News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st December 2011


Dickens And London celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Britain's most successful novelist. Recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London through sound and projections, the exhibition takes visitors on a haunting journey to discover the city that inspired Dickens's writings. Paintings, photographs, costume and objects illustrate themes that Dickens wove into his works, while rarely seen manuscripts including Bleak House and David Copperfield - written in the author's own hand - offer clues to his creative genius. The exhibition reveals how Dickens's childhood experiences of London, working in a blacking factory while his father was locked away in a debtor's prison, were introduced into the stories he wrote. The great social questions of the 19th century, including wealth and poverty, prostitution, childhood mortality and philanthropy, are also examined, all of which set the scene for Dickens's greatest works. The exhibition covers Dickens's childhood and home life, the theatre, industrialisation, criminal justice and death. Highlights include an audio-visual experience bringing to life Robert William Buss's unfinished painting 'Dickens's Dream', portraying Dickens asleep in a chair surrounded by the characters he created, with the actual desk and chair where he wrote his novels; and a specially commissioned film by the documentary maker William Raban, which explores the similarities between London after dark today and the night time city in Victorian times, to a soundtrack of Dickens's essay Night Walks. Museum of London, until 10th June.

Cutting Edge: Contemporary Paper Art displays work by leading artists who use techniques such as collage, print-making and paper cuts to create a variety of fragile and unique sculptures and illustration. Papercraft is an age-old art that goes back to ancient China and Japan, but here it is given a contemporary twist. Among the artists represented are Eileen White, Rob Ryan, Ed Kluz, John Dilnot, Jonny Hannah, Zoe Murphy and Sally Sheinman. Highlights include a 15ft paper cut mobile suspended in the air, made from hundreds of leaves, flowers and other natural elements; beautiful 'vignettes' inside glass fronted boxes; six grand three dimensional paper houses on a miniature scale, mythical creations sheltering beneath Victorian glass domes; uncanny gothic landscapes inspired by historic buildings and folklore, made from mixed media, including gouache, ink, wax, wire and cut paper; and two 200ft long paper sculptures, one made from 25,000 pieces of hand-painted gold Japanese rice paper to symbolise the number of genes in the human genome, and the other comprised of over 700 drawings of the human form, each one different from the other, some showing small subtle changes, while others times are very dramatically different. Mottisfont Abbey, Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire, until 29th January.

Hogarth's House has reopened after a £400,000 restoration and refurbishment programme, which includes the transformation of the second floor into a museum. The Grade 1 listed house, built around 1700, was the country home of the painter, engraver and satirist William Hogarth from 1749 until his death. He bought the house to act as his family's country refuge, a weekend and summer home, away from the noise of his other house in what is now Leicester Square. The work involved revealing some of the building's original features, including parts of the flooring, a sympathetic refurbishment of period details, and the restoration of the original colour scheme. The new museum has displays about the Hogarths, their lives, and others who have lived in the house. It features a number of Hogarth's recently acquired personal possessions, such as a portable chest in which he kept brushes and materials, his paint box, his ladle, some glasses, a precious Chinese porcelain punchbowl, and his palette, which was later owned by JMW Turner. The house holds an extensive collection of Hogarth's prints, a selection of which are on display, together with a set of his engraving plates. In the garden there remains the ancient mulberry tree, the fruits of which the Hogarths are said to have made into pies for the Foundling children who stayed with them, and the 'painting room' shed where Hogarth was working until a few days before his death. Hogarth's tomb with an inscription by his friend, the actor, David Garrick, lies a short walk from the house in St Nicholas's churchyard, next to the Thames. Hogarth's House, Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4, continuing.


