News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd May 2007


Dickens World is a £62m indoor visitor attraction, concept and design by G A O'Sullivan-Beare, themed around the life, work and times of Charles Dickens, recreating his vision of England. Visitors can experience the architecture and street scenes described in his novels, with a cast of characters who bring that world to life, as they explore the streets, alleys, courtyards, dockside, shops and a themed restaurant - gruel anyone? (Hopefully this isn't so authentic that visitors get their pockets picked, children abducted or throats cut) The attraction features Europe's largest themed dark boat ride, based on Great Expectations, transporting visitors from the depths of London's sewers through atmospheric streets and markets, to a flight across the roof tops of London; Ebenezer Scrooge's Haunted House, visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future; Dotheboys Hall school room, revealing the disciplines of a Victorian education; Peggoty's Boat House; The Old Curiosity Shoppe; and the Britannia Music Hall, with a multi-sensory animatronic performance throughout the day, and a live supper show in the evening. Dickens World is based on a credible and factual account of Charles Dickens works and the world in which he lived. Working with The Dickens Fellowship, attention has been paid to the authenticity of the time, characters and story lines. It offers a new way to gain an understanding of the times and conditions people experienced living in England in the early 19th century. Dickens World, Chatham Dockyard continuing.

Mapping is an exhibition that is not (necessarily) about instructions for how to arrive at a physical destination. It investigates the whole process of 'mapping', and shows how contemporary artists have abstracted and expanded it into art. The show allows the visitor to explore not just maps of geographical territory, but also 'maps' that are essentially schematisations of thought processes, embracing many other disciplines, such as history and philosophy. The exhibition highlights how artists have used and interpreted maps, and explored the many different systems of mapping. It includes a great variety of forms, from conventional cartographic maps - both historic and contemporary created using GPS - to mind maps and other diagrammatic systems. As examples, Simon Patterson has reworked the London Underground map as a chart of cultural icons; Richard Long offers maps of his country rambles; Cornelia Parker contributes maps of meteorite landings, burned by the meteorites themselves; and Stomi Matoba provides a relief map of Utopia. Sarah Brown, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Johnson, Emma Kay, Langlands & Bell, Nalasha Wakefield and Emma Williams are also among the 60 artists whose works are on show. Bury Art Gallery until 14th July.

Celebrating The Proms: From Henry Wood To Hyde Park is an exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of the BBC taking over the running of the Proms, the world's greatest music festival. The display draws on the British Library's collections of photographs, programmes, documents and historic recordings, together with archive material from the BBC, to chart the history of this enduring musical phenomenon. It explores the world of the Victorian promenader, the experience of concert going during the bombing raids of the Second World War, the music specially composed for the Proms, the much copied Last Night of the Proms, and newer developments such as Proms in the Park. Among the highlights are Edward Elgar's autographed score of Pomp and Circumstance March No 1; letters to Sir Henry Wood from Sergei Rachmaninoff and Jean Sibelius, together with a poster for his jubilee concert in 1938; Malcolm Sargent's silver pocket metronome, one of his batons, and examples of his correspondence, including a letter written to BBC Controller of Music, Sir William Glock; a letter written by composer Malcolm Arnold to Glock expressing his fears about making changes to the traditional Last Night, which offers a behind the scenes glimpse into the running of the Proms; unique recordings of concerts from the 1930s, and other historic video footage and audio clips. The display also features audio illustrations, posters and advertising materials for concerts. The Folio Society Gallery at the British Library, until 8th July.


Sacred: Discover What We Share is a display of some of the world's earliest surviving, most important and beautiful religious texts from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Many of the lavishly illustrated or decorated books and manuscripts have never, or seldom, been on public display before, and this is the first time that texts from these three faiths have been displayed and explored together, side by side, in a major British exhibition. The rare and exquisite texts are treated thematically, exploring points in common, looking at the ways in which they have been produced, interpreted and used. Among the treasures on display are: the Old English Hexateuch, the earliest copy in English of part of the Old Testament, produced in the first half of the 11th century, featuring over 400 illustrations; the Lisbon Hebrew Bible, one of the last great examples of Jewish art from Iberia, completed in 1482, containing many intricate floral and arabesque designs as well as superb ornamental Hebrew lettering and micrographic embellishments; the 'Golden' Haggadah, one of the most lavish and luxurious of all manuscripts ever created of the Passover Ritual, the miniature paintings all having backgrounds of tooled gold leaf, produced circa 1320; Sultan Baybars' Qur'an, one of the finest of all Qur'an manuscripts, written in large letters of gold in seven folio volumes, each containing a magnificent double frontispiece, with intricate Islamic geometric patterns; and a Book of Psalms in Arabic, a 16th century illuminated Christian manuscript, heavily influenced in its decoration, script, and layout by the manuscripts of Islam. The British Library until 23rd September.

