Private View held by Richard Andrews
Return Of The Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries provides the first opportunity in this country to see the finest possible examples of a whole artistic tradition formerly invisible to western audiences. In 1996 workmen clearing land in the town of Qingzhou in Shandong Province in eastern China unearthed a hoard of more than 400 Buddhist sculptures. The discovery of these figures, buried for over 900 years, is one of the most significant archaeological finds of recent times. It offers a remarkable insight into the nature and tradition of Chinese Buddhist art, and is immensely important for the history of Buddhism. The high quality and vast number of the sculptures has left archaeologists speculating as to why so many Buddhist figures, dating primarily from a 50 year period in the sixth century, were buried in a carefully constructed pit within the precincts of a monastery. Many of the statues are in remarkably fine condition, still bearing the original blue, red, green and ochre paint, and a number also retain the gold applied to the face and body of the Buddha to indicate his sun-like radiance. The Royal Academy of Arts until 14th July.
Vampire and Tomb Blaster are the latest of this year's new theme park attractions. Vampire is billed as the world's first suspended, swinging floorless ride (well you can't open a ride nowadays unless it's the world's first something). Victims are swept through the sky above the treetops with sickening swoops and twists. Tomb Blaster is an interactive adventure ride where combatants are armed with laser guns and must battle with the tomb's ancient inhabitants to lift its terrible curse. They join the existing white knucklers of Samauri, a 360° loop with a force of up to 4.5G; and Rameses Revenge, with height, speed, water and Egyptians in a Forbidden Kingdom; plus Denis the Menace's Madhouse in Beanoland - watch out softies! Further information can be found (with an interactive map promised soon) on the Chessington World Of Adventures web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Chessington World Of Adventures, until 3rd November.
Milan In A Van launches a new Contemporary Space, which will provide a showcase for contemporary design, craft, fashion, photography, architecture and the graphic arts, from around the world. This exhibition is truly upmarket Pickfords, in that it features the latest designs from the Milan Furniture Fair, with new products, materials and prototypes, including work by participants in the Fringe Fair, which features over 3000 up and coming designers. Strange shapes and very bright colours predominate - suffice to say that wood and traditional furnishing fabrics don't get much of a look in. Among the star designers whose work is included are Ron Arad, the Bourelec brothers and Pia Wallen. Don't miss Tom Dixon's Spaghetti Chaise Longue (extruded PVC rather than pasta); Konstantin Grcic's Public One Chair (aluminium and concrete); Tord Boontje's Blossom Chandelier (crystal and LED lights); and Humberto Campana's Sushi Chair (various fabrics in an elasticated tube). Victoria & Albert Museum until 9th June.
Turbulent Landscapes explores how the natural forces that shape our world inspire artists. It is an interactive art-science exhibition that lets visitors experience natural phenomena on a human scale, and encourages them to experiment. International artists Ned Kahn, Shawn Lani, Gail Wight, Michael Brown, Doug Hollis and Skip Sweeney have created nineteen installations using raw materials such as wind, water and sand, which capture the powerful and complex make up of our landscapes. These include: Magnetic Field Stone, where sand 'dances'; A Single Drop, with ripples and patterns created by falling water; Tornado, an indoors twister producing with a mist generator; and Air Rings with circles of air creating a vortex. There are also thrice daily performances of a specially commissioned aerial show by Scarabeus Theatre, with performers suspended from ropes and harnesses, interpreting the natural phenomena through movement, light and sound. Natural History Museum until 15th September.
Maelstrom, the latest of this year's new theme park attractions, hailed as Britain's scariest ride, is a £1m gyro-swing. The victims face outwards in a circular gondola at the end of a 17.4m long pendulum, which swings to a height of 22.5m, at an angle of 95° to 120°, while simultaneously whirling and revolving. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Apocalypse, featuring a 180ft vertical drop at speed of 50mph with a force of more than 4G; Shockwave, Europe's only stand-up roller coaster with a corkscrew; and StormForce10, the lifeboat wet ride with the first reverse drop in the UK. Thus one of the oldest adventure parks in the country, built in 1949 by George Bryan as an 'Inland Pleasure Resort', continues to reinvent itself. Further information and pictures of the rides can be found on the Drayton Manor web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Drayton Manor, Tamworth until 3rd November.
Cutting Edge: An Exhibition Of British Cutlery And Place Settings does exactly what it says on the tin, featuring five thousand years of the cutler's art. In a collection of knives, forks and spoons ranging from the New Stone Age to the 1950s, it provides a complete overview of the design and evolution of British cutlery. Over 500 pieces, including Neolithic flint, Celtic and Roman bronze and Georgian and Victorian silver, show the beauty and diversity of these everyday objects. The displays are arranged both in thematic and chronological order, with table settings including the appropriate replica food, which bring the exhibition to life.
Cutting Design complements the historical exhibition with the work of contemporary London designers. Some pieces function as cutlery, some as art pieces and others as jewellery. Materials used include silver, stainless steel and ceramics, and techniques incorporate casting, firing, piercing, waterjet cutting and hot forging. Designers featured include William Warren, Susana Shaw, Diana Greenwood, William Phipps, Lucian Taylor, Maike Dahl, Jonathan Levien and Nipa Doshi, Kay Ivanovic, Lisa Marklew and Rebecca de Quin. Geffrye Museum until 2nd June.
