News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th April 2012


Kensington Palace has reopened following a 2 year £12m refurbishment of both the palace and grounds. Originally built as a country house for a minor aristocrat, but much altered and extended, for 325 years it has been - and still is - a home for many generations of members of the Royal family. Highlights include the King's State Apartments, with the Privy Chamber, which has a magnificent ceiling painted by William Kent in 1723; the Queen's State Apartments, with the drawing room that Mary II filled with porcelain; the King's Gallery, decorated for King George I in 1727, and home of the cream of the Royal painting collection; and the Sunken Garden, laid out during the reign of Edward VII, re-creating the formal gardens that existed at the palace in the 17th century.

Victoria Revealed is an exhibition that traces Victoria's journey from her birth, and childhood at Kensington Palace, through young queen enthralled with a new husband, to grieving matriarch and ruler of a vast empire. On display are iconic, beautiful and often deeply personal objects, from Victoria's simple white silk wedding gown, to the dolls she made, dressed and named as a little girl, excerpts from her journals, letters and reports from contemporary commentators, alongside paintings, photography and sculpture by her favourite artists. The exhibition also explores the life of Prince Albert, showing him as a passionate, moral individual who was deeply involved in the life of the nation. Until 26th March.

Diana: Glimpses Of A Modern Princess comprises a selection of dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, from the famous black strapless evening gown by Emanuel, which has never been on public display before, to a sleek black cocktail dress by Gianni Versace which she wore several years later. They are displayed alongside fashion illustrations and photographs, that reflect some important and memorable moments in her public life. Until 2nd September.

Children's Lives traces the changing nature of childhood in Birmingham from the 18th century to the present day. The exhibition explores the relationships of children with their families and peers, the experiences of children in school, at work, during wartime, and in the hands of various welfare institutions, as well as the ways children have imagined the world. This is done through fine art, photography, film, objects, toys, sound archives and documentary sources. The exhibition aims to bring the voice of the child out of the archive and the museum collections and draw the connections between the past and the present into sharper focus. It also shows how the world of the child has been constructed by adults. There is an element on children 'on the move' including refugees and evacuees, also featuring Middlemore Homes, which sent more than 6000 children to Canada and Australia between1874 and the Second World War. The final part of the display has been curated by young people from two local secondary schools, who have created their own responses to past children's experiences, and present their stories of what it is to be young in the 21st century, creating an archive through film and oral history. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, until 10th June.

Cutty Sark, the world's last surviving tea clipper and one of Britain's greatest maritime treasures, has reopened following an extensive conservation project. The 're-launch' is the culmination of 6 years' work and one of the most complex conservation projects ever undertaken on a historic ship, following a devastating fire. It has succeeded in rescuing Cutty Sark and preventing her collapse, whilst preserving as much of the ship's original fabric from the period of her working life as possible. In addition, the ship has been raised 11ft, relieving the keel of the weight of the ship and preserving her unique shape. Now, for the first time, visitors can walk underneath the ship and view the lines of her hull, revealing the innovative design which was the secret to her success, enabling her to reach the record breaking speed of 17 ½ knots (20 mph) from Sydney to London. This space, under a glass 'wave' also showcases a collection of over 80 ships' figureheads, never before displayed in its entirety. The ship's weather deck and rigging have been painstakingly restored to their original specification, with 11 miles of rigging supporting the 3 masts. Below deck visitors can explore Cutty Sark's rich and varied history through new interactive displays. Launched in 1869 from Dumbarton, Cutty Sark visited most major ports around the world. She carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder and from whisky to buffalo horns, and made her name as the fastest ship of her era during her time in the wool trade. Many of the tea clippers that sailed the China Seas during the 19th century lasted for only a few years and only 7 saw the 20th century. By the mid 1920s Cutty Sark was the only one still afloat. Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich, continuing.


Animal Inside Out reveals the intricate insides of a wide variety of creatures from a frog to an elephant, and shows their comparative anatomy and biology. Having astonished (not to say repulsed) the world with his Body World exhibition, Dr Gunther von Hagens - popularly known as 'Dr Death' - who invented Plastination, the process that stops the decay of dead bodies and prepares specimens for scientific and medical education, has turned his attention from humans to animals. This revolutionary method of preservation involves extracting all water and fatty tissues from the specimen and replacing them with polymers in a vacuum. The skin of each specimen is then eroded using enzymes, bacteria or acids to reveal the skeletons, muscles, sinew, blood vessels, nervous systems and organs underneath. In this exhibition around 100 specimens range from whole animals like the giraffes, the elephant and horse, to small intricate parts like a hare's brain, and includes a shark, giant squid, goat, pig, sheep, ostriches and a gorilla. The Plastination process takes weeks, if not months depending on the size and complexity of the dissection. The star attraction - the Asian elephant - required the use of special cranes and tanks, took 64,000 hours, and cost €3.5m. The preserved animals are displayed as though suspended in motion, such as a vast bull, muscles taut and poised to attack, and a pair of reindeer captured in full flight, so they seem as much a series of artworks as an anatomical display. Natural History Museum until 16th September.

