News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th May 2004


Fabulous Beasts reveals a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, the microscopic becomes gigantic, and the mundane becomes amazing - but if you don't like creepy crawlies look away now. This exhibition features paintings by Mark Fairnington and photographs by Giles Revell of insects on a huge scale, alongside the actual specimens that inspired them. Both artists employ high-definition electron microscopes, of the kind used by scientists, to capture minute details of entomological specimens photographically. From these Fairnington creates photo-real paintings of bizarre and exotic detail, interpreting and reinventing the subjects in paint on huge canvasses. The results are a series of large scale images, acutely observed, yet subtly manipulated and rather unsettling. Revell explores the natural engineering of insects and their sculptural form. He takes creatures that are familiar and apparently mundane, such as the ladybird and the grasshopper, and scans them up to 500 times to produce image sections that capture the wing, head or armour-plated shell of the insect. These sections are then merged to form immensely detailed, high-definition monochrome photographs, anything up to eight feet in height. Despite the synergy between their work, this is the first time Fairnington and Revell have been exhibited together, and the first time their work has been shown alongside their subjects. This exhibition shows the processes that scientists and artists share when examining a natural object. Be afraid - be very afraid. Natural History Museum until 12th September.

Portrait Miniatures brings together the National Galleries of Scotland collection of portrait miniatures with a series of fifty new works by Moyna Flannigan, one of Scotland's leading figurative painters. The collection of portrait miniatures date from the early sixteenth century to the present day, and include famous portraits of Robert Burns, James VI and I painted by artists such as John Bogle, David Paton, Henry Raeburn and Archibald Skirving. Painted in oil or enamel on copper, watercolour on ivory, or gouache on vellum parchment, the miniatures were presented to keep alive the memory of dead or absent friends, family or lovers. Moyna Flannigan has adopted the methods and materials of the portrait miniature, an art form that was largely superseded by the invention of photography, but used it in a new way. Painted in the traditional style of watercolour on vellum, Flannigan's works are like minute twenty first century Hogarths, depicting farcical and stereotypical fictional characters, who are based on her wry and penetrating observations of the follies of contemporary society. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 5th September.

Highgate Cemetery has been transformed over the years from being a typical neatly laid out burial ground, into a natural woodland park. It has the finest collection of Victorian funerary architecture in the country, with over 60 buildings listed Grade II and above. Of particular interest are the Lebanon Circle Vaults, the Egyptian Avenue, the Terrace Catacombs, the Julius Beer Mausoleum, and the much visited bust of Karl Marx. At least 850 notable people are buried there, amongst whom are 18 Royal Academicians, 6 Lord Mayors of London, 48 Fellows of the Royal Society, the founders of London businesses including Maples, Foyles, Negretti-Zambra, John Lobb, P&O, and Quaritch, and familiar names such as Michael Faraday, George Eliot, Radclyffe Hall, Carl Rosa and Ralph Richardson. Over the years there has been copious planting, including over 100 different species of wildflowers, and countless trees, including hornbeam, limes, oak, hazel, sweet chestnut, tulip and field maple. Among the live residents, some 50 species of birds and 18 species of butterflies have been sighted, plus a colony of foxes, and among the many spiders, there are 3 species rarely seen in the UK. Conducted tours take place each weekday afternoon at 2pm from March to November, and every hour on the hour from 11am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Further information can be found on the Highgate Cemetery web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Highgate Cemetery, London N6 continuing.


The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War And Faith celebrates the network of trade routes from the shores of the Mediterranean to the heartland of China, that passed through the territories of some of the great empires in world history. It brings together over 200 seldom seen Central Asian manuscripts, paintings, coins, statues, artefacts and textiles, offering a glimpse into the everyday life of people on the Silk Road. Central Asia was the centre of the world, the progenitor of many of civilisation's most important inventions, and the crux of a world economy. The evidence left by these multi-cultural civilisations lay buried for up to 2,000 years in tombs, tips and temples beneath the desert sands. The exhibition includes treasures excavated by the archaeologist Aurel Stein, whose journeys covered some 25,000 miles in the early 20th century. Among his finds was the earliest dated printed book in the world, the Diamond Sutra of 868AD, on public display in its original form for the first time in a century, following conservation work. Other treasures include 9th and 10th century silk paintings from Dunhuang; a Chinese manuscript bearing the earliest star chart in the world; 3rd and 4th century letters in ingenious wooden envelopes in Indian languages, with Chinese and Greek seals, from the ancient kingdom of Kroraina; and a selection of the idiosyncratic tomb models and monsters from the 7th and 8th century cemetery at Astana near Turfan. The British Library until 12th September.

