News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th November 2010


Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices is the first ever exhibition exploring the English language from Anglo-Saxon runes to modern day rap. Driven by developments in religion, politics, technology, economics and culture, English today is spoken by a third of the world's population. This is a unique opportunity to see and hear its evolution from a language spoken on a small island to a global language spoken by 1.8bn people. From Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to Papua New Guinea Pidgin, the exhibition examines where the language is now, where it has come from and where it is heading. It is a 1,500 year history told through the literary canon, looking beneath the tip of the linguistic iceberg at comics, adverts, text messages, posters, newspapers, trading records and dialect recordings that make up the bulk of the English language. The new varieties of the language appearing in world literature and on the internet show that this story is by no means over. Among the 130 items on display are: the earliest surviving copy of the poem Beowulf; the 11th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, the first printed book in English, translated and printed by William Caxton; Captain John Smith's A True Relation, a contemporary description of the first permanent English colony in America; Thomas Hoccleve's The Regiment of Princes poem written for the future king Henry V; an original 17th century King James or 'Authorised Version' Bible; the Victorian Modern Flash Dictionary, which listed popular slang; the original Riot Act; BBC Broadcast English, codifying the correct pronunciation for use on radio in 1929; and Charles C Bombaugh's 1867 poem 'Essay to Miss Catharine Jay', which includes the phrase 'I wrote 2 U B 4'. British Library until 3rd April.

White And Silver: Whistler And The Thames examines the American artist's engagement with the river Thames, in paintings, lithographs, drawings and etchings. This exhibition explores James McNeill Whistler's depictions of the river, from the direct observations of working life in the early etchings, to the innovative paintings in which he drew out a previously unseen beauty from the city's smog-bound industrial landscape. In 1863 Whistler, moved to a house on the riverside at Chelsea, which became his main home for almost 30 years. The Thames was a constant part of his daily life and became a major subject for his art. Throughout his life Whistler was preoccupied by cities and their rivers and canals, notably Venice and Amsterdam, exploring the architecture of the waterside and the shipping and bridges of the waterways. But it was the Thames and its docks and industrial shores that stimulated some of his most important works, from the daringly modern depictions of the working river in the Thames Set of etchings, to the poetic night time views of the Nocturne paintings. The exhibition centrepiece is 'Blue and Silver: Screen with Old Battersea Bridge', which is shown alongside the closely related 'Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge' for the first time in over 40 years. Other highlights include: 'London: A Pilgrimage', 'Thames Warehouses', 'Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses', 'The Tall Bridge' and 'The Thames'. Whistler's depictions of the river occupy an ambivalent position, neither seeming to be overtly nostalgic for a way of life that was disappearing along the river, nor an advocate of progress and modernisation or social change. Huntarian Art Gallery, Glasgow, until 8th January.

High Society explores the role of mind-altering drugs in history and culture, challenging the perception that drugs are a disease of modern life. Mind-altering drugs have a rich history and have been used variously as medicines, sacraments, trade goods, and routes to the divine or creative muses. The exhibition examines the subject in 5 areas: A Universal Impulse records the common drive to incorporate psychoactive substances into everyday lives; From Apothecary To Laboratory traces the path from the earliest folk remedies through the laboratories of the early 19th century to the garden shed where MDMA (ecstasy) was synthesized; Self Experimentation follows both scientists' and artists' experience of drugs as they looked for different kinds of enlightenment; Collective Intoxication explores communal drug rites from tribal ritual to mass protests; The Drugs Trade focuses on the often violent global passage of drugs; and A Sin, A Crime, A Vice Or A Disease? surveys the temperance and prohibition movements that created the framework for the current drug laws. Over 200 exhibits on display include Samuel Taylor Coleridge's handwritten 'Kubla Khan' manuscript, allegedly written following an opium dream; NASA experiments with intoxicated spiders; a 17th century account by Captain Thomas Bowrey describing his crew's experiments with bhang, a cannabis drink; an 11th century manuscript with poppy remedies written by monks in Suffolk; and a hallucinogenic snuff set collected in the Amazon by the Victorian explorer Richard Spruce. The exhibition also features contemporary art pieces exploring drug use and culture, including Tracy Moffat's 'Laudanum' portrait series; a recreation of the 'Joshua Light Show' by Joshua White, who created psychedelic backdrops for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin; and an installation work by Huang Yong Ping. Wellcome Collection, London, until 27th February.


Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition showcases more than 300 artefacts retrieved from wreck of the RMS Titanic over one and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the life of the White Star Line ship. It touches on every important aspect of the Titanic's story, from construction, launching, and life on board, through the tragic sinking and dramatic rescue of over 700 people, to the discovery of the ship 73 years later, and the innovative recovery and conservation of some 5,500 objects made over the 25 years since then. The exhibition has been created with a focus on the Titanic's human stories, told through authentic artefacts and re-creations of the ship's decks, first and third class cabins, cargo hold and boiler room. Delicate bottles of perfume, china and crystal decanters bearing the logo of the White Star Line, the bell that hung over the crow's nest, the telegraph used to relay orders from the bridge to the engine room, a Gladstone bag and other items of luggage, and many other objects collected from the wreck site, offer poignant connections to lives abruptly ended or forever changed by one of the world's greatest maritime tragedies. 14 of the artefacts on view are on display for the first time, their conservation having only just been completed. There is also video footage of this summer's expedition when scientists were mapping the wreck site. A gallery is devoted to the stories of passengers and crew with a London connection, ranging from fashion designer Lady Duff Cooper to stewardess Violet Jessop. The O2 Bubble, Greenwich, until 1st May.

