News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 22nd October 2003


Saved! 100 Years Of The National Art Collections Fund celebrates the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund by bringing together over 300 masterpieces which have been saved for the nation with the Fund's help. Spanning 4,500 years of great works of art from prehistoric times to the present, they comprise sculptures, paintings, drawings, ceramics, costumes, textiles, photographs, archaeological treasures and ethnographic material. Among the highlights are 'Jacob and the Angel' by Epstein; Canova's 'The Three Graces'; Picasso's 'Weeping Woman'; the Roman 'Bronze Head of Augustus', circa 27-25BC; major paintings and drawings by masters such as Botticelli, Constable, Holbein, Michelangelo, Rembrandt; and contemporary works by Lucian Freud, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie and Rachel Whiteread. Other treasures include jewels recovered from the Spanish Armada shipwreck of the Girona; the carved stern post of a Maori war canoe; van de Cappelle's seascape 'A Calm'; and the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written hours before her execution. A number of these works would have disappeared from public view or left Britain without the Fund's intervention, and the exhibition also tells the often dramatic stories behind their acquisition. Photographs, legal documents, letters and press cuttings illustrate the history of the Fund and its campaigning work. This exhibition marks the reopening of the Hayward Gallery after cosmetic surgery by Dan Graham and Haworth Tompkins, giving it a more prominent and spacious entrance, and a new small gallery. Hayward Gallery until 18th January.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti is an exhibition which proves that not all the best works by the founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood are currently to be found at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. The first major solo show of Rossetti's works since 1973 comprises over 150 items, including many of his most famous pieces. These medieval dreamlike and erotic paintings of powerful and mysterious women, though often derided as 'damsels and dragons', still retain their immediacy. This show features early drawings inspired by Romantic poetry; portraits of the Pre-Raphaelite circle; watercolours and drawings evoking the legend of King Arthur; subjects from Dante; and later paintings of love and death such as 'Dante's Dream' and 'The Blessed Damozel'. Rarely seen pieces include a sequence of drawings of Elizabeth Siddall, Rossetti's model and wife; and photographs of Jane Morris, posed by Rossetti, believed to be ideas of compositions for paintings, giving an insight into his use of photography alongside more traditional preparatory sketches. Critics have always sneered at Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites (and still do) but they remain as popular with the public as they have always been. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 18th January.

1920s: The Decade That Changed London brings together fashion, art, architecture, film, politics and culture to examine the decade that transformed London after the First World War. Over 400 exhibits, some not seen in public in over 80 years, reveal the many ways in which Londoners began to come to terms with life in the 20th century. From Anna Pavlova's ballet costumes and an early Norman Hartnell wedding dress, to Selfridges' golden lifts and the gates of the 1929 Firestone Factory, costume and architecture capture the decade's unique style. At a more serious level the exhibition highlights the influence of America and Russia on political and social change. Letters from Gandhi and Bolshevik propaganda posters join the work of artists Eric Gill, Laura Knight, William Roberts, Doris Zinkeisen, Henry Tonks and Ambrose McEvoy in an exploration of the thoughts and ideas of the time. Everyday items, from one of the earliest red telephone boxes, through cartoons starring Fritz the Cat, to giant advertising posters, highlight the period as one of innovation and change. Meanwhile, a unique collection from the 1920s cult group The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift celebrates a return to a more spiritual sense of Englishness. This is the first exhibition in the new Linbury Gallery, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, which is part of a £33m redevelopment programme. It will extend the existing building to provide a 70% increase in gallery space, plus a new entrance at street level designed by Foster and Partners, while the existing interiors will be remodelled. Museum Of London until 18th July.


Gothic: Art For England 1400-1547 celebrates late medieval art from the reign of Henry IV to the reign of Henry VIII, the period brought to life by Shakespeare's history plays. It shows how the wealth and patronage of monarchs, aristocrats, the Church and merchants made this one of the richest periods for the arts in England. However, fires, war, and the Reformation have destroyed much of the art and artefacts of the period making the remaining pieces extremely rare. This exhibition brings together more than 300 surviving treasures from across Britain, including tapestries, manuscripts, sculptures, paintings, armour, jewellery, gold and silver chalices and reliquaries, plate, altarpieces, tomb effigies and stained glass. Highlights include: the funerary helmet, shield and sword of Henry V which he wore at Agincourt; the crown of Margaret of York (sister of Edward IV), which has been in Germany for 500 years; the gold Reliquary of the Order of St Esprit owned by the wife of Henry IV; a monumental stained-glass window from St. Mary's, Fairford; an early edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales printed by William Caxton in 1483; the gold and enamel Dunstable Swan Jewel; the prayer roll of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick; silver spoons owned by thrice Mayor of London Dick Whittington; the Dacre Beasts, carved heraldic monsters; and the silver salt and silver-gilt crosier of the Bishop Fox, Bishop of Winchester. Victoria & Albert Museum until 18th January.