Towards A New Laocoon considers how the sculptural aspects of Laocoon have been interpreted and re-interpreted by artists over time. The Antique group - which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons in the grip of two giant snakes - was rediscovered in 1506 and almost immediately put on show in the Vatican. Since that time artists and writers have succumbed to its fascination, and its inspirational quality. This exhibition looks at Laocoon through a British lens, focusing on juxtapositions of seven works from the 18th and 20th centuries. While the historic works reference the original sculpture, highlighting interest in the Laocoon's drama, narrative, expression and status, the more recent pieces take the Laocoon's more formal characteristics, turning a figurative story into a more pop and abstract one. Eduardo Paolozzi, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon have each made a number of works that respond to or mirror the Laocoon. Paolozzi was fascinated by classical heritage, and owned his own small scale cast of the group. His works variously redefine its serpentine coils and imprisoned forms. Cragg's works also focus on the forms, which are caught up by the snakes, binding them together in an endless deadly embrace, but rendered in everyday, urban found objects. Deacon's monumental Laocoon similarly plays on the quality of time, by locking straight and curved wooden sections into one great continuous spiral. There is an accompanying show of sculptor's drawings on photographs, providing their contemporary response to classical forms. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 12th August.

Walking With Beasts, combines cutting edge technology with life size models of the extraordinary creatures which lived on earth up to 65 million years ago, after the dinosaurs had died out. Based on the ground breaking BBC television series, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through time to distant worlds: from the hottest, wettest climate the earth has ever known, to one of the coldest - the Ice Age. It features models of Smildon, a sabre-toothed cat; Macrauchenia, a cross between a camel and a horse; Phorusrhacos, the 'terror bird' with razor sharp talons and a hooked beak large enough to swallow a cat whole; Doedicurus, an armadillo like creature with a giant spiked club of solid bone at the end of its tail; Megatherium, a bear the size of a double decker bus; a giant Woolly Mammoth; and man's early primate ancestors. The display reveals worlds where birds (Gastorni) were so large they could eat small horses (Propalaeotherium), and where elephants (Moeritherium) swam with fish. The exhibition brings these incredible creatures to life, animates the story of the evolution of mammals, and demonstrates how they came to shape the planet today. 'Interactives' offer visitors the chance to 'walk' in a prehistoric landscape via blue-screen technology. The exhibition is complemented by a selection of genuine items from the permanent collection, including fossil remains of these mammals, and a 10,000 year old mammoth tusk. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 4th November.

Star Wars: The Exhibition in a location far, far away (well south of the river anyway) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original film, providing an opportunity to discover some of the secrets behind the making of the Star Wars canon. It features over 280 original objects, costumes, masks, props, drawings, storyboards, vehicles and models selected from the production archive across the entire epic saga. Visitors are immersed in the Star Wars universe as huge landscape images are projected to recreate the atmosphere of a particular world, such as Tatooine, Naboo, Endor, Hoth, and Coruscant. Among the featured items on display are a life sized Naboo N-1 Starfighter, as piloted by the young Anakin, together with his Pod Racer; Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder; Queen Amidala's wardrobe, including her parade gown; and Princess Leia's bronze bikini, all accompanied by alien characters such as Darth Maul. There are several 'interactives', ranging from Jedi training to a greenscreen simulation that allows visitors to be 'in' the films. In addition, there is a documentary on 30 Years Of Visual Effects, which reveals how far this art has developed over the period, and optical illusions, picture overlays, pyrotechnics, stunt tricks, and other visual and special effects are also explained in relation to the films. Finally, Darth Vader himself can be seen stalking the the halls that once housed the local government of London. It is up to visitors to decide for themselves who is capable of wreaking more chaos in their lives - him, or the former incumbent, Ken Livingstone. County Hall, Westminster, London, until 1st September.

Amazing Rare Things: The Arts Of Natural History In The Age Of Discovery brings together the works of four artists and a collector who have shaped our knowledge of the world around us. Leonardo da Vinci, Cassiano dal Pozzo, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby are diverse figures who shared a passion for enquiry and a fascination with the beautiful and bizarre in nature. All lived at a time when new species were being discovered around the world in ever increasing numbers, and many of the plants and animals represented in the exhibition were then barely known in Europe. Today some are commonplace, while others are now extinct. Leonardo's drawings include parts of a cow, horse and bear, as well as the earliest evidence in Italy of the grass 'Job's tears'. Cassiano commissioned artists to record plants, birds and animals for his museo cartaceo (paper museum), a pictorial encyclopaedia. Marshal's florilegium (flower-book) documented the contents of English gardens, with indigenous species alongside new and exotic flowers, such as the crown imperial, hyacinth and broken tulip. Merian had a lifelong fascination with flies, spiders, caterpillars, butterflies and moths, and her watercolours include a pink toed tarantula about to devour a hummingbird. Catesby produced a comprehensive survey of the flora and fauna he saw during visits to America, which astonished the people of Europe on his return. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 16th September.

