News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th October 2001


Painted Ladies: Women At The Court Of King Charles II returns us to the sexual freedom, loose morals and explosion in artistic creative endeavour of the swingin 60s - that's the 1660s not the 1960s, with painters such as Lely and Samuel Cooper, instead of photographers David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Hard to believe, but even 350 years later, posters reproducing these paintings have caused such a stir that London Transport has banned them. This is a parade of famous and infamous beauties of the Restoration, one of the widest, most licentious and decadent periods of British history. Here are the Royal brides and daughters, but above all mistresses and actresses, in a variety of stylised guises from goddesses to shepherdesses. Many, including (naturally) Nell Gwyn, appear in multiple portraits, such as Barbara Villiers in studies as both Venus and the Virgin Mary holding up the infant Jesus (actually one of the five children she bore the King). National Portrait Gallery until 6th January.

Susan Derges: Natural Magic is the result of a year long examination of both the museum's exhibits and the scientific processes of experimentation by Susan Derges. Art meets science as the apparatus and events are captured in a series of striking digital images. The elements of earth, air, fire and water are literally revealed in a new light. Magic metamorphoses are shown, from grapes turning into alcohol to spawn becoming frogs, on scales from the microscopic upwards. The intention is to look at the nature of scientific curiosity - not only the bare scientific facts, but also the emotional response of the experimenters. Science and scientists are usually depicted as clinical and detached, but these images bring the intuitive and imaginative aspects of the people and processes alive. Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford until 15th December.

Doug Aitken: New Ocean is a new installation by the Los Angeles based artist whose works combines film, video, photography and sound. It seems as though even contemporary art is now going down the theme park experience route. As if spurred on by the recent Dan Flavin light sabre exhibition, the gallery has given Aitken the run of the entire building. He has threaded a water related sequence of filmed images, sounds and photographic works throughout the exhibition spaces and beyond to the lantern on the roof. Visitors enter the building by descending to the basement, where a Poseidon Adventure like jumble of pipes and air conditioning ducts sets the tone. They then emerge through a trap door into the main space, from where successive inter-related son et lumiere experiences develop in all directions at once. With material shot both in 'fictional realities' and actual locations as varied as the Arctic and Argentina, it creates visions of the relentless and dehumanising cycle of existence in a modern global society. Serpentine Gallery until 25th November.


Radical Fashion is yet another milestone on the "Culture Lite" road hewn by the V&A. Once again an ephemeral industry, which is already treated more seriously than it deserves, receives the same respect as a genuine art form. On the other hand, given that no one actually wears the stuff that appears on the catwalk in the street (not that couture clients would ever go into the street) the creations could be described as art works, since they have no practical function. Either way, this is a showcase of the work of 11 of the most spectacular and feted frock makers: Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Azzendine Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Helmut Lang. Giorgio Armani had to fork out for a 'vanity publishing' retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York earlier this year, but here we roll over for free in the name of 'accessibility'. Which approach most compromises an institution's integrity? The tailor's dozen here have each been given carte blanche to create an installation which describes/comments on/illustrates the creative journey they undertake to produce their particular Emperor's new clothes. Victoria & Albert Museum until 6th January.

Art On The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780 - 1836 is a recreation of the golden age of British art. Some 300 paintings, watercolours and drawings are hung in period fashion, frame-to-frame and from floor to ceiling, as represented in the famous Rowlandson and Pugin work 'Exhibition Room, Somerset House'. The Royal Academy was founded in 1768, and twelve years later moved into the newly completed Strand block of Somerset House, where its annual exhibitions took place until 1836. Today's display is staged in the recently restored Fine Rooms, designed by Sir William Chambers, centring on the Great Room as it did in the past. Painters competed to secure places for their works as near as possible to the famous Line, a wooden moulding that runs round the walls at the height of the doors. Positions were allocated 'on the Line' itself for the most important pictures, with smaller canvases hung at eye level and lower, and less fortunate works suffering the fate of being 'skied'. Because artists also put their reputations 'on the line' every time they exhibited, the decisions about where the pictures would be hung provoked frequent and heated rows. The works cover portraiture, landscapes, architecture and animals, as captured by Joshua Reynolds (the RA's first president), Constable, Danby, Gainsborough, Russell, Stubbs, Turner and Wilkie. Courtauld Institute Gallery, Somerset House until 20th January.

Langlands & Bell Installation is the first exhibition in the New Artists House designed by Stephen Marshall, which will feature art in a modern domestic environment, and in which artists can stay. Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell specialise in exploring relationships between people and architecture, examining buildings and the way we think about them. This installation combines new pieces with key elements of their past work.

Tim Harrison: New Stone Carvings in the New Gallery explore the fabric of the stone, through cutting, carving and polishing, revealing the geology that lies within it. A feature of Harrison's work is the way that it changes in shape, form and texture as the viewpoint or light source shifts.

