Private View held by Richard Andrews
David Hockney: Five Double Portraits is a double celebration, marking the return to Britain of one of our most globally successful artists, and the discovery of (for him) a new medium - watercolour. Relishing the possibilities and restrictions of watercolour, these portraits are large (almost 4ft high), produced in a single six or seven hour sitting, with no preparatory sketches, and no possibility of over painted alterations. The centrepiece is a portrait of the Glyndebourne impresario Sir George Christie and his wife, commissioned by the gallery, which proved the catalyst for Hockney's interest in the medium, and produced a burst of creativity. National Portrait Gallery until 29th June.
Painting On Paper continues David Hockney's new enthusiasm for watercolour, with large scale, vividly coloured landscapes, painted on multiple sheets of paper, executed during visits to Norway and Iceland last summer. These have the qualities we expect of a Hockney painting, but which are rarely seen in watercolours. They are shown alongside line drawings and studies of bonsai trees, and a dozen more portraits. Typical of Hockney to rush to explore his new found medium with all kinds of subjects. Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, London W1 until1st March.
Paradise explores ways in which artists have reinterpreted the visible world to create images of paradise itself, to recall a lost Golden Age or a longed for future, or to show the world transformed and idealised. At the centre is Brueghel's The Garden Of Eden, imagined as a menagerie in which leopards lie down with guinea-pigs and parrots fly above penguins. Religious images include Benozzo Gozzoli's Virgin And Child With Angels, set in a heavenly garden recalling the lost Eden, and Friedrich's visionary Winter Landscape. The pastoral poetry of the ancient Greeks, revived in the Renaissance, is represented by Claude Lorrain in Landscape With Narcissus And Echo; the shepherds, nymphs and satyrs depicted by Poussin in A Bacchanalian Revel Before A Term Of Pan also derive from classical descriptions of a lost Arcadia; while Constable's The Cornfield presents a quintessentially English Golden Age. From among the 19th and 20th century artists who looked beyond these traditions in their search for the perfect world, are works by Gauguin, who sought Paradise in Tahiti and the islands the South Pacific, and Monet, who retreated from the world to the Eden of his water garden at Giverny. This is the second in a series of touring exhibitions organised by the National Gallery in association with regional partners. Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery until 30th March.
Working Water: Roman Technology In Action is a full scale reconstruction of a 2000 year old water lifting machine. The sophisticated Roman mechanism - possibly the earliest example of mechanical engineering in Britain - was uncovered in Gresham Street, in the City of London, in September 2001. However, key elements were missing, and there were no written instructions about its design or operation. By comparing evidence from the surviving remains with known examples of ancient engineering, and supporting these with modern engineering principles, experts have been able to reconstruct a unique machine, which in its original form would have been capable of raising an astonishing 72,000 litres (15,000 gallons) per 10 hour day. The completed machinery consists of an 8 sided oak drive wheel, with water buckets jointed together to form a continuous loop, that empty into a trough as they near the top of the chain. The 18 oak buckets are made from planks with a recessed base to allow room for the articulated movement of an iron chain. This reconstruction, on view outdoors, has been made with a capstan and gears, and is being operated by a trained demonstrator assisted by members of the general public. Museum Of London until 31st May.
Unseen Vogue: The Secret History Of Fashion Photography has been produced by sifting through over one and a half million unused images in the archive of the fashion bible British Vogue. From first efforts by famous photographers and great pictures by forgotten ones, to out-takes from now legendary shoots, it reveals images which were commissioned by Vogue but never published, either due to editorial arguments or 'excess of imagination' on the part of the snappers. Either way, this collection offers an alternative version to the official history of fashion photography. It features previously unseen work by such legends as Horst, Cecil Beaton, William Klein, David Bailey, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Bob Richardson, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Nick Knight and current hottie Mario Testino (although surely the world has seen even his holiday snaps). The photographs are given an extra dimension by the inclusion of editors' notes and sketches, photographers' letters, and even models' payslips. A fresh insight into a world about which we thought we already knew too much. Design Museum until 23rd February.
Barbara Hepworth Centenary Exhibition is the first of many planned to mark the anniversary of the birth of one of the twentieth century's most important and influential sculptors. Hepworth's first love was carving, and although her early work in stone was representational, she soon moved on to abstracts, using woods such as walnut, teak and guarea, and stones such as marble and alabaster. Together with her second husband Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore, Hepworth was at the centre of a group of British sculptors living in Hampstead, who created a revolutionary new approach to European abstract sculpture of the 1930s. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Hepworth and Nicholson moved to St Ives in Cornwall, where she developed a deep affinity with the location. In the 1950s she started working with metal, constructing forms in sheet metal, and bronze casts from her original carvings. As a result, Hepworth's sculpture could be shown out of doors, and she went on to undertake many large scale public commissions, often exhibiting her trademark 'big lump with a hole drilled through it (usually larger on one face of the material than the other)'. This exhibition shows the full range of her work, with marble carvings in the gallery, and large bronzes outdoors in the park. New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury until 6th April.
