News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st August 2002


The Clockmakers Museum has recently reopened after a £3/4m refurbishment, encompassing fourteen years of research, planning, acquisitions, and conservation. The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers collection traces the history of watch and clock making in the City of London from the reign of Henry VIII to the present day. Established in 1814, and open to the public since 1874, it is the oldest collection of its kind in the world. The skills of the City craftsmen were responsible for many inventions and advances, including the balance spring in 1664, jewellery in 1704, level escapement in 1755, a sweep second hand later in the 18th century, keyless winding in 1820, and self-winding in 1924. The display comprises some 600 English and European watches, 30 clocks and 15 marine timekeepers, together with a number of rare horological portraits and records. The greatest treasure is the marine timekeeper invented by John Harrison, who won the £20,000 prize offered by Queen Anne for an instrument that could accurately find longitude. In addition to the historical artefacts, there is a changing exhibition of the work of contemporary artist craftsmen, currently George Daniels, David Poole, Marianne Forrest, Ron Rose, Derek Pratt, Tim Brameld and Mike Barber. Guildhall Library, City of London continuing.

The Spaceguard Centre was recently established at the former Powys Observatory by Spaceguard UK, the national focus for studies into the threat posed to the Earth by collisions with asteroids and comets. The centre is a major facility for astronomical research and science education, dedicated to quantifying and assessing the risk posed by Near Earth Objects, and once detected, to determining methods of avoiding threatening impacts. It aims to supply accurate and timely information related to the impact hazard by establishing links with individual scientists and scientific institutions all over the world. The centre comprises four world class telescopes in an environmentally sealed dome, the largest camera obscura in Europe, focussed by moving the hydraulically controlled floor, an intimate planetarium, and a weather station comprising a suite of sensors including a real time satellite image downlink. Visitors can see the equipment close up, learn how it works, and find out what hazards it has detected. There are tours of the site Wednesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays at 10.30am, 2pm and 4pm. The Spaceguard Centre, Knighton continuing.

Dino-Birds: The Feathered Dinosaurs Of China offers evidence of the missing link between modern birds and dinosaurs. For more than 140 years scientists argued that this was the case, and in 2000, farmers in the Liaoning Province of north east China unearthed the evidence. They found a dinosaur fossil, nicknamed 'Fuzzy raptor' which had the bony skeleton expected of a predatory dinosaur, but was fringed with a coat of feathers. This discovery finally solved one of nature's great mysteries - how birds evolved from meat eating dinosaurs. The dino-birds are feathered dinosaurs, not with feathers for flight, but with feathery coverings for insulation and decoration. They confirm the theory that birds are the descendants of predatory dinosaurs - the theropods. This exhibition features the original 124 million year old 'Fuzzy raptor' fossil, plus another 14 dino-bird fossils on loan from The Geological Museum of China. Most of these are the only example of their particular species in existence, and have never been seen before in Europe. The Natural History Museum is Britain's dinosaur centre, and its web site contains a wealth of dinosaur material, including a Dino Directory with a guide to 117 different species. Natural History Museum until 5th May.


The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year, to mark the Golden Jubilee, there is an exhibition of gifts received by the Queen during 76 State Visits abroad, and 149 visits to Commonwealth countries, or from 75 foreign Heads of State visiting this country. Among the gifts are a carved ebony model of the Toran Gate in Ahmedabad, presented by the Governor of the State of Gujarat; a steel, brass and Sevres porcelain wine-bottle cooler in the form of a giant grasshopper, given by President Pompidou of France; a model of an outrigger canoe from the Local Council of the Island of San Cristobal in the Solomon Islands; brass and enamel coffee pots presented by the Indian High Commissioner; and an embroidered silk scarf given by President Mandela during a visit to South Africa. Buckingham Palace until 29th September.

Euphorium offers an opportunity to participate in 'a 40 minute hallucinogenic trip through Samuel Taylor Coleridge's opium-infused fantasia Kubla Khan'. Devised by Chris Hardman, using MP3 technology, digital audio effects, multidimensional images (and a few Coney Island funfair tricks), it transports visitors through a maze of sights and sounds to the netherworld of Xanadu, with the aid of a Walkman and virtual reality visor. Afterwards, visitors can hear the poem in full, as they recover in the Opium Lounge. San Francisco's Antenna Theater has specialised in this kind of part installation/part performance/all experience phenomenon for over 20 years, with events in historic sites around the world. Such is the company's expertise that its first, at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay, is still running after all that time. Visitors are admitted at 90 second intervals throughout the opening times: Wednesday to Friday 6pm-10.30pm, Saturday 1pm-10.30pm and Sunday 1pm-6pm. A visit to the Undercroft alone is worth the price of admission. The Undercroft of The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London NW1 020 7478 0151 until 20th October.

The WaterWorks is a new attraction on the site of the former Essex Filter Beds, which were built to clean East London's drinking water in 1849 at the height of the cholera epidemic. The £2.8m centre combines a Close Up On Wildlife nature reserve, and a pay and play 18 hole golf course and practice driving range. Declared redundant from their original role almost 40 years ago, the filter beds have been allowed to go back to nature, providing a haven for wild life in a dense urban area. Such is the regenerative power of nature, the site is now home to three hundred and twenty two species of plants. It boasts twenty five species of breeding birds, including the rare tree sparrow, song thrush, linnet and reed bunting, and kingfishers, gadwall, teal and grey herons are regular visitors. Among the slitherers and swimmers, there are grass snakes, smooth newts, frogs, toads and two colonies of water voles. In addition to a six station bird hide for twitchers, there is with an interactive interpretation of the wildlife, and the industrial archaeology of the site. The WaterWorks, Leyton, London E10 continuing.