Chinese Ceramics And The Early Modern World traces the remarkable journey of Chinese ceramics throughout the globe. Between 1300 and 1800, ceramic objects manufactured at southern Chinese kilns were some of the most universally desired products in the world. From humble Cambodian traders to the shahs of Iran and the princesses of Europe, the wide dissemination of Chinese ceramics testifies to cross-cultural encounters on a truly global scale. Both functional and collectable, ceramic objects were also the bearers of culture that could be interpreted or absorbed in different ways, and Chinese imports influenced many of the indigenous ceramic traditions they encountered. In particular, the exhibition focuses on a European aspect of this dissemination of Chinese ceramics, known as 'China Mania'. It investigates the rise and resilience of porcelain collecting, comparing European notions of material beauty and desire with those of China. The ceramics of all kinds on display show the rich diversity, beauty and quality of the porcelain produced in this period, easily illustrating why it was so sought after. There is much beyond the willow-pattern plate. Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, until 12th December.

Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography features works by contemporary artists who use the principles of photography but work without a camera. The essence of photography lies in its seemingly magical ability to fix shadows on light-sensitive surfaces, but these artists create images on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper. They are always 'an original' because they are not made from a negative. Floris Neususs has dedicated his career to extending the practice of the photogram process, and his works deal in opposites: black and white, shadow and light, movement and stillness, presence and absence, and in the translation of three dimensions into two. Pierre Cordier uses the chemigram process, applying photographic developer to the paper to create dark areas and fixer for lighter tones, further changing the patterns and effects by adding products such as varnish, wax, glue, oil, egg and syrup. Garry Fabian Miller makes abstract images in the darkroom, using only glass vessels filled with liquids, or cut-paper forms to cast shadows and filter light, with many of his works exploring the cycle of time over a day, month or year, through experiments with varying durations of light exposure. Susan Derges makes photograms of water, using the landscape at night as her darkroom, submerging large sheets of photographic paper in rivers and using the moon and flashlight to create the exposure. Adam Fuss's work concerns the discovery of the unseen, dealing with time and energy rather than material form, and as well as mastering numerous historic and modern photographic techniques, he has developed an array of symbolic or emblematic motifs. Victoria & Albert Museum until 20th February.

Journey Through The Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book Of The Dead explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death through rich textual and visual material. The 'Book', used for over 1500 years between around 1600 BC and 100 AD, is not a single text, but a compilation of spells thought to equip the dead with knowledge and power that would guide them safely through the dangers of the hereafter and ultimately ensure eternal life. The exhibition opens a window onto the complex belief systems of the ancient Egyptians where death and afterlife were a central focus. Beautifully coloured illustrations show the many stages of the journey from death to the afterlife, including the day of burial, protection in the tomb, judgement, and entering the hereafter. These include the fields and rivers of the Netherworld, the gods and demons whom the deceased would meet, and the critical 'weighing of the heart' ritual, the judgement that would determine whether the soul was admitted into the afterlife, or condemned to destruction at the hands of the monstrous 'Devourer'. Although the earliest texts appeared on the mummy shrouds of royal families and high officials, papyrus became the texts' main medium and remained so for more than 1,000 years. Due to the fragility of the papyri and their sensitivity to light it is extremely rare for any of these manuscripts to be displayed in public. Highlights include the longest Book Of The Dead in the world, the Greenfield Papyrus, which measures 37 metres in length and has never been shown publicly in its entirety before, and the paintings from the papyri of Ani and Hunefer, together with an array of painted coffins, gilded masks, amulets, jewellery, tomb figurines and mummy trappings. State of the art visualisation technology provides new ways of accessing and understanding this key source in the history of world religions. British Museum until 6th March.

R100 & R101 Airships At Cardington marks the 80th Anniversary of the R101 disaster with an examination of the British airship industry in the 1930s. The exhibition charts the story of how a small village became the country's major airship centre. Starting with the building of the huge airship sheds at Cardington (which still remain today), it then explores the government's grand plans for long distance airship travel across the British Empire. Film, photographs and objects bring to life the construction of the R100 and R101 airships in the Royal Airship Works, the stories of their staff and crew, and the R101's final fateful flight to India in October 1930, crashing in a field in France en route. The exhibition includes a wide variety of artifacts on display together for the first time, with personal belongings, unique documents and objects, including a passenger bunk bed from the R100 showing what life was like onboard these giants of the sky, designed to be 'floating hotels'. The R101 boasted two decks with luxury cabins, a dining room accommodating 60 people, a smoking room, and a spacious lounge of 5,500 square feet on its upper deck. Although airship building slowed down dramatically after the crash of the R101, the exhibition also shows how this was far from the end of the story of Cardington, which has seen regular attempts to resurrect the airship concept right up to the present day. Bedford Museum until 19th December.

