News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th August 2008


Weird And Wonderful Gadgets And Inventions is an opportunity to see over 50 extraordinary 'labour saving devices' patented over the last 150 years, from the private collection of Maurice Collins, the author of Eccentric Contraptions and Ingenious Gadgets. Built up over a period of 30 years, the Collins's family collection contains gadgets ranging early versions of technology we take for granted today, to inventions that would not be out of place in a Heath Robinson compendium. Among the highlights are: a two handled self pouring teapot; a clockwork burglar alarm; the purse pistol, a one bullet gun concealed in a seemingly normal ladies purse; a grenade for putting out fires; a mechanical page turner for musicians; a brass and copper clockwork teasmade; an automatic nose hair cutter; the original Sat-Nav wristwatch, which incorporated a roll of paper with directions printed on it; a mechanical envelope sealer, which dampened and then pressed home the flap; a pianist's finger stretcher, designed to increase a musicians' 'spread'; a beer can hole maker; spectacles with built in battery powered lights above the lenses; the Dynamo Shaver; an eye massager, which puffed cool air to massage the eyeballs; and a whisky bottle lock. Business & IP Centre, The British Library until 10th November.

Impressionism & Scotland explores the Scottish taste for Impressionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and assesses the impact of modern European art on Scottish art and artists. The exhibition comprises over 100 paintings, pastels and watercolours, with highlights including Renoir's 'The Bay of Naples', the first Impressionist painting to be bought by a Scot; Degas's 'L'Absinthe', which was 'hissed' when it came up for auction in the early 1890s, due to its 'depraved' subject matter; and John Lavery's 'The Tennis Party', a rare example of Scottish modern life painting. It also includes Monet's 'Poplars', Van Gough's 'Orchard', Gauguin's 'Martinique', Matisse's 'The Pink Tablecloth', Cezanne's 'Mont St Victoire', and works by Degas, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists. The exhibition points up parallels between the work of Dutch, French and Scottish artists, whose paintings are hung side by side: Corot and Walton; Bastien-Lepage and Guthrie; Degas and Crawhall; Manet and Fergusson; Matisse and Hunter. It demonstrates that, having absorbed these powerful influences, Scottish artists developed their own instinctive brand of Impressionism, quite unlike the more analytical approach of the French Impressionists. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 12th October.

The Science Of Survival: Your Planet Needs You! offers a glimpse of the world in 2050, and explores how mankind can survive on a changing planet. This hands on, thought provoking, interactive exhibition, examines how the way we live will change over the next few decades, in response to climate change and diminishing global resources, looking at options for a sustainable future. As visitors journey through the exhibition they are led by four characters who invite their help in solving problems in a city in the year 2050. In five interactive areas - Drinking, Eating, Enjoying, Moving and Building - it looks at why the future will be different, and what we can do about it today. Visitors examine current global issues and explore some possible technological responses, such as catching fog vapour to make fresh water, using nanotechnology to produce food, and building trains that run on biofuel. All the decisions made along the way are included in the Future City at the end of the exhibition, reflecting different choices based on different priorities, and the major effects these will have on the world of tomorrow. Visitors then see how well they survived, and discover the choices made by other people, revealing that while the way mankind lives will inevitably change, positive choices made today could radically affect what the future will be. Science Museum until 2nd November.


Love explores how artists from the 16th century to the present day have represented the complexity and intensity of the most powerful of emotions. Encompassing divine and mortal love, chaste and unchaste love, family love and charity, the exhibition demonstrates how 30 artists, including Raphael, Cranach, Vermeer, Murillo, Goya, Guercino, Turner, Holman Hunt, Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer and Garyson Perry, have described or responded to love in a variety of styles. Highlights include the juxtaposition of Tracey Emin's 'Those Who Suffer Love (I'm OK Now)' connecting the agony of the creative process and the intricacies of human relations, looking at tensions similar to those that surrounded Dante Gabriel Rossetti's iconic 'Astarte Syriaca', painted over 100 years earlier; the embrace of Mark Quinn's 'Kiss' questioning concepts of beauty and preconceptions about entitlement to affection; Joseph Wright of Derby's newlyweded couple the Coltmans, paintings by the Singh Twins contrasting the dissatisfaction of celebrity worship with the joy of love reciprocated; neighbourly love overcoming racial and religious prejudice in 'The Good Samaritan' by Jacopo Bassano, as a traveller tends to the wounds of a total stranger; and Lawrence Alma-Tadema's painting of two women whose friendship will be ruined by their love for the same man. National Gallery until 5th October.

