News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th May 2010

Toy Boats charts how miniature ocean liners, paddle steamers and battleships once captured the imagination of generations of children. The exhibition features over 100 toys, games, catalogues and photographs revealing how the craze for all things maritime drove toy companies to make toy boats of every size and description. It explores the range of toy boats made by European manufacturers from 1850 to 1950, a period marked by rapid advances in maritime technology. As nations raced each other to build bigger and better ships, toy makers were swift to exploit the publicity and follow up with toys that captured the spirit of these famous vessels. Toymakers experimented with a range of technology to power the boats, from twisted rubber bands and clockwork springs to burners producing steam, and early batteries. Late 19th century town planning introduced parks with decorative ponds and fountains, which gave children a space to play with toy boats. This, along with the increase in family seaside holidays, created an appeal which inspired toy makers to compete in creating finer and more sophisticated ships, which also appealed to adults as collectors' curios. Among the highlights are: Dolphin, one of the oldest clockwork ship models in the world, crafted by a family carpenter for the Duke of Northumberland in 1822; HMS Terrible, a large and very rare steam propelled battleship made in Germany around 1905; Hohenzollern, a clockwork propelled replica of Kaiser Wilhelm II's yacht, made around 1900; a rare build-your-own wooden model kit produced to commemorate the launch of RMS Queen Mary in 1936; Italia, a steam propelled cruiser, measuring nearly a metre long, made in France in 1885; and Salamandre, a steam propelled battleship, made of tinplate, copper and wood, with a team of 32 wooden sailors and a small clockwork torpedo boat. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 31st October.

Visions Of An Industrial Age features large scale reproductions of a unique series of images of Preston captured on camera in the 1850s. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse of a medieval market town that was undergoing a radical transformation. Taken only 70 years after the first cotton mill was built, these photographs are the oldest known photographs of Preston. They are the work of amateur photographer Charles Wilson, who lived and worked in the town, and was a member of a number of local societies and organisations. The images document the town whose population had increased from 7,000 to 70,000 in the previous 75 years as the industrial revolution unfolded. Photographs include new railway bridges, the gardens of Ribblesdale Place, the historic Market Place, housing in the Avenham area, where Wilson lived, and other places with which he had personal connections.

The Story Of Preston charts the development of Preston as a market town and centre for cotton manufacturing in the 19th century. Among the items on display are: a 17th century family portrait of a Puritan family who once lived on Fishergate; an early 19th century dolls' house which belonged to the Pedder family who founded Preston's first bank; the 'Maudland Cock' weathervane from St Walburge's church; and the Yard Works model of the huge cotton manufacturing complex once operated by Horrockses, made in 1913 for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the town.

Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, Visions Of An Industrial Age until 4th September.

Westminster Abbey Chapter House has reopened after a £3m 18 month programme by 20 craftsmen and stonemasons to conserve and restore the fabric of the building. The octagonal East Cloister, with a vaulted ceiling and delicate central column, which dates from the 1250s, and was originally lauded as 'beyond compare', is one of the largest in England. The monks met there every day for prayers, to read a chapter from the rule of St Benedict, and discuss the day's work. Henry VIII's Great Council, which was effectively the beginning of the English Parliament, first assembled there in 1257. The House of Commons regularly used the room in the 14th century, before they transferred to the Palace of Westminster. After having been a monastic and royal treasury, and repository for Exchequer records from the 1540s, it was restored in the 1870s by George Gilbert Scott. The room is lavishly adorned with rare medieval sculpture, wall paintings of the Apocalypse and the Last Judgement, stained glass windows, and a 13th century stone altar that survived the Reformation. It also contains the finest medieval tile pavement in England, with richly coloured designs including royal coats of arms. In the vestibule of the Chapter House is the oldest door in Britain, dated to the 1050s. The restoration has seen 32 new stone gargoyles carved to Gilbert Scott's original designs, among a total or 64 across 8 pinnacles. Westminster Abbey continuing.


