News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st September 2005


Lucy Orta is the first major solo exhibition in the UK of the contemporary artist whose work examines the social bonds within communities and the relationships between individuals and their environments. Lucy Orta's work has been categorised as belonging to the 'jumble sale school' - or more correctly 'car boot sale school' since one piece 'M.I.U. VII' incorporates a lorry. In fact, many of the pieces look like they belong to a disaster emergency response team - I'm sure 'Refuge Wear Intervention London East End' and 'Body Architecture-Collective Wear 4 Persons' were on the pavement outside Kings Cross in July. Orta describes her work as being 'at the intersection of dress and architecture'. This exhibition brings together sculptures, videos, objects and photographs created by Orta over the last ten years, including a diverse range of collaborative projects and performances, installations and social interventions held in cities around the world. A new work on its first outing consists of 23 silver bodysuits attached to canvas stretcher beds that float mysteriously at waist height, like canoes on floodwater. In terms of being an artist reflecting the world around her, could Orta possibly be the contemporary equivalent of Hogarth? The Curve at The Barbican until 30th October.

Kindertotenlieder: Mariele Neudecke is a new work by the German born, British resident artist, who uses sculpture, film and photography to create representations of landscapes, drawing on Northern Romantic ideas. She is perhaps best know for her atmospheric creations of landforms within glass vitrines - a sort of vegetarian alternative to Damien Hirst. The charm of her 'tank works' comes from their combination of the ruinous wilderness of the landscapes with the quaint domesticity of their dolls house setting. Premiering here is a five part moving image installation in response to each of Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children), fusing contemporary visual art with classical music and literature. Mahler's composition was written in 1901 following the deaths of two of his children, setting verse by German Romantic poet Friedrich Ruckert, which evokes emotions of grief, loss and guilt. Neudecker has drawn upon the metaphors of light and weather referred to in Ruckert's verse. She breaks new ground by creating a mysterious, multimedia mausoleum, in which Kathleen Ferrier's recording of the song cycle provides the soundtrack for glimpses of digitally generated vistas. Neudecker's installation unfolds like a sequence of sets for an imaginary opera. In one room a misty, romantic sunrise gradually spreads across the wall. In another, a pinprick of light animates a doorknob, revealing a video of a child playing a field. Elsewhere, a mirror reflects bolts of forked lightning, and visitors can peep around doors to view a vast alpine landscape. Impressions Gallery, York until 28th October.

Deutschlandscape - Epicentres At The Periphery is a fantasy landscape, a room high photographic collage, comprised of a wide range of contemporary style architectural projects: homes, schools, offices, a community centre, a hotel - even a car park and a sewage works. This dramatic 80m long panorama shows 38 projects from across Germany that have been completed since the year 2000. The display explores the deliberate shift in focus by architects from metropolitan urban centres to the areas on the urban fringe. At the core of all these projects is the intent to enliven and reinvent suburban areas, exploit overlooked spaces, and to regenerate derelict post industrial landscapes, within the urban margins and in provincial towns. It eschews the city centre grand projects for the smaller innovative designs, often squeezed in between existing buildings or adapting abandoned structures. Most of the projects have challenged or subverted tough planning laws to produce inspiring results on limited budgets. Among the most eye catching schemes are the town house wrapped in timber with a chequerboard pattern of windows and a bedroom that slides outwards like a giant filing cabinet drawer; a suburban house with exterior walls made from gabions (40,000 rocks held in metal cages); and a swimming pool built inside a disused colliery. In addition to the panorama there are terminals on which visitors can explore individual schemes in detail. Victoria & Albert Museum until 29th January.


Between Past And Future: New Photography And Video From China is the first major survey of work from the past decade by a new generation of Chinese photographers and video artists. Featuring 60 works by 40 artists, the exhibition reflects their responses to the rapid cultural, social and economic changes taking place in China. The exhibition includes work by Hong Hao, Qui Zhijie, Sheng Qi, Liu Zheng, Song Dong, Xing Danwen and Cui Xiuwen. Highlights include: 'Night Revels of Lao Li', a 31ft photograph by Wang Qingsong reinterpreting a famous 10th century scroll painting about a disillusioned government official, replacing him with Li Xianting, a well known critic who was sacked from an official art magazine for championing experimental art; 'East Village, Beijing, No. 20', in which Rong Rong records celebrated Beijing performance artist Zhang Huan in 'Twelve Square Metres' (the title refers to the size of the public toilet in which Zhang, coated in honey, spent an hour, slowly becoming covered by flies); and 'Demolition: Forbidden City, Beijing' by Zhang Dali, who captures Beijing's urban transformation by spray painting an outline of his own head on to buildings scheduled for demolition, and then knocking out the head-shaped hole through which can be glimpsed the roofs of the Forbidden City, dramatically contrasting with the emerging architecture of China's capital city. As well as introducing an extraordinary body of work to a British audience, the exhibition provides a remarkable insight into the dynamics of Chinese culture at the start of the 21st century. Victoria & Albert Museum until 8th January.