Case Studies unravels some of the mysteries surrounding the very beginnings of railways, thanks to the discovery of a hitherto unknown a pen and wash illustration showing the locomotive 'Catch Me Who Can', from Trevithick's first London railway of 1808. Destined to become an icon of transport history, a copy of picture by John Claude Nattes reveals that three 'Rowlandson' prints of the railway are actually forgeries, dating to only just before the First World War. Objects on display accompanying the picture include the two known Trevithick model self moving engines, together for the first time since the 1930s, and the mysterious 'Sans Pareil' model, once thought to date from the Rainhill trials of 1829, but now revealed to be much earlier, and made by Timothy Hackworth around 1811, when he was experimenting towards building the famous 'Puffing Billy' locomotive. The exhibition is part of Search Engine, a new £4m state of the art Archive and Research Centre, which allows access to previously hidden treasures, including some of the most valuable and important objects from the dawn of powered transport. The archive includes over 1.5m photographs from the early days of photography in the 1850s onwards; over 1m engineering drawings of railway vehicles; sound and oral history archives; the UK's most comprehensive railway library; personal and business archives from key figures and organisations in the British railway industry; and the UK's most comprehensive collection of British railway posters, graphic art and advertising materials. National Railway Museum, York, until November.

Huang Yong Ping: Frolic is an installation by one of the most distinguished contemporary artists to emerge from China in the past two decades. It explores the complex imperial history between Britain and China in the 19th century, the forerunner of today's globalisation, and in particular the Opium Wars. The installation comprises sculptures of enlarged paraphernalia associated with opium dens, which were widespread in the 19th century, and takes its title from the name of a ship built in 1844 specifically for the opium trade. It evokes the intemperance of the opium den whilst exposing the cruder, factory production of the drug, with piles of opium balls, scales and storage boxes. The central space is occupied with a statue of Lord Palmerston, who served twice as British Prime Minister and is widely considered as the initiator of the Opium Wars in China in 1839 and 1856. The statue, toppled on an opium bed, depicts Palmerston smoking an exaggeratedly large opium pipe. Importing opium from British India to China was a lucrative trade for Britain, and when the Chinese government attempted to control the supply as overuse of the drug was becoming rife, Britain refused to comply. The conflict between the two governments twice erupted into wars, and following its defeats the Chinese government was forced to tolerate the opium trade, and sign Unequal Treaties, opening several ports to foreign trade and yielding Hong Kong to Britain. The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, until 21st September.

The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, the 19 rooms that are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year, the special display features the spectacle of the Palace's Ballroom set up for a State Banquet, held in honour of a visiting Head of State. These are the occasions when the Queen and other members of the Royal Family entertain around 160 guests on the first evening of a State Visit. The horseshoe shaped table is dressed with a dazzling display of silver-gilt from the magnificent Grand Service, and adorned with flower arrangements and candelabra. Lavish buffet arrangements of jeweled cups, ivory tankards, tureens, dishes and fine English and Continental porcelain flank the table. Film footage shows the behind the scenes work of Royal Household staff, including chefs, footmen, pages, florists and housemaids, who ensure the highest standards of presentation and delivery. Visitors can also enjoy a walk in the 39 acre garden with its 19th century lake, which provides a haven for wild life in the centre of London, including 30 different species of birds, and more than 350 different wild flowers, and offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace. Buckingham Palace until 28th September.

Arms And Armour From The Movies: The Wonderful World Of WETA is a unique display celebrating the skill and craftsmanship of the multi-award winning WETA Workshop. The studio in Wellington, New Zealand created the arms and armour for the epic films The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Hellboy, The Last Samurai and King Kong. Among over 230 iconic pieces on display are the weapons of Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and the King of the Dead's helmet from The Lord Of The Rings; Peter's armour, Susan's bow, quiver and arrows, and the White Witch's dagger and wand from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; a selection from the 1,700 weapons made for The Last Samurai; the plane mounted Lewis machine gun that dispatched King Kong; and Hellboy's revolver 'The Samaritan'. The pieces have been specially selected to show the level of craftsmanship that has gone into their creation, and the inspirations which led to their design. Many of the weapons and armour are based on authentic medieval European and Eastern designs, and were made using the original techniques. The exhibition provides an opportunity examine these pieces close up, which previously have only been seen fleetingly in action scenes, and showcases both the practical considerations and the attention to detail that went into their making. Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, until 16th November.

