News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st April 2004


The Secret State reveals for the first time, the true extent of Britain's preparations for nuclear attack during the Cold War. Based on recently released secret documents held in the government archive, it shows how woefully poor our chance of survival would have been, had the doomsday scenario of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union taken place. In addition, the intelligence reports, minutes of meetings, notes and memoranda prepared by ministers and senior civil servants, illuminate the background, including the methods by which espionage was conducted, why and how our nuclear deterrent was built, and how secrets were betrayed to the Russians. The most secret files deal with the nuclear retaliation procedures in the 1960s, spelling out what would have happened if the Prime Minister had survived the first missile assault, how he would have responded, and also that an RAF officer, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, was authorised to retaliate on his own initiative if the Prime Minister had been killed. Perhaps the most compelling files are those that deal with the fate that would have awaited the British people had an attack succeeded: millions dead instantly; radiation poisoning eventually killing millions more; the Prime Minister and a small war cabinet evacuated to secret bunker; the country broken into 12 self contained mini kingdoms, each run by a cabinet minister from underground 'regional seat of government'; the military and the police dispensing absolute and rough justice; and the near impossibility of restoring the essentials of life for the survivors. The National Archives, Kew until 30th October.

Ben Nicholson And The St Ives School is an exhibition of the work of a unique artistic community. Ben Nicholson first came to prominence in the 1930s as a pioneer of abstract art, although he retained a life long interest in the depiction of landscape and still life. In 1939, Nicholson and his wife, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, moved to St Ives in Cornwall, where they lived for the next 20 years. During this period Nicholson and Hepworth became prominent members of a celebrated artists' colony, which included Naum Gabo, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. The work of the group, in landscape and abstract paintings, and sculpture, illustrates a response to, and enthusiasm for, their Cornish surroundings. This exhibition comprises paintings from throughout Nicholson's long and prolific career, from his Cumbrian landscape 'Walton Wood Cottage No.1', to his abstract 'White Relief ' and the later 'Green Goblet and Blue Square'. These are accompanied by works from other members of the group, including Hepworth's celebrated 'Wave', and Frost's 'Black and White Movement in Blue & Green II'. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 13th June.

Thurston Hopkins: The Golden Age Of Reportage is a retrospective of one of the great generation of photographers who transformed British photojournalism while working for Picture Post, the journal of record in the 1950s. In a career spanning four decades, Hopkins became known for his acute ability to depict the human condition through images that convey great sensitivity, while taking a creative approach to their sometimes widely varied material. Hopkins's work reflected the extraordinary contrasts in the years following the Second World War: the social whirl of the toffs in Mayfair and Kensington, and the extreme poverty in the slums of the East End of London and Liverpool; the 'other world' glamour of visiting Hollywood film stars, and the familiar bomb site wreckage that lay round every corner. They were all captured in the final flowering of the medium of the black and white image. Hopkins exploited shadow and reflection, both on location and in elaborate studio set ups, and was a master of both the snatched shot, the carefully composed, and the long exposure. Royal National Theatre until 15th May.


Li Zhensheng: Red-colour New Soldier presents the only known existing photographic documentation of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China between 1966 and 1976. These were times when child turned against parent and pupil against teacher, with tens of thousands of young revolutionaries mobilised as Red Guards, while countless others were executed, imprisoned or sent to work camps, accused of being enemies of the masses. Starting in 1963, the photographer Li Zhensheng spent almost 20 years working for the Heilongjiang Daily, a Communist newspaper in Northern China, with full access to events. His unique archive of images conveys the madness of this time: stage-managed public trials, recantations, the cult of personality, mass demonstrations, executions and re-education campaigns. In 1969 Li himself was sent to a 're-education school' in a desolate rural region north of Harbin for two years. When the new Chinese leadership ordered the destruction of all evidence of what happened, at great personal risk, Li hid and preserved thousands of photographs in his furniture and under his floorboards, and these were later smuggled to the West. This exhibition brings together over 130 of his photographs, along with personal documents from the period.Hou Bo & Xu Xiaobing: Mao's Photographers features photographs taken by Hou Bo, who worked with her husband Xu Xiaobing at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine. They were close to Mao from the period leading up to the Revolution through to the end of his life, producing many of the iconic images, from Mao's declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949, to his swim in the Yangtze River at the age of 73 in 1966. During the Cultural Revolution, as the personality cult that engulfed Mao came to its height, his image and Little Red Book of quotations were distributed in their millions throughout China. Hou Bo's portraits appeared in nearly every office, factory, classroom, shop and home, showing Mao as a charismatic leader, a teacher, a strategist and an internationalist. This exhibition includes over 60 photographs of the most notable political figures of these years, including not only the widely disseminated portraits of Mao, but intimate shots of him with his family, that have rarely been seen.The Photographers' Gallery, London until 30th May.