The Victorian Post Office explains the importance of the establishment of the universal penny post, paid for in advance by the attachment of a stamp - the famous Penny Black - and how it revolutionised communication (and still influences the system we use today). Thomas More Musgrave was the first person in the world to send a stamped letter, posted from Bath on 2nd May 1840, four days before its official introduction. The simple, fast, reliable nationwide service, with the letter enclosed in an envelope at no extra charge (rather than just folded and sealed), was immediately popular. Writing became fashionable, and the invention of the Christmas, birthday and Valentine card soon followed. Examples of these, hand made with painted scenes and paper lace, plus other letters, such as those salvaged from shipwrecks are featured in the exhibition, together with decorated envelopes, ink wells, paper knives, and stamp boxes. Other items include the only known Victorian stamp perforating machine still in existence in the UK, post boxes of all kinds, and a variety of uniforms. The permanent collection covers the history of written communication from Egyptian clay mail to today's e-mail, but sadly the museum located at the birthplace of the universal penny post service is under threat of closure. Further information can be found on the BPM web site via the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Bath Postal Museum continuing.

Turner And Venice is the first major exhibition devoted to works produced as a result f JMW Turner's trips to Venice in 1819, 1833 and 1840. It brings together around fifty five oil paintings, and over one hundred watercolours, as well as prints, maps and Turner's Venice sketchbooks. Much of the material is not normally on view because of its fragile nature, and some of the watercolours are displayed for the first time, including several of the romantic and mysterious studies of Venice by moonlight. The exhibition is set out as a tour of Turner's Venice, beginning with the monumental centre around the Doge's Palace and the Basilica of San Marco, and then reaching deeper into the city's heart, before finally culminating in a series of views of the Lagoon. In these, the city becomes a vital component in Turner's meditations on light, colour and the reflective surfaces of water and stone, in possibly his closest anticipation of impressionism. A perfect union of artist and subject. The exhibition also explores Turner's interest in literary evocations of Venice, particularly those of Shakespeare and Byron, which helped to shape and define his own reactions. Unusual items include pairs of pictures that were conceived as pendants but which have been separated since they were sold shortly after being completed - and two paintings originally thought to have been of Venice, but which have now been identified as of the arrival of Louis-Philippe in Portsmouth. Tate Britain until 11th January.

Sigmar Polke: History Of Everything showcases recent work by one of Germany's most significant artists, who incorporates something often lacking in both contemporary art and Germans - humour. Since the early 1960s Polke has experimented with a wide range of styles and subject matter, bringing together imagery from unexpected sources both historical and contemporary, including photographic and printed material such as advertisements, illustrations and cartoons. He has used a variety of different materials and techniques, including commercial patterned fabrics instead of canvas, and mixed together traditional pigments with solvents, varnishes, toxins and resins to produce spontaneous chemical reactions. Polke explored the visual effects of mechanical technology reproduced by hand, imitating the dots of enlarged newsprint by painting with the rubber at the end of a pencil. His series of 'Printers Mistakes' are production glitches enlarged to become abstracts or even figurative motifs. Polke likes to make works with specific venues in mind, and this display features recent pieces originally created for the Dallas Museum of Art from imagery found in Texan newspapers, referring to the gun culture of the West, and America's role in global politics. The group of around 100 pieces also features several large scale works made specifically for London, with examples of his latest technique of 'Machine Painting'. These are his first completely mechanically produced works, made by tinting and altering images on a computer and then photographically transferring them on to sheets of fabric. Tate Modern until 4th January.

Art For Votes' Sake: Visual Culture And The Women's Suffrage Campaign marks the centenary of the formation of the Women's Social and Political Union with an exhibition of materials employed in the 25 year long struggle to achieve the vote for women. Determined to fire the public imagination, suffrage artists exploited everything from traditional embroidery to the latest printing technologies, while some suffragettes like 'Slasher Mary' vandalised great paintings as a form of protest. An eclectic array of material is on show, much of it for the first time. An enamelled pendent by Ernestine Mills, an oil by Bertha Newcombe and drawings by Sylvia Pankhurst are displayed alongside new media such as experimental posters, post cards and photo journalism. Embroidery includes richly appliqued banners incorporating rare painted and printed scenes and aprons made by individual members. Portraiture was used to create public recognition, and there are examples of leading figures appearing in cartoons, paintings and photographs. Among the smaller items are jewellery, picture handkerchiefs, button badges, campaign journals and leaflets. Complementing the exhibition, there is a chance to browse the cultural and literary life of the time, and examine how writers such as George Bernard Shaw, Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf reacted to the campaign, alongside fiction from the Women Writers Suffrage League such as Gertrude Colmore's 'Suffragette Sally' and Elizabeth Robbins 'The Convert'. The Women's Library until 20th December.

Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch Of Brilliance is devoted to Rubens oil sketches, long regarded as one of the most remarkable aspects of his work. They illustrate the wide range of his preparation, and reveal the development of his pictorial ideas. By bringing together preparatory material from a small number of commissions, the exhibition provides a concentrated account the innovative and original use of the oil sketch in Rubens working process in creating paintings. These projects include the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, the altarpiece of Antwerp cathedral - The Descent From The Cross, and the now lost ceiling of the Jesuit church in Antwerp. Loosely painted grisailles, exploratory bozzetti, more finished modelli and drawings provide an insight into the genesis of several of the artist's most important compositions. Although Rubens delegated the execution of many of his commissions to assistants, the sketches were all his, and each is a work of art in its own right. Comprising some forty seven oil sketches supplemented by ten related drawings and a small number of finished paintings, the exhibition draws on the collections of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, together with material from the National Gallery, Dulwich College Picture Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 8th February.


Franz West is the first major British show of the work of the Viennese artist whose output over the last 30 years moves beyond eclectic to unclassifiable. It's sculpture, it's painting, it's collage, its furniture - it's the result of a good morning at a play school. West's roots are in the Viennese Actionists - 1960s performance artists who used the body to create experiences - but he makes a series of plaster body parts and off the peg performance props for visitors to use. Brightly coloured aluminium is twisted into strange shapes. Everyday objects are bandaged with papier-mache until they metamorphose into meteorite like shapes, which are then splattered with intense high gloss colour. Franz West is fascinated by images in glossy magazines and the allure of soft porn and the motor industry. He paints over these advertisements to isolate images and highlight their absurdity. West has also become famous for the furniture sculpture he has been making since the 1980s, and visitors are invited to lie on his couches to relax, and become transformed into an artist's model, a psychiatrist's patient, and a work of art. The exhibition also includes a collection of his collaborations with other artists - Martin Kippenberger, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Wolfgang Tillmans. An interactive art experience at its best - or worst depending on your point of view. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 9th November.

Puppet Worlds puts one of the oldest theatrical traditions into a global context, and also illustrates that its audience is by no means restricted to children. Every kind of puppet is here, from British end of the pier Punch and Judy, whose ancestry is much more complex than you would imagine - Punch first proclaimed "the way to do it" in Naples in the 17th century - via 4ft tall characters from the Sri Lankan puppet folk opera, and Malaysian shadow puppets, to satirical glove puppets from Uzbekistan which are employed to discuss social issues. Traditional Chinese and Indian puppets sit alongside present day British favourites such as the original Andy Pandy and Flower Pot Men. Among the highlights are rod puppets from Indonesia, where shows are performed at celebrations of births, weddings, harvest and other community occasions, which represent characters from the Mahabharata, including Yamadipati, the God of Death. On display for the first time are a set of water puppets, which belong to a performance art unique to Vietnam. They are used to depict life in the countryside, such as rice planting, fishing and wrestling, and also to tell more exotic stories, in which supernatural creatures like the unicorn, dragon and phoenix appear. To operate them, the puppeteers stand waist deep in water behind a screen, manipulating the puppets by the use of underwater rods and strings. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill London SE23 until 2nd November.

Half Term Events is a programme of different daily animal, nature and craft based activities (both indoor and outdoor) taking place throughout the second half of October at what was previously known as the National Forest Discovery Centre. These range from collecting leaves and using them to make masks and pictures, and examining how animals make their preparations for winter hibernation, to dressing up and walks through 'haunted' woods for Halloween, and a firework display. Year round attractions boast 23 different outdoor activities, including lakeside walks, ponds, mazes, wildlife, sculpture trails, nature trails, an assault course, train rides and playgrounds. Indoors there are 4 discovery zones where visitors can get close to the forest and experience its life and energy, such as seeing the world through the eyes of a spider or crawling through a living leaf, plus regular workshops, craft and music events. Further information can be found on the Conkers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Conkers, Ashby de la Zouch, until 1st November.