News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st July 2010


Sargent And The Sea focuses on the formative years in the artistic career of the painter once called 'the Van Dyck of his time', covering the period from 1874 to around 1879. The exhibition of 80 paintings, drawings and watercolours by John Singer Sargent ranges from seaside idylls, through tumultuous Romantic seascapes, to studies of dock life intimating his mature, sober side. It opens with works made during summer expeditions by Sargent to the Normandy and Brittany coasts in 1874 and 1875, and continues with a series of innovative seascapes, including three newly discovered works that were inspired by his experience of the Atlantic, when he visited America for the first time. A group of drawings and a little known scrapbook from that period reveal Sargent's precocious talent as a draughtsman, and his detailed knowledge of ships' rigging and tackle. Among the highlights are: 'En Route pour la peche' and 'Fishing for Oysters at Cancale', showing fisherfolk in the little Breton port of Cancale; 'Neapolitan Children Bathing', an evocation of the brilliant light and blue sea of Capri; 'Mid Ocean, Mid Winter', where icy green and black waves swell ominously; a group of Mediterranean port scenes in oil and watercolour; and boating watercolours painted in Venice in the early 20th century. Positioned between the traditional and the modern, Sargent tested the boundaries of marine art with unconventional viewpoints, the realism with which he rendered light and tone, and the bravura brushwork that would be a distinguishing feature of his later career. Royal Academy of Arts until 26th September.

Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure chronicles the story of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and the journey to safety after his ship Endurance was crushed in the ice. Miraculously, all 28 members of the expedition lived through their ordeal in the largely uncharted icy wastes. The exhibition tells this epic tale with over 150 images by expedition photographer James Francis Hurley, 10 of which are in colour, using the pioneering Paget process. Hurley actually dived into frigid waters to retrieve his glass plate negatives from the sinking Endurance, and the negatives and prints subsequently survived ice, open seas and burial under the snow. Among the highlights are: images of Endurance trapped in the ice, by day and night; studies of the expedition members, including sledge dogs, at work and play; scenes of life on board ship; Endurance slowly sinking beneath the ice; daily routine while camped on the ice floe; the men marooned on Elephant Island, and hauling and launching the lifeboat James Caird; and the 36 hour trek across the mountains of South Georgia Island, followed by rescue. The photographs, printed from the original glass plate and film negatives, and Hurley's album of prints, are accompanied by memoirs from the voyage, and a full size replica of the James Caird. Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool, until 3rd January.

Urban Origami explores the continuing allure and consequences of the expanding modern city. The exhibition presents a multitude of urban images and architectural perspectives, using animation, film, painting, drawing and photography, employing recycled objects and deft use of light, a key characteristic of Sir John Soane, who designed the house that holds the show. The exhibition brings together seven international artists, each with a very distinctive approach to the problematic growth of city dwelling and its debris. Displaced objects, salvaged architecture, and assembled urban spaces are employed in an attempt to expound meaning behind contemporary living. Former air steward Gaia Persico imagines a global city in her drawings, where horizons snake across the page, binding landmarks from San Francisco's Union Square to Darling Harbour in Sydney. A film by Elisa Sighicelli conjures urban spectacle, as a Shanghai skyscraper sends out a rainbow kaleidoscope of lights, while in one of her photographic lightboxes, familiar scaffolding becomes a fantastic structure. Matthew Houlding recycles household flotsam into maquettes of jazzy modernist apartment blocks. Jools Johnson turns yesterday's tech, like upturned old computer screws, into tomorrow's skyscrapers. Haegue Yang offers 'Holiday Story', a series of eerie video landscapes containing faint traces of human presence. Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery, Mattock Lane, Walpole Park, London W5, until 29th August.


Fiona Banner: Harrier And Jaguar provides a simple but unlikely juxtaposition: two real fighter jets, which have both previously seen active military service, on display in a suite of neo-classical galleries. In the south gallery, a Sea Harrier jet is suspended vertically, its bulk spanning floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Mimicking its namesake the harrier hawk, the aircraft's surface has been reworked with hand painted graphic feather markings - the cockpit, the eyes, the nose cone, the beak - and hung nose pointing towards the floor, bringing to mind a trussed bird. In the north gallery, a Sepecat Jaguar lies on its back on the floor, its elegant, elongated body tracing the length the gallery. Stripped of paint and polished to reveal a metallic surface, the aircraft becomes a mirror that reflects back its surroundings and exposes the audience to its own reactions. Fiona Banner is best known for her 'wordscapes', written transcriptions of the frame-by-frame action in Hollywood war films. She has long been fascinated by the emblem of the fighter plane. Her compulsion to grasp the resonances of these war machines has produced a growing archive of material. From pencil drawings to newspaper cuttings and Airfix model collections of all the fighter planes currently in service, the modesty of her works often contrasts with the heroic connotations of her subject. For Banner these fighter planes represent the 'opposite of language', used when communication fails. In bringing body and machine into close proximity she explores the tension between the intellectual perception of the fighter plane and physical experience of the object. Tate Britain until 3rd January.

