News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th March 2003


John Soane And The Wooden Bridges of Switzerland: Architecture And The Culture Of Technology From Palladio To The Grubenmanns springs from a journey through Europe made by Soane in 1778 while he was a student of architecture. In Switzerland he saw a number of remarkable wooden bridges with which he became fascinated, and later included in his Royal Academy lectures as exemplars of inventive construction. The Swiss wooden bridges, built in the 1760s and 70s by architects such as the Grubenmann brothers were widely acknowledged as masterpieces of engineering. They achieved impossible spans through a combination of lightness and strength, and were often hugely complex in design. This exhibition looks at why these bridges exerted such a strong hold on Soane's imagination, and traces their influence on his career as an architect and teacher of architecture. It also takes a detailed look at the development of wooden bridge construction since antiquity. There is material from Soane's own collection, including several of his lecture drawings illustrating the Swiss bridges and their antecedents, together with architectural books and other drawings on loan from museums in Italy. The showstoppers however, are three wooden models attributed to the Swiss architect Hans Ulrich Grubenmann dating from the mid 18th century. Sir John Soane's Museum until 19th April.

Will Alsop And Bruce McLean: Two Chairs is the first exhibition to present the results of a unique ongoing collaboration between architect Will Alsop and artist Bruce McLean. Alsop is an architect with a painterly eye, who follows no single theoretical school, and believes that to build is to exercise the heart rather than the intellect. McLean is a sculptor who has moved into performance art, painting, prints, ceramics and furniture design. For over twenty years they have been enjoying annual creative encounters in Spain, aiming to discover forms and relations that feed their individual disciplines. These meetings in Malagarba on the island of Minorca have produced a series of dramatic large-scale highly colourful 3D abstract paintings, and architectural sized sculptural works. McLean's boldness of spirit and risk, combined with Alsop's organic and playful architectural resolutions, make an exhibition that is fluid, experimental and spontaneous. The Two Chairs of the title refers not only to the inclusion of two identical wooden chairs in photographs of their joint works, which they use to establish scale, but also to the fact that both these eminent anti-establishment figures hold professorial chairs in major academic institutions. Cube Manchester 0161 237 5525 until 8th May.

Masterpieces From Dresden: Mantegna And Durer To Rubens And Canaletto owes its origin to last summer's European floods. In August the waters of the River Elbe rushed into the vaults of the Zwinger Palace, home of the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, one of Europe's greatest collections of Old Master paintings. In a dramatic rescue mission 4,000 artworks were carried to safety from the basement stores by museum staff, volunteers and the armed forces. The museum has reopened, but while remedial work on the basement continues, its treasures are on loan for us to see, with over fifty masterpieces, from Italian Renaissance paintings to Mantegna and Titian, to stunning works by Durer, Van Dyck, Velazquez, Poussin, Watteau and Canaletto. Ranging in subject matter from historical, mythological and biblical themes, to dramatic portraits, genre scenes, and spectacular landscapes, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view rarely seen works. It includes a group of Bellotto's spectacular views of Dresden, which reveal the magnificent city in all its 18th century glory. Known as the Florence of the Elbe, Dresden was a royal capital and a city of great architectural distinction. There is an accompanying selection of dramatic black and white photographs by the German photographer Barbara Klemm, documenting the salvage operation and the flood damage at the Zwinger Palace. Royal Academy of Arts until 8th June.


Puppet Worlds puts one of the oldest theatrical traditions into a global context, and also illustrates that its audience is by no means restricted to children. Every kind of puppet is here, from British end of the pier Punch and Judy, whose ancestry is much more complex than you would imagine - Punch first proclaimed "the way to do it" in Naples in the 17th century - via 4ft tall characters from the Sri Lankan puppet folk opera, and Malaysian shadow puppets, to satirical glove puppets from Uzbekistan which are employed to discuss social issues. Traditional Chinese and Indian puppets sit alongside present day British favourites such as the original Andy Pandy and Flower Pot Men. Among the highlights are rod puppets from Indonesia, where shows are performed at celebrations of births, weddings, harvest and other community occasions, which represent characters from the Mahabharata, including Yamadipati, the God of Death. On display for the first time are a set of water puppets, which belong to a performance art unique to Vietnam. They are used to depict life in the countryside, such as rice planting, fishing and wrestling, and also to tell more exotic stories, in which supernatural creatures like the unicorn, dragon and phoenix appear. To operate them, the puppeteers stand waist deep in water behind a screen, manipulating the puppets by the use of underwater rods and strings. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill London SE23 until 2nd November.