Wyndham Lewis Portraits is the first exhibition to focus on the portraits of Percy Wyndham Lewis, one of the most important modernist writer, commentator and portraitist of the first half of the 20th century, and founder of the Vorticist movement. It is a unique visual record of some of the leading cultural figures of the period, many of whom were Wyndham Lewis's personal friends. The exhibition comprises 58 portraits, ranging from delicate drawings to large oil paintings. Among the highlights are his now iconic renderings of his fellow 'Men of 1914', credited with revolutionising 20th century literature, the writers Ezra Pound, T S Eliot and James Joyce. Broadly chronological, it begins by showing how Wyndham Lewis portrayed himself in a series of multiple identities, and then includes from the 1920s and 1930s such figures as Edith Sitwell, Stephen Spender, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West and G K Chesterton, as well as his wife Froanna, portrayed in five of his most beautiful paintings and drawings. The exhibition goes on to chart the high point of Wyndham Lewis's career as a portraitist, culminating in his 1938 painting of T S Eliot, and features his rarely seen late portraits. As well as the pictures, there are displays of key texts, including the hugely influential Vorticist journal Blast, which he edited from 1914 to 1915, and The Apes of God, a novel satirising the art world of London in the 1920s, in which several of the characters are based on sitters in this exhibition. National Portrait Gallery until 19th October.


Street & Studio: An Urban History Of Photography presents a history of photographic portraiture taken in cities around the world, in two contrasting locations: the street and the studio. It comprises over 350 works by 19th and 20th century photographers, including such diverse figures as Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman, Malick Sidibe, Paul Strand, Wolfgang Tillmans and Weegee. Street photography was founded with the development of small and easily concealed cameras, offering the opportunity to catch subjects in informal, impromptu and even intimate moments. Highlights of this practice include Jacques-Henri Lartigue's snap shots of the French bourgeoisie in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Arnold Genthe's documentary photography of Chinatown in San Francisco. Studio portrait photography was developed to create more formal portraits, offering the photographer opportunities for complex technical manoeuvres, and allowing the sitter to compose and present themselves to the world with associated props and backdrops, as seen in Samuel Fosso's self portraits and Baron de Meyer's fashion photography of famous artists. The exhibition explores the ways in which the two strands intertwine. The highly composed scenes by Robert Doisneau and the fashion photography in the 1950s by Norman Parkinson and William Klein demonstrate how the street became a site of staging, while Andres Serrano's portraits of the homeless and Helmar Lerski's series 'Head of Everyday' show how studio photography began to record people from the street. Tate Modern until 31st August.

Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design And Modern Life In Vienna 1900 recreates the sophisticated world of Klimt and his patrons, as the juncture between art, architecture and design, at the epicentre of a cultural awakening in the city. The exhibition explores the relationship between Klimt as a leader and founder of the Viennese Secession, a progressive group of artists and artisans driven by a desire for innovation and renewal, embracing not only art but architecture, fashion and the decorative objects, and the furniture products and philosophy of the Wiener Werkstatte, demanding the emancipation of fine and applied art in stunning environments. At the time, Klimt's images of almost morbidly swooning sexuality led him to be accused of decadent indulgence in pornography. The exhibition features not only major paintings, drawings and graphics by Klimt, but also a wealth of furniture, silver objects, jewellery, fashion, graphic design and documentary material. The centrepiece is a full scale reconstruction of 'The Beethoven Frieze', Klimt's spectacular monumental installation celebrating the unification of all arts - painting, sculpture, architecture and music - created using the same techniques as applied by Klimt. Over 60 major paintings and drawings from all stages of Klimt's career are shown in settings that recreate the work of Josef Hoffmann, architect and designer, who created extravagant interiors for many of Klimt's most important patrons and collectors to display their commissions. Tate Liverpool until 31st August.

The Lure Of The East: British Orientalist Painting explores the range of British artists' responses to the peoples, cities, cultures and landscapes of the Near and Middle East, from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. The exhibition brings together over 120 paintings, prints and drawings, of bazaars, public baths, domestic interiors, harem scenes and religious sites. It reveals the wealth of Orientalist painting that followed the arrival of steam travel in the 19th century, when artists were drawn to visit and paint hitherto unreachable places, such as Cairo, Jerusalem and Istanbul, often travelling via Spain and Morocco, or through Greece and the Balkans. The exhibition examines how British painters sought to convince their audiences of the authenticity of their images, often by using intensely detailed compositions, and how deriving drama and romance from the Orient was central to their work. It also looks at the long tradition of British sitters being portrayed in different varieties of Oriental dress. Highlights include Gavin Hamilton's 'James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra', William Allan's 'Slave Market, Constantinople', John Frederick Lewis's 'The Seraff - A Doubtful Coin', David Roberts's panoramic view of the ancient city of Baalbec in Lebanon, Richard Dadd's 'Flight out of Egypt', John Frederick Lewis's 'Hhareem Life, Constantinople', and portraits of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips, and Lawrence of Arabia by Augustus John. Tate Britain until 31st August.