The Sculpture Park is a permanent outdoor exhibition of work from 1950 onwards, and is the sole representative of the estate of Barbara Hepworth, with many of her pieces in wood, marble, stone and bronze. Other artists whose works are displayed include Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick, Antony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread. New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury - both exhibitions until 30th November - park open all year round.

The Golden Age Of Watercolours: The Hickman Bacon Collection is the first chance for the public to see this collection of British landscape drawings and watercolours since 1948. From its creation in the early years of the last century it has been recognized as the best private holding of such works anywhere, and the eighty two pictures on display here represent the cream of the collection. It is especially strong in the late ethereal Turner watercolours that only became widely popular with the advent of abstract painting in the 1940s and 50s. In addition to twenty one Turners, there are watercolours and drawings by Girtin, John Sell Cotman, David Cox, Peter de De Wint, John Robert Cozens, Francia, Bonington and Boys. They demonstrate how these artists expanded the visual, spatial, emotional and technical dimensions of landscape art during their careers, as well as their mastery of a range of watercolour techniques. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 6th January.

Thinktank, Birmingham's new £50 million science and discovery visitor attraction at Millennium Point is now in business, although the formal opening is not until next July. Divided into ten themed sections over four floors, and covering over 12,500 square metres (including an IMAX cinema), it is one of the largest attractions of its kind outside London. It tells the story of innovation in science and technology through the city's past, relates the latest advances to everyday life today, and examines expectations for the future. Topics covered include Manufacturing, Transport, Power, Space, Medicine, and Natural History. As well as over 200 new interactive exhibits, there are also many of the favourites from the former Museum of Science and Industry which closed in 1997, including the City of Birmingham steam locomotive, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft, John Cobb's Railton car, and the world's oldest working steam engine. The Millennium Point project, which is designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, will also house the Technology Innovation Centre and the University of the First Age, plus shops, bars and restaurants. Thinktank, Birmingham continuing.

Facts Of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art is one of the major exhibitions in the Japan 2001 Festival, and the largest show of contemporary Japanese art ever shown in the UK. It includes works by 25 artists, from key figures such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tatsuo Miyajima and Yayoi Kusama, to a younger generation of rising talent. These range over painting, photography, installation, video and performance, with some created specially for this exhibition. Many are motivated by social concerns, such as the alienation and vulnerability of the individual within the urban landscape, social engagement, and the nature of the material world. These themes emerge in some of the most cutting edge contemporary art being made today, together something that is often missing - humour. Hayward Gallery until 9th December.


Mike Nelson has a newly commissioned work that is installed not only in the galleries, but also in the public spaces of the building. Nelson is renowned for creating large scale environments, jammed with the detritus of modern living, which are theatrical, elaborate and surprising. Here he has built a maze-like structure, designed to transform the existing spaces, and disorientate the visitor. As always Nelson has filled this labyrinth with assorted paraphernalia that he has salvaged, with particular reference to his interest in sci-fi, B-movies and pulp fiction. The experience has the feel of stepping into a drama that has been temporarily suspended, like illicitly walking through a stage set during the interval. Mike Nelson has been shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize. Institute of Contemporary Arts until 11th November.

Autumn Countryside Celebration is a glimpse of how the countryside used to be, with the hiss of steam engines, the chug of the threshing box, the chink of the plough horses chains and the scrape of metal on earth as the plough eats into the ground. The museum comprises a medieval farmstead, with farmhouse, barns, orchard, garden and cultivated fields. This year's crop of thatching straw, grown to supply local thatchers and repair its own buildings, will be threshed with steam driven machinery in the traditional way. Heavy horses and vintage tractors will plough the stubble left by the harvest. Twenty pairs of Shires, Suffolk, Clydesdales and British Percheron draught horses, 15 vintage tractors, a threshing drum and a steam engine will all be at work. There will also be demonstrations of countryside skills and crafts, trade stands and musicians performing songs and tales of Sussex past. A programme of activities for children related to traditional rural crafts and trades will take place throughout the half term period. Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Chichester 27th and 28th October.

75 Years Of Creativity: A Rambert Dance Company Retrospective charts the creative highlights of the company that was founded by Marie Rambert in the classical tradition in 1926, but moved to a modern non-narrative repertoire in the 1960s. It draws on artefacts, designs and other materials from both the Rambert archive and the museum's permanent collection.

Margot Fonteyn Costumes celebrates the acquisition of five of the ballerina's costumes, in which she danced the roles of Aurora, Odile, Chloe and Juliet, which are on display for the first time, together with photographs of her in other roles.

Taking Shape is a journey through a landscape of changing shapes where everyday materials are transformed into animated worlds inhabited by the creations of Sue Buckmaster. Visitors can interact with moving sculptures and puppet characters, made out of anything from paper to metal, some from Buckmaster's past productions, and some made specially for this exhibition. The Theatre Museum - all until 28th October.