The Jane Austen Story is an exhibition documenting the author's home and social life, staged alongside her final resting place, which lies in the north nave aisle of Winchester Cathedral. The exhibition includes information about her childhood, the local towns and countryside that inspired her writing, and her illness and funeral. It also explores the depiction of clergy within her novels. Rarely seen artefacts from the life of Jane Austen, together with some items owned by Winchester College that have never been exhibited in public before, include a handwritten poem by Austen about her friend Mrs Lefroy; Austin's actual burial register; a handwritten note by her brother Henry with the wording of the inscription on her ledgerstone (floor slab) in the cathedral; first editions of Emma in three volumes from 1816; and a set of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion from 1818. The exhibits are imaginatively displayed in cabinets inspired by late Georgian furniture. Winchester Cathedral until 20th September.

The Surreal House is the first exhibition to examine the significance of surrealism for architecture. Bringing together over 150 works, the exhibition also reveals the profound influence surrealism has had on a host of contemporary artists, filmmakers and architects. In an installation by architects Carmody Groarke, the exhibition is designed to be experienced as an extraordinary surreal house in its own right. All the exhibits show the significance of the unconscious world of dreams and desires, presenting extraordinary dwellings that reflect everything that the rational, sanitised house sacred to Modernism is not. Combining works of the imagination with important examples of actual 'surreal' houses, the exhibition presents a diverse range of paintings, photographs, films, models and installation from Britain, Europe, Canada and the United States. It brings together first generation Surrealists, precursors and close associates, with contemporary artists and architects. Iconic works by Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray and Rene Magritte are set alongside works by Giorgio de Chirico, Le Facteur Cheval and Edward Hopper, as well as contemporary works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread. Filmmakers include Maya Deren, Jean Cocteau, Andrei Tarkovsky and Jan Švankmajer, whilst modern and contemporary architecture is represented by John Hejduk, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Rem Koolhaas , Bernard Tschumi and Diller & Scofidio. Barbican Gallery, London, until 12th September.

Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes And Discoveries celebrates the backroom work of art gallery scientists, conservators and historians. Using modern scientific methods, including infrared imaging, X-ray images, electron microscopy and mass spectrometry they provide insights into the materials used by artists, studio practice and the ways paintings can change over time. The exhibition explores this work by presenting the varied stories behind more than 40 paintings, divided into six categories: Deception and Deceit, from innocent misrepresentation to cunning forgery; Transformations and Modifications, revealing secrets lying underneath the paint; Mistakes, when the experts got it wrong, and how their mistakes were discovered; Secrets and Conundrums, solving puzzles and secrets hidden in Old Master paintings; and Redemption and Recovery, how paintings are restored to their former glory. The display features works by Raphael, Durer, Gossaert, Rembrandt, Botticelli and others. Among the works on view are: 'Woman at a Window', a provocative Renaissance depiction of a woman, which was dramatically altered in the 19th century to satisfy more restrained Victorian tastes, with the girl's hair changed from blonde to brunette, her expression made more innocent, and her bodice rendered less revealing; 'Portrait of Alexander Mornauer', by an unknown German artist that was altered to resemble a work by the more famous and collectable Hans Holbein, with a layer of blue paint applied over the original brown background, and the style of the sitter's hat altered; and 'An Allegory', originally thought to be a companion to Botticelli's 'Venus and Mars', but revealed as a pastiche, painted by a follower in the style of the master. National Gallery until 12th September.

William Morris: A Sense Of Place examines the domestic life, design work, writings and political beliefs of the Father of the Arts & Crafts Movement. William Morris's childhood homes were key to forming his precocious sense of place and the love of nature that underpinned his subsequent life and thinking. Material illustrating his adult life, from lodgings shared with Edward Burne-Jones at Red Lion Square; his first married home at Red House, which became the focus of creativity for Morris and his friends; his country retreat at Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds; and his final home at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, shows how his domestic environment formed an important backdrop for his creativity, and the formulation of his ideas about society. The industrial society into which Britain had evolved by the mid 19th century represented inequality, exploitation and ugliness to Morris, setting him on the path to Socialism and the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Designs and samples, textiles, books, and photographs from public and private collections illustrate Morris's life and work.

