News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th October 2011


Photographs Gallery is the latest new space to open as part of the museum's redevelopment programme. The gallery chronicles the history of photography from 1839 to the 1960s, after which developments in scale, concept and technology mark a shift in approach and appearance. It has an inaugural display of works by key figures of photographic history, including images by British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, who used long exposures and soft focus to create some of the most powerful portraits of the 19th century, and significant works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Afred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus and Irving Penn. Highlights include a daguerreotype from 1839 of Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square; an early botanical photograph created without a camera by Anna Atkins; a dramatic seascape by Gustave Le Gray, remarkable for its technical and artistic accomplishment; Robert Howlett's iconic portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing in front of the chains of The Great Eastern ship; Curtis Moffat's camera-less photograph of a dragonfly, influenced by Man Ray's pioneering style; and the astonishing scientific photograph by Harold Edgerton of the coronet formed by a single milk drop falling into liquid. The redeveloped space was originally decorated with 20 large semi-circular paintings, illustrating the principles and practices of art education, with imagery evoking the highest achievements from the history of art. These lunette paintings, in storage for over 70 years, have been reinstated after extensive conservation. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Hitched: Wedding Clothes And Customs explores the history of marriage and the customs surrounding it, from Victorian times to the present day. Various aspects of traditional wedding services and receptions are examined, with the main focus upon changing styles in wedding dress during that time. More recent developments such as civil partnership ceremonies and alternative wedding services, alongside weddings in other cultural traditions, are also included. Costumes featured in the exhibition range from the crinoline designs of the 1850s and 1860s, through the 'flapper' styles of the 1920s, Wartime bridal wear, and even a crocheted woollen creation from the 1970s, to suits worn by a couple for their civil partnership ceremony in 2008. Examples of ethnic diversity include a dress from a Jewish wedding from Liverpool in the 1930s, a Chinese wedding dress from Hong King in the 1960s, and an extravagant dress worn by a bride from a Gipsy wedding in 2010. Alongside the outfits and accessories are photographs and ephemera revealing the many and varied traditions of weddings, from food, transport and venues to stag and hen nights. In addition, little known superstitions and beliefs are uncovered, such as why the wedding ring is always worn on the third finger of the left hand, and why the meal following the ceremony is known as the wedding breakfast, no matter what time of the day it is eaten. Ordsall Hall, Salford, until 15th January.

Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter Of Moonlight is the first major exhibition of the Victorian artist in over three decades, reflecting the rehabilitation that his reputation has undergone in recent years. Highly successful in his day, the self-taught Atkinson Grimshaw is now most celebrated for his atmospheric cityscapes, often depicted at dusk or by night. Endowing the familiar streets of Leeds, London and Glasgow with a melancholy beauty, his works balance detailed naturalism with a characteristically atmospheric quality - a product of his delicate manipulations of light. The exhibition comprises some 60 works, with highlights including 'Park Row, Leeds', 'The Thames by Moonlight with Southwark Bridge', 'Boar Lane, Leeds', Silver Moonlight', 'Knostrop Hall Early Morning', 'Reflections on the Thames, Westminster', 'Whitby, Baiting the Lines' and 'Thames by Moonlight'. Alongside the classic urban works, the exhibition also showcases Grimshaw's early preoccupation with natural landscape, including 'Moonlight Wharfedale', which shows the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, as well as some of his less familiar later works, such as interiors painted under the influence of Tissot, and seascapes painted under the influence of James McNeill Whistler, and the Aesthetic movement. Drawings, manuscripts and photographs are also included in display, which help to build a picture of Grimshaw's public and private lives. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 15th January.


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 250 photographs, contact sheets, 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 and boots 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, London, until 15th April.

Vermeer's Women: Secrets And Silence explores intimate scenes of Dutch 17th century women in their homes. The exhibition comprises works evoking the private realms inhabited almost exclusively by women, who are glimpsed engaged in domestic tasks, at their toilette or immersed in pleasurable pastimes. Needlework, playing music, reading, writing letters, cooking, shopping and minding children are all beautifully captured, and lend a feeling that one has stumbled upon a private moment. At the heart of the exhibition are works by Vermeer that represent the pinnacle of his mature career, 'The Lacemaker', 'A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal', 'A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman - The Music Lesson' and 'Young Woman Seated at a Virginal'. Optical effects normally seen in photography are present in the paintings, as Vermeer created a depth of field by blurring the foreground of the pictures, while leaving the principal subject in sharp focus. This technique, rarely seen among other works of the period, gave his painting an unprecedented complexity. Joining the works by Vermeer are 28 paintings of Dutch art from the Golden Age by some of Vermeer's finest contemporaries, many of whom were more famous than Vermeer during his lifetime. These artists include Cornelis de Bisschop, Gerard ter Borch, Esaias Boursse, Quiringh van Brekelenkam, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Nicolaes Maes, Cornelis de Man, Eglon van der Neer, Jacob van Ochtervelt, Godfried Schalcken, Jan Steen and Jacobus Vrel. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 15th January.