COBRA: Copenhagen Brussels Amsterdam showcases the work of a group of artists and writers who took their name from the three cities where many of the participants lived - Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Working between 1948 and 1951, artists associated with COBRA proclaimed a radical new art based on experimentation and collaboration. Influenced by the traditions of myth and tribal art, and the instinctive and untutored art of children and the mentally ill, these artists were motivated by a belief in the role of art as a social and political force, and sought spontaneous, experimental and anti-elitist forms of expression. In the newly won post war freedom, anything classical, considered or disciplined as out. This exhibition is the first major show of the movement in the Britain, and presents works by 20 artists, with paintings and drawings by key figures including Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant, Cornelle, Asger Jorn and Carl-Henning Pederson. They are exuberant, colourful, vigorous and brash - epitomising what the movement set out to achieve. In addition to the paintings, there are also films, publications and manifestos by other members of the group. Baltic, Gateshead until 21st April.

British Blondes celebrates the perception that from Greek goddess Aphrodite to pop goddess Madonna, blondes have always had more fun, by bringing together photographs of some the best known British blondes from the 1930s to the present day. Blonde hair has come to signify beauty, power and status, and the display looks at blonde bombshells from the worlds of politics, fashion, music, film and media. Highlights include Margaret Thatcher by Norman Parkinson, Twiggy by Allan Ballard, Diana Dors by Cornel Lucas and Joely Richardson by Alistair Morrisson, plus Diana, Princess of Wales, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor. The sublime to the 'gor blimey indeed. National Portrait Gallery until 6th July.

Blondes is a complementary selection of sixty images from the world's largest image archive, demonstrating the mystique and sexual allure of blondes around the world, achieved through a combination of childish innocence and knowing seductiveness. Representatives here include Brigitte Bardot, Jerry Hall, Jean Harlow, Grace Kelly, Carole Lombard, Jane Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and of course, Madonna. The exhibition also features a selection of blonde men, including Michael Caine, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Fortunately there is no distinction made between natural and (strongly featured in this exhibition) acquired blondness. Hulton Getty Images Gallery, London until 26th April.

The Adventures Of Hamza is a display of paintings illustrating epic tales of heroism, magic and bravery. They depict the exploits of Hamza, a mythical character, supposedly the uncle of Muhammad, who travelled the world with his band of heroes battling against a host of adversaries. Commissioned by the great Mughal emperor Akbar about 1557, the paintings are rare survivors from one of the most unusual manuscripts produced during Mughal rule, and represent a crucial turning point in the development of Mughal art. The tales, which were popular with all ages, were told by professional storytellers across the Persian speaking world, including the Mughal empire. The beautifully coloured dramatic illustrations, present a cast of larger than life characters in exotic costumes, inhabiting a world where heroes confront and make great escapes from giants, sorcerers, sea monsters and dragons, rescue princesses, or manoeuvre their hapless foes into comical predicaments through sheer guile. The unusually large volumes of the Hamzanama text took more than 100 artists, gilders, bookbinders and calligraphers fifteen years to complete, and originally contained 1400 illustrations, though fewer than 200 are known to have survived. This exhibition, comprised of sixty eight paintings from various collections, is the first time they have been seen in this country. Victoria & Albert Museum until 8th June.

