News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st December 2005


Gainsborough To Turner: British Watercolours From The Spooner Collection spans the golden age of watercolour painting from around 1750 to 1850, and demonstrates the inventiveness and imagination of British artists working in the medium during this period. It is a rare opportunity to see the majority of this little known but important collection, with 82 works on view, including landscape and figurative subjects by Thomas Gainsborough, Paul Sandby, Francis Towne, Alexander and J R Cozens, Thomas Girtin, John Constable, John Sell Cotman and J M W Turner, as well as works by lesser known artists, many never previously exhibited. Among the architectural images are Edward Dayes's 'Somerset House from the Thames', and views of Greenwich by J R Cozens and John Varley, as well as antiquity and ruins, as epitomised by Cotman's 'Doorway to the Refectory, Kirkham Priory, Yorkshire'. Rural landscapes dominate the exhibition, from Gainsborough's 'invented' compositions of woods, cattle and sheep of the early 1780s, to closely observed river scenes made on the spot in Wales by William James Muller some sixty years later. The exhibition also reflects the technical development of watercolour, as Paul Sandby's brightly coloured gouache drawing 'Henry VIII Gateway, Windsor Castle', and Towne's characteristic 'coloured' outline drawings, contrast with the later more naturalistic and freely handled washes of Girtin, Turner and de Wint. Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 12th February.

Henry Moore Tapestries features the sculptor's less well known works in textiles, made in the late 1970s, which have not been seen in public for some years. The designs for the tapestries were taken from earlier drawings made by Moore as preparations for sculptures, which were enlarged up to ten times their original size. The resulting pieces, made in collaboration with the Tapestry Studio at West Dean in Sussex, are over 6ft in height. They depict a series of typical Moore subjects on the theme of 'Women and Children' and include reclining women, the mother and child and the seated figure. Moore was most interested in the interpretative element of weaving, so that the individual weaver's hand would make its mark, and that the tapestries would not simply be a blown up copy of a drawing.

Nina Saunders, in her first solo exhibition, encompasses furniture, embroidery, monoprints and small bronzes. In 'Chameleon', two embroidered chairs, the design of which has been painstakingly overpainted, stand in a room hung with monoprints, which have been taken from this design, their pattern becoming weaker as the paint, from which they are printed, disappears. 'Loves the jobs you hate', a bronze cast of cleaning materials, is coupled with 'Later that afternoon', a cast of a cup of tea with digestive biscuits on its saucer, while a stuffed deer in a balaclava looks down on them.You had to be there.

New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury both exhibitions until 5th February.

Quiet Resistance: Russian Pictorial Photography 1900 - 1930s provides an opportunity to explore a hitherto overlooked aspect of Russian photography. Alongside the better known avant-garde artists of Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, there was another pictorial trend in Russian photography, which strove to approximate photography to painting, using mainly 'soft' lenses and special, often very sophisticated, printing techniques. Pictorial photography challenged the realist documentary work, and like painting, sought to convey the emotions, and to express the artists' individual senses and meanings. Among the greatest exponents of the school whose works are featured here were Alexander Grinberg, Yury Yeremin, Nikolai Andreev, Nikolai Svishchov-Paola and Alexander Rodchenko. Their depictions of daily life, landscapes and old mansions, city scenes, female nudes and dancers, and portraits of peasants at work, had much in common with their European contemporaries. The 100 photographs in the exhibition recall early 20th century experiments in photography, such as exploring human movement through nymph like dancers, and altering prints by overpainting and scratching. Among the highlights are Yeremin's nudes and dancers, which led to his imprisonment for 'producing pornography'; a study of a bridge in snow by Grinberg, who was sent to a labour camp; Svishchov-Paola's three young women on a staircase, limbs forming Modernist shapes; and Rodchenko's Circus series and scenes from classical operas and ballets. Gilbert Collection at Somerset House until 26th February.


