News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th June 2014


British Folk Art reveals the rich diversity of art across a variety of media and contexts. Folk art is an established subject in many countries, however in Britain the genre remains elusive. Rarely considered in the context of art history, 'folk art' has been viewed as part of social history or folklore studies. This show unites an extraordinary selection of objects, exploring the threshold between art and artefact, and challenging perceptions of 'high art'. Encompassing works dating from the 17th to mid 20th century, this visually engaging exhibition examines the contradictory notions of folk art, reflecting the ways in which art historians, artists, curators and collectors have defined folk art in Britain. Nearly 200 paintings, sculptures, textiles and objects exemplify the energy, variety and idiosyncrasy of British Folk Art, from rustic leather Toby jugs to brightly coloured ships' figureheads. Among the highlights are the imposing larger than life-size thatched figure of King Alfred created by master thatcher, Jesse Maycock, in 1960; an intricately designed pin cushion made by wounded soldiers during the Crimean war; maritime embroidery by fisherman John Craske; a sculpture of a cockerel, made out of mutton bones by French POWs during the Napoleonic wars; and shop signs in the shape of over-sized pocket watches and giant shoes. While much folk art is anonymous, this exhibition also presents works by a number of prominent individuals. Amongst these key figures are George Smart the tailor of Frant, eminent embroiderer Mary Linwood, and Cornish painter Alfred Wallis. Often neglected in the story of art in Britain, the inclusion of these artists aims to reassess their position in art history. Tate Britain until 31st August.

Georgians: Dress For Polite Society presents a selection of the finest fashions worn by those attending Assemblies, and other glittering occasions of 18th century life. An Assembly was defined at the time as "a stated and general meeting of the polite persons of both sexes for the sake of conversation, gallantry, news and play". As Bath grew in popularity in the 18th century, there was a need for a grand Assembly Room in the fashionable upper town, and in 1771 the New Rooms, designed by John Wood the Younger, opened to the public. Today, the New Rooms are known as the Assembly Rooms and are the location of this exhibition. The display includes over 30 original 18th century outfits and ensembles, including gowns made of colourful and richly patterned woven silks, as well as embroidered coats and waistcoats worn by Georgian gentlemen of fashion. A highlight of the exhibition is a trio of wide-skirted Court dresses (held out by cane supports known as panniers, from the French word for baskets), dating from the 1750s and 1760s, the early years of the reign of King George III. Accompanying the Georgian clothes are 18th century-inspired fashions by contemporary fashion designers: Anna Sui, Meadham Kirchhoff, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, and Alexander McQueen. All are influenced by the 18th century aesthetic, and all, in different ways, show how the elegance and grace of Georgian dress continues to inspire fashion today. Bath Fashion Museum until 1st January.

Gems Of Chinese Painting: A Voyage Along The Yangzi River reveals the beauty and culture of south-east China in a selection of paintings dating from the 6th to the 19th centuries. The display includes the famous 'Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies' scroll and examples of rare ceramics from the region. The Yangzi River runs through an area of south-east China known as Jiangnan, which has been one of the country's most prosperous and culturally productive regions. The paintings and ceramics in the exhibition reflect the diverse life of its inhabitants, depicting elegant ladies and scholars in gardens, children herding cattle and wealthy merchants, as well as fishermen and farmers. Landscape paintings from along the Yangzi River show lush, fertile fields and rolling hills and highlight the region's famous gardens. Paintings and ceramics from Jiangnan have shaped in great part the Western image of traditional China. Jiangnan is also a region where some of the finest examples of the Chinese concept of the three arts - poetry, calligraphy and painting - were produced. The Admonitions scroll, traditionally attributed to Gu Kaizhi, one of China's patriarchs of calligraphy and painting, is an early example of the combination of the three arts, and is one of the most important Chinese paintings to survive anywhere in the world. The display also includes silk paintings from Dunhuang in the Northwest of China. British Museum until 31st August.


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. Highlights include a room of works by newly elected Academicians, including Thomas Heatherwick, Neil Jeffries, Chantal Joffe, Tim Shaw, Conrad Shawcross, Yinka Shonibare, Bob and Roberta Smith and Wolfgang Tillmans; and a room focussing on the theme of black and white, with works by Michael Craig-Martin, Richard Deacon, Tacita Dean, Michael Landy, Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller, Mona Hatoum, Christian Marclay, Laure Prouvost and David Shrigley, many of which have been specially created for the exhibition. The Royal Academy of Arts until 17th August.