Samauri has transferred from Chessington, strengthening Thorpe Park's position as the top white knuckle venue in the south of England. Samauri is a ride in pods, situated at the end of a mechanical arm that lifts and rotates them, creating G forces of plus 5 and minus 3, as well as a centrifugal force that sets them spinning 360°. It joins the existing Colossus, a 10 loop roller coaster with speeds of up to 70mph, and a force of 4Gs; Nemesis Inferno, one of the world's most disorientating, leg dangling suspended experiences; Tidal Wave, Europe's tallest water drop ride; stomach-churning Vortex, which makes 15 high speed rotations per minute while swinging back and forth 65 feet in the air; gravity-defying 100 foot drop Detonator; and X: No Way Out, the world's first dark backwards coaster, to provide the most unpleasant experience you can have outside an Islamic fundamentalist regime. Worse is promised for next year. Further information and a virtual ride can be found on the Thorpe Park web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Thorpe Park, Chertsey until 6th November.

Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon is the first major exhibition in this country of the artist who captured the essence of modernism and the spirit of Art Deco in her work. It focuses on her most prolific period, from 1922 to the early 1940s. Bringing together some 55 paintings, many never before seen in public, the exhibition confirms de Lempicka's reputation as one of the most iconic painters of her generation. Although brought up in Moscow, she moved to Paris in 1917, as it was about to become the capital of the art world. De Lempicka's images combine the forms of traditional portraiture with geometric architectural features that capture the sense of modernity and the machine age. Her subjects are often dramatically lit, with closely cropped compositions, so that they fill the canvas with their monumental and powerful presence. It is for the development of this contemporary and unique style that de Lempicka is recognised. These paintings reflect the combination of wealth and decadence that was synonymous with the French capital in the 1920s and 1930s. As well as focusing on her many commissioned portraits, the exhibition also includes some of de Lempicka's sensual nudes and beautiful still-lifes. The Royal Academy until 30th August.

Town House Treasures: Sir William Holburne Of Bath is a selection from the remarkable collection of fine and decorative art of Sir William Holburne. Born into a distinguished naval family, he saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar when he was only twelve years old, and later became a notable traveller. Over three decades, both at home and abroad, he collected works of art on a huge scale, acquiring over 5,000 objects, including Italian maiolica, Renaissance bronzes, 17th century Dutch paintings, European porcelain, English silver and Wedgwood ware. The entire collection can now be found at the Holburne Museum of Art, situated in a town house in Bath. This exhibition displays some of the best pieces, with fine paintings (including Jagger's portrait of the man himself), spectacular silver, porcelain, miniatures and other objet d'art, giving visitors a chance to compare and contrast Holburne's treasures with the Sir Richard Wallace's resident collection. The Wallace Collection until 6th June.

Fantasy Architecture 1500 - 2036 brings together imaginative, fantastic and visionary schemes for a better world - some practical, some wholly fanciful. These visions of the future remained on paper due to lack of funds, political change, or because technically they were ahead of their time. The exhibition features over 120 projects by world famous architects, displayed with plans, drawings, paintings, maquettes, collage, film and computer animation. Among the buildings that might have been are Asymptote's New York Virtual Stock Exchange, with streams of financial data as a dynamic virtual environment; Joseph Paxton's monumental ten mile Great Victorian Way, combining shops, hotels and restaurants with an elevated railway; MVDR's tower block for pigs; and Martin Riuz de Azua's Basic House, an inflatable portable dwelling that packs away in its owner's pocket. There are also projects by such legends as Robert Adam, Archigram, Charles Barry, Etienne Louis Boullee, Santiago Calatrava, Hugh Maxwell Casson, William Chambers, Serge Chermayeff, Charles Cockerell, Peter Cook, Foreign Office Architects, Galli Bibiena Family, Foster and Partners, Buckminster Fuller, Future Systems, Erno Goldfinger, Zaha Hadid, Inigo Jones, Edwin Lutyens, Erich Mendelsohn, John Nash, Claes Oldenburg, Alison and Peter Smithson, John Soane, Softroom, Vladimir Tatlin, Tecton and Clough Williams Ellis. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 3rd July.

Pleasurelands - 200 Years Of Fun At The Fair brings the world of the funfair alive, showing both the magical illusion of the fair, and the reality of life behind the scenes. There are actual carousel horses, dodgem cars, and sideshows - including slot machines from the 1940s and 1950s - on which visitors can play. These join posters, models, photographs, films, lighting and sound effects to recreate the spectacle, illusion, experience and reality of the fairground. The exhibition examines the changing use of technology in sideshows - mirrors, optics, projections and lights - in creating the illusions of magic and mystery. The dynasties of show men and women of fairground families are celebrated, such as the knife throwing Shufflebottoms and the circus owning Smarts, through memories, photographs and mementos. The reality of life on the road is also examined, revealing the reality of this highly organised community, and the drawbacks of their transitory lifestyle. The materials in the exhibition are drawn from the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield. Croydon Clocktower, Croydon, 020 8253 1030 until 5th September.