Beatrix Potter: Artist And Illustrator reveals unknown works by the writer and illustrator most famous for Peter Rabbit and other characters in her Little White Books. Many of Potter's most original works were neither reproduced nor exhibited during her lifetime, and her fame rests on only a small part of her output. This exhibition of over 250 works is a broad survey of her art in all its variety: early nature sketches, pen and ink animal studies, watercolours of flora and fauna, unfinished and first drafts of her illustrations, designs and watercolours, and later landscapes, together with early editions of the books. Potter took as meticulous and scientific approach to cataloguing the natural world around her as any professional natural historian. She produced about 500 fungus and lichen drawings, including microscopic studies that were scientifically interesting, and came close to discovering the antibiotic properties of penicillium mould in the course of her research. Among the unpublished materials on display are a series of illustrations for Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Accompany the drawings and paintings are memorabilia, photographs, notes and letters. These show that Potter's relationship with the publisher of the Little White Books was not always a happy one, and that she never liked the iconic image of Peter Rabbit walking on his hind legs, which she dismissed as "that idiotic prancing rabbit". Dulwich Picture Gallery, London until 22nd January.

The Art Of White explores how the colour white in art has come to depict a raft of emotions that stand as powerful symbols. 80 works, spanning 500 years, from religious scenes to still lifes, portraits to photographs, and snow scenes to sculpture, illustrate how the colour is far from neutral. Purity, innocence, moral goodness, sterility, peace, spirituality and meditative silence are all expressed through the use of the colour in works by artists as varied as Picasso, Martin Creed, Robert Ryman, Turner, Constable, Landseer, Valette, Philip Wilson Steer, Rossetti, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Andy Goldsworthy and Michael Craig-Martin. The inspiration behind the exhibition is L S Lowry's obsessive use of white in his paintings. He studied how white paint changed colour over time, and discovered that his preferred lead based white paint gradually turned to shades of cream and brown. A selection of Lowry works on display reflect this obsession, from his depiction of pollution laden industrial skies from the 1930s to solitary figures isolated against dense white backgrounds painted towards the end of his life. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned work by Natasha Kidd, comprising a network of copper pipes running above the gallery through which white emulsion paint is circulated. The flow is interrupted by series of taps, which results in a constant stream of paint drips running down a set of steel plates, leaving streaks on the smooth metal surfaces, with variable pumping pressure causing ever changing paint distribution, creating bumps, ridges and 'stalactite' paint formations. The Lowry, Salford until 17th April.

Presenting A Cooling Image features photographs from the Lafayette studio glass plate negative archive. Discovered on a London building site in 1988, the portraits in the Lafayette archive encapsulate the upper echelons of society at the turn of the 20th century. Covering the period from 1885 to 1933, there are images of royalty, aristocracy, the noted and the notorious. Society hostesses and debutantes captured in these portraits all carry a fan, as a costume accessory or as integral part of their outfit, often for presentation at court, and displayed alongside them are similar or corresponding fans This exhibition aims to place each fan in its historical and social context, reflecting on who may have owned it, and when and where it may have been used. From the stiff formality of the Marchioness of Winchester, photographed in her official robes for Edward VII's coronation in 1902, to the understated elegance of Miss Mary Latta's fashionable attire for presentation at court in 1923, the Lafayette archive records the transformation of fashion from the rigid corsetry of Queen Victoria's era to the fluid dropped waists of the 1920s flapper. Such stylistic alterations are equally noticeable in accessories, including the fans on display. As well as formal occasions, there are images from Fancy Dress balls, usually high profile social events such as the Devonshire House Ball, attended by Royalty. This is the first time that many of the 30 images on show have been seen publicly since they were first made. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 26th March.

Canaletto In Venice features the works that have largely shaped the British and the world's view of Venice. Canaletto's paintings and drawings fixed the 18th century city of canals, palaces, churches and squares in the popular imagination, and introduced townscapes as a genre. His greatest patron (and agent) was Joseph Smith, the British Consul in Venice, and the sale of Smith's entire collection to George III in 1762 brought into royal ownership the world's finest group of Canaletto's works, including an outstanding series of Venetian views. Fourteen panoramic paintings of the Grand Canal form the centrepiece of this exhibition, and are displayed together with 70 works on paper, the largest group of Canaletto's drawings ever shown in the UK. They offer a complete portrait of daily life in the heart of the city, from the quayside houses and workshops on the Grand Canal's upper reaches, through some of the most famous sights, such as the Piazzetta and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, to the less well known churches and squares including San Giovanni Battista dei Battuti on the island of Murano, together with the festivities of a regatta, and Ascension Day celebrations around St Mark's Square. Among the highlights of the drawings are Canaletto's record of the Campanile undergoing repairs after a lightning strike, and a series of 'capricci', in which he rearranged the actual Venetian topography to create a city of his own imagination. The large Capriccio with a monumental staircase is among the greatest works of Canaletto's career. The Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace until 23rd April.

