News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th May 2009


The Robot Zoo is a menagerie of moving creatures that gives an insight into animal anatomy, based on the book Robot Zoo: A Mechanical Guide To The Way Animals Work, by John Kelly, Philip Whitfield and Obin. It consists of larger than life sized robot animals: chameleon, giant squid, rhinoceros, giraffe, grasshopper, platypus, house fly and bat, plus 11 interactives, which allow visitors to explore animal adaptations in more depth. Realistic sounds and atmospheric lighting contribute to the sense of immersion in each species habitat. The robot animals are constructed with cutaway sections showing the everyday machine parts that have been used to demonstrate their internal organs: pistons represent muscles, brains are computers, and filtering pipes serve as intestines. The robots move realistically thanks to hydraulics. The chameleon rocks as it turns its head, looks around, and fires its tongue at its prey. The platypus swims in breaststroke style while its tail moves up and down. A fish struggles in the grip of the giant squid's 8m tentacles, while the squid's beak-like mouth opens to reveal a spinning food grinder. Video technology is used to demonstrate the chameleon's ability to camouflage itself. Visitors can test their own reflexes against those of a house fly (revealing why flys are so hard to swat). Detailed illustrations give a deeper insight into animal physiology, such as muscular structure and its impact on movement, and reveal how incredibly specialised and adapted to their environment these animals have become. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 8th November.

The Elizabethan Garden, lost to the world for 400 years, has been recreated as part of a £3m restoration programme. The garden was originally created for Queen Elizabeth I by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, at a time when he still hoped to marry her. Now, using advances in garden archaeology, along with the survival from 1575, of an extraordinary eyewitness description by Robert Langham, an official in Leicester's household, visitors are once again able to experience the sights, sounds and scents that would have greeted Queen Elizabeth I, when she first walked its paths. The garden is approached from a terrace, with obelisks, spheres and Leicester's symbol of the bear and ragged staff set at intervals on pedestals, from where the division of the garden into four quarters with intricate geometrical patterns, is best seen. In the centre of each quarter stands a pierced obelisk 17ft high, an ancient symbol of rulership. Magnificent carved arbours, reconstructed from an engraving by the 16th century French architect and designer Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau; a bejewelled two storey aviary, with pheasants, guinea fowl and canaries; planting abundant in colour, perfume and fruits, based on a contemporary drawing by the architect and garden designer Hans Vredeman de Vries; and an 18ft high classical fountain carved from Carrara marble, are some of the glories that make it the most complete picture of an Elizabethan garden anywhere in the world. Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, continuing.

Fast Forward: 20 Ways F1 Is Changing Our World reveals how manufacturers and researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplines are transferring Formula 1 technology to other fields of innovation. Suspended from the ceiling is a McLaren MP4-21 racing car built for the 2006 season, made up of over 11,000 components that took 16 months to put together, which Lewis Hamilton used as a test driver. Beneath this, the new and cutting edge items on display include: K2 All Terrain Wheelchair, which incorporates the incredibly strong carbon fibre shell known as the 'monocoque' at the heart of every modern racing car; Ovei Wellbeing Capsule, an immersive diagnostics tool, designed to capture healthcare data and send it to doctors, therapists, psychologists around the world; Baby Pod II, a self-contained structure for transporting sick babies to hospital, similar in design to the driver's cockpit, made from materials light enough to allow the carrier to be placed in a wide variety of vehicles from cars to helicopters; Surface Table, a dining table made from carbon composite so strong that stretches to 4m in length yet measures just 2mm thick; Guardian Wellington Boot, which reduces workplace accidents by using special rubber material and tread pattern developed from tyre technology, in anti-slip protection footwear for people working on wet and greasy surfaces; and Gen3 Leg Brace, a lightweight leg support that helps reduce damage and injuries to the knee, by employing hydraulic dampers, developed to absorb energy from bumps and keep cars on the road. Science Museum, until 5th April.


