Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Ministry Of Food marks the 70th anniversary of food rationing introduced by the government during the Second World War. The exhibition shows how the British public adapted to a world of food shortages by 'Lending a Hand on the Land', 'Digging for Victory', taking up the 'War on Waste', and being both frugal and inventive on the 'Kitchen Front'. It also underlines that growing your own food, eating seasonal fruit and vegetables, reducing imports, recycling and healthy nutrition were as topical in 1940 as they are today. The exhibition explores the story of food from farms, gardens and docks, to shops, kitchens, and canteens. As imports were drastically cut, British agriculture had to dramatically increase production to feed the nation, with help from the Women's Land Army, prisoners of war and those who volunteered at Farming Holiday Camps. The Women's Institute staffed 6,000 Preservation Centres to make jams and pickles, and the Women's Voluntary Service's mobile canteens provided emergency sustenance to rescuers and the homeless after air raids. Among the exhibition's special features are reconstructions of a wartime greenhouse, a 1940s grocer's shop, and a typical kitchen of the period - complete with larder, gas cooker, and an ample stock of economy recipes, including the original Savoy Hotel recipe for Woolton Pie (a grisly concoction of vegetables named after the Minister of Food). Visitors can listen to original radio recordings of advice on gardening from Mr Middleton, on nutrition from the 'Radio Doctor', Charles Hill, and on cooking from Marguerite Patten. Further tips are provided in a selection of the Ministry of Food's Food Flashes films, and on posters that reminded the public that a 'Clear Plate Means a Clear Conscience', exhorted people to save kitchen scraps for the communal pig bin, and to 'Eat More Greens'. Imperial War Museum, London, until January.
Walls Are Talking is the first major British exhibition of artists' wallpaper designs. It features works by over 30 artists, including Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas, Damien Hirst, Michael Craig-Martin and Angus Fairhurst. Kitsch ideas of home decoration are turned upside down as artists subvert the stereotypes of wallpaper to hit home messages about warfare, racism, cultural conflicts and gender. The exhibition is grouped around themes: subversion, commodification, imprisonment and sexuality. Highlights include: Sonia Boyce's 'Clapping', with a feeling of claustrophobia and menace, strengthened by the repeated design of a black and white hand print; Zineb Sedira illustrating social inequalities and gender difference from her French-Algerian Islamic perspective; Thomas Demand's Ivy, with intricate pieces of paper cut out and photographed make up a lifelike work of imprisoning beauty; Abigail Lane's CSI style blood spatter pattern, and from the opposite end of the spectrum, popular commercial papers that reinforce cultural and gender stereotypes, from Barbie and the Spice Girls for her, to beer cans, football teams and idealised female bodies for him. With many prominent designers and artists using the medium of wallpaper as their primary method of expression, this exhibition provides a timely exploration of the possibilities and power of print. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, until 3rd May.
Paul Nash: The Elements features works by the British artist who painted beautiful landscapes of the Downs, strange flooded rooms, and classic images of two World Wars. The exhibition brings together around 60 of Paul Nash's paintings and watercolours, from throughout his career. The paintings include Nash's work as a war artist, together with a selection of his own photographs, which are shown with his photographic collages. The exhibition includes interiors, abstracts and still lifes, as well as the landscapes for which he is best known. The works shows elements in conflict, in paintings and drawings from different periods of Nash's life. These include his early drawings of night time dangers, a group of his troubled political paintings of the 1930s, and the war paintings, including the iconic 'Totes Meer (dead sea)' in which an undulating sea of German aircraft wreckage covers an English landscape. Many of Nash's landscapes show a path through or between elements with figures entering a wood, or cross a threshold into a different region. He painted nests and refuges within elements of wood, stone or earth, and his photographs reveal his search for such places in the countryside and in his own arrangements of objects. Nash looked for what he called 'equivalents' between differing elements of nature, in search for harmony between them. The balance of design and colour that he found within the natural world of sea, stone, earth and sky lead to some of his most emotionally moving paintings. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 9th May.
Mrs Delany And Her Circle is the first exhibition to survey the entire life and the full range of a significant figure in natural history in Georgian England. Mary Delaney was a pattern of accomplishment and curiosity for her contemporaries, and became a model to subsequent generations. The exhibition brings together art, fashion and science: fields that are now generally conceived as separate realms of cultural practice, but that were intimately connected in the varied circles in which Mrs Delany thrived. The centre pieces of the show of collages, drawings, letters and embroideries, include sections of Delany's court mantua, the court dress magnificently embroidered with naturalistic flowers dramatically displayed against a black satin background, the first time that these surviving sections of fabric have been brought together; and her 'paper mosaic' botanical studies of flowers, collages of coloured papers with watercolour and body colour on black ink background, part of her magnum opus the 'Flora Delanica'.
Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship & The Order Of Things is an accompanying site-specific installation by artist Jane Wildgoose, which is a celebration of the friendship between Mrs Delany and Margaret Cavendish, second Duchess of Portland. The extravagant cabinet of curiosities evokes the 'Promiscuous Assemblage' described in the catalogue that accompanied the sale of the Duchess's 'Portland Museum', a collection of natural history specimens, fine and decorative arts, and curiosities, at a 38 day auction comprising over 4,000 lots. Wildgoose offers a perspective on the ways in which the natural history collections of the 18th century reflect the interlacing of the manners, taste, friendships and material culture of the people who assembled them.
Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 1st May.
Durer And Italy focuses on the engravings of the German artist who was the first to achieve fame through his prints. The exhibition presents engraved masterpieces by Albrecht Durer alongside contemporary Italian works, and illustrates the cultural exchange that took place in the years between 1500 and 1528. Durer made two journeys to Italy, during which he promoted himself as an artist, studied art, and met engravers and exponents of the art of perspective, which was still unknown in Germany. Durer's prints were of two kinds: for the popular market he designed woodcuts, which were cheap and often sold as bound sets, the most popular being two series of the 'Passion of Christ' and the 'Life of the Virgin'. His astonishingly detailed engravings were relatively expensive, and appealed more to artists and collectors, presenting figures and landscapes of unparalleled beauty that rapidly became highly fashionable, especially in Italy. Durer's work was soon known to Raphael in Rome, who did not make prints himself, but provided sketches to be engraved by artists such as Marcantonio. The exhibition includes two of Marcantonio's best known works, 'Judgement of Paris' and 'Massacre of the Innocents', which provide a contrasting classical vision to Durer's, tinged by his roots in Gothic illustration. Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, until 22nd March.
Shaped By War: Photographs By Don McCullin is the largest ever British exhibition about the life and work of one of the world's most acclaimed photographers. For more than 50 years, Don McCullin's images have shaped the awareness of modern conflict and its consequences. His courage and integrity, as well as the exceptional quality of his work, are a continuing inspiration and influence worldwide. This exhibition contains over 200 photographs, objects, magazines and personal memorabilia, and shows the effect war has had on McCullin's life. It examines McCullin's uncompromising drive to be on the frontline and document events as they unfold, the influences on his work, and his impact on others. The display reveals the moral dilemmas of bearing witness to and photographing conflict. Set in the context of world events and major changes in photography and journalism which have occurred in his lifetime, items on display for the first time include his US Issue Army Helmet worn in Vietnam, and a camera fractured by a sniper's bullet in Cambodia, as he was taking a photograph. Most black and white images have been handprinted by McCullin himself, and are stunning examples of his darkroom skills. Key images are also displayed via lightboxes, banners and projections - methods that have never before been used to show his work. The exhibition explores how, indirectly, conflict continues to shape Don McCullin and his work today, including cultural change in Britain, landscapes of England, still life photography, and his most recent work, documenting the former Roman Empire. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, until 13th June.
Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective celebrates the extraordinary life and work of one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century, who was a seminal figure in the formation of Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition includes over 150 paintings and drawings from across Arshile Gorky's career, and a handful of rarely seen sculptures. The Armenian born artist arrived in America in 1920, fleeing persecution in his home country, where he adopted the name Arshile Gorky with reference to the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. He studied the Modern European masters in books and galleries, teaching himself art by combining this with art classes, in Boston and New York. Gorky's early still-lives show his reliance upon the examples of Cezanne, Picasso, Miro and others, but his portraits in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the two versions of 'The Artist and His Mother', show how he poured his personal experiences and studies into a highly individual realism. During the 1940s Gorky encountered Surrealists exiled from wartime Europe, and stimulated by their ideas of free flowing, automatic painting, he rapidly developed the style for which he became famous. Seminal works such as 'Waterfall' are evocative, layered, and translucent, with a liquid glowing quality. Other highlights in the exhibition include 'Landscape Table', and paintings from the 'Garden in Sochi' and 'The Betrothal' series. Gorky's characteristic paintings of this final period include biomorphic forms in strong colours, shifting abstract elements and the energetic line that he developed in his drawings. Tate Modern until 3rd May.
The Greek And Roman Gallery has reopened following a £950,000, 18 month period of conservation, research and redisplay, which has transformed one of the museum's most popular collections. Prior to this, the gallery had remained fundamentally unchanged since the 1960s. The redesign creates a modern setting that complements the gallery's 19th century architecture, and vastly improves object display, lighting and layout. It has been undertaken in collaboration with historians and classical archaeologists from the University of Cambridge's Classics Faculty, and reflects some of the questions that are being currently asked about the ancient world. The collection includes Greek and Roman sculpture, from a portrait of Plato to an enormous faceless 'caryatid' figure; intricately carved sarcophagi; sacred figurines; funerary items; and everyday objects, from dress pins and helmets, to a 3,000 year old cosmetics box and a Roman 'Swiss Army knife', and even an example of ancient graffiti. Also showcased are treasures from Emperor Hadrian's vast country palace at Tivoli, near Rome, including a marble head of the leader's young lover Antinous, produced after the youth's death by drowning in the Nile, and a black marble relief depicting the adventures of the Argonauts and Odysseus. Some of these treasures are on public view for the first time following conservation. The new display is arranged in a loosely chronological order, and a map and timeline show the close relationship between the Greek and Roman worlds, giving a greater sense of the time and place these objects came from. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, continuing.