Mental Health Museum houses a remarkable collection of objects that span the history of mental health care from the early 19th century through to the present day. Much of the collection focuses on the histories of the community, culture and practices of the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, which opened on this site in 1818, and was later known as the Stanley Royd Hospital. The collection includes restraining equipment such as chains and straightjackets; a padded cell; photographs dating from 1862 onwards; medical and surgical equipment, including chloroform bottles and ECT machines; beds and bedpans; and documents including original patient records and a Chaplain's journal. There is also a scale model of the original 1818 building built by a former curator of the museum based on the original plans and drawings. Museum of Mental Health, Fieldhead Hospital, Wakefield, continuing.

Art And Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920 - 1931 features early works by two painters at the forefront of the 20th century Modern British movement. The exhibition focuses on Ben and Winifred Nicholson's prolific output during their ten year marriage, and considers their work in the context of a unique artistic influence and friendship with contemporaries Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and William Staite Murray. It offers a rare opportunity to see the couple's parallel views of the same landscapes, seascapes, still-lifes and portraits. Grouped by location, the show focuses on their time spent painting in London, Lugano, Switzerland, Cumberland and Cornwall, and features work by the artists they encountered and painted alongside. The exhibition presents over 80 works, 15 of which are being displayed publicly for the first time, including Ben's 'Still Life' and Winifred's 'Flowers in a Glass Jar'. Ben and Winifred's approach was influenced by fellow artists and friends. Ben and Christopher Wood often painted the same landscapes and their paintings of Northrigg Hill are displayed alongside Winifred's earlier painting of the same scene. A chance meeting with Alfred Wallis in St Ives led to the artists painting side by side, and works such as 'The Schooner the Beata, Penzance, Mount's Bay' and 'Newlyn Harbour and Four Luggers and a Lighthouse' provide a fascinating contrast to the group's oils and drawings. Throughout the show there are ceramics by the avant-garde potter William Staite Murray, including 'Cadence' and 'Persian Garden'. Inspired by the Nicholsons in his approach to aesthetic pottery, his works are as much influenced by their art, as their paintings are by his pots. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 21st September.

Ancient Lives, New Discoveries uses the latest scientific techniques to shed new light on ancient cultures, showcasing recent research on Egyptian and Sudanese mummified remains. The exhibition uses state-of-the-art technology to virtually explore inside mummy cases and examine the bodies underneath the wrappings of 8 people who lived in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago. The most recent scans undertaken have used the new generation of medical CT scanners, capable of producing data of unprecedented high resolution. The transformation of this data into 3D visualisations has been achieved with volume graphics software usually used in other fields such as car engineering. Each mummy has accompanying large-screen visualisations that journey into the body, through the intact wrappings to reveal the remains, skeleton and the secrets of mummification. The individuals selected cover a time-span of over 4000 years, from the Predynastic period to the Christian era, from sites in Egypt and the Sudan. The emphasis is on revealing different aspects of living and dying in the ancient Nile Valley through these individuals and also through contextual objects such as amulets, canopic jars, musical instruments and items of food. The individuals include: a female adult temple singer from Thebes, mummified around 900BC, whose body reflects the highest level of mummification available at its period, involving the ritual placement of amulets and other magical trappings on the body; and a man of high status, from around 1st to 3rd centuries AD, mummified in distinctive manner, with arms, legs, fingers and toes separately wrapped, facial features painted on the wrappings, natural hair left uncovered, small fragments of gold leaf still preserved on the external surface, and decorative trappings added externally. British Museum until 30th November.

Mondrian And Colour is the first major exhibition to consider the significance of colour during the early career of the 20th century Dutch artist. The exhibition traces Piet Mondrian's use of colour as he moved from depicting reality in studies of the Dutch landscape to pioneer something completely new and controversial in abstraction. In addition to his influence on the development of abstraction in painting, Mondrian's influence stretched to the worlds of fashion and design. Bringing together around 50 paintings, the show demonstrates that Mondrian's abstract works were not simply mathematical exercises in form, but also expressed his search for a new universal harmony. Colour underpinned Mondrian's work, from the early days painting landscapes in the Netherlands, to the later works where colour was separated from its function of creating shading or volume. His most famous works, the 'grids' use simple lines and the primary colours red, yellow and blue to create this 'universal harmony', separating colour and subject from reality, transforming the material world into something spiritual. Major works in the exhibition include 'The Red Mill', 'Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Grey' and 'Composition with Blue and Yellow'. Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate, until 21st September.