LawnPaper is an environmental etching for the lawns around the house. Patterns based on wallpaper designs by William Morris have been created in the grass through a process of selective shading and trimming by artist Steve Messam.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, until 17th October. (The LawnPaper design is expected to grow out by the beginning of August)

Florence Nightingale Museum, which celebrates the life and work of 'the Lady with the Lamp', has reopened following a £1.4m redevelopment, designed by Kossman de Jong, marking the centenary of her death. Situated in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital, on the site where Florence Nightingale established her first Training School for Nurses, the museum tells the real story of the woman behind the legend, as well as how modern nursing began. It does this via three pavilions, focusing on her Victorian childhood, the Crimean War, where the legend of the Lady with the Lamp was created, and her later years as an ardent campaigner for health reform, with particular reference to the British army. The Museum also celebrates the profession of nursing, and explores Nightingale's legacy in today's nursing practice, with interactive audiovisual exhibits. It features an unparalleled collection of over 2,000 items of 'Nightingalia', with highlights including the writing slate she used as a child; the medicine chest she took to the Crimean war; a rare Register of Nurses, which lists the women who served under her in the military hospitals in Turkey and the Crimea; an actual lantern used in the Scutari hospital in Turkey (completely different from the popular image); a black dress worn by her, its colour and style chosen to reflect the serious attitude she had to her work; a pewter soldier's plate, with painted image and inscription, reflecting the affection in which she was held by the troops; an original copy of Notes On Nursing, one of her most important publications, from 1860; and her pet Owl Athena, who travelled everywhere in her pocket. Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas' Hospital, London, continuing.


Old And New South American Botanical Art brings the Latin continent's exotic and lush plants to life in Britain. The exhibition combines 62 paintings from the Real Jardin Botanico in Madrid's collection of works commissioned by the 18th century botanist Jose Celestino Mutis, with 68 works by contemporary artists, including Margaret Mee, Alvaro Nunez and Etienne Demonte. Jose Celestino Mutis was sent to South America by the Spanish government to identify and document the plants of the Spanish colony and look for commercially valuable crops, timber and medicinal herbs. While there, he established an art school to train local Creole men to illustrate his findings, and some 40 illustrators worked on the project. The most outstanding of these was Francisco Xavier Matis Machecha, 6 of whose paintings are in the exhibition. Over 6,500 works were sent back to the archives of the Real Jardin Botanico in Madrid, none of which were published until 1952, and this is the first exhibition of the paintings in Europe outside Spain. Among the contemporary artists, Margaret Mee made 15 collecting trips into the Amazon, bringing back and painting hundreds of plants, including 4 previously unknown species that were named after her. The first painting she produced in the Amazon, 'Cannonball Tree in Belem', is in the exhibition, together with some of her notebooks. The display allows visitors to see the vivid and delicate plants of the region, while also highlighting the importance of botanical art as a timeless scientific tool, recording every aspect of a plant to help botanists with their research. Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, until 8th August.

Henry Moore reveals the range and quality of work by the British artist who was at the forefront of progressive 20th century sculpture. Bringing together the most comprehensive selection of Henry Moore's works for a generation, the exhibition presents over 150 of his significant works, including stone sculptures, wood carvings, bronzes and drawings, with the largest number his reclining figures ever to be brought together. Moore first emerged as an artist in the wake of the First World War, in which he served on the Western Front. This exhibition emphasises the impact on his work of its historical and intellectual contexts: the trauma of war, the advent of psychoanalysis and new ideas of sexuality, and the influence of primitive art and surrealism. The show explores the defining subjects of Moore's work, including the reclining figure, showing its development over the course of his career, including threatening and sexualised works, which suggest the influence of Freud and psychoanalytical theories, such as 'Reclining Figure'; the iconic mother and child, ranging from the nurturing bond of 'Mother and Child' to 'Suckling Child'; abstract compositions such as 'Composition'; the influence of world cultures through his primitive masks and works such as 'Girl with Clasped Hands'; and seminal drawings of London during the Blitz, the depictions of rows of sleeping figures lying huddled in claustrophobic tunnels, capturing a sense of profound humanitarian anguish and the fragility of the human body, which helped to build the popular perception of the Blitz. Tate Britain until 8th August.

Empire Mail: George V And The GPO looks at the passions of King George V, the 'philatelist king', and the extraordinary advances in design and innovation in the General Post Office of the period. The reign of George V spanned from 1910 to 1936, an era of conflict and great change, which saw the development of a number of communication methods that brought the world closer together. Featuring posters, vehicles, pillar boxes, philatelic rarities and footage from the GPO Film Unit, the exhibition explores themes such as innovations in mail transportation, the first Atlantic air crossing, the rise of graphic design in the 1920s and 1930s and war time memorabilia. The items on display include a sheet of unused Edward VII Tyrian plum stamps, plus the only one known to have been used, sent on an envelope to George V on 5th May 1910 when he was Prince of Wales, which arrived the next day when he had become king, following the death of his father. Other highlights include original artwork, dies, plates and essays from many of the stamps of George V's reign, including the Seahorses and the 1924/1925 Wembley Empire Exhibition; stamps created by Lawrence of Arabia and Lord Baden Powell; items relating to the RMS Titanic, which carried mail; and gems from King George V's own stamp collection, such as Bermuda 'Perots', Cape Triangular errors, an unused Post Office Mauritius 2d stamp and a 1d used on a 'ball cover', which are among the rarest and most valuable in the world. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 25th July.