The Heart Of The Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography features photographs taken in Antarctica by Herbert George Ponting and Frank Hurley, and marks the 100th anniversary of Captain Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole. Herbert George Ponting's extraordinary images record Scott's Terra Nova expedition of 1910-13, which led to the tragic death of five of the team on their return from the South Pole. The photographs capture scenes of life on board, the very first icebergs the ship encountered, and the stunning landscape and wildlife around them, including ice flowers, a grotto in an iceberg, the moment the sea began to freeze, and Captain Oates and his Siberian ponies. Frank Hurley's dramatic icescapes were taken during Ernest Shackleton's Polar expedition on Endurance in 1914-16, which included the heroic sea journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. They record life onboard Endurance before it was trapped in the ice floes, and include atmospheric pictures of it sinking beneath the sea, having been crushed by the enormous pressure of the ice, after which Hurley was forced to sacrifice all but 120 of his 500 glass plate negatives in order to carry them home on foot. Presented to King George V, these sets of photographs, which manage to encapsulate the brave and tragic elements of the expeditions undertaken in fatally freezing conditions, are among the finest examples of the artists' works in existence. In addition to the photographs, the exhibition includes some remarkable Antarctic ephemera, including Captain Scott's South Pole flag, together with photographs and paintings associated with The Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Antarctica in 1956-57. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 15th April.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery has reopened after a £17.6m restoration and refurbishment project designed by architects Page / Park, which has increased the public and exhibition space by more than 60%, adding an education suite, seminar room, larger cafe and shop, and media centre. Among the opening displays are: Reformation To Revolution, an exploration of the significance of portraiture in a period of fundamental changes in religion, leadership and nationhood, from a time of Catholic absolute monarchy in the mid 16th century, to the Protestant revolution at the end of the 17th century; Citizens Of The World: David Hume & Allan Ramsay, telling the story of Scotland's contribution to the Enlightenment, through the portraits of the people who contributed to the paradigm shifts in attitudes towards humankind and the world during the 18th century; Out Of The Shadow: Women Of 19th Century Scotland, considering the lives of female intellectuals, writers and artists whose work helped to change the perceptions and aspirations of their female audience, and to advance the cause of women's rights in the 19th century; Migration Stories, highlighting the cultural diversity of Scotland and its impact on the world, exploring questions of identity, issues of place, belonging, exile and tradition; and Romantic Camera: Scottish Photography And The Modern World, exploring questions of national identity, with reference to the relationship between romanticism and photography in Scotland, ranging from iconic images by pioneers of photography Hill and Adamson, to new commissions. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, continuing.

A Hankering After Ghosts: Charles Dickens And The Supernatural explores the many ways in which Dickens used supernatural phenomena in his works, while placing them in the context of scientific, technological and philosophical debates of his time. Dickens's interest in the macabre was apparent from an early age, and as an adult, he was caught up in 'mesmeric mania' that swept Britain, developing an interest in the 'power of the human mind'. He believed that all supernatural manifestations must have rational explanations, but his investigations into animal magnetism and psychology showed him that science could be as chilling as any ghost story. Among the exhibits are: a letter from Dickens to his wife Catherine, alluding to a marital disagreement that arose after Catherine became jealous of the close attention he was paying to a lady named Augusta de la Rue, using mesmerism to treat her nervous condition after he learnt how to mesmerise people; 'Well authenticated rappings' written by Dickens for Household Words, questioning the motivation of spirits who would return to make general idiots of themselves by conveying inane messages full of spelling mistakes; The Terrific Register: or, Records Of Crimes, Judgements, Providences And Calamities, a penny weekly magazine that covered such topics as murder, ghosts, incest and cannibalism, which was a favourite of Dickens as a child; and a Punch cartoon of John Elliotson, the doctor who promoted mesmerism, where he looks remarkably like a hairdresser suggesting a trim to his woman patient. British Library until 4th March.