Spinball Whizzer is first out of the bag of this year's new theme park attractions, aiming to create the feeling of what it would be like to be a human pinball. Not only are riders catapulted up and down a steep twisted 450 yard track at speeds of up to 40mph, but each car does 360 degree spins - up to 90 times in one and a half minutes. Meanwhile the popular Flume has been given a bath time makeover - out go the rustic log boats and in come bathtubs - accompanied by rubber ducks, taps, bath plugs, and intermittent showers, plus a final giant power shower to complete the experience. These join the existing thrillseeker experiences: Air - the first ride to simulate the motion and sensation of free flight, Oblivion - the world's first vertical drop ride, and the legendary Nemesis - combining 4G force and weightlessness. Further information and virtual rides can be found on the Alton Towers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Alton Towers until 31st October.

Durer And The Virgin In The Garden is a classic exercise in pragmatism, centred on the painting 'The Virgin with the Iris'. It was purchased as being the work of the renaissance artist Albrecht Durer, but scholars subsequently dismissed it as a copy or pastiche. However, a discovery made during the recent restoration of the painting, supports the theory that it actually did originate in Durer's workshop in the early sixteenth century, and draws on a number of his meticulous studies of plants, flowers and other motifs. During this examination of the painting using infrared reflectography, a remarkably detailed underdrawing was revealed, which may be the work of Durer himself. Capitalising on this discovery, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see the underdrawing and compare it with Durer's other work. Through a series of drawings and prints, bringing together some of Durer's most famous watercolours, most on show in London for the first time, the exhibition traces the development of the artist's images of the Virgin and Child in a garden. The works include: 'Irises', 'The Virgin with the Animals' and the 'Great Piece of Turf', plus 'Peonies' by Martin Schongauer, a watercolour that was owned by Durer himself, and a painting by Durer of the Virgin and Child. National Gallery until 20th June.

The Adventures Of Tintin At Sea commemorates the 75th anniversary of the first adventure undertaken by the most famous Belgian with the distinctive haircut. The exhibition examines the development of the comic strip, with the oldest existing drawing of Tintin, how the characters came to be named and developed, and other original artwork, much of which has never been on public display before. These strips are a chronicle of 20th century preoccupations in their stories, and have been a major influence on pop art in their style. The exhibition also looks at the life of Tintin's creator, including a silkscreen portrait of Herge (Georges Remi) by Andy Warhol, on public display in Britain for the first time, together with personal effects, objects and photographs. One of Tintin's most distinctive features is that his adventures reflect a degree of reality uncommon in most comic strip books. Herge had an interest in scientific developments, and believed in the importance of placing Tintin in a real and believable world. Many of the stories and drawings were based on accurate research, achieved by taking clippings from magazines, visiting museums, and consulting friends and experts. Unfamiliar materials from the museum's collection reveal the inspiration behind Tintin's adventures at sea, and highlight the accuracy with which they were created. Among these are 1930s life jackets, star maps, models of ships that are featured in the stories, and a working one-man shark-shaped submarine. National Maritime Museum until 5th September.

Domestic (f)utility transforms the Artists' House gallery into a place where domesticity is no longer quite what it seems. Everyday household objects are subtly changed, so that they no longer perform the tasks for which they were designed, creating the kind of disconcerting twisted reality you find in a David Lynch film: dusters no longer dust, and angle poise lamps cannot be adjusted. The exhibition includes work by Barnaby Barford - four china milk jugs joined together by their spouts; Gavin Turk - polystyrene cups cast in bronze; Susan Cttts - stilettos made of paper; Nina Saunders - a chair consumed by its cushion; Anya Gallaccio - apples made of porcelain and chitting potatoes made of bronze; Cecile Johnson-Soliz - immoveable coffee pot, tea pot and cups that are part of the worktop on which they rest; plus pieces by Gereon Krebber and Koichiro Yamamoto. New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury until 3rd May.

