News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th December 2006


The Past From Above: Through The Lens Of Georg Gerster presents over 100 aerial photographs of archaeological and heritage sites from across the globe taken by the Swiss photographer Georg Gerster. These images range from natural phenomena such as Uluru in Australia, to man made wonders such as the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq, or the Great Wall of China, providing a 'world tour' of the great monuments of human civilisation. These unique images reveal the scale of mankind's achievements, as well as highlighting the complex relationship between culture and nature - humans have shaped nature but are also shaped by it. To provide insights into these people, the exhibition also features objects displayed alongside some of the photographs, which help to complete the picture of the civilizations and the monuments that defined them. A stone hand-axe, one of the earliest objects made by humans from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, is on view beside a photograph of the site; a Mummy portrait by an image of the Kharga Oasis; and a seated Buddhist goddess next to a shot of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The objects personalise these imposing sites, re-emphasising the part humans played in their construction or, in some cases, destruction. The photographs also serve as reminders of the transience of culture and civilizations. In many instances the photographs are a reminder of times that have passed, beliefs that have faded, and empires that have crumbled. From a career spanning over 45 years, Georg Gerster has a collection of over 8,000 such aerial photographs, taken in more than 50 countries. The British Museum until 11th February.

Recent Acquisitions Of British Drawings And Watercolours comprises some striking and important acquisitions in this field, dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The landscapes and figure subjects cover a broad range of media from pencil to watercolour and pastel. Among the highlights are: 'The Prospect', a watercolour by Samuel Palmer, on public display for the first time, alongside 'Yellow Twilight', one of the last works from his Shoreham period; JMW Turner's 'Christ Church, Oxford'; 'Noctes Ambrosianae', a pastel of the interior of the Middlesex Music Hall by Walter Sickert; a watercolour by Richard Parkes Bonington; a design by Sir James Thornhill for the chapel of All Souls College, Oxford; 'An Exhibition at the Old Town Hall in 1854' by George Pyne, depicting several Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces; 'Wittenham Clumps', a drawing by Paul Nash of the landmark near Didcot; a group of watercolours by John Piper; 'Pine-wood, North West Gale' by Michael Ayrton; and a sketchbook of nude studies of Beatrice Warde by Eric Gill. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 18th February.

In The Face Of History: European Photographers In The 20th Century charts European photography from 1910 to the present day, with a range of portraits, landscapes, street scenes and still life. The works, defined as 'subjective documentary', are characterised by an intense closeness between the photographer and their subject. From images of decadent Paris in the 1930s, to flower power in 1960s Amsterdam, photographers who are immersed within the world they portray capture moments in history. Alongside iconic images by Brassai, Robert Doisneau and Wolfgang Tillmans, there are pictures by previously undiscovered photographers from the former Eastern bloc, many never seen in Britain before. The photographs embrace dramatic world events: Andre Kertesz carried his camera to the front as a conscript in the Austro Hungarian army, whilst Henryk Ross was the official photographer of the ghetto at Lodz; social and cultural changes, tracked by photographers operating outside the mainstream: Christer Stromholm, lived amongst a community of transsexuals in 50s Paris, and Anders Petersen's 'Cafe Lehmitz' chronicles the lives of prostitutes and addicts in Hamburg's red light district; and personal histories: Annelies Strba's 3 screen projection 'Shades of Time' traces her children growing up, from snapshots with cats in cluttered bedrooms, to their lives today with children of their own, and Seiichi Furuka's intense portraits of his wife over an 8 year period concluding with her suicide. Barbican Art Gallery until 28th January.


The Museum Of Childhood has reopened following a £4.7m transformation by architects Caruso St John, which restores the 130 year old building to its former Victorian glory. It houses Britain's most important collection of childhood objects comprises dolls and dolls' houses, games, puppets, toys, costume, books, nursery items, art and furniture from 16th century to the present day. Highlights of the project include a new entrance; a Front Room Gallery located in the foyer, dedicated to displaying artwork and installations from the community programme; new displays in the mezzanine galleries based around the themes of Creativity and Moving Toys; a learning centre that doubles the capacity for school groups, a designated space for community art and craft workshops; and a reconfiguration of the north basement to create improved lunchroom and cloakroom facilities. There are two opening exhibitions:

Happy Birthday Miffy celebrates the 50th anniversary of the children's character Miffy, and her creator and illustrator, Dick Bruna, the Netherlands' most successful children's author, with a retrospective of Bruna's original artwork, including silkscreen prints, books, photographs and original illustrations.

Bethnal Green Illuminations is a display of illuminated chandeliers created by groups from local schools, colleges and community projects, which launches the Front Room Gallery. The pieces make reference to Dale Chihuly's glass chandeliers, patterns in nature and chandeliers in the dolls house collection.

