collapsing to the floor. The final part of the exhibition is the new commission, which experiments with chemical reactions, by applying substances such as disinfectant, saliva, perfume and detergent to a group of steel sculptures. Accompanying this is his film 'Benign', which reflects Hiorns's interest in the transgression and ritual. An excerpt from a play, written by Hiorons and delivered by an actor in monologue, describes a group's act against an individual, exploring ideas of ceremony, decay, compulsion and acceptance. Milton Keynes Gallery until 28th May.