The Buddhist Sculpture Gallery, which has just opened, is the first gallery for Buddhist sculpture in Britain, with examples ranging in size from monumental Chinese temple sculptures, to tiny portable gilded Buddahs. Around 50 sculptures, created between AD 200 and 1850, explore how the Buddah has been represented in Asian art. They reveal a diversity of artistic expression, reflecting the differing Buddhist practices in India, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas, Burma, Java, Thailand, China and Japan. Highlights include: a 4th century image of the meditating Buddah from India, which is on public display for the first time; a gilded copper figure of Bodhisattvar Padmapani from Nepal, richly decorated with jewels; an 18th century monumental gilt bronze seated Buddah from Tibet; recently restored 19th century oil paintings recording the 5th century murals in the rock cut Buddhist monasteries of Ajanta in central India; a 7th century Chinese marble torso of the Buddah; life size replicas of the sculptural reliefs from the 8th century Javanese temple of Borobudur; the head of a monumental Buddah once carved into the rock face of a 6th century cave complex in northern China; a white Tara, one of the few females in the gallery, set in gilded copper, decorated with semi precious stones; and a rare surviving 3m high piece of the Mandalay Shrine from the now destroyed royal palace in Burma, complete with offering vessels, attendant figures and manuscript case. The gallery includes a display explaining the meanings of the hand gestures and poses used in Buddhist sculpture. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, known as 'the nirvana of universal oddities', an ethnographical collection featuring some 300,000 objects from many cultures around the world, has celebrated its 125th birthday with a £1.5m refurbishment, masterminded by Pringle Richards Sharratt. The reinstatement of the museum's original entrance has restored the dramatic 'entrance panorama' of the building, with the maze of traditional glass cases on the ground floor - augmented by 8 new ones, holding even more artefacts than before - an East African sailing boat hanging from the rafters, and a Canadian totem pole in the distance at the far end. Other favourites include a Witch in a bottle (a small glass flask, silvered on the inside, corked and secured with wax, reputed to contain a witch; shrunken heads from tribes in the Upper Amazon; and the world's smallest doll (1.3cm tall, with jointed arms and legs, living in an egg)

Across The Caucasus is a display of John F Ballerley's photographs and manuscripts from 19th century Russia, accumulated when he was the St Petersburg correspondent of the (Evening) Standard.

Carolyn Drake: Photographs Of Central Asia comprises contemporary images of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by the Istanbul based photographer.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Across The Caucasus until 6th September, Carolyn Drake: Photographs Of Central Asia until 15th November.

Butterfly Jungle explores the life cycle of some of the world's most beautiful creatures in an explorer's trail and tropical butterfly house. The explorer's trail takes visitors on a journey from egg to caterpillar, and chrysalis to butterfly, shrinking them to the size of a caterpillar, so that they can experience what it is like to have to navigate past the perils of predatory spiders and sticky plant traps. Those that survive emerge from a chrysalis, and take flight on a zip slide aerial runway. In the butterfly house there is a hatchery, where butterflies constantly emerge from their pupa, and join the hundreds of butterflies and moths from North and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia fluttering freely among the exotic plants. Around 40 species with wildly different colourings and markings are on view, including the Glasswing butterfly, which has transparent wings, and the Madagascan moon moth, which has the longest tail of any moth. Accompanying jungle creatures (safely behind glass) include a Jaguar carpet python, frogs, a red knee tarantula, giant centipedes, emperor scorpions, and a green iguana. Meanwhile, inside the museum itself, there over 8 million preserved butterflies and moths, including representatives from about 90,000 species, with specimens dating back as far as 1680. Natural History Museum until 1st September.

Henry VIII: Man And Monarch is an exhibition of Henry VIII's personal documents and books, held as part of celebration of the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Among the highlights are Henry's Coronation oath, with several significant revisions made in his own handwriting; a copy of The Great Bible with a coloured title page, believed to be the king's personal copy; a music manuscript, that includes 20 songs and 13 instrumental pieces ascribed to Henry; an illuminated Psalter used by Henry in his private devotions, containing his handwritten notes; the marriage contract with Katherine of Aragon; a list of people executed during Henry's reign, including wives, favourites and ministers; the rules of a jousting tournament held to celebrate the birth of his son Prince Henry, devised and signed by the king; The Anthony Roll, an illuminated manuscript providing a visual record of all the ships in Henry's navy, interspersed with a list of their seamen and armaments; a love letter from Henry to Anne Boleyn, stolen from Anne to serve as evidence by the Vatican against his divorce; various books that Henry himself chose, read and annotated; and an Inventory of the Henry's assets at the time of his death, including furniture, numerous pictures, great quantities of jewellery, over 2,000 pieces of tapestry (the largest collection on record) and 2,028 pieces of plate, 70 ships, 400 guns and 6,500 handguns in the Tower of London and 2,250 guns in other coastal and border fortresses. The British Library, until 6th September.