Oramics To Electronica: Revealing Histories Of Electronic Music charts the history of electronic music making technology, showing how it has moved from purpose built laboratories to a music studio the size of a laptop in 60 years. The story of Electronic Music, from the sound experiments of the 1950s through to the digital revolution of today, is one of invention and innovation. The story begins with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios (EMS), two organisations that broke musical boundaries in the postwar years. Objects on display from this era include the EMS VCS3, the first portable synthesiser; and the Oramics Machine, a revolutionary music synthesiser that was created in the Daphne Oram, founder of the Radiophonic Workshop, which could transform drawings into sound, together with archive footage of the machine working. The emerging story of Electronic Music has inspired enormous creativity, from machines like the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument that cost £20,000 in 1979, to a Speak & Spell children's toy that has been modified to create music. Other items on display include a much-used TB303 bass synthesizer, which spawned the whole Acid House genre, a WASP synthesiser, and an original stylophone, together with less high tech objects, such as an egg slicer rigged to produce sounds like a guitar. More recently, the spread of technology and the digital revolution has opened the world of Electronic Music to everyone, and it continues to break boundaries. Science Museum, London, until 1st December 2012.

Gerhard Richter: Panorama is a retrospective that brings together significant moments of the career of one of the most important artists working today. Since the 1960s, Gerhard Richter has immersed himself in a rich and varied exploration of painting. Continually challenging the relevance of the medium, his works have encompassed a diverse range of techniques and ideas. This exhibition, marking Richter's 80th birthday, encompasses his full range, with paintings based on photographs, colourful gestural abstractions such as the squeegee paintings, portraits, landscapes and history paintings, plus works over-painting his own photographs and photographs of details of his own paintings. Punctuating the exhibition are a series of glass constructions from 1960s, 1970s and 2000s, and mirror works that Richter began making in the 1980s. Highlights include a rarely shown painting of the Alps; a triptych of Cloud paintings; the Skull and Candle paintings shown alongside paintings of icebergs and mountainscapes, testifying to Richter's admiration of German Romantic painting; the 15 part work 'October 18 1977', based on newspaper images of the dead members of the Baader Meinhof group; intimate portraits and images of friends and family, such as painted busts of himself and his friend, the artist Blinky Palermo, 'Ema (Nude on a Staircase)' depicting his first wife, 'Betty 1988', a portrait of his daughter, and 'Reader 1994', a painting of his young wife; and 'September 2005', a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. Tate Modern until 8th January.

Rashid Rana the first major British show by the most prominent and original contemporary artist working in South Asia today. The works in this exhibition blur the divide between two and three-dimensional forms, to challenge the viewer's understanding of the world in which they live. Photo sculptures, large-scale photo mosaics, installations and new video work subvert perception of size and structure, and look deeper into the relationship between the fragment and the bigger picture. The exhibition explores three themes: Dis-location, examines domesticity, displacement and everyday objects, through a series of heavily pixellated photo sculptures that manipulate our ideas of representation and reality, including 'The World Is Not Enough' a portrait of an undulating seascape, whose beauty is at odds with the micro-imagery of waste and urban decay that are woven together to create it; Between Flesh and Blood, dissects the body and physical relationships, including 'What Lies Between Flesh and Blood', which presents deeply textured, serene abstracts, reminiscent of Rothko, but viewed more closely reveal each is composed of an intricate mosaic of thousands of tiny images of wounds and skin, collected from disparate sources including fashion magazines, pornographic websites and medical journals; and An Idea Of Abstract, a re-engagement with formal concerns, including 'Desperately Seeking Paradise II', which appears to depict a panoramic skyline of an imaginary city with high-rise buildings, but close-up, is revealed to be thousands of smaller images depicting houses in Lahore, the city where Rana was born and is currently based. Cornerhouse Manchester until 18th December.

Miracles And Charms explores the extraordinary in the everyday with two linked shows.

Infinitas Gracias: Mexican Miracle Paintings is a display of Mexican votive paintings, usually executed on tin roof tiles or small plaques, depicting the moment of personal humility when an individual asks a saint for help and is delivered from disaster and sometimes death. The exhibition features over 100 votive paintings together with images, news reports, photographs, devotional artefacts, film and interviews, illustrating the depth of the votive tradition in Mexico. Usually commissioned from local artists by the petitioner, votive paintings tell immediate and intensely personal stories, from domestic dramas to revolutionary violence, through which a markedly human history of communities and their culture can be read. The profound influence of these vernacular paintings, and the artists and individuals who painted them, can be seen in the work of such figures as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who were avid collectors.

