News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th July 2005


Diamonds is the world's biggest ever exhibition of diamonds, bringing together many of the world's most spectacular white and coloured stones, alongside the story of how nature creates them, and man 'refines' them. Among the many individual highlights are the De Beers Millennium Star, the world's largest diamond (the target of the attempted robbery at the Millennium Dome); the Steinmetz Pink, the largest pink diamond that took nearly two years to cut; the Ocean Dream, the largest blue-green diamond, and one of the rarest; the Moussaieff Red, one of the few true red diamonds in existence; Orange Flame, the unusual colour caused by small amounts of nitrogen within it; and the 616 crystal, the largest uncut diamond crystal in existence. Historical jewels include Shah Jahn's table cut diamond warn as a turban ornament, the George III Garter Star, Queen Victoria's Lesser George and the Star of South Africa, Frederick Augustus III's silver bow containing 662 gems, and the stone credited with starting the South African diamond rush of the 1870s. In addition there are examples of contemporary jewellery, using diamonds together with modern materials and in radical ways, by designers such as Michelle Ong, Georges Cuyvers and Scott Henshall. Multimedia exhibits and geological samples explain how diamonds are formed from carbon under extreme pressure and heat deep in the earth, and then thrust upwards by volcanic action, together with the methods employed to prospect for them, and cut, polish and finish them to create jewels. Natural History Museum until 26th February.

Lowry And The Sea is an exhibition that concentrates on a less well known and surprising element of L S Lowry's work, for those familiar simply with his industrial scenes. The display comprises around 50 paintings and drawings of coastal views, ranging from heavily populated beaches to 'empty' seascapes, by way of working docks and coastlines put to industrial use. Lowry's choice of seaside resort to paint in his younger days captures a time when Manchester residents headed for destinations like Rhyl and Lytham St Annes, before the advent of overseas package holidays. However, it is the seascapes of the North East coast, which he painted in his later years, with their dull grey sky and flat grey sea barely ruffled by waves, that are the most memorable. These have an almost 'Turneresque' quality, very different from the cheery matchstick men, red brick terraces and factory chimneys of his better known work. Their brooding melancholy and the lonely depth of these small and deceptively simple works make Lowry one of the greatest British seascape painters of the 20th century. The Lowry, Salford until 30th October.

70 Years Of Penguin Design marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books with a display of some 500 of its iconic book covers. Drawing on material from the Penguin archives that has never been exhibited before, the display shows how the company has responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing cheap paperback editions of distinguished books, for 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, beginning with the simple bands of colour and the classic Gill Sans typeface. The display is divided into three themes. 'A Living Book' displays the changing covers of The Great Gatsby, showing how this popular classic has taken on various guises from 1950 to the present day. 'Covers Living With British Culture' are represented by Wartime Specials and designs from the swinging sixties, such as The Medium Is The Massage, where a printer's error was incorporated into the title, and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. 'Cover Design Now', goes through the design process of covers today, from paper to computer screen and back to paper again, such as the innovative Great Ideas series, shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Award. The display is rich in original art work, and hand drawn roughs, corrected proofs and in house notes bring the finished designs to life. Victoria & Albert Museum until 13th November.


Nelson & Napoleon is the first exhibition to explore together the lives of the two national leaders and adversaries, Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte. It examines how the men earned their reputations, their personal lives and the political and military conditions that brought them to the fore. The exhibition shows the impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon on Britain, concentrating on Napoleon's rise to power and his early career, before looking in depth at the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most significant sea battles in history. It also shatters some of the myths about both the battle and the two leaders. Presented in both English and French, the exhibition illustrates the impact on world history of the actions, decisions and behaviour of these charismatic and controversial leaders. It includes recent discoveries, rare and unseen material, letters, iconic paintings, models, weapons, maps, medals and personal items, amounting to some 300 objects in all. Among the highlights are: the uniform in which Nelson was killed, Nelson's pigtail, cut off at his request to be sent to Emma Hamilton, Nelson's hand drawn battle plan and innovative tactics for the Battle of Trafalgar, the sword used to proclaim Napoleon Emperor, one of the few surviving letters from Emma Hamilton to Nelson, the surgery kit used to remove the bullet from Nelson's body on board HMS Victory, Napoleon's English lesson notes written at St Helena, the Ingres painting of Napoleon as First Consul, and the uniform worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo. National Maritime Museum until 13th November.

Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, a new £31.5m building designed by Benson + Forsyth is a modern version of a Lakeland barn built with traditional materials, close to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere. It now houses the trust's collection of books, manuscripts and artwork relating to the Romantic period. This comprises some 30,000 manuscripts and letters, 12,000 books and 8,000 prints, paintings and drawings connected with English romanticism, including 90% of Wordsworth's surviving working papers. The centre consists of a three storey building with a separate rotunda built alongside, which is linked by a glass bridge. On the top floor, a reading room offers contemporary and significant editions of poetry for researchers, as well as Wordsworth's own library and many rare first editions. The middle floor is a work space where art and documents can be cared for and restored. The rotunda includes an introduction to the context of Dove Cottage and the rest of the site, as well as Wordsworth, his contemporary poets and the Romantics generally. Among the treasures in the collection are Joseph Wright's painting of Ullswater and Place Fell together with a manuscript copy of Wordsworth's poem about the same view, copied by his sister Dorothy, Wordsworth's lifemask by Benjamin Robert Hayden, and the collection of rare books that the centre acquired last year, with complete sets of Shelley and Keats first editions, as well as other Wordsworth and Coleridge first editions. Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere continuing

The Changing Face Of London brings together the architectural megaprojects that are transforming the capital, displayed with models, computer graphics and drawings. It is the inaugural show at New London Architecture, two new galleries at The Building Centre, designed by A-EM Architects, devoted to all that is new in architecture, planning, development and the built environment in London. The exhibition pinpoints the substantial number of developments proposed for the metropolis and examines their implications for the future. Around £100bn worth of major redevelopment, regeneration and infrastructure projects is planned for London over the next two decades, a scale of change that has not been seen for three quarters of a century. Some 400,000 new homes and around 8m square metres of office space are planned to provide for the expected 700,000 growth in population. Over 20 projects in the show range from the new towers in the City of London 'cluster', to Heathrow Terminal 5, and include the redevelopment of White City, Paddington, Kings Cross, Elephant and Castle, Battersea Power Station and the creation of Stratford City and the Olympic Park. The centrepiece of the permanent display is a 1:1500 model of central London, covering an area from Paddington in the west to Stratford in the east and Battersea in the south to King's Cross in the north. It is surrounded by a display of cross section of new architectural projects that have either been completed in the last year or already have planning permission. New London Architecture at The Building Centre, 26 Store Street London WC1 until 10th September.

The World's Most Photographed examines the lives and legends of ten well known figures from history: Muhammad Ali, James Dean, Mahatma Gandhi, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Adolf Hitler, John F Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Queen Victoria. By unearthing photographs that have previously been lost, suppressed or hidden, or those that were simply allowed to slip from view, the exhibition explores the nature of celebrity and iconography, going beyond the carefully constructed public image, to reveal more about the personalities and lives of the sitters. Around 100 photographs juxtaposing iconic pictures with unknown ones, lay bare a little of the real people. Among the surprises are a series of macabre photographs of James Dean in a funeral parlour, unreleased for over 30 years; the story of a schoolboy who outwitted 'Colonel' Tom Parker, scooped the world's press and sold his unique snaps of Elvis in the school canteen; an illustration of how Mahatma Gandhi manipulated his appearance to bind his nation, and used photography to challenge and undermine the British Empire; the single image that threatened to destroy the career of Marilyn Monroe; and the how John F Kennedy's frailties and infidelities were concealed, and the myth of 'Camelot' was created and sustained. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October.

Cecily Brown: Paintings is the first major solo exhibition in Britain of the sensuous and flamboyant paintings by this English born but New York resident artist. It is a survey of her work over the past ten years across themes of the figure, landscape and the relationship of painting to its own history. Brown is a 21st century baroque. Her large scale canvasses are densely worked and packed with imagery in which grappling figures and pastoral landscapes explode into an abstract frenzy of illicit views and fragmentary parts. Brown's repertoire is indebted as much to porn magazines, comic books and Hollywood movies as it is to De Kooning, Rubens, Bacon, Goya, and Hogarth. Brown engages with the experience of painting as an intensely physical act, and as a result, her works express a sense of joy in the application of paint to canvass. The sheer energy of her work is a contributing factor in the current revival of interest in painting. The exhibition presents a selection of Brown's most significant paintings, including 'Performance', 'Wood', 'Two Figures in a Landscape', 'Bacchanal', and work from the 'Black Painting' series, together with her recent large scale paintings, in which Cezannesque compositions slide into wildly rendered 'junkscapes'. Also included is the film Four Letter Heaven, a sexy watercolour animation that marked a turning point in Brown's career. Modern Art Oxford until 28th August.

