News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th September 2003


The Lord Of The Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition provides a behind the scenes look at how the world of Middle Earth was created, and demonstrates the technologies employed to enable the characters to be brought to life. On a straightforward level there are hundreds of costumes, armour, props, jewellery and weapons used in the making of the films, including Gandalf's cloak, Galadriel's dress and twelve complete sets of armour. Given the unusual nature of most of the characters, there is an extensive display about animatronics and make up techniques, with a collection of prosthetics such as Hobbit feet, Orc teeth, Troll ears, Lurtz's facial prosthetic, and the contact lenses used to give the Orcs their unique look. To create the locations, many intricate models, miniature sets and maquettes were constructed, and among those featured are Frodo's vision of the ruined Hobbiton Mill, The Tower of Orthanc, and Sauron's tower, Barad-dur. The films could not have been made without the use of digital effects, and the techniques of motion capture and motion control - the combining of 'real' and 'digital' action - and CGI (computer-generated-image technology) are explained, revealing how Gollum was created. The exhibition also contains immersive experiences, enabling visitors to walk in and be surrounded by a 'ring of fire' as they see The One Ring, and interactive exhibits, with a 'scaling' demonstration, showing the technology used to enable human actors to play creatures both larger and smaller than real life. Visitors can even 'morph' into a hobbit. Science Museum until 11th January.

Grace Robertson: A Sympathetic Eye celebrates the work of one of the pioneering British photojournalists with images of everyday life and everyday people from the 1940s to the present day. Among the pictures in this wide ranging exhibition is her documentation of a London women's pub outing, which she photographed for Picture Post and Life Magazine in the late 1940s, and the world of a poverty stricken Welsh hill farmer and his sheep captured in 1951. Recent work includes photographs of younger women who have grown up with very different expectations from those that most women faced when she began her career. Robertson's work is often described as "sympathetic and heart warming", yet beneath the geniality is a sharp scrutiny of British society. The pictures challenge perceived stereotypes and are never simply nostalgic, always revealing the truth beneath the surface. Robertson's attention to extremes of age is always present in her work, with images of childhood innocence and studies of old age reflecting both the constants and the changes in life during the last half century. The Millais Gallery, Southampton, 023 8031 9916 until 18th October.

Zoomorphic examines how many of today's leading architects are using animal forms as their inspiration to take modern architecture structurally, visually or organically in a new direction. This is being made possible by new building materials, computer design software, more sophisticated structural engineering and the suspension of the old rules of architectural integrity and good taste. Not since Art Nouveau a century ago has there been such an eruption of new building inspired by the natural world. This exhibition pulls together world wide buildings and projects at the forefront of this new movement, and explores the reasons for the animal analogy, displaying architectural models and photographs alongside skeletons and specimens of the species that have influenced them. Among those whose work is featured are Will Alsop, Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Nicholas Grimshaw and Renzo Piano. The projects considered include the Milwaukee Art Museum, with a roof that rises like a bird with outstretched wings; Waterloo International Terminal, whose glazing panels are articulated like the scales of a lizard; and the Swiss Re tower, where not only the appearance, but the structure, and even the ventilation system bear analogy with sea sponges (not to mention gherkins). Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th January.


Rock: A Retrospective Of Jane Bown's Rock And Pop Portraits (1963-2003) does exactly what it says on the tin, displaying a selection from the archive of portrait photographs by the legendary Jane Bown spanning five decades of musical history. Highlights include pictures of The Beatles, Keith Richards, Joan Baez, Donovan, Cher, Morrissey, Sinead O'Connor, Boy George, Bjork, Jarvis Cocker and PJ Harvey. The exhibition also features previously unseen portraits of John Lennon, more recent photographs of artists at this year's Glastonbury festival, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Jane Bown has been with The Observer since January 1949 when the newspaper published her first photograph, and in addition to portraiture is also a reportage photographer. Bown works in black and white without lights, props or tripods (or an assistant), and never uses a light meter, but gauges the settings by looking at how the light falls on the back of her hand. She works quickly and never takes more than one or two rolls of film per shoot. The spontaneity that this affords has enabled her 'snaps' as she calls them to capture a moment that reveals the essence of widely differing artists - some of whom she had never even heard of before she meets them. Her most famous portrait of Samuel Beckett was taken in less than a minute in the alleyway beside the Royal Court Theatre. The Newsroom, London until 24th October.