Real/Surreal: Photographs By Lee Miller is an exhibition of images showing the full range of the extraordinary personal and commercial portfolio of one of the most remarkable photographers of the twentieth century. Few others have had a career than spans fashion shoots for Vogue and the documentation of concentration camps as an official American army correspondent in the Second World War. Originally a Vogue cover model in New York herself, she fell in love with Surrealist artist Man Ray in the 1920s and moved to Paris. There she rapidly became part of the avant-garde art world, and became associated with many artists, including Picasso, Max Ernst and Roland Penrose. Influenced by Ray, she developed her own unique style - bold, surreal and hard edged, experimenting with floating heads and negative images. Miller carried this approach over into her war pictures, creating images that give the reality of combat a further striking twist of horror. After the war she changed course again, married Penrose and settled in rural Sussex. Whitworth Gallery Manchester until 27th April.

Text And Image: German Illustrated Broadsides Of Four Centuries is a collection of the equivalent of public information films from the 15th century - quite soon after the invention of printing with movable type - until the 18th century. Illustrated broadsides are single sheets of paper printed on one side with woodcuts or engravings and text, which were sold for use in a variety of contexts: for information, instruction, contemplation, and entertainment. Displayed in both public and domestic environments, the broadsides were often pinned or stuck to walls and furniture. Though many thousands of copies were printed in several European countries, especially Germany, their unusually large size and fragility have meant that very few have survived. Although some major artists and authors produced broadsides, many of the images and texts are anonymous. This selection, of which all the sheets are rare and many unique, illustrates a number of themes including Religion, Death, City Life, Peasants, Women, Jews, and Witchcraft. British Museum until 21st April.


The Glass Aquarium is an exhibition of the work of 19th Century glass makers Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf, who made thousands of glass models of squids, sea-slugs, cuttlefish, jelly fish and other sea creatures from their tiny studio in Desden. Exquisite in its fine detailing and startlingly real, their work is a remarkable example of the fusion of design, craftsmanship and industrial production from the Victorian era, at a time when the public was fascinated by the recently discovered science of marine exploration. It was described then as "an artistic marvel in the field of science, and a scientific marvel in the field of art". There is something wholly appropriate about the transparency and delicacy of glass being used to represent the wonders of marine life. The exhibition also includes contemporary pieces by a number of artists including Dorothy Cross and Mark Francis whose work is informed by the Blaschkas. Castle Museum & Art Gallery Nottingham until 6th April.

Eggebert And Gould present four installations combining drawings, photomontages, light boxes, collage and projections that consider television and the aeroplane as modern devices for collapsing distance and seeing the world. They reflect on a past optimism, when television was seen as a medium that would result in real communication between people and nations, and when it was thought that cheap international travel would bring people together. This is contrasted with the reality of intrusive CCTV surveillance, and the threat of terrorism that aeroplanes now carry. Birthplace Of Television refers to the locality's position as the site of the first transmission of a television image by John Logie Baird. Going Places reflects on the growth of global tourism with a Foreign Office map of no go areas. Alpine Archipelago looks at artificial landscapes created when plants are transported across the world from their natural homes. Knowing Places examines how television facilitates an escape into an imaginary world rather than encouraging engagement with the real one.

There is a permanent exhibition about John Logie Baird, who conducted experiments and placed his first patent for "seeing by wireless" in Hastings in 1923. There is an early televisor and scanning disc, together with a collection of letters written by Baird to his financial backer Will Day, relating to his pioneering work, which go into great detail about his ideas for transmitting and receiving television images. Hastings Museum And Art Gallery 01424 781155 until 6th April.

Magic Pencil - Children's Book Illustration Today is a display of more than 300 paintings and drawings for children, by thirteen of Britain's best known contemporary illustrators. Mythological monsters, spooks and fairytale princesses leap out of the pages in a wide range of colours and styles. These encompass Angela Barrett's fantasy visions, Sara Fanelli's collages, Raymond Briggs and Posy Simonds more adult worlds, and modern classics by Quentin Blake and Tony Ross. The exhibition considers what moves an artist to draw, if children's book illustration is really art, and how we learn to 'read' pictures. Each artist is assessed individually, revealing how and why they work, with examples of their different approaches, techniques and draughtsmanship. The exhibition also examines how today's illustrators reflect contemporary concerns, often through subject matter not always associated with children's books. This current work is placed in the context of the long tradition of British children's book illustration through examples of books from the past 300 years from the permanent collection. The British Library until 31st March.