Sense And Sensibility - Cotman Watercolours Of Durham And Yorkshire both examines the unique contribution to English watercolour painting by John Sell Cotman, and reveals the local history of the Yorkshire and Humber region. The exhibition comprises 81 major works from across Britain, many of which are seen on display together for the first time, alongside a selection of archival material relating to Cotman. It also includes drawings created under his tuition by the young Cholmeley daughters of Brandsby Hall near York. So enamoured were the girls with their handsome young tutor that they wrote a poem, 'Cotmania' in his honour. It is thought by some that they were the inspiration for the setting of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman In White. While still in his early twenties Cotman made three visits to the north between 1803 and 1805. He worked at a wide variety of locations, including Fountains, Rievaulx, Byland and Kirkstall Abbeys, and sketched in the grounds of Harewood House, Castle Howard and Duncombe Park. His studies of these places include some of his finest and most important works. During his lifetime Cotman's paintings did not bring him success, being too subtle, too refined and too undemonstrative for contemporary taste, but Cotman's muted and meditative Durham and Yorkshire watercolours, seeming to capture an unearthly silence, are now widely regarded as some of the most perfect achievements of British Art. Harewood House until 30th October.

Eileen Gray celebrates the achievements of one of the best loved architects and designers of the early 20th century, whose work influenced both the modernist and Art Deco styles. Devoted to "building for the human being", Eileen Gray infused the geometric forms and industrial aesthetic of Le Corbusier and fellow pioneers of the modern movement with opulence and sensuality. Her Bibendum and Transat chairs, and E-1017 table - designed for her sister to enjoy breakfast in bed - are among the most enduring examples of early 1900s furniture, and her houses still influence architects. Despite her fame today, Gray was neglected for most of her career, only to be rediscovered in the late 1960s. As a self-taught woman in a man's world, and an Irish expatriate living in France, Gray was isolated at a time when most designers and architects were male and attached to movements. She started producing lacquer work screens and panels in radical geometric panels in Paris in the 1910s, moved on to designing furniture, and then a series of sparse, yet luxurious apartments - and in the 1920s started to practice architecture as well as design. E 1027, Gray's first house in the south of France, and her own Tempe a Pailla, were strikingly innovative in their treatment of light and space, and following these she devoted herself principally to architecture. The exhibition surveys Gray's work both in architecture and design, contextualised by sketches, letters, models, photographs, and other archive documentation, painting a rich picture of this remarkable woman's achievements. Design Museum until 8th January.

Forgotten Empire: The World Of Ancient Persia reveals the wealth and splendour of the largest empire the Ancient Near East ever saw, which stretched from North Africa to the Indus Valley and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, between 550 and 330 BC. The power of its Great Kings is reflected in statues and iconic objects of rulers Darius, Cyrus and Xerxes. The awe-inspiring scale of the palaces at Persepolis and Susa is suggested by monumental architectural pieces, including ornate carved stone slabs depicting Ancient Persian priests, servants and tributaries, and a 12ft high column from Persepolis, topped by a fearsome bull capital. The immense wealth of the empire is revealed in lavish tableware, including intricately carved gold and silver bowls, horn shaped drinking cups and polished stone trays, jewellery from the imperial capitals at Pasargadae and Susa, together with examples of ornate gold grave goods. The exhibition examines the innovations of the Persian kings, which helped to control their empire, including a system of devolved administration and government, a complex road network and an imperial postal service that ran from Sardis to Susa. The expansion of the empire is illustrated through objects that are witness to the interface with its distant corners such as Egypt, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Greece. The legacy of the Persian kings is examined with the famous Cyrus Cylinder, sometimes referred to as the first declaration of human rights because of its reference to religious toleration. British Museum until 8th January.

Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics and low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket.

The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include a History Of The Illuminations exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan, and 'A cow attempts to deceive a butcher by pretending to be a fairground attraction', a full size cow covered in 540 fairground lights that puts on an animated show; 'Bajra', a 135,000 bulb illuminated peacock from India, designed by Nandita Palchoudhuri; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 6th November.