Conrad Shawcross: The Steady States introduces three specially commissioned sculptures, designed for the galleries in which they are shown. They combine Shawcross's interest in sculpture, science and philosophy, and demonstrate the intellectual rigour, technical dexterity and sense of drama associated with his work. The pieces draw upon complex themes within the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics and musical theory. Shawcross is particularly interested in how these elements combine and link with modern theories about the universe, such as 'the big bang' and 'string theory'. Despite the fact that all this sounds futuristic, the works have an old fashioned homemade Heath Robinson quality. 'Space Trumpet' (inspired by a primitive radio telescope) is like a huge gramophone horn waiting for a black and white dog the size of King Kong to stare at it. 'Harmonic Tower' is a massive version of a Harmonograph (the Victorian predecessor of the spirograph), which is the size of a Baywatch lookout tower. 'Loop System Quintet' comprises five wooden machines connected by a single drive-shaft that draw different but interconnected 'knots' of light in space (in ratios predetermined by the cogs that drive them related to theories of musical harmony) as though they were waving gigantic sparklers at a bonfire party. Seeing is disbelieving. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 26th February.

Sacred Silver And Stained Glass is new £1.6m gallery designed by John Ronayne. It features some of the finest examples of ecclesiastical metalwork in the country, from richly decorated medieval reliquaries to simple non-conformist communion vessels, together with stained glass from the 12th century to the present day. The gallery has the feeling of a cathedral nave with both natural light and a lighting system illuminating the objects. Christian objects from a number of denominations, including Protestant, Catholic, Non-Conformist and Greek Orthodox, and a small number of Jewish objects are on show. They are presented in the context of the beliefs they reflect, exploring patronage, how and why different types of silver vessels were used, and how changing religious practices affected their shapes and forms. Highlights among the 300 silver objects include: a German monstrance depicting The Last Supper, made in Augsburg in 1705 by Johann Zeckel; a 17th century Torah mantle and Italian silver filigree rimmonim; and a pair of Charles II silver-gilt 'sick cups' from 1683, used for giving communion to the sick at home. Flanking the gallery on both sides are displays of around 250 pieces of stained glass, claimed to be the best museum collection in the world. Highlights include: Gothic panels from Canterbury Cathedral, Saint-Denis and The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; 16th century glass from Rouen; and a panel from the great west window of Fairford Church in Gloucestershire dating from about 1500, depicting an angel of the Last Judgement. The display also explains the materials and techniques used in making stained glass. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.


Immortal Pharoah: The Tomb Of Thutmose III is an exact replica of the burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs. Ruling during the Eighteenth Dynasty, from 1479 to 1426 BC, Thutmose III belongs to the country's most glorious era. The walls of the tomb contain a complete depiction of the Amduat (Book of the Dead) the oldest Egyptian book of the netherworld, which chronicles the pharaoh's journey through the afterlife. According to ancient beliefs, in order to gain eternal life everyone who dies has to successfully complete a 12 hour journey mirroring the journey of the sun god from dusk till dawn. Mummification and the leaving of treasures were ways of helping to protect the dead through this journey, to ensure that they secured eternal life and not eternal damnation. The Amduat was believed to contain the secret to eternal life, holding the crucial knowledge that was needed to help people pass a series of tests to see if they were worthy of immortality - helping them to use their wits and knowledge, including magic, to beat demons and serpents. Thutmose's tomb is the oldest discovered burial site featuring the entire book. It comprises 12 separate panels - one for every hour of the journey - filled with elegant line drawings in black and red showing the pharaoh moving through the underworld. An array of original exhibits and artefacts illustrates the themes of the Amduat, and the rituals surrounding burial, mummification and the belief in resurrection. City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until 8th January.

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.