The Old Palace is a new permanent exhibition that traces the history of the Tudor and Stuart palace that once stood on the site of Somerset House. Excavations in the central courtyard during the refurbishment of the building in 1999 unearthed remains that give an insight into the former palace's architecture, and tell the story of two centuries of its daily life. Built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, in the 1547, it was one of England's first major renaissance buildings. The palace was eventually demolished to make way for the present building in 1776. Objects on display include a gilded stucco mask of a river god, moulded plaster ceiling decorations, marble and ceramic tile fragments, tableware and carved mouldings. These are accompanied by contemporary engravings and drawings, plus new digital images detailing the original palace layout. The exhibition is curated and designed by the Museum of London, and includes items from its permanent collection, with the aim of making it more accessible to Londoners outside the museum premises. Somerset House continuing.
Pin-Up: Art & Celebrity Since The Sixties charts the changing face of our celebrity obsessed culture through the last forty years. From fashion and glamour to hero worship and body image, it examines the phenomenon of icons and idol culture (if culture is the word) in reference to film stars, pop stars and supermodels. In doing so it reflects the progress(?) from worshiping those in the past who at least did something, however minimal, to those now who merely are. Items range from Andy Warhol screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando, and previously unseen photographs of Jimi Hendrix, BB King and Mick Jagger by Linda McCartney, through works by Peter Blake and Marlene Dumas, to current images of Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. What it doesn't do, is pose the question whether the need of so many artists to pander to and represent the famous isn't a sad reflection on the current impoverishment of artistic inspiration. Tate Liverpool until 24th November.
Baroque Painting In Genoa celebrates the 17th century flowering of the city as one of the great centres of art. As it became a major trading and banking location, enormous wealth was invested in the creation of palazzos with spectacularly decorated interiors, and the adornment of city churches, with frescos, paintings and sculpture. Artists were attracted from all over Europe, joining skilled local painters and craftsmen, and together they produced some extraordinarily fine works in the flamboyant and grandiose Baroque style. This exhibition comprises paintings from public and private collections that have never been seen in Britain before. Highlights include Rubens life size 'Equestrian Portrait Of Giovan Carlo Doria', one of the city's most significant artistic patrons; Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's 'Adoration Of The Shepherds', the altarpiece from the church of San Luca; Valerio Castello's 'Rape of Proserpine'; and other works by Van Dyck and Bernardo Strozzi; together with a carved picture frame by the sculptor Filippo Parodi. National Gallery until 16th June.
Second Skin explores the use of life casting - taking plaster casts of the human figure to create sculptures - contrasting examples by 19th century and contemporary sculptors. In previous centuries life casting was mostly used for research, presenting the results as art objects in themselves would have been considered 'cheating'. Now that contemporary art consists of little but cheating, the technique has come into its own. In the 1970s and 1980s American artist Duane Hanson popularised meticulously hand painted life casts as works of art in their own right, examples of which are included here. There are accompanying works by John De Andrea, Paul Thek and Robert Gober, and more recent examples by Jordan Baseman, Don Brown, Siobhan Hapaska, Abigail Lane, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk. Together they illustrate the diversity of the casting techniques, and disparate uses to which end results are put. A star feature in this up market Madame Tussauds display is Marc Quinn's ice sculpture of the ubiquitous Kate Moss (can there be a serious exhibition in the UK now without her effigy?) which will melt away through the course of the exhibition. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 12th May.
Alfa Romeo - Sustaining Beauty celebrates 90 years of art in engineering, telling the story of how car design and styling has evolved from its early 20th century beginnings. This is illustrated with a display 17 of Alfa Romeo's most famous and prestigious cars, worth over £50m, which have been brought in from the company's museum near Milan. These include the 1750 Gran Sport, in which Nuvolari won the 1930 Mille Miglia, the greatest ever open road race, by overtaking the opposition in the dark with his headlights switched off; the 159 Gran Premio, a single seater in which Manuel Fangio won the 1951 Formula 1 championship title; and the 1952 Disco Volante or 'flying saucer', of which only two were ever built - one of the most visionary car designs of all time (an E type Jag and a half) - suitably suspended from the ceiling for maximum impact. There is a chance to win an Alfa 147 1.6 T.Spark Turismo worth £13,175 at the Science Museum web site, which can be found via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Science Museum until 30th April.
Planespotting: Italian Aviation Posters 1910-1943 chronicles the golden age of Italian aviation, when flying captured the imagination of writers, artists and designers. It coincided with the rise in importance of the poster, one of the earliest and most effective means of mass communication, which used futurist images in promoting the rise of Fascism. Many posters juxtapose Renaissance monuments and Roman ruins with design feats of contemporary engineers. Following Mussolini's rise to power, the inter-war years witnessed a huge expansion of both military and civil aviation, as well as a number of spectacular aeronautical feats. These included Italo Balbo's legendary transatlantic flights of the 1930s, when he led squadrons of seaplanes, flying in formation, to Brazil and the United States. The Second World War shattered the dream of Italian aeroplanes dominating the skies, decimated the aeronautics industry, and resulted in the deaths of many of the great aviators. This exhibition presents works by artists and illustrators such as Mario Sironi, Umberto Di Lazzaro, Adolfo Wildt, Alberto Mastroianni and Luigi Martinati. Estorick Collection, London until 28th April.