Cecil Beaton: Portraits marks the centenary of one of the most celebrated of British portrait photographers, renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style, and as famous as his subjects. This retrospective brings together over 150 portraits from the five decades of his career, during which he captured fashion, art and celebrity, from the time when stars were unattainable in the 1920s, through to the more egalitarian person next door of the 1960s. Early highlights include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding album; romantic studies of Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), the first of many Royal commissions; a portrait of Edith Sitwell posed as a gothic tomb sculpture; Hollywood stars Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich; fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli; and artists Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. During the Second World War, Beaton was an official war photographer, and there are images of land girls; a 3 year old blitz victim; and Air Vice-Marshall Sir Arthur Conningham in his tent in the Egyptian Desert. From the 1950s there are more Hollywood portraits with Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe (accompanied by Beaton's handwritten eulogy about her), Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. Beaton reinvented his style in the 1960s, capturing a new generation that included David Hockney, Jean Shrimpton, Rudolf Nureyev, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Harold Pinter and Andy Warhol. National Portrait Gallery until 31st May.

Li Zhensheng: Red-colour New Soldier presents the only known existing photographic documentation of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China between 1966 and 1976. These were times when child turned against parent and pupil against teacher, with tens of thousands of young revolutionaries mobilised as Red Guards, while countless others were executed, imprisoned or sent to work camps, accused of being enemies of the masses. Starting in 1963, the photographer Li Zhensheng spent almost 20 years working for the Heilongjiang Daily, a Communist newspaper in Northern China, with full access to events. His unique archive of images conveys the madness of this time: stage-managed public trials, recantations, the cult of personality, mass demonstrations, executions and re-education campaigns. In 1969 Li himself was sent to a 're-education school' in a desolate rural region north of Harbin for two years. When the new Chinese leadership ordered the destruction of all evidence of what happened, at great personal risk, Li hid and preserved thousands of photographs in his furniture and under his floorboards, and these were later smuggled to the West. This exhibition brings together over 130 of his photographs, along with personal documents from the period.Hou Bo & Xu Xiaobing: Mao's Photographers features photographs taken by Hou Bo, who worked with her husband Xu Xiaobing at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine. They were close to Mao from the period leading up to the Revolution through to the end of his life, producing many of the iconic images, from Mao's declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949, to his swim in the Yangtze River at the age of 73 in 1966. During the Cultural Revolution, as the personality cult that engulfed Mao came to its height, his image and Little Red Book of quotations were distributed in their millions throughout China. Hou Bo's portraits appeared in nearly every office, factory, classroom, shop and home, showing Mao as a charismatic leader, a teacher, a strategist and an internationalist. This exhibition includes over 60 photographs of the most notable political figures of these years, including not only the widely disseminated portraits of Mao, but intimate shots of him with his family, that have rarely been seen.The Photographers' Gallery, London until 30th May.

El Greco is the first major exhibition in Britain of the work of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the 16th century painter better known as El Greco. One of the most original painters of his time, his work is modern in appearance, and greatly influenced 20th century painters, including Cezanne, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. The exhibition traces El Greco's career through a selection of his greatest paintings, together with some rarely exhibited drawings and sculptures. El Greco stood apart from his contemporaries in the depiction of his compositions, and the use of bright colours, elongated forms and spiritual intensity, painted in a style combining aspects of the Byzantine and Western traditions. Born in Crete, he trained as an icon painter, before moving to Venice, where his style was transformed through his encounters with the work of Titian and Tintoretto, and then Rome, where he was exposed to Michelangelo's influence, mixing with an elite circle of intellectuals connected with the Farnese Palace. El Greco made his home in Spain, settling in Toledo, where he created the famous series of altarpieces in which his highly individual treatment of religious imagery attained its fullest expression. The exhibition includes a rare example of El Greco's early work, the recently discovered icon of 'The Dormition of the Virgin', the 'Laocoon', 'The Opening of the Fifth Seal (The Vision of Saint John)', 'View of Toledo', and the 'Adoration of the Shepherds', which he painted to hang above his own tomb. The exhibition also brings together a large group of portraits of his contemporaries, such as 'Fray Hortensio Paravicino' and 'Jeronimo de Ceballos'. National Gallery until 23rd May.