Hidden Heroes - The Genius Of Everyday Things examines the ingenuity of a group of seemingly run-of-the-mill everyday objects. The exhibition looks at the inspiration involved in items whose design and purpose are so well matched that they remain uncelebrated, but heavily used, in the fabric of our lives. The 36 inventions which deserve their moment in the spotlight include the ring binder, rubber band, spring clothes peg, sticking plaster, paperclip, Velcro, umbrella, zip and ballpoint pen. The featured inventions are presented alongside original sketches and drawings by their inventors, illustrating the process from idea to final object. Patent specifications and original advertisements reveal the efforts made to establish each product. Many of the objects have remained unaltered since their invention, demonstrating a simple, ingenious design. In some cases, the success of each product reflects changes in cultural and industrial history: the pencil suggests the spread of education and writing; the tin can illustrates the industrialisation of food production; and Post-it Notes have proliferated in tandem with computers, staging a final stand for scribbled communication in a digital age. Among the stories contained within the exhibition are: how a descending aeroplane may have inspired the design of bubble wrap; how an engineer hired to install electrical fittings at the British Museum invented the rawlplug; how a packed coat rack could have inspired the wire coat hanger; how a request by Napoleon for the preservation of food for his troops led to the eventual development of the tin can; and how the tea bag may have been discovered accidentally when customers dipped unopened packets in hot water to test quality of a tea shipment. Science Museum until 5th June.

Galleries Of Ancient Egypt And Nubia is a £5m redevelopment designed by Rick Mather Architects and Metaphor Design, which has created a suite of 6 galleries that present a chronological journey covering more than 5,000 years of human occupation of the Nile Valley. This expanded space allows for considerably more of the collection to be seen, grouped around 6 themes: Egypt At Its Origins, dominated by two limestone statues of the fertility god Min, which are among the oldest preserved stone sculptures in the world, and featuring the ceremonial 'Two-Dog' palette - a double-sided cosmetic palette of the type used for grinding eye paint; Dynastic Egypt And Nubia, the centrepieces of which are the Shrine of Taharqa, the only pharaonic building in Britain, and an entire Pan-Grave burial assemblage; Life After Death In Ancient Egypt, with the nested coffins and mummy of Djeddjehutyiuefankh, funerary models, amulets and canopic jars, surrounded by faithful reproductions of tomb paintings; The Amarna 'Revolution', with fragments of wall and floor paintings depicting Akhenaten and Nefertiti in their palace in the new capital; Egypt In The Age Of Empires, revealing the lives of the community of the masons, craftsmen and artists who built the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, through thousands of limestone ostraca; and Egypt Meets Greece And Rome, charting the changes brought about in Egypt by Greek and Roman invaders, with funeral portrait statues and wooden mummy portraits. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, continuing.

Painting Canada: Tom Thomson And The Group Of Seven features some of Canada's most famous landscape paintings created in the early part of 20th century. The exhibition comprises 122 paintings, not seen in Britain since 1925, as well as Tom Thomson's sketchbox. Tom Thomson and J E H MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston and Franklin Carmichael met as employees of the design firm Grip Ltd in Toronto, and were joined by A Y Jackson and Lawren Harris, The group often met at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto to discuss their opinions and share their art. Their mission was to engage with the awesome Canadian wilderness, a landscape previously considered too wild and untamed to inspire 'true' art. Harris and MacCallum collaborated to create a studio building that opened in 1914 to serve as a meeting and working place for the group. The exhibition presents a journey across Canada, from East to West, framed by Tom Thomson's electrifying sketches and paintings of Algonquin Park, and Lawren Harris's other-worldly paintings of the Arctic and the Rocky Mountains. Between these two 'poles,' is a selection of the group's best work, paintings that bear some similarities to the landscapes of the Scottish Colourists. A special feature of the show is the juxtaposition, wherever possible, of the initial sketch with the finished canvas. One room is devoted entirely to a display of these vibrant sketches, which represent one of Canada's most impressive contributions to 20th century art. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 8th January.