The Glasgow Boys: Drawings And Watercolours is a selection of works by the informal grouping of artists who were inspired by progressive French painting, and produced some of the most decorative and adventurous painting in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. The group of around 20 artists became known as the 'Glasgow Boys', whose leading figures, James Guthrie, George Henry, E A Hornel, John Lavery, Arthur Melville, James Paterson and E A Walton, treated watercolour and pastel as mediums just as noble as paint. The 80 works on display feature drawings and watercolours that mainly belong to the second half of the artists' careers, when their early interest in rustic realism had been replaced by a commitment to decorative and aesthetic effect, and a wider range of subject matter. Highlights include James Guthrie's 'To Pastures New' and 'The Hind's Daughter', George Henry's 'Noon' and Edward Arthur Walton's 'A Berwickshire Fieldworker', among the studies of individual figures; James Paterson's 'Moniaive' and James Guthrie's 'Winter', both of which show a desire to experiment in an almost abstract manner with the forms and shapes found in landscape; Arthur Melville's 'A Byway in Granada', in which he achieved its strong contrast between light and dark by dropping pure pigment onto untouched areas of the wet paper; George Henry's 'A Japanese Pottery Seller' and 'Japanese Beauty', which mark a high point in his career; and John Lavery's 'The Tennis Party' and William Kennedy's 'Stirling Station', which record modern urban life. Royal Academy of Arts until 23rd January.


The Pre-Raphaelites And Italy challenges what is known about the influence of Italy - its culture, landscape, and history - on one of Britain's most significant and enduringly popular art movements. In re-examining their early years, the exhibition aims to shed new light on the artists who emerged as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the 1850s. From the influence of the movement's champion, John Ruskin, one of Italy's most dedicated tourists, to their illustrations of early Italian art and literature, the exhibition explores the idea of Italy itself, a place which captured the imagination of a whole generation of British men and women, and which was the source of such varied artistic responses. The exhibition brings together over 140 pictures, including works by John Ruskin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Millais, William Holman Hunt, John Brett and Edward Burne-Jones. Highlights include Rosetti's 'Monna Vanna', 'Dante Drawing an Angel on the Anniversary of Beatrice's Death' and 'Borgia Family'; Ruskin's Venetian architectural drawings; Burne-Jones's 'The Fall of Lucifer' and drawings for the mosaics of the American Church in Rome, united for the first time in Britain; and Brett's 'Florence from Bellosguardo' and 'Capri in the Evening', which has not been seen in public since 1865. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 5th December.

Storm Force features a diverse collection of paintings and watercolours on the subject of man battling against the almighty elements of the sea. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from the first public view of the newly restored Robert Ernest Roe painting of the infamous local storm of October 1880, which lasted for 3 days, together with its 2 sister paintings of the same theme. Among the Victorian works on display are a selection of watercolours by H B Carter. There are also canvasses by contemporary artist Len Tabner, who paints from life - actually working outdoors in the storm. Accompanying the paintings and watercolours is a display of traditional fisherman's ganseys. These are unique garments that can help identify the fisherman, with each pattern linked to the town of origin and the family of the wearer, handed down from generation to generation. Ganseys can take months to complete and have a specific form and method of construction. Made from a highly twisted woollen yarn sometimes called 'seaman's iron', which is usually navy blue, they are knitted seamlessly and 'in the round' on five needles. Scarborough Art Gallery until 28th November.

Salvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness And Magic features the work of one of the boldest and most powerfully inventive artists and personalities of the Italian 17th century. Salvator Rosa invented new types of painting: allegorical pictures, distinguished by a haunting and melancholy poetry; fanciful portraits of romantic and enigmatic figures; macabre and horrific subjects; and philosophical subjects, bringing into painting some of the major philosophical and scientific concerns of his age. Rosa's early works, particularly the landscapes, are bright and rich in picturesque motifs - crumbling towers, boats on the seashore, colourful travellers crossing perilous bridges, bandits lying in wait in rocky ravines - but he moved towards a grander style, and his mature art is characterised by a free technique, rich chiaroscuro and dark but strong colours creating a suggestive atmosphere. The exhibition ranges from self-portraits and other fanciful portraits to landscapes - pastoral, heroic and anchorite. Some of these are stark works, and the power of the elements pulses through them, of wind, water, fire and cloud. They are linked in theme to the paintings of magic and science, conveying a 17th century sense of the awesome grandeur of the natural world revealed by the new science. Highlights include 'Archytas', 'Lucrezia as Poetry', 'Allegory of Fortune', 'The Death of Empedocles', 'Jason Charming the Dragon', 'The Death of Regulus', 'The Frailty of Human Life' and 'Witches at their Incantations'. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, until 28th November.