News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th January 2010


Inventions: Discover The Muslim Heritage In Our World traces the story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world, from the 7th century onwards. The exhibition looks at the social, scientific and technical achievements that are credited to the Muslim world, whilst celebrating the shared scientific heritage of other cultures. Featuring a diverse range of exhibits, interactive displays and dramatisation, it shows how many modern inventions, spanning fields such as engineering, medicine and design, can trace their roots back to Muslim civilisation. The star exhibit is a 6m high replica of the 'Elephant Clock', a visually striking early 13th century timepiece, whose design fuses together elements from many cultures, alongside which is a short film with Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari, inventor of this fabled clock. Other highlights include: a model of an energy efficient and environmentally-friendly Baghdad house; a 3m reproduction Al-Idrisi's 12th century world map; a model of Zheng He's Chinese junk ship, a 15th century wooden super structure over 100m long; a reproduction of a 9th century flying device; medical instruments from a thousand year ago, many of which are still used today; and a model of a 9th century dark room, later called Camera Obscura, with which Ibn al-Haytham revolutionised our understanding of optics. In addition, there are parallel stories of invention from other cultures and civilisations, illustrated through a display of rare objects, many of which have never been on public display before. These include devices used for weighing and measuring, surgical instruments, astronomical devices, intricately crafted ceramic pots and textiles. Science Museum until 25th April.

Objects Of Contemplation - Natural Sculptures From The Qing Dynasty is a unique display of remarkable rocks collected in 17th century China. In recent years these objects have come to be known as 'scholars' rocks', making a claim for them as artefacts appreciated by men of learning - objects which sat on their desk and inspired their work. The exhibition begs questions such as: When does a rock become a sculpture? How important is the role of the person who notices the rock in the first place? What part is played by the person who cleans it, polishes it and places it on a pedestal? It is very difficult to precisely determine the age of these objects because it is impossible to be certain of their origins. The rocks are millions of years old, and only their plinths, often minutely carved to support the rock at its most attractive, can be dated with any kind of confidence. Like any sculpture, some of these rocks were appreciated for their abstract qualities, while others were treasured because they looked like certain animals, birds or natural formations. Some rocks were left as found, while others were surreptitiously altered to enhance their natural features. This exhibition initiates a series of 'cabinet' shows featuring historic stones and bones, looking at the ways in which they can be transformed into sculpture simply by means of changing perceptions, or through subtle changes of use or re-appropriation. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 7th March.

Tris Vonna-Michell: 'No more racing in circles - just pacing within lines of a rectangle' is a mixed media installation that combines photography, film, sound, performance and concrete poetry. The exhibition is the result of a 3 month residency period in Southend-on-Sea by performance artist Tris Vonna-Michell, who was born and brought up in the area. It scrambles his childhood memories of local landmark sites with contemporary images. During a recent journey in the Vonna-Michell family's old black 1983 Mercedes 230E, he took photographic images and sound recordings of various localities. The semi-derelict modern classic car (which had previously been lying dormant in a garden for 5 years) re-emerges as the vehicle for the artist's research trip around his early days, recalling childhood haunts and family journeys. Vonna-Michell's project seeks to 'question the nature of periphery, margin and centre, and map important events in world history onto ideas of the personal within a local framework'. It is a rumination on the recent history of a town that is currently undergoing a radical transformation through dramatic regeneration plans. Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, until 20th March.


On The Move: Visualising Action explores the representation and analysis of movement in the visual arts and sciences, drawing on a wide range of material in many different media, to provide an in-depth examination. A central element of the show is the pioneering photographic work of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey, with an extensive selection of Muybridge's work, including lantern slides, rare zoopraxiscope disks, and photographic plates. Muybridge made ground-breaking studies of animal and human locomotion investigating the theory of 'unsupported transit' (that is, whether or not all four of a horse's hooves are off the ground at any one moment during the gallop). Where Muybridge represented the successive stages of motion in individual frames, Marey captured them on a single photographic plate, creating overlapping, 'chronophotographic' images that revealed the movement of figures through space and time in wave-like trails. Following Marey's photographic study of the flight of birds, which had until then defeated technical ingenuity, plaster models were created, which were subsequently cast in bronze, one of which is included in the exhibition. Among the other photographers and artists whose work is included are Thomas Eakins, Gjon Mili, Harold Edgerton and Jonathan Shaw, who have in different but complementary ways explored the manner in which the camera is able to capture events too rapid to be perceived by the human eye. Optical toys such as the phenakistoscope, praxinoscope and zoetrope are also on display, both as vintage examples, and working, modern day replicas for visitors to use. Estorick Collection, 39A Canonbury Square, London N1, until 18th April.