Lawrence Weiner: Inherent In The Rhumb Line explores the concept underpinning maritime navigation. On a flat surface, a straight line is the shortest distance between two points while maintaining a constant direction, however, on the curved surface of the Earth, these two properties cannot be true at the same time. The rhumb line is the path of constant compass direction, potentially continuing into infinity. In the 16th century, Gerald Mercator's revolutionary mathematical flat projection made rhumb lines the easiest way to steer from one place to another. It distorts the size of the land masses and shows rhumb lines crossing the meridians at a constant angle, although, were a rhumb line followed around the globe a spiral course would be traced. Lawrence Weiner is a poet painter who takes fragments of stories, slogans and poems, and presents them as cryptic clues. These have been written on the walls inside and outside the gallery, as well as taking the form of spoken words and printed matter. In this exhibition Weiner proposes a method that uses the rhumb line to lose, rather than find, one's way. Shown beside Weiner's film 'Inherent In The Rhumb Line' are the words to an old sea shanty, alluding to the freedom of the seas and navigating over the bounding main. This song has been handed down, passed around, reinterpreted and repeated, with each version different from, but as true as, the next. Twelve drawings also punctuate the gallery spaces in reproduced form, and as with map making, each reproduction produces distortion. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 9th December.


Poets In The Landscape: The Romantic Spirit In British Art, celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake by exploring the creative links between poetry, the pastoral vision and British art, from the 1770s to the 1950s. The exhibition opens with George Romney's portrait of William Hayley, patron and friend to Romantic artists and poets, including Blake (who began his illustrated book 'Milton: A Poem' while working for Hayley), William Cowper, John Flaxman, George Romney, Charlotte Smith and Joseph Wright of Derby. Blake's influence on the pastoral imagery of Samuel Palmer during the 1820s is uncovered in the second part of the exhibition. Blake and Palmer's legacy is then reflected in the 1920s 'Etching Revival' period, when artists Paul Drury, F L Griggs, Robin Tanner and Graham Sutherland created poetic and nostalgic images of the English countryside in response to the horrors of the First World War. The final part of the exhibition moves to the 1940s, when artists John Piper, John Craxton, John Minton, Ceri Richards, Julian Trevelyan and Keith Vaughan found refuge from a war torn England in poetry and in a rural and idealised British landscape. Their search for a 'paradise lost' was epitomised by Palmeresque depictions of sleeping poets in bucolic landscapes, and the melancholy images included in the literary publications Penguin New Writing, Horizon and Poetry London, became a platform for the art and poetry of the period. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 10th June.

A Slap In The Face!: Futurists In Russia is a comprehensive examination of the Futurist movement in Russia, exploring the energetic, creative and occasionally violent encounter of East and West in the arena of avant-garde art, comparing and contrasting the Russian protagonists with their Italian contemporaries. The exhibition's title refers to the Russian Futurist's sackcloth-bound manifesto 'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste' published in 1912, which established their movement as something very different from their elitist Italian contemporaries. When Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, visited Russia in 1914, his revolutionary zeal was admired by some, but artist Mikhail Larionov suggested he be pelted with rotten eggs. There were many qualities the two movements shared - the enthusiasm for war, the love of technology, the obsession with finding ways to depict rapid motion - but Russian artists like Chagall and Popova also found revolutionary qualities in the simple, the childish and the innocent. The exhibition includes Goncharova's 'Cyclist', 'The Forest' and 'Mystical Images', Kruchenykh's 'Universal War', and Larinov's 'Blue Rayism', together with works full of colour, wit and life by Chagall, El Lissitsky, Malevich, Popova and Rosanova, alongside some of the frenzied creations of Italian Futurists Balla, Boccioni and Severini. Estorick Collection, London, until 10th June.

Lady Mary Wortley Montague celebrates the life of one of the most influential women of the 18th century, described by one of her contemporaries, Joseph Spence, as "the most wise, the most imprudent, loveliest, disagreeablest, best natured, cruellest woman in the world". Lady Mary Wortley Montague was a key figure in the introduction of the smallpox inoculation in England, a practice she came across while living in Turkey. She left her husband and spent many years travelling across Europe, where she embraced the cultures of the countries she visited. A close friend of the women's rights campaigner Mary Astell, she fought resistance to new ideas, and led a defiantly non-conformist lifestyle. Intelligent, witty and sometimes eccentric, Lady Mary composed hundred of letters throughout her life, commenting on both her experiences, and the work of other writers of the period, such as Alexander Pope, Samuel Richardson and Jonathon Swift. Centred on a portrait of Lady Mary by Jonathan Richardson, this exhibition brings together a selection of paintings and prints depicting the lady herself, her family, friends and adversaries, alongside a selection of their original letters, providing a vivid picture of 18th century society and cultural life. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield until 3rd June.