Sally Matthews - Denis O'Connor - Light are a series of concurrent outdoor sculpture exhibitions. Sally Matthew's exhibition features a range of animals, including sheep, cows, stags, zebra, wolves and hounds, waiting to be discovered in the undergrowth and hidden spaces, together with a horse welded from old chains on show for the first time. Matthews's sculptures deal with not just what each animal looks like, but its nature, how it moves, how it lives and what it is. Each is anatomically honed, but rendered to heighten the viewer's awareness of particular character traits. Denis O'Connor has made gravity-defying stainless steel constructions, which evoke vertiginous perspectives from which the landscape might appear as simultaneously alarming and thrilling. Precarious composites of tiny houses, looming towers and ladders leading nowhere, they come across as props for some outdoor tragic-comic dreamscape. The highly reflective surfaces of the stainless steel elements heighten their soaring vertiginous qualities. They join O'Connor's permanent installation 'Tower 4', a dry stone conical tower that soars upwards towards several ancient oak trees. There is also a group show, exploring the theme of light, which includes two pieces by Michael Shaw: a floating and breathing sculpture, and a luminous piece that will change colour through the season. Burghley House Gardens & Deer Park, Stamford, until 29th October.

Gallery Of Medieval Europe is a new gallery that places the collection of British, European and Byzantine treasures in their fullest historical context, integrating art with archaeology, covering the period from 1050-1500 AD. Among the highlights are the Royal Gold Cup, made of solid gold and lavishly decorated with translucent enamels; an intricately carved citole, a unique medieval English musical instrument; the Lewis Chessmen, elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales' teeth, in the forms of human figures and obelisks; a shield of parade, decorated with a painting of a lady in courtly dress and a knight kneeling before her; the Dunstable Swan Jewel, a livery badge made of opaque fused white enamel over gold; an icon portraying of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, from Constantinople, believed to have been painted by St Luke, with a life portrait of the Virgin Mary; 1,273 gold coins from the Fishpool hoard; a 2m long double handed Sword of State, with a hilt of gilt brass with enamel and incised decoration; a reliquary of St Eustace, in the form of a head, made of acer wood, covered in silver-gilt plates and decorated with jewels; the tiled pavement from Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire; and intricately carved monastic sculpture from Lewes Priory in East Sussex.British Museum, continuing.


Fatal Attraction: Diana And Actaeon - The Forbidden Gaze focuses on works relating to the mythical tale of Diana and Actaeon, which has provided a rich source of inspiration for artists through the centuries. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the noble hunter Actaeon inadvertently encounters the goddess Diana bathing. As a punishment for catching this glimpse, he is transformed into a stag by Diana, and is consequently hunted down and killed by his own hounds. This exhibition explores how the myth has been portrayed in many ways by the visions of different artists, in forms from painting and photography to ceramics and sculpture, from antiquity to the present day. It features works by artists including Titian, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Gustav Klimt, Degas, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Rubens, Hans Bellmer, Paolo Vernonese, Albrecht Durer, Charles Joseph Natoire, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlene Dumas, Delacroix, Karen Knoor, Gregory Crewdson, William Etty, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Thomas Ruff, Pierre Klossowski and John Currin. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 31st May.

70 Years Of Penguin Books, celebrates the history of iconic Penguin book cover design, showing how Penguin responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing well designed, inexpensive paperback editions of distinguished books, priced at just sixpence per title. Its distinctive approach to cover design and typography was equally advanced, and has become an integral part of publishing and graphic design history. Since 1935 each Penguin book cover has captured the culture of its time. The story began with the simple bands of colour (orange for fiction, blue for biography, and green for crime) and the classic Gill Sans typeface - a formula that was rigorously applied for some time. A major revolution came in the 1960s with creative rule breaking, such as The Medium Is The Massage, where a printer's error was incorporated into the title, the striking monochrome cover of Ulysses, and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. It continues today, with contemporary covers by artists such as Peter Saville and Sara Fanelli. The display features original artwork, hand-drawn roughs, corrected proofs and intriguing in house notes that bring the finished designs to life. Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead until 31st May.

Whistler: The Gentle Art Of Making Etchings showcases a research project, currently underway at the University of Glasgow's Department of Art History, in collaboration with the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Art Institute of Chicago. James McNeill Whistler's wide ranging output included some of the most beautiful and influential etchings of the late 19th century. The project explores Whistler's innovative creative processes, from unmarked copper plate to finished print, providing an illuminating picture of the working artist and his distinctive technique. The choice of subject, composition and materials, in addition to the exhibition, publication and marketing of the etchings, is also examined. Whistler's full output is represented, from the earliest etchings to the impressive late Amsterdam views, together with working tools, copper plates, and rare archival material. The history, context and subjects of Whistler's etchings repay close examination. His titles provide clues as to the subject, but these were often clearer to a Victorian connoisseur than to 21st century viewers. The project's research team has carefully studied each etching, identifying models and sites, history and fashion, and the symbols and stories that underlie the compositions. Whistler did not always date his copper plates, but the form of his butterfly signature helps to date the printing of particular impressions. Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, until 30th May.