The Rise of Women Artists charts the progress made by female artists from the 16th century to the present day, in both fine and decorative arts. The exhibition shows that women have been creative in a wide variety of media over that time, from 16th century European paintings, to the industrial pottery of the early 20th century, and contemporary abstracts and sculpture. The show is displayed chronologically in nine sections, featuring paintings, works on paper, textiles, ceramics and sculpture. The exhibition traces the historical changes affecting women, looking at their status and careers as they moved to assert themselves as artists in their own right. Celebrating some of the key pioneers of women's art, the exhibition features early works from 16th and 17th century Italian painters Lavinia Fontana and Elisabetta Sirani; renowned 18th century French painter Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, and Angelica Kauffmann, a founding member of the Royal Academy; from the 19th century, Louisa Starr's 'Sintram', Henrietta Ward's 'George III and his family at Windsor' and 'Elaine' by Sophie Anderson, together with works by Pre-Raphaelite Emma Sandys, and Marianne Stokes; and early 20th century Art Nouveau paintings of Frances Macdonald McNair, alongside pottery by Clarice Cliffe and Susie Cooper. Contemporary artists and designers such as Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Alison Britton and Paula Rego complete the exhibition. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 14th March.

Warriors Of The Plains: 200 Years Of Native North American Honour And Ritual explores the world of Native North American warfare and ritual. The exhibition focuses on the material culture of Native North American Indians of the Plains between 1800 and the present, and the importance of the objects in a social and ceremonial context. Men of these tribes were expected to join a 'warrior society', a social, political and ritual group that engaged in warfare and organised ceremonial life.

The societies played a prominent role in battles, offering members the opportunity to gain honours through individual acts of bravery such stealing horses, capturing women, and taking scalps during war raids, but also had a rich ritual life that was marked by a strong sense of spirituality. In their ceremonies society members made use of objects such as pipes, rattles and headdresses, as these were significant to their shared ideas of ritual and honour. The exhibition includes examples of feather headdresses, shields, moccasins, painted hides, scalps, pipes, tomahawks, traditional and contemporary costumes, and ceremonial face painting. Although many of these items seem initially familiar from popular culture, the exhibition uncovers the deeper ritual significance of these iconic objects. The legacy of the warrior societies is also examined, revealing how crucial they are in the maintenance of tribal identity among Plains Indians today. British Museum until 5th April.

Less And More - The Design Ethos Of Dieter Rams is a retrospective of the work of the man who designed or oversaw the design of over 500 products for the German electronics manufacturer Braun, as well as furniture for Vitsoe. Audio equipment, calculators, shavers and shelving systems are just some of the products created by Dieter Rams between 1955 and 1995. Each item holds a special place in the history of industrial and furniture design, and they established Rams as one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. His elegant products challenged original concepts of design thought by reducing electrical switches to a minimum and arranging them in an orderly manner. Transparent plastics and wooden veneers were mixed, and colour schemes were limited to tones of pure whites and greys, the only splash of colour being allocated to switches and dials. Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Art in Germany, Dieter Rams pioneered a design spirit which embraced modernity and placed functionality above everything else, resulting in designs that were free of decoration, simple in function and embodied a cohesive sense of order. Rams defined an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual design language, identified through his 'Ten Principles' of good design, which, amongst others stated that good design should be innovative, aesthetic, durable and useful. Showcasing landmark designs for both Braun and Vitsoe, this exhibition examines how Rams's design ethos inspired and challenged perceptions of domestic design, and assesses his lasting influence on today's design landscape. Archive film footage, models, sketches, prototypes and images taken by international photographer Todd Eberle are displayed alongside specially commissioned interviews with Dieter Rams's contemporaries, including Jonathan Ive, Jasper Morrison, Sam Hecht and Naoto Fukasawa. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 7th March