Archigram celebrates the exuberant, pop-inspired visions of the group that dominated avant garde architecture throughout the 1960s. Founded in 1961 by six young London architects - Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron and Michael Webb - Archigram has remained an enduring inspiration to architects and designers to the present day. Despite the fact that none of its major projects were ever built, its experiments have influenced many famous buildings, from Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's Pompidou Centre in Paris, through Rogers's Lloyds building in London, to Future Systems's new Selfridges in Birmingham. Nevertheless, the group's 1960s visions of a technology driven future now have the same naive charm as the 'shape of things to come' science fiction projections of the 1930s. A recreation of the Archigram office - itself as idiosyncratic as any of the group's creations - contains the designs for Ron Herron's Walking City, with eight-legged buildings the size of skyscrapers rolling through Central Park; David Greene's Living Pod, like a gigantic Lunar Module; Blow-out Village, an entire town that inflates from a hovercraft; Plug-In City, a range of updateable domestic and commercial modules that could be attached to service points supplying water, electricity and communications; The Suitaloon, a garment that becomes a home; and Instant City, a portable entertainment centre that could bring urban life to remote areas. Architecture for the Sgt Pepper generation. Design Museum until 4th July.


Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth To Nature is the first exhibition to focus solely on Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the natural world. The group took their canvases out of doors, and working directly from nature led to new ways of seeing and painting, as revolutionary as the achievements of their contemporaries, the Impressionists. The exhibition brings together around 150 works, including William Holman Hunt's 'Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep)', John William Inchbold's 'Anstey's Cove, Devon' and John Everett Millais's 'Ophelia'. It explores the Pre-Raphaelite's fascination with detail, together with parallel developments in photography; their concern for the ordinary and mundane depicted in suburban environments, epitomised by Ford Madox Brown's 'An English Autumn Afternoon'; a fascination with the Orient and places with biblical history, and a desire to make accurate painted records of locations and buildings felt to be at risk, such as Thomas Seddon's 'The Great Sphinx' and William Holman Hunt's 'The Scapegoat'; an interest in geology with work such as John Brett's 'The Glacier of Rosenlaui'; landscape as a setting for human activities in a pre-industrial rural Britain with Charles Napier Hemy's 'Among the Shingle at Clovelly' and William Dyce's 'Pegwell Bay'; and the movement towards a more poetic kind of landscape in J M Whistler's 'Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea' and John Brett's 'The British Channel seen from Dorsetshire Cliffs'. Tate Britain until 3rd May.

Office Politics: Women And The Workplace 1860 - 2004 examines how life has changed for women in offices, from the days of the typing pool to the current image of the laptop toting freelancer. It looks at how politics, fashion, office design, technology and furniture have changed in step with the shifts in gender roles. Company records reveal how threatening and provocative women's presence was seen to be by their employers when they first stepped into the office. They also expose the steps taken to control women's appearance and confine them to certain parts of the building (lest the men be distracted), and exclude their participation in the actual running of the businesses. Using cartoons, careers literature, photographs and advertisements, the exhibition dissects the stereotypes associated with women office workers, such as the 1920s business girl, the 1960s 'dolly bird' secretary and the power dressing executive of the 1980s. The exhibition also looks at the changes in office design from the segregated women's departments to the open plan, and the introduction of the modesty boards to cover women's legs from men's view. There is an accompanying series of talks and events exploring the issues raised by the exhibition. Further information can be found on the Women's Library web site via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. The Women's Library, London until 1st May.

Brilliant is an exhibition of contemporary lighting from the strictly functional to the wildly ostentatious. It shows the range of new lighting forms, fabrics and technologies, from domestic lamps to futuristic lighted textiles. The first space has a series of interlinked rooms in which designers Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Sharon Marston, Tord Boontje, Georg Baldele, Francesco Draisci, Kazuhiro Yamanaka, Paul Cocksedge and Arik Levy explore the potential of light. Some work with the basic symbol of electric light - the light bulb - while others look to new technologies such as fibre optics and LEDs. Using shadow play and projection, and by exploiting the possibilities of materials, technologies and visual effects, the designers reveal how light is a powerful shaper of space. Bruce Munro even takes it outdoors offering a 'Field Of Light' in the garden. The second part of the exhibition features hundreds of domestic lights and 'light-objects' by designers who have produced some of the most innovative products of recent years, including Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Gitta Gschwendtner and Karim Rashid. These embrace all manner of materials, forms and manufacture - sculptural and functional, ambient and directional, hi-tech and handmade. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th April.