Turner At Petworth marks the completion of the refurbishment of the Carved Room and adjacent Red Room to their appearance in the 1830s. The Carved Room houses carvings by Grinling Gibbons, Jonathan Ritson and John Selden, and four landscapes specially commissioned from Turner. These have been returned to the exact positions for which they were originally intended, and displayed exactly as they were first hung. Two feature Petworth Park itself, which was landscaped by Capability Brown. Turner was a regular visitor to Petworth, and recorded informal views of landscapes and family life in more than 100 works during the 1820s and 1830s. Most of these are now in the Tate collection, and can rarely be put on show to the public because they are so fragile, but this exhibition includes over 70 oil paintings, watercolours and small gouache sketches, which are on display in the Red Room and North Gallery. In addition, there are 20 Turner oil paintings in permanent residence at Petworth, along with 20 Van Dycks, and works by Holbein, Reynolds and Blake. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Old Library, which Turner and other artists used as a studio, is open to visitors for the first time. Petworth House until 29th September.

Colour Sensations is the umbrella (and don't forget to take one) title for the summer display at these historic gardens. Highlights include: Floral Colour Spectrum, which evolves week by week, as waves of colour develop outward in a 60 metre planted petal shape; Golden Vista, a spectacular 1km long display of sunflowers; Idea Gardens, Kew's diploma students displaying their creativity in four colour themed designs; The 10 Queen's Beasts, replicas of those at Westminster Abbey during the Queen's coronation, colourfully decorated; Rainbow Tours, special summer festival conducted walks taking in the most colourful planting; and when it rains, The Waterlily House 150th Anniversary, featuring gigantic specimens from all over the world in all the hues of the spectrum, as well as the traditional white; Clive Nichols: New Shoots, an exhibition of the plant portraits which helped Nichols to become Garden Photographer Of The Year; and Abstract Colour, a display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory inspired by the paintings of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew until 30th September.

Pickpocketing The Rich: Portrait-painting In Bath 1720-1800 celebrates the particular time when art and pleasure intermingled in the Georgian spa resort - a sort of 18th century Las Vegas. At its height the town attracted 20,000 fashionable members of society each year, and during the course of the century 160 artists opened businesses, including Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Wright of Derby, William Hoare, Thomas Barker and Thomas Beach. Artists gained recognition and publicity by painting such celebrities as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the actors David Garrick and Sarah Siddons, 'Beau' Nash, Alexander Pope and the musicians Thomas Linley junior and senior. Business was particularly good for the makers of smaller portraits. People passing through the resort were eager to sit for inexpensive, portable pictures, such as miniatures in watercolour, cheap silhouettes or profiles painted on glass, which they could send home or give away to new friends as keepsakes. Artists would charge a shilling entrance fee to visit their studios, and sometimes provided entertainment by musicians and singers. Prices for portraits ranged from a few shillings for a head and shoulders sketch by a newly arrived artist, to 100 guineas for a full-length Gainsborough portrait in oils. Holburne Museum of Art, Bath until 15th September.


Personification: Portraits By Clare Shenstone is a retrospective of the work of this compelling portraitist. Shenstone's career started when she sold a work from her MA exhibition to Francis Bacon, who then asked her to paint his portrait. This led to over fifty studies of the artist in oil, gouache, pastel, conte crayon and pencil, produced in three years. More than twenty of these intimate portraits of Bacon are featured in this exhibition, together with those of faces of both the 'known', such as Zoe Wannamaker, and the 'unknown', such as The Speaker at Hyde Park Corner. There are also a number of Shenstone's 'cloth heads', including the one bought by Bacon. From her early career as an actress, Shenstone is acutely aware of faces as masks. She creates a number of images of each sitter, often from different angles and at different moments, and this intense study results in portraits that offer more than just a physical likeness. Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts, Norwich until 8th September.

Seaside Fun brings the seaside to London, without having to go to quite the effort or put up with all the inconvenience of the Mayor of Paris's similar scheme. Here, the upper gallery of the museum has been transformed into a seaside resort, complete with a beach, a pretend station for those arriving by train, a pier with deck chairs, and even seagulls. There are also sand castles, slot machines, classic posters, a Punch and Judy show, and one of those things with cut outs to put your face through for a photo. Young visitors can stop at the art cart and learn how to make their own souvenirs to take home - and as it's indoors, visitors don't even have to rely on British weather. Who needs CenterParcs? Bethnal Green Museum Of Childhood until 8th September.

Thames Tales is an interactive family event which explores the changing life of the River Thames, from royal pageantry and palaces, to bridges, buoys and boats. The exhibition looks at the history of London's main artery, as a working environment, leisure attraction and royal waterway. Children can learn about the history of the river from a cast of characters such as Toot the tugboat, Bob the river policeman, and Richard the seventeenth century waterman. Hands-on activities include building a bridge, steering a river bus, loading a barge and rebuilding the Tower of London. A programme of talks, guided river tours, drop-in workshops, foreshore walks and gallery trails accompanies the exhibition. Golden Jubilee related displays include a selection of posters illustrating the connection between royalty and transport. London Transport Museum until 1st September.