M. F. Husain: Master Of Modern Indian Painting features the work of one of the most celebrated and internationally recognised Indian artists of the 20th century. Maqbool Fida Husain, known as M. F. Husain, began his career as a painter of cinema hoardings. Using freehand drawing and vibrant colour, he depicted Indian subject matter in the style of contemporary European art movements, particularly Cubism. Indian Civilization is an ambitious series of 8 triptych paintings, commissioned as a tribute to the richness of India's history. Each panel explores a different theme, together creating a personal vision of India, what Husain called 'a museum without walls'. Interweaving religious and symbolic iconography with historic figures and events, the paintings also incorporate memories from the artist's own life. Husain marked the ceremonial beginning of the series by painting the Hindu deity Ganesha, represented as a four-armed man with an elephant head, shown with an ancient terracotta goddess figure at his side. He celebrated three ruling dynasties from India's long and tumultuous history, placing the ancient Mauryan civilization centrally between two invading rulers, the Muslim Mughal dynasty and the British Raj. The works capture the colour and spirit of Indian festivals, whose ancient celebrations and rituals reflect the passing of time and show the enduring role of religion and tradition in Indian culture. Husain reflected on the domestic lives of India's citizens, showing the daily routines of ordinary urban families, with the major religions of India represented, as generations share their homes and their faith. Victoria & Albert Museum until 27th July.


120 Years of Tower Bridge (1894 - 2014) explores the different ways artists have pictured London's most iconic bridge. The exhibition offers a wonderful selection of Tower Bridge water colours, oils, pencil drawings, etchings and photographs made over the years, featuring a vast range of artistic interpretations by artists from the 19th century through to the 21st century. Works range from William Lionel Wyllie's historical painting, 'The Opening Ceremony of the Tower Bridge', through Frank William Brangwyn's 'The Tower Bridge', Charles Pears's 'Blitz. Our London Docks', Judith Evans and Arthur Watson's 'The Spirit of London' and Chris Orr's 'Black Dog at Tower Bridge', to the Ecuadorian artist Mentor Chico's 'Forever Imagical Tower Bridge' painted specially for the exhibition. In addition, there is a fascinating array of mementoes, ephemera, engineering plans and archive material about the bridge. Guildhall Art Gallery, London EC1, until 30th June.

The Years Of La Dolce Vita features a collection of images made by the original paparazzo, whose shots changed the face of photojournalism forever. The 1950s and 1960s represent a golden era in Italian film, when directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini produced some of their most famous movies. The term paparazzo was taken from Fellini's La Dolce Vita, the name of a character inspired by a number of real-life photojournalists then active in Rome, including Marcello Geppetti, from whose astonishing archive of over one million images most of the works on display are drawn. Many Hollywood stars and directors were lured to Rome in the 1960s, where epic productions such as Ben-Hur and Cleopatra were shot. In the evenings, the focus of Rome's movie culture, as well as the lenses of its paparazzi, shifted to the bars and restaurants lining the city's exclusive Via Veneto. The presence of celebrities like John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston, Elizabeth Taylor, Anita Ekberg, Kirk Douglas, Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Marcello Mastroianni and Audrey Hepburn transformed Rome's streets into 'an open-air film set'. Geppetti has been described as 'the most undervalued photographer in history', and comparisons drawn between his work and that of Cartier-Bresson and Weegee. Juxtaposed with Geppetti's images of Rome's real-life dolce vita are a number of behind-the-scenes shots taken during the filming of La Dolce Vita by its cameraman, Arturo Zavattini, candid photographs that capture an atmosphere of relaxed creativity on the set of Fellini's landmark film. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39A Canonbury Square, London N1, until 29th June.

Vikings Life And Legend focuses on the core period of the Viking Age from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. The Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. The exhibition features many new archaeological discoveries and capitalises on new research and recent discoveries that have changed our understanding of the nature of Viking identity, trade, magic and belief and the role of the warrior in Viking society. It was the maritime character of Viking society and their extraordinary shipbuilding skills that were key to their achievements. At the centre of the exhibition are the surviving timbers of a 37m long Viking warship, the longest ever found and never seen before in Britain. The size of the ship and the amount of resources required to build it suggest that it was almost certainly a royal warship, possibly connected with the wars fought by Cnut to assert his authority over this short lived North Sea Empire. The Vale of York Hoard is displayed in its entirety for the first time since it was found near Harrogate in 2007. Consisting of 617 coins, 6 arm rings and a quantity of bullion and hack-silver, it is the largest and most important Viking hoard since the Cuerdale Hoard was found in Lancashire in 1840, part of which is also included in the exhibition. Ostentatious jewellery of gold and silver demonstrates how status was vividly displayed by Viking men and women. These include a stunning silver hoard from Gnezdovo in Russia, which highlights the combination of Scandinavian, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences that contributed to the development of the early Russian state in the Viking Age. British Museum until 22nd June.