Stuart Sutcliffe is a display of a recently acquired collection of personal effects that once belonged to the 5th Beatle. Sutcliffe, (who was the main subject of the film Backbeat) joined the band in 1960, but left a year and a half later to concentrate on his art studies. By this time he was engaged to Astrid Kirchherr, who he met whilst performing with the band at the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg. It is claimed that it was Sutcliffe who came up with the Beatles name, and that John Lennon would not play in the band without him. His relationship with Astrid also influenced the band's image and style. Sutcliffe died at the age of 21 from a brain haemorrhage soon after leaving the band. The items in the collection, which help bring to life the early part of the Beatles story, include his first guitar; a charcoal self-portrait; letters written to his family from Hamburg (some containing drawings); photographs of him as a child, a student, and with the Beatles and Astrid in Hamburg; a report from his art teacher Eduardo Paolozzi; and personal effects such as his Hamburg ID card, wallet and cheque book - which reveals that he was paying hire purchase instalments for a guitar bought by John Lennon. Also on display for the first time, are four stage suits from 1963, possibly designed by Sutcliffe, and made by London tailor Douglas Millings, but never worn. Museum of Liverpool Life, Liverpool, 0151 478 4499, until 23rd November.

Franz West is the first major British show of the work of the Viennese artist whose output over the last 30 years moves beyond eclectic to unclassifiable. It's sculpture, it's painting, it's collage, its furniture - it's the result of a good morning at a play school. West's roots are in the Viennese Actionists - 1960s performance artists who used the body to create experiences - but he makes a series of plaster body parts and off the peg performance props for visitors to use. Brightly coloured aluminium is twisted into strange shapes. Everyday objects are bandaged with papier-mache until they metamorphose into meteorite like shapes, which are then splattered with intense high gloss colour. Franz West is fascinated by images in glossy magazines and the allure of soft porn and the motor industry. He paints over these advertisements to isolate images and highlight their absurdity. West has also become famous for the furniture sculpture he has been making since the 1980s, and visitors are invited to lie on his couches to relax, and become transformed into an artist's model, a psychiatrist's patient, and a work of art. The exhibition also includes a collection of his collaborations with other artists - Martin Kippenberger, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Wolfgang Tillmans. An interactive art experience at its best - or worst depending on your point of view. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 9th November.

The Tate has embarked on a project to provide online access to its Archive for the first time, with an initial 4,000 objects. A searchable Showcase offers an opportunity to explore the whole range of the material, and three themed Journeys provide an insight into Tate's History, the Bloomsbury Group and the art world of the 1960s and 70s as seen through the eyes of the critic Barbara Reise. Since the Tate opened in 1897 with just ten galleries, it has acquired some 59,000 works, and been at the centre of various controversies about modern art, as well as surviving two World Wars and a major flood. The History Archive looks at the buildings, its people, the war years and the flood, through personal papers, letters, photographs, models and war telegrams. The Bloomsbury Archive contains a wealth of material about the artistic group, including a large collection of photographs taken by Vanessa Bell. These form a unique visual record of the artists' lifestyle, family and friends, with rare glimpses of the group at work, as well as much correspondence (sometimes illustrated) between Vanessa Bell and her family and colleagues, including Duncan Grant and Roger Fry. American art critic Barbara Reise, who lived and worked in London, was a leading participant in the history of minimal and conceptual art, and a close friend of Carl Andre, Dan Graham and Sol LeWitt, as well as some of their British counterparts. The Reise Archive contains information relating to her life and work, which provides a behind the scenes insight into the artists and art of the period. The Archive can be accessed on the Tate web site via the link opposite.

Helena Christensen: People & Portraits comprises two different collections in the supermodel's first solo photographic exhibition. The first showcases 16 previously unseen celebrity portraits, including Orlando Bloom, Marianne Faithful, Sadie Frost, Erin O'Connor, Rankin and Robbie Williams, all wearing Levi's 501s (and mostly nothing else) to celebrate the 130th birthday of the jeans. Accompanying this is a collection of images from Christensen's personal archive, which demonstrate her talent at portraiture, and introduces her fashion photography, providing evidence that she will soon be as well known for her work behind the camera as she is in front of it. Although she has been a keen photographer since she was 17, it is only in the last few years that Christensen has made the transition from model to professional snapper. Using what she learnt while modelling over the last seventeen years, she has recently undertaken fashion shoots for magazines ranging from French Vogue, and British and French Elle, to Dazed and Confused, and a variety of commercial campaigns, as well as personal work. Proud Central, London, 020 7839 4942, until 4th October.