Felicity Powell - Charmed Life: The Solace Of Objects comprises some 400 traditional amulets encircled with works by the artist. The amulets, ranging from simple coins to meticulously carved shells, dead animals to elaborately fashioned notes, are from a collection amassed by the banker and obsessive folklorist Edward Lovett, who scoured London by night, buying curious objects from the city's mudlarks, barrow men and sailors. The amulets are objects of solace. Intended to be held, touched, and kept close to the body, they are by turns designed and found, peculiar and familiar. Felicity Powell's works address the strange allure of these objects. Intricate miniatures, with white wax reliefs on black mirror slate, they carry the same intimacy of size as the amulets, and are meticulously crafted. Film works see the wax reliefs in animation, featuring the hands of the artist as she works, alongside medical scans of her body overlaid with drawn images of amulets.

Wellcome Collection, London until 26th February.


Ben Nicholson: The Intimate Surface Of Modernism provides an opportunity to glimpse the private side of one of the major figures in British modernism. In the 1920s, while Ben Nicholson was married to his first wife, fellow artist Winifred, he spent much of his time living between London and Cumberland. It is largely this early period of Nicholson's life and work that is represented in this exhibition. These are mostly landscape drawings, which belong in the heritage of pastoral art, rather than with his later more abstract paintings and sculpture. This work is grounded with a sense of family and place, includes gifts made to family and friends, which help to connect with Nicholson as a person, rather than just the well known art historical figure. As well as works by Nicholson the display includes paintings by Winifred Nicholson and their maverick friend Alfred Wallis, together with postcards from family holidays. In addition, works such as 'Venice' and 'St Ives' honour Nicholson's more recognised and alternative approach to drawing, which explores new ideas, and refuses to define the term in the traditional way. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until 6th November.

Mass Photography: Blackpool Through The Camera features photographs of the seaside resort from the early 20th century to today. The exhibition encourages the viewer to make their own way through the Blackpool experience, comparing and juxtaposing the way that different photographers have looked at people having fun. Over 100 images combine the work of some of Britain's greatest documentary photographers with amateurs who have lived or invested much holiday time in the resort. The starting point of the exhibition is the work that Humphrey Spender and Julian Trevelyan produced in 1937/1938 as part of the Mass Observation project, initiated to study the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain as an 'anthropology of ourselves'. Spender and Trevelyan's affinity to British surrealism lets them appreciate Blackpool's efforts towards the exotic in images where dolls appear larger than people and advertisement copy reads as poetry. Yet their subject matter of gambling machines, the overcrowded beach, signs on hotels and ventriloquists are also to be found in the images of many other photographers who have come to Blackpool. By showing the variations of such recurring subjects, the display traces changing trends in photographic expression. The exhibition also includes a new video installation created by Nina Konnemann based on material from yearly updated souvenir films of the Blackpool Illuminations that evoke the special sense of time of the cyclical holiday seasons. Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, until 5th November.

Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern is a retrospective of Britain's leading product designer, who, in a career spanning over 50 years, has designed some of the most iconic and familiar products and appliances in daily use. Kenneth Grange's prolific output has played a significant role in making Britain modern, as reflected in this exhibition of over 150 products, prototypes and sketches, as well as audio, photography and film. During the 1960s and 1970s Grange designed a considerable number of domestic products. The Kenwood Chef was a revelation in home baking and became a standard aesthetic for food mixers. Each of his designs supported new materials and advances in technology, in razors for Wilkinson Sword, cigarette lighters for Ronson, irons for Morphy Richards and pens for Parker. This was a time when Britain led the way with its strong manufacturing base and renewed vigour for design, a time when Britain to embraced the future. In 1968 Grange designed the iconic exterior and interior layout for the High Speed Intercity 125 train for British Rail. Its distinctive and futuristic aerodynamic cone nose caught the mood of the time and set the standard for high-speed train design still referenced today. During a long association with Kodak, Grange developed the Instamatic camera in 1968, followed by the Pocket Instamatic in 1972, the start of a new generation of portable, inexpensive cameras. In 1972 Grange, together with Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Colin Forbes and Mervyn Kurlansky established Pentagram, a world renowned multi-disciplinary design consultancy. In the 1990s, Grange produced distinctive designs that have become part of the landscape, from the re-design of the London black cab, the Taxi TX1, to the Adshel bus shelters, continuing his work in street design that started with Britain's first parking meter for Venner in 1958. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1, until 30th October.