The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn To Sarah Siddons explores art and theatre in 18th century England through portraits of women. Starting with the emergence of the actress's profession in the late 17th century, the exhibition shows how women performers, in drama, as well as music and dance, were key figures within a spectacular celebrity culture. Fuelled by gossipy theatre and art reviews, satirical prints and the growing taste for biography, 18th century society engaged in heated debate about the moral and sexual decorum of women on stage, and revelled in the traditional association between actress and prostitute, or 'whores and divines'. The exhibition comprises 53 large paintings of actresses in their celebrated stage roles, intimate off stage portraits, and mass produced caricatures and prints, and explores how they contributed to the growing reputation and professional status of leading female performers. Actresses featured include Nell Gwyn, Kitty Clive, Hester Booth, Lavinia Fenton, Susannah Cibber, Peg Woffington, Sarah Siddons, Mary Robinson, Dorothy Jordan and Elizabeth Farren. They are seen in works by artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, John Hoppner, Thomas Lawrence, Johann Zoffany and James Gillray. Highlights include a little known version of Reynolds's famous portrait of Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, Hogarth's 'The Beggar's Opera', Gainsborough's portraits of Giovanna Bacelli and Elizabeth Linley, and the 'Three Witches from Macbeth' (in the forms of Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne; Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; Anne Seymour Damer) by Daniel Gardner. National Portrait Gallery until 8th January.

Splendour And Power Imperial Treasures From Vienna offers a rare glimpse into the opulent world of the Hapsburg emperors. The exhibition comprises a selection of beautifully crafted cameos, jewellery, vessels and other objects made from gems, precious metals and hardstones, from the Kunstkammer collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. These objects, almost all of which are unique creations, were designed to demonstrate the incredible wealth, power and glory of the Hapsburg dynasty, and initially only visitors of noble birth, such as princes of neighbouring countries or diplomatic delegations, were granted access. The focus of the exhibition is on artworks from the late Renaissance and Mannerist periods, the heyday of treasuries and 'cabinets of curiosities', as well as from the Baroque. These include exquisite jewellery, from necklaces, pendants and lockets to rings and enseignes, complemented by pre-eminent examples of medieval and Renaissance jewellery; intricate portrait cameos, many bearing the likenesses of the Hapsburg sovereigns, crafted in the style of ancient Roman imperial portraits; ornate goldwork, vessels and coffers, including a bowl featuring embedded Roman coins, and a serpentine tankard; stonework, carving and sculpture, with precious objects crafted from agate, jasper, rock-crystal and lapis lazuli, including a cup made from rhinoceros horn and a Chinese jade bowl; a 15th century enamel model of the Annunication; and 'Venus and Cupid Sleeping on a Shell', created around 1600 from precious agate and set in a silver mount. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 8th January.

Gerhard Richter: Panorama is a retrospective that brings together significant moments of the career of one of the most important artists working today. Since the 1960s, Gerhard Richter has immersed himself in a rich and varied exploration of painting. Continually challenging the relevance of the medium, his works have encompassed a diverse range of techniques and ideas. This exhibition, marking Richter's 80th birthday, encompasses his full range, with paintings based on photographs, colourful gestural abstractions such as the squeegee paintings, portraits, landscapes and history paintings, plus works over-painting his own photographs and photographs of details of his own paintings. Punctuating the exhibition are a series of glass constructions from 1960s, 1970s and 2000s, and mirror works that Richter began making in the 1980s. Highlights include a rarely shown painting of the Alps; a triptych of Cloud paintings; the Skull and Candle paintings shown alongside paintings of icebergs and mountainscapes, testifying to Richter's admiration of German Romantic painting; the 15 part work 'October 18 1977', based on newspaper images of the dead members of the Baader Meinhof group; intimate portraits and images of friends and family, such as painted busts of himself and his friend, the artist Blinky Palermo, 'Ema (Nude on a Staircase)' depicting his first wife, 'Betty 1988', a portrait of his daughter, and 'Reader 1994', a painting of his young wife; and 'September 2005', a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. Tate Modern until 8th January.