Piranesi's Carceri is an exhibition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's celebrated Imaginary Prisons series of etchings. These images of dark cavernous spaces traversed by vertiginous walkways have a nightmarish quality that gripped the imagination of Romantic artists like William Wordsworth and Thomas de Quincey. The influence of these works can still be felt in today's cinematic visions of dystopian cities of the future. In essence, Piranesi was creating the world of Blade Runner in the 18th century. Perhaps best known for his etchings of ancient and modern Rome, Piranesi also opened up new vistas in the world of fantasy architecture, breaking loose from practical restraints to allow his imagination free rein. Piranesi's architectural fantasies developed out of his early training as a theatrical designer in his native Venice, but he invested the genre with a dark brooding menace that was entirely new. Despite being 200 years old, these images remain freshly, almost futuristically, threatening. British Museum until 21st April.
Marcus Gheeraets II: Elizabethan Artist is the first solo exhibition to consider the work of this important but little known late Elizabethan and Jacobean immigrant Flemish artist. This is all the more surprising since Gheeraets produced some of the most haunting portraits in British art, and defined the public images of many of the leading Britons of his age. Gheeraerts depicted his male subjects as heroes, often in the increasingly fashionable full length format, as in that of Elizabeth I's final favourite, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Although his father is best known for a portrait of Elizabeth I (also included here), the younger Gheeraets legacy is the 'pregnancy portrait' - depicting women who are clearly (even exaggeratedly) pregnant. It was an age when a wife's role was to bear many healthy children to extend a family's name and influence, yet childbirth was so hazardous, that these portraits were commissioned to record the features of a loved one who might shortly be dead. The exhibition includes the exceptional 'Portrait Of An Unknown Lady', which has not been exhibited for more than thirty years; Captain Thomas Lee, also known as 'the man with bare legs'; and over twenty other works, including paintings, engravings and portrait miniatures, together with 16th century illustrated medical books, and a 'mother's legacy' book, written for her unborn child were she did not survive childbirth, the author of which sadly did not. Tate Britain until 20th April.
The Jane Austen Centre recently added an unusual new portrait of Austen to its display. It was painted by Melissa Dring, who as well as being a portraitist, is a forensic artist, and works with police forces producing reconstructions and court illustrations. She has used her experience in this field to create a likeness of Austen based on contemporary first hand descriptions by her family and friends. Most images of Jane Austen have been developed from the 1810 watercolour by her sister Cassandra, which is generally held not to have been a good likeness. Perhaps this new portrait is the closest to real life yet created. The permanent exhibition tells the story of Austen's life in Bath, and the effect it had on her, and her writing. It is located in a Georgian town house in the street where Austen lived 1805, set between the architectural masterpieces of Queen Square and the Circus. The novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are largely set in the city, and Bath features in all six her of her works. The Jane Austen Centre continuing.
Magic Pencil - Children's Book Illustration Today is a display of more than 300 paintings and drawings for children, by thirteen of Britain's best known contemporary illustrators. Mythological monsters, spooks and fairytale princesses leap out of the pages in a wide range of colours and styles. These encompass Angela Barrett's fantasy visions, Sara Fanelli's collages, Raymond Briggs and Posy Simonds more adult worlds, and modern classics by Quentin Blake and Tony Ross. The exhibition considers what moves an artist to draw, if children's book illustration is really art, and how we learn to 'read' pictures. Each artist is assessed individually, revealing how and why they work, with examples of their different approaches, techniques and draughtsmanship. The exhibition also examines how today's illustrators reflect contemporary concerns, often through subject matter not always associated with children's books. This current work is placed in the context of the long tradition of British children's book illustration through examples of books from the past 300 years from the permanent collection. The British Library until 31st March.
Rewind provides an opportunity to revisit favourite television commercials, press and poster advertising campaigns, graphics and packaging from the sixties to the present, as well as study more recent examples of product, interactive and environmental design. In 1962, a group of designers and advertising art directors working in London joined forces to create a new organisation, British Design & Art Direction (D&AD). Since then, D&AD's annual award scheme has become an international barometer of changing trends. This exhibition shows winning work from the awards, rewinding across four decades to chart developments in design and advertising through a wide range of disciplines. From 'Beanz Meanz Heinz', through the Guinness 'Surfer' commercial, to the Apple iMac, this major retrospective, reflects the rise of Britain's creative industries. It also shows how design and advertising have become an integral part of the fabric of the world economy - and a reflection of the times in which we live. There is a People's Vote to chose the public's favourite campaign from the 43 Gold Award winners on show, which can be found on the V&A web site via the link opposite. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd February.
Star Trek - The Adventure is a £24m 'multi-media interactive experience through four decades of Star Trek adventures, where stars, creators and state of the art technology will come together to reveal the secrets of the creative process'. The show is receiving its world premiere in a 7,000 sq metre 'hi-tech climate controlled environment' (that's tent to you and me) in Hyde Park - the biggest event to be staged there since the Great Exhibition of 1851. The extravaganza (at last something which actually deserves the word) offers the first chance for civilians to experience the interiors of various generations of the Enterprise at first hand, including a red alert on the bridge; the transporter room, where they can experience being 'beamed up'; and the engineering bay with the latest technology, together with hundreds of props, costumes and artifacts, and interactive demonstrations and simulators. Last (and by no means least) there is more merchandising on offer than you would think possible in one universe. "It's an exhibition Jim, but not as we know it." Entertainment crosses the final frontier. Star Trek - The Adventure, Speakers Corner, Hyde Park until 31st January.
Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, which at 9000sqm is larger than ever and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Basel has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. Somerset House until 26th January.