The Museum Of Childhood, Bethnal Green London, Happy Birthday Miffy until 18th March - Bethnal Green Illuminations until May.

Fine And Fashionable: Lace From The Blackborne Collection is the first major exhibition of lace in Britain, showcasing one of the finest collections of lace in the world, put together by father and son Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, who were master lace dealers in 19th century London. Conscious of the growing interest in antique lace, for fashion and for its own importance, they began a quest for authentic examples, building up a study collection and a deep knowledge of the subject that earned them international recognition. This exhibition features 200 historical pieces of lace from the Blackborne collection, many never before on public view, together with contemporary lace work designed by Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Bertola, and fashion students at Northumbria University, taking the Blackborne lace as their inspiration. These works are displayed alongside costumes, woven silks, decorative arts, and paintings, illustrating the use of lace in fashion and furnishings. The exhibition focuses on the design and quality of European lace from the 16th to the 20th century, revealing it as the ultimate fashion accessory and more expensive than jewellery. Worn by both sexes, fine hand made lace served to highlight the wealth and status of the wearer. The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle until 26th April.

London: A Life In Maps traces an epic visual journey through maps, topographical views, prints, engravings and ephemera, demonstrating how the obsessions, aspirations and concerns of Londoners drove the expansion and transformation of the metropolis over successive generations. Beginning with a gold coin from 310 depicting the walled Roman settlement of Londinium, it progresses through the ever larger, more detailed depictions of the Tudor and Stuart eras, and the improvements and squalor of the 18th and 19th centuries, to renderings of the city's current Olympic plans. Highlights include: a 15ft high single map of North London shown unified for the first time; the original hand drawn map for the reconstruction of London made within months of the Great Fire of 1666, together with the John Evelyn's diary describing the disaster; unaccredited Renaissance panoramic views of London; German bombing and invasion maps of 1940, showing targets for the bombers, and routes for the invading forces, together with an LCC Bomb Damage Map, showing the devastation in the Docks; a gold penny from Londonwic of about 810; Robert Hooke's original hand drawn plans for the Monument to the Fire; a sheet from the hand coloured 'Master Map of London Poverty' compiled for Charles Booth; drawings by Robert Adam for a grand gateway to London at Hyde Park Corner of 1778; detailed fire insurance plans showing squalor by the Thames in the 1850s, and the interior of Harrods in 1900; the real history of the A-Z from 1652 onwards; and a psychedelic panorama of Carnaby Street in 1970. The British Library until 4th March.

Judith Tucker: Resort (vii) comprises a series of recent paintings, drawings and notebooks, exploring the Baltic seaside resort of Ahlbeck. This collection takes its inspiration from pre-Second World War holiday photographs brought by Judith Tucker's grandmother when she escaped from Germany in 1938. Through visiting the resort and exploring the evocative mixture of decay and lavish restoration, Tucker became intrigued with the relationship between certain temporary structures and the landscape, notably the ubiquitous Strandkorbe. These shanty town structures, hybrids between beach huts and deck chairs, offer temporary shelter against the flat vastness of the Baltic. Huddled together in groups, they take on an almost anthropomorphic quality, providing a resonant motif for these melancholic coastal landscapes. Tucker's studio made paintings, based on location drawings from her notebooks, employ oil paint, combined with a wide assortment of glazing techniques and varnishes, as well as metallic leaf, marble dust and pearlescent pigments. The resulting surfaces shimmer with a spectral light, and different aspects of the image become visible at different times, according to the light and the position of the viewer. The large scale of the drawings means that the figures within the Strandkorbe, who seem to be absorbed in various private, everyday activities, appear to be almost three quarter life size. 20-21 Gallery, Scunthorpe, until 20th January.

The Story Of Boosey & Hawkes is the featured display in a new space housing some 1,600 instruments selected from the collection of over 7,000 objects from around the world made to produce sound. It tells the history of the brass and woodwind instrument makers Boosey & Hawkes, with items from their recently acquired archive, and over 100 instruments, including a 6ft 6in tuba, originally from the roof of its factory in Edgware, which can actually be played. Also in the gallery, The Carse Collection of brass and woodwind instruments, the Dolmetsch Collection of early English keyboards, and the Wayne Collection of concertinas (together with the personal collection and archive of Charles Wheatstone its inventor), sit alongside 3,500 year old Egyptian clappers, a 1937 Carlton jazz drum kit and new instruments from Belarus, Uzbekistan and India. The displays examine the important place music occupies in our lives and in the lives of other peoples around the world. The collection aims to acquire sound and video recordings with the documentation for each new instrument, and the sound of many of the items can be heard at sound stations. Normally the instruments are not played in order to ensure their preservation, but specially commissioned reproduction instruments can be handled and played. The gallery includes a performance and demonstration area, where visitors can listen to a recital, or watch an instrument maker studying at close quarters one of the rare instruments in the collection. Horiman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, continuing.