Red Chalk: Raphael To Ramsay explores the versatile and beautiful drawing medium of red chalk, featuring works which, due to their delicate nature are rarely on show, as well as a number of drawings being exhibited for the first time. The exhibition reveals the ways in which artists have, over the centuries, exploited the unique nature of red chalk to produce an array of dazzling and distinctive effects that cannot be achieved with any other drawing medium. The display showcases a diverse range of exquisite drawings by distinguished artists, such as Jean-Antoine Watteau, Francois Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard, Robert Hubert and David Allan. Highlights include Raphael's 'Study of a Kneeling Nude', made as a preparatory drawing for one of a series of painted frescos; Salvator Rosa's 'Head of a Bearded Man', which is an arresting example of red chalk being used to produce a highly expressive finished drawing, intended as a piece of art in its own right; a sheet of figurative studies by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni, which reveal the incredible precision and control that can be achieved in the medium; Rubens's 'Four Women Harvesting', which demonstrates how effectively chalk can be used for rapid sketching, with the simplest and most minimal strokes; and a preparatory study by Guercino for his monumental oil painting of 'Erminia Finding the Wounded Tancred', shown alongside the finished painting. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until 10th June.

Zoe Leonard: Observation Point reveals the contemporary New York based artist's constant concern with perception and visual experience. Zoe Leonard explores photographic seeing, how we relate to the mediated image and how we perceive the world around us. The exhibition addresses three distinct aspects of photography - experience, image, object - and in doing so pushes at the boundaries of photography as practice and medium, and its effect on our emotional, political, or psychological experience. Gallery 3 is transformed into a camera obscura, where daylight filters in through a lens, projecting an image of the world outside onto the floor, walls and ceiling, creating a spatially immersive experience. The gallery's north-south axis provides constant light throughout the day, giving rise to a continually shifting, cinematic event. The work Leonard has created for Gallery 1 defies one of the cardinal rules of traditional photography - not to shoot directly into the sun. Photography customarily depicts the colour, form and spatial extension that the light of the sun allows us to discern, rather than the sun as subject itself. These images combine subject and process, retaining the glare and flare on the lens, the grain of the film in the enlarged print and the evidence of Leonard's work in the darkroom. The installation of found postcards of Niagara Falls in Gallery 2 continues Leonard's practice of using the world around her as source material, reframing or representing already existing images so as to refresh our own act of looking. Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3, until 24th June.

The Wild, The Beautiful And The Damned explores the meaning of beauty, and the lives and loves of the courtesans and libertines who lived and died in the Stuart Court, during the reigns of Charles II, James II, William III & Mary II and Anne. The exhibition explores the story of how kings, queens and courtesans swept away the Puritanical solemnity of the mid 17th century, and attempted to rewrite the moral code of social behaviour. At its heart are portraits of Charles II's principal mistresses, including Nell Gwyn, Moll Davis, Barbara Villiers and Louise de Keroualle, and other resident 'beautiful women' of the Royal Court, some of which are quite explicit. Other highlights that bring to life the glamour and magnificence of the Baroque period include Peter Lely's 'Windsor Beauties', 10 of the most important female courtiers of the day, and Godfrey Kneller's 'Hampton Court Beauties', the 8 reigning 'toasts of the Court', together with exquisite fashion accessories. The exhibition reveals not only what beauty meant at court (how to display grace and how to use looks to gain attention and influence) the beauty secrets of the day, the fashions and elegance of court life, but also what happened when beauty faded, and when a life of virtue was rewarded by obscurity, and a life of vice by syphilis and death. Charles II ruled for 25 flamboyant and decadent years, pursuing 'beauty' in all its forms, collecting artworks and mistresses with equal enthusiasm. The show explores the ambiguity at the heart of the late 17th century Court: beauty was a good thing, a reflection of divine perfection, an indication of virtue, but it was also pursued and possessed. Hampton Court Palace, until 30th September.

SeaCity Museum tells the story of the people of Southampton and the city's historic connection with the sea. The £15m project is a conversion and extension of the Grade II* listed former Magistrates' Courts and Police Station. The buildings' history has been ingeniously incorporated, with an exhibit about the Titanic Enquiry staged in the former courtroom, and the police cells transformed into toilets. In addition, the former civic centre clock tower is now open for tours. There are two permanent galleries, featuring 'Southampton's Titanic Story', telling of the city's part in the world's greatest shipping tragedy as the home of the White Star Line, (most of the crew were Southampton residents), including a 1:25 scale interactive model of the ship, showing the intricate layout of the vessel, a pocket watch found on the body of a steward that shows the exact time it stopped, and a Disaster Room, describing the sequence of events from the time the ship struck the iceberg to its sinking; and 'Southampton: Gateway To The World', recounting the stories of people and ships who have departed from or arrived in the port over the last 250,000 years, including a large interactive map revealing the development of Southampton from small stone age settlements into the walled medieval town and through the ages to its present size, and a 1 tonne 7m long model of the Cunard Queen Mary. The third special exhibitions gallery opens with 'Titanic The Legend', in which the story is presented through a variety of perspectives, and considers why the legend endures, the effect it has had on ship design, safety and technological research, and explores the notion of a 'Titanic industry'. Sea City Museum, Havelock Road, Southampton, continuing.