Touch Me looks at contemporary design in products and installations that relate to the sense of touch, from site specific art and design commissions to games, live science experiments and a garden of the senses. Designers are now creating novel objects that engage more playfully with the sense of touch. Some explore unexpected materialsm, some reinvent how we use objects and technologies in order to produce more satisfying encounters, and some are even creating designs that aspire to promote richer human relationships. There are around 90 items in a series of room settings covering home and work environments. In the kitchen, Julia Leihener's 'Thups' are drinking glasses which rest on the thumb for the new generation of texters and computer gamers; IDEO's range of SoMo prototype mobile phones experiment with unusual interactions in the office; Yoshi Saito's 'Hug Chair' in the living room, is a contemporary take on the traditional kissing seat, which encourages people to hug each other when they sit down; and a variety of pleasurable sensations - from silks to jewellery - are available in the bedroom. In an interactive garden of the senses, visitors can play games, take part in live science experiments, engage all their senses in an immersive sensory room, challenge each other to a game of 'chicken' on the 'Painstation', play table tennis on MIT Medialab's 'PingPongPlus' table that plays tricks, or take part in a human scale PacMan game using Spacehoppers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 29th August.


Think & Wonder, Wonder & Think features the work of over twenty contemporary East London artists, who have been inspired by the unique toys, games and costumes in the permanent collection. Their creations are displayed alongside and amongst the objects that motivated them, providing a treasure hunt for visitors. Inspired by the dolls' houses, Kezia Cantwell-Wright has constructed a miniature tower block (more representative of the surrounding area than the Victorian building that houses the museum); while David Musgrave has made a tiny humanoid to sit among the mechanical toys; Dustin Ericksen has created his own display case, in which he has put photographs of the exhibits (perhaps pandering to what appears to be the current thinking in museums that seeing a video of an object is better than seeing the object itself); Lali Chetwynd is staging performances by local children; and there are works by Brian Griffiths, Jeff McMillan and Cornelia Parker, plus a tree planted for the porcelain dolls to enjoy, and a sculpture of seaside memories provoked by a display of buckets and spades. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 31st July.

Great Escapes examines and illustrates some of the extraordinary escape attempts made by Allied servicemen from German prisoner of war camps in the Second World War. It compares fact - much of which seems too far fetched to be true - with the fictional versions seen in the films The Wooden Horse, The Great Escape and Colditz. The ingenuity employed in engineering the escapes themselves - be it tunnelling under, or flying over the walls - and subsequent survival - supplying clothes and identity papers to avoid recapture - is revealed. The exhibition includes the first public display of objects recently excavated from the original tunnels. Among the exhibits are forged identity tags and papers, rubber stamps carved from boot soles, a Monopoly game used to smuggle in hacksaw blades, tins from Red Cross parcels converted to shovels, and German currency concealed inside records. Also on display are replicas of the wooden vaulting horse used as the cover for tunnelling at Stalag Luft 111, and the glider constructed but never actually used at Colditz. In addition to the original artefacts, interactive and hands-on displays allow children and adults to try on disguises, forge an identity pass, crawl through an escape tunnel, find out facts about escape attempts, and use their ingenuity to plan their own escape route from Colditz. Imperial War Museum, London until 31st July.

Circling The Square: Avant-garde Porcelain From Revolutionary Russia is a comprehensive survey of the remarkable avant-garde ceramics produced by the extraordinarily unlikely combination of the Imperial Porcelain Factory of Russia and Boshevic Revolutionary designers in the heady times immediately following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Inspired by the promise of a new society, leading artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Rudol'f Vilde, and Kuz'ma Petrov-Vodkin, supplied the factory with bold and innovative designs, often incorporating stirring images and slogans in support of the new regime. "Proletariat of the World Unite" and "Blessed is Free Labour" shown with interlocking axes and scythes, executed in the exquisite colours, finish and standard of the 150 year old Lomonosov factory in St Petersburg, is a culture clash of a dimension rarely experienced. In 1923 the factory started producing an extraordinary range of porcelain with purely abstract designs by the Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich and his students Nicolay Suyetin and Ilya Chashnik. Sadly after the mid 1920s the purity of the vision was lost, replaced by scenes of dreary heroic workers and factory chimneys. In addition to a wide selection of this unique porcelain, the exhibition features a group of design drawings by the leading Russian artists of the early 20th century, many of which have not been exhibited before. The Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 31st July.