Grounded is a series of ambiguous photographic perspectives on the natural world by Helen Sear. The pictures, depicting what at first sight appear to be vast expanses of deserted land beneath dramatic and atmospheric skies, turn out in fact to be close ups of the hides and backs of a number of different animals. Sear's technique is actually quite simple. She takes isolated images of the animals' bodies and digitally montages them into backgrounds of sky. The results however, are remarkable and almost painterly evocations of real landscapes. As well as this group, the exhibition also includes 'Still… A Landscape In Ten Pieces'. This is a series of fragmented photographic details taken from one negative image of a diorama she found in the natural history museum in Darmstadt in Germany. Sear creates new dramas by juxtaposing individual images of the various rabbits, birds and deer in new relationships. Impressions Gallery, York, 0904 654 724, until 4th October.


Bridget Riley celebrates the 40 year career of one of Britain's most distinctive artists. Since she invented what became known as Op Art in the 1960s, Riley has continued to develop optically vibrant paintings that engage the viewer's sensations and perceptions. Riley's work falls into five phases, starting with the swirling black and white patterns of dots, squares and zigzags that appear to move as you view them, which became an iconic image of Swinging London. In 1967 she moved on to contrasting colours (including white) in vertical stripes, exploring the interaction of the colours to similar optical effect, leading on to twisted shapes. A trip to Egypt in 1980 led Riley to work exclusively with the five colours used in the tomb decorations for some years. From 1985 the stripes themselves were created from diagonals, producing lozenge shapes, and since 1997 these have mutated into curved winding forms in a wider colour palette. Riley's latest work is comprised of a web of abutting, nearly touching and overlapping black hoops - coming (dare one say) full circle. Description or reproduction however cannot begin to capture the experience of actually seeing these works, and how the changes of light, distance from the canvass or wall, and scale of the painting can change the effects they produce on the viewer. A must see experience. Tate Britain until 28th September.

Painted Labyrinth: The World Of The Lindisfarne Gospels provides an opportunity to see the actual Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world's greatest books, and the greatest masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic art. Remarkable for its intricate designs, glowing colours and consummate workmanship, it was made between 715 and 720 in the island monastery of Lindisfarne. The book was the life work of Eadfrith, a uniquely gifted artist who created the pigments he used from a variety of natural sources, so that they still retain their brilliance after 13 centuries. It merges words and images reflecting many influences, including native British, Celtic, Germanic, Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, North African and Middle Eastern, to create a unique enduring symbol of faith. The Lindisfarne Gospels contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written in Latin on 259 vellum leaves, to which the oldest surviving translation into the English language was added between the lines some 250 years later. Each Gospel is introduced with a portrait of its writer, and a richly decorative 'carpet page' (like an oriental rug), with the first words elaborately ornamented. In addition to the actual book, thanks to new software developed by the British Library, visitors (both in person and online) can seem to turn the pages of the gospels themselves. British Library until 28th September.

Bob The Roman: Heroic Antiquity And The Architecture Of Robert Adam explores the work of Britain's first celebrity architect, who became one of architecture's the most influential figures. The Adam style, characterised by delicate neo-Antique ornamentation of festoons, ribbons and pilasters, is synonymous with the refinement and elegance of 18th century interiors. Yet there was another side to Robert Adam, a love for monumental grandeur, revealed in the exteriors of his buildings, which derived from three years spent in Rome prior to setting up his London practice in 1758. It was there that he encountered Heroic Antiquity, the grandeur of an architectural idiom that is articulated by bulk and mass, and by the solemn ordnance of columns, niches, aedicules and extensive colonnades. Totally immersing himself in the city's culture with unbridled enthusiasm he earned the soubriquet Bob The Roman. This exhibition focuses on how Adam learnt to draw in Rome, under the tutelage of the French artist Clerisseau, and on his great projects inspired by antiquity. These include a 9ft long design for an immense Palace, the Bath Assembly Rooms, a plan for a 720ft building for Lincoln's Inn, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a speculative scheme for fashionable housing at the Adelphi, and Chandos House off Cavendish Square, which is currently undergoing a £6m restoration. The majority of exhibits are from the extensive collection of some 9,000 Adam drawings that Sir John Soane purchased in 1833. A Robert Adam Study Centre to house the 54 folios of material, which is being created in the adjoining building, will open next year. Sir John Soane's Museum until 27th September.