Famous In The Fifties: Photographs By Daniel Farson celebrates the multifaceted career of the Picture Post photographer, television presenter, writer and legendary Soho figure. Daniel Farson's association with bohemia is demonstrated by intimate portraits of Lucian Freud and Brendan Behan and a group of writers shown with lifelong friend John Deakin, photographed in Soho, his haunt of many years. A portrait of Adam Faith inscribed by Farson, 'I put him on TV first', illustrates Farson's impact on television, presenting programmes including Out Of Step and Living for Kicks. His portrait of Joan Littlewood is one of a group that relates to the theatre. In 1967 Littlewood produced Farson's play about Marie Lloyd, a venture which followed his revival of music hall acts as the landlord of The Waterman's Arms on the Isle of Dogs.

Cambridge Connections: Photographs By Antony Barrington Brown presents an equally compelling picture of a very different society. Antony Barrington Brown worked as a photographer and picture editor for the student newspaper Varsity while reading chemistry at Cambridge. He returned to the town in 1951 to set up as a freelance photographer, with the aim of capturing dons in their 'natural habitat', and was commissioned by colleges to portray the Fellows of the University. Barrington Brown is now best known for his photograph of James Watson and Francis Crick around the time of their discovery of DNA. He also worked as a photo-journalist, for the national press, the BBC and Movietone News among others. This display presents a selection from a collection of 240 sittings, taken between 1953 and 1958.

National Portrait Gallery until 16th September.


David Shrigley: Brain Activity is the first major exhibition of work by the British artist known for his humorous drawings that make witty and wry observations on everyday life. David Shrigley employs a deliberately crude graphic style, which gives his work an immediate and accessible appeal, while simultaneously offering insightful commentary on the absurdities of human relationships. The exhibition covers the full range of Shrigley's work from the past two decades, including drawing, animation, painting, photography, taxidermy and sculpture. There are some 80 drawings never before seen in Britain, plus around 45 larger new paintings on paper. Many of Shrigley's three dimensional works, ranging from hand-crafted sculptures made out of unusual materials, to larger series and installations, including '12 Large Eggs', 'Insects' and 'Black Boots', are characterised by their odd scale, lending the works a strange, uncanny edge. Death and the macabre are recurrent themes in Shrigley's work, treated with the same deadpan humour as the everyday. Other highlights include a large-scale in-situ wall painting; 'Swords and Daggers', a set of bronze weapons; 'The Contents of the Gap between the Refrigerator and the Cooker' a colorful strip that, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be a pile of miniature plasticine creatures; and a series of photographs that feature discreet interventions that Shrigley has made in various landscapes and interiors, injecting comedic irony to otherwise everyday banal imagery. There is also a brand new animation, shown alongside a selection of Shrigley existing films, including 'New Friends', an ironic twist on peer pressure, 'Sleep', 'Light Switch' and 'Ones', in which the use of repetition brings familiar behaviour into view. Hayward Gallery until 13th May.

The Romance Of The Middle Ages showcases manuscripts and early printed books containing medieval romance. The exhibition looks at how these stories have inspired writers and artists across the centuries from the early modern period, including Shakespeare, Ariosto and Cervantes, through medievalism in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Walter Scott, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, to contemporary versions and adaptations, including manuscripts and drafts by Philip Pullman. The objects on display range from lavishly illustrated volumes about King Arthur or Alexander the Great, to personal notebooks and fragments only saved by chance. The exhibition features works by great figures of English medieval literature, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, shown alongside books and artworks that illustrate romance legends. Highlights include: 'The Song of Roland', the earliest copy of France's national epic, from the mid 12th century; the earliest surviving romances in English, 'King Horn and Havelok the Dane', from the early 14th century; 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', one of the most precious manuscripts of Middle English poetry; 'The Red Book of Hergest', containing 'The Mabinogion' and many other texts, from 1400; William Caxton's 'The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye', the first book ever printed in the English language, from 1473; a draft illustrated page from JRR Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings'; and Terry Jones's own working copy of the screenplay of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 13th May.

The Garden Of Forgotten Engineers, Smiths And Bicycles features a collection of monster sculptures made from scrap materials of all kinds. Serena Thirkell, a descendant of Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne Jones, creates strange metal mythical creatures and monsters from broken agricultural machinery, old garden tools and even dentist's equipment. The exhibition in the grounds of the gallery includes a rusty Belling heater that has become a bee; a potato lough transmogrified into a mantis; pipe benders that form a Trojan Horse; a vegetable steamer transposed into a Samurai family; bicycle gears and chain metamorphosed into a duck; and an old farmer's plough mould boards, a digger bucket and smith's tongs transformed into a huge helicopter called a 'Helicopterix'. A true British eccentric. Worthing Museum & Art Gallery until 5th May.