The Half showcases the work of Simon Annand, a photographer of leading actors in the West End for the last 20 years. The exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the dressing rooms of actors in their private time before the show. 'The Half' is the half an hour before the curtain goes up, during which actors make up, dress, and focus their concentration for the performance, and is strictly private. Whatever has gone on during the day, the actor must use this time to make a transition into the fictional character of the play. These photographs pay tribute to the dedication of stage actors, and reveal not only technical skills, but also aspects of a very personal nightly ritual (not to mention the less than glamorous surroundings). Among those featured in the display are Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Kiera Knightley, Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th April.
Less And More - The Design Ethos Of Dieter Rams is a retrospective of the work of the man who designed or oversaw the design of over 500 products for the German electronics manufacturer Braun, as well as furniture for Vitsoe. Audio equipment, calculators, shavers and shelving systems are just some of the products created by Dieter Rams between 1955 and 1995. Each item holds a special place in the history of industrial and furniture design, and they established Rams as one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. His elegant products challenged original concepts of design thought by reducing electrical switches to a minimum and arranging them in an orderly manner. Transparent plastics and wooden veneers were mixed, and colour schemes were limited to tones of pure whites and greys, the only splash of colour being allocated to switches and dials. Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Art in Germany, Dieter Rams pioneered a design spirit which embraced modernity and placed functionality above everything else, resulting in designs that were free of decoration, simple in function and embodied a cohesive sense of order. Rams defined an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual design language, identified through his 'Ten Principles' of good design, which, amongst others stated that good design should be innovative, aesthetic, durable and useful. Showcasing landmark designs for both Braun and Vitsoe, this exhibition examines how Rams's design ethos inspired and challenged perceptions of domestic design, and assesses his lasting influence on today's design landscape. Archive film footage, models, sketches, prototypes and images taken by international photographer Todd Eberle are displayed alongside specially commissioned interviews with Dieter Rams's contemporaries, including Jonathan Ive, Jasper Morrison, Sam Hecht and Naoto Fukasawa. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 7th March
Objects Of Contemplation - Natural Sculptures From The Qing Dynasty is a unique display of remarkable rocks collected in 17th century China. In recent years these objects have come to be known as 'scholars' rocks', making a claim for them as artefacts appreciated by men of learning - objects which sat on their desk and inspired their work. The exhibition begs questions such as: When does a rock become a sculpture? How important is the role of the person who notices the rock in the first place? What part is played by the person who cleans it, polishes it and places it on a pedestal? It is very difficult to precisely determine the age of these objects because it is impossible to be certain of their origins. The rocks are millions of years old, and only their plinths, often minutely carved to support the rock at its most attractive, can be dated with any kind of confidence. Like any sculpture, some of these rocks were appreciated for their abstract qualities, while others were treasured because they looked like certain animals, birds or natural formations. Some rocks were left as found, while others were surreptitiously altered to enhance their natural features. This exhibition initiates a series of 'cabinet' shows featuring historic stones and bones, looking at the ways in which they can be transformed into sculpture simply by means of changing perceptions, or through subtle changes of use or re-appropriation. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 7th March.
Points Of View: Capturing The 19th Century In Photographs examines the development and influence of photography, from its invention in 1839 up to the growth of a popular amateur market in the early 20th century. The exhibition shows how photography has played a critical role as a primary means of visual expression in the modern age. It explores the dramatic transformations in world order during the 19th century that shaped much of the world we live in today. From the first tentative 'drawings of shadows' produced in the mid 1830s, to its universal acceptance as a leisure pursuit, photography was swept along by a tide of entrepreneurial activity throughout the 19th century. As an influential new artistic and documentary medium, photography rapidly developed into a lucrative profession. Science, government, industry and a growing media quickly recognised its power to reflect and to shape society, while both artists and amateurs embraced its potential for personal expression. Beginning with the work of William Henry Fox Talbot and other influential pioneers, the exhibition includes many of the most celebrated names in 19th century photograph such as Francis Frith, Felix Teynard and Samuel Bourne. Some 250 images range from portraits of the famous, through the industrial, technological and scientific triumphs of the age, and first glimpses of exotic locations around the world, to the everyday working (and playing) lives of ordinary people. British Library until 7th March.