Bodies And Antibodies: Paul Tecklenberg is a series of new works that draw upon the aesthetics of x-rays, microbiology and brain scans. Tecklenberg uses the old fashioned photographic technique called the photogram, which is based on shining light through real objects placed in front of light sensitive paper, to record their negative photographic silhouettes. This process captures the exact shape and density of the subject, just like an x-ray. The effect is shadowy and ghostly in atmosphere, yet the detail is beautifully accurate. This two part exhibition includes a site specific installation in the Laundry Room at Wollaton Hall, where Tecklenberg has concentrated on 'beneath the stairs activities'. To interpret this, he has used clothing to create images that have an eerie quality about them. They are life size and seem to have a human presence, and each has a name such as Agatha and Hildagarde. The images evoke a wide spectrum of thoughts: ghosts, Miss Haversham, sensuality, illicit affairs, improper relationships - and just clothing hanging up to dry. The Yard Gallery, Wollaton Hall and Park, Nottingham until 23rd October.


Hans Christian Andersen is an exhibition marking the bicentenary of the Danish children's writer, which reveals the underlying themes in his stories. Using clues provided by some of his best known characters, it explores the dark side of his life as well as the innocence of his vision. Much of Andersen's writing reflects his own story: The Ugly Duckling - his own life journey; The Little Mermaid - his interest in the supernatural and immortality; The Little Match Girl - his belief in the innocence of children; and The Tin Soldier - his feelings about women and the unobtainable. Interactive exhibits complement the more traditional historical material to mix word and play, reality and magic. Within a soundscape inspired by Andersen's stories, puppets, pulleys, projections and paper-cuts bring his characters to life. Visitors can perform their own fairytales, go under water with the Little Mermaid and find the Snow Queen. Among the materials on show are original manuscripts and early editions of his books; Andersen's own letters, drawings, paintings and photographs; ballet costumes from the Royal Opera House; illustrations from across the decades reflecting the changing times; and an extract from a film of The Little Match Seller, directed by British cinema pioneer James Williamson in 1902. The exhibition is designed and animated in collaboration with the pioneering young people's theatre company theatre-rites, which specialises in the fusion of performance, puppetry, installation art, video and sound. The British Library until 2nd October.

Sequences explores the origins of the moving image, from the first magic lantern slide shows to new media flip books, from Marey to the Matrix in a two venue exhibition. For a century chronophotography, the sequentail replaying of still images to create movement, has been in the shadow of cinema, but it is now emerging once again in post cinema practices and digital media.

At Q Arts, contemporary artists explore the technique, including 'Time Slice' photography's original pioneer, Tim MacMillan, alongside his original time-slice camera; Andrew Davidhazy with 'Shotgun Blast', tracing a bullet on its journey from gun to wall; and Tess Glanville's 'Time Piece', in which light pouring into the room is traced onto walls and floors to mark the passage of time. Among the other artists whose work is featured are Paul St George, Pia Jonsson. Andrea Polli, Bjorn Schulke, Rufus Butler Seder, Simon Lewandowski and Patrick Tarrant.

Chronophotography was pioneered by the forefathers of cinema, Lumiere, Reynaud, Muybridge and Marey. Artefacts from their work, together with all manor of illusionistic inventions, such as the Magic Lantern, kaleidoscope, panorama, Phantasmagoria, Stereoscope amd Zoopraxinoscope are on display in the accompanying exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery.

Q Arts Gallery and Derby Museum and Art Gallery until 2nd October.

Gaugin's Vision brings together works by the Post Impressionist Gauguin, his immediate mentors such as Edgar Degas and Camille Pissaro, painters he admired including Paul Cezanne and Gustave Moreau, and his younger contemporaries, Emile Bernard, Charles Laval, Louis Anquetin, Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis. Gauguin's 'Vision of the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel', one of the best known and most reproduced paintings in the world, was a turning point in the history of art. It depicts the vision of devout Breton women who literally 'see' the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel, the subject just preached to them by their priest. The painting is unusual not only for employing such a rich and strong colour palette, but also for telling a story - unheard of in avant-garde art of the time. This exhibition brings together 84 works, including Emile Bernard's remarkably similar 'Breton Women in a Meadow', painted only a week or two before Gauguin's. It offers a chance to understand 'Vision' in a rich context, exploring the biographical, pictorial and cultural circumstances that enabled Gauguin to make such a radical statement in paint in 1888. The exhibition encompasses not only paintings, but letters, drawings, fans, Japanese wood block prints, book illustrations, ceramics and furniture. The Breton theme is explored through prints, books, photographs and even period costumes. This is the first time a concentrated exhibition has been devoted to this arresting and complex painting, to its stylistic and thematic origins, critical impact and history. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 2nd October.