An Edwardian Family Album is an exhibition of recently discovered photographs giving a glimpse into the life and leisure time of a Wirral family during the Edwardian era. A collection of more than 500 glass plate negatives, covering the period from around 1900 to the early 1920s, were found in an attic, still in their original boxes and paper sleeves, many labelled with dates, locations and subjects. These plates have been scanned and enlarged to create the 40 prints in this exhibition. The pictures were taken by Jack Urton, a keen amateur photographer, who lived in Birkenhead and later in Bebington. Typical family photographs, they show his family at home and in the garden, with relatives and friends, and on days out in Wirral and further afield, in the carefree days that marked the period immediately before the First World War. Early 20th century photographs, particularly the kind of snapshots taken by Urton, portray an idealised image of the comforts of family life. They record personal and economic achievements, providing evidence of the family's status through such things as their holidays, clothing, large garden and even transport. Improvements in technology meant that families no longer relied on commercial or professional photographers and their formal studio portraits. Instead, as demonstrated by Urton's pictures of his own family, photography entered the domestic setting, showing people more relaxed and spontaneous. This personal, intimate view of an Edwardian family evokes a bygone age, but nevertheless, resonates today with an immediacy and familiarity. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, until 3rd May.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations showcases the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small, screen-based, graphics to large-scale interactive installations. The exhibition features both existing works and new commissions created especially for this event, by established international artists and designers, such as Daniel Brown, Golan Levin, Daniel Rozin, Troika and Karsten Schmidt. It explores three themes: Code presents pieces that use computer code to create new works, and looks at how code can be programmed to create constantly fluid and ever-changing works; Interactivity looks at works that are directly influenced by the viewer, where visitors can interact with and contribute to the development of the exhibits; and Network focuses on works that comment on and utilise the digital traces left behind by everyday communications, and looks at how advanced technologies and the internet have enabled new types of social interaction and mediums of self-expression. Among the works are: a film by John Maeda, the medium's original whiz-kid, that explores inorganic metamorphoses through computer animation; flowers grown from computer code, set to blossom as digital wallpaper; a mechanical eye that mimics the optic movements of those who stare at it; an infrared powered hairdryer that blows the seeds off a giant dandelion; and a 'responsive sculpture' that creates a mirror image of viewers on 768 motorised planes. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th April.


Order: Myth, Meaning And Beauty In Architecture examines what the Classical Orders of architecture are, where they originated, why classical architects built according to them, and why they are still referred to by architects today. The exhibition further explores how a building can have a 'secret' language of meaning in the way it is decorated - and even a gender. Drawing on some of the 30,000 drawings held in the resident collection, the show reveals how the human body and the natural world were the inspiration for architectural forms, and how the Classical Orders allowed architects to communicate a variety of political and religious messages in their buildings. Highlights include some of Sir John Soane's large scale lecture drawings, which are on public display for the first time in nearly 200 years. Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 30th January.

Fantasies, Follies And Disasters: The Prints Of Francisco De Goya provides an opportunity to see a selection of the artist's rarely displayed etchings. The 30 prints are selected from Goya's three best known and most significant groups of etchings: 'Los Caprichos (The Fantasies)',' Los Desastres della Guerra (The Disasters of War)', and 'Los Disparates (The Follies)'. Goya's etchings, produced largely in private, feature a mixture of satirical caricatures attacking the ignorance and hypocrisy of late 18th century Spanish society and the Church, and dark, nightmarish landscapes exposing the atrocities and misery suffered in war. Only fully known after his death, many of the works were withheld from publication during his lifetime because of their controversial and disturbing qualities. Now, Goya is as well known for these works, as he is for his portraits of Europe's 18th century nobility. The exhibition includes some of Goya's most memorable images, such as the iconic 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters', with a sleeping artist visited by the terrifying creatures of his imagination. Elsewhere, the war subjects withhold nothing in their horrified depiction of violence, torture and famine: a woman holds a child in one arm while she spears a soldier with the other; and a scene shows bodies strung up from a tree. Goya's later, final etchings are perhaps the most memorable of all, transforming some of his earlier themes into a timeless, dreamlike world, which anticipates much of 20th century art. Manchester Art Gallery until 31st January.

Turner And The Masters presents a selection of paintings by JMW Turner alongside related works by the old masters and contemporaries he strove to imitate, rival and surpass. The exhibition brings together over 100 pictures of historical significance, and provides an unprecedented opportunity to view Turner's works alongside masterpieces by more than 30 other artists, including Canaletto, Claude, Titian, Aelbert Cuyp, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem van de Velde, Veronese, Watteau, Constable, and R P Bonington. In so doing, it reveals that Turner's responses to other artists were both acts of homage and a sophisticated form of art criticism, designed to demonstrate his understanding of the most celebrated masters, and his ability to make their art his own. The exhibition includes Rembrandt's 'Landscape with the Rest on the flight into Egypt' paired with Turner's 'Moonlight, a study at Millbank'; Claude's 'Moses saved from the Waters' with Turner's 'Crossing the Brook'; Ruisdael's 'A Rough Sea at a Jetty 'alongside Turner's 'Port Ruysdael'; Poussin's 'Winter - The Deluge' paired with Turner's 'The Deluge'; Willem van de Vel's 'A Rising Gale' alongside Turner's 'Dutch Boats in a Gale'; and Constable's 'Opening of Waterloo Bridge' with Turner's 'Helvoetsluys'. It was Turner's strategy, almost uniquely within the history of European art, to enter into direct competition with artists both past and present, whom he considered as worthy rivals to his own fame. Turner built his reputation as an oil painter by challenging the works of old masters, deliberately producing paintings that could hang in their company. Tate Britain until 31st January.