At Home In London 1600 - 1800 is a major new development adding four new period rooms, with newly aquired original furniture, and two interpretive galleries. The rooms, decorated and furnished with scrupulous authenticity, demonstrate significant shifts in middle class domestic conditions and behaviours, and in the choices of materials, decorative finishes and styles that were available and affordable. Room 1 (1630) is a hall in a timber framed house in the City of London, the main living space at the time. The walls are panelled oak, and the main furnishings, also oak, include a court cupboard inlaid with fruitwood, a set of joined stools, a draw-leaf table and an armchair. Room 2 (1695) is a parlour in a post Fire Of London house, used for receiving visitors. It reflects the new types of furniture and decorative arts becoming common in domestic interiors, walnut caned chairs, a writing desk, a mirror, a clock, drinking glasses, china and delftware. Room 3 (1745) is a parlour typical of houses in Spitalfields and Soho, showing the influence of 'politeness' as an appropriate mode of behaviour, a place to take tea and play card games. Furnishings include India-back side chairs, a mahogany tripod table, a blue japanned corner cupboard, an ebonised bracket clock, and a portrait of a woman by Arthur Devis. Room 4 (1790) is a parlour typical of Bloomsbury, used for informal evening entertaining. The treatment of the walls reflects the introduction of wallpaper and carpets, together with a taste for lighter colours. Furnishings, include a bureau with a sloping top for writing, a card table, a Pembroke table, mahogany carved back chairs, a pier glass, paintings and prints. Geffrye Museum, London, continuing.


Holbein In England features the work produced in England under the patronage of the Tudor court and for Henry VIII by Hans Holbein, who effectively brought the Renaissance in painting from continental Europe to Britain. Comprising 160 works, including 40 portrait and subject paintings, as well as portrait drawings, decorative designs and prints, it is largest collection of Holbein's work to be seen in Britain in over fifty years. The exhibition shows the range of his skill and accomplishment as an artist, developing a finely poised balance between individualised character and ideal presentation. It also documents the personalities and court life in Tudor England, reflecting the unsettled history and politics of the time. The selection concentrates on Holbein's two periods working in London: 1526 - 1528 under the patronage of Sir Thomas More, and 1532 - 1543 when his patron was Henry VIII - the time during which his best known portraits were painted. Among the highlights are the portraits of Henry VIII, his wife Jane Seymour and their young son, later Edward VI, reunited for the first time in many centuries; a drawing for a group portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family, with detailed instructions for the composition handwritten by More, back in London after 500 years; and individual portraits of More, Erasmus, William Roper, Archbishop Wareham and Anne of Cleves. The exhibition also highlights Holbein's contribution to the revolution in English decorative design, examining the ways in which his understanding of new classical decoration was applied to designs for goldsmiths, as well as to the composition of large scale paintings. Tate Britain until 7th January.

Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment And Design provides an insight into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci through the pages of his notebooks, with ideas about art, science and nature that are unparalleled in the graphic work of any other thinker from any age. The exhibition features 60 examples of Leonardo's drawings, with several brought to life by large scale models of his designs, including a 30ft glider, and sophisticated computer animations. The works are grouped in four displays: 'The Mind's Eye' explores the relationship of the eye to the brain - the detailed proportional relationships between all various parts of the face, torso and limbs, presented as a series of geometrical problems that Leonardo attempted to solve. 'The Lesser And Greater Worlds' illustrates the ancient idea of microcosm and macrocosm - that the human body contained within itself, in miniature, all the operations of the world and universe as a whole, featuring detailed studies of the heart and the operation of its valves, as well as images of water in motion, which reminded Leonardo of the curling of hair. 'Making Things' focuses on Leonardo's spectacular theatrical designs, entertaining inventions such as water clocks and fountains, and his vision of architecture, including studies of buildings and a spiral staircase. 'Force' highlights Leonardo's 'cinematographic' images of figures in action, which examine the continuity of motion in space in a way that no one had captured previously, including studies of flying creatures and their anatomy, leading on to investigations into the possibility of man powered flight. Victoria & Albert Museum until 7th January.

Christmas At Kew: Magic, Not Manic is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. Outside, the gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh; there is an Ice Rink in front of the Temperate House; a Victorian horse and carriage ride; free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants; a Victorian carousel; the hop on hop off Kew Explorer travelling round the whole garden, which includes a commentary; plus Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell - and for the first time he's accompanied by real reindeer. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes the story of Jack And The Beanstalk given a botanical twist as a 'plantomime'; performances by choirs, hand bell ringers and brass bands; and craft sessions with advice on how to make natural decorations and presents; plus festive food and drink of all kinds. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 1st January.