Treasures Of Lambeth Palace Library celebrates the 400th anniversary of one of the earliest public libraries in England. The exhibition draws upon the library's rich and diverse collections of manuscripts, archives and books, some of which are on public display for the first time. It not only shows these treasures, but also explores the history surrounding the people who owned, studied or used them as aids to prayer and devotion. Among the highlights of the exhibition are: the MacDurnan Gospels, written and illuminated in Ireland in the 9th century; the Lambeth Bible, a masterpiece of Romanesque art; the 13th century Lambeth Apocalypse; a Gutenberg Bible printed in 1455, the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type; books owned and used by Kings and Queens, including a Book of Hours found in the tent of Richard III after his death at the Battle of Bosworth, a prayer book that belonged to Elizabeth I, and a book pleading for religious toleration with James I's angry notes in the margins; a pair of embroidered leather gloves worn by Charles I at his execution; physicians' reports on the illness of George III; an exceptionally rare edition of the Babylonian Talmud which survived a 1553 Papal Bull ordering all copies to be burnt, only rediscovered in 1992; the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots; landmark texts in the history of the Church of England, and papers of archbishops, bishops and leaders of church and state, ranging from the 13th century to the modern day, including those relating to the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire. Great Hall, Lambeth Palace, London, until 23rd July.

Picasso: Peace And Freedom is the first exhibition to reveal the Spanish artist as a tireless political activist and campaigner for peace in the post Second World War period. It challenges the widely held view of Pablo Picasso as creative genius, playboy and compulsive extrovert, reflecting a new Picasso for a new time. The exhibition brings together 150 key paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, as well as posters and documents related to war and peace from 1944 to 1973. It provides an opportunity to look at Picasso's work in the Cold War era and how he transcended the ideological and aesthetic oppositions of East and West. The centrepiece is 'The Charnel House', last seen in Britain more than 50 years ago, Picasso's most explicitly political painting since 'Guernica'. Other highlights include 'Monument to the Spaniards who Died for France' and 'The Rape of the Sabine Women', painted at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The most unusual piece is the 'Bernal mural' the head of a man and woman with laurel wreaths and wings, drawn directly on to the sitting room wall while visiting his friend John Desmond Bernal, and later saved when the building was demolished. Picasso's Dove of Peace became the emblem for the Peace Movement and a universal symbol of hope during the Cold War. The dove also had a highly personal significance for Picasso - he named his daughter, born in the same month as the 1949 Peace Congress in Paris, 'Paloma' (Spanish for 'dove'). Tate Liverpool until 30th August.

Old And New South American Botanical Art brings the Latin continent's exotic and lush plants to life in Britain. The exhibition combines 62 paintings from the Real Jardin Botanico in Madrid's collection of works commissioned by the 18th century botanist Jose Celestino Mutis, with 68 works by contemporary artists, including Margaret Mee, Alvaro Nunez and Etienne Demonte. Jose Celestino Mutis was sent to South America by the Spanish government to identify and document the plants of the Spanish colony and look for commercially valuable crops, timber and medicinal herbs. While there, he established an art school to train local Creole men to illustrate his findings, and some 40 illustrators worked on the project. The most outstanding of these was Francisco Xavier Matis Machecha, 6 of whose paintings are in the exhibition. Over 6,500 works were sent back to the archives of the Real Jardin Botanico in Madrid, none of which were published until 1952, and this is the first exhibition of the paintings in Europe outside Spain. Among the contemporary artists, Margaret Mee made 15 collecting trips into the Amazon, bringing back and painting hundreds of plants, including 4 previously unknown species that were named after her. The first painting she produced in the Amazon, 'Cannonball Tree in Belem', is in the exhibition, together with some of her notebooks. The display allows visitors to see the vivid and delicate plants of the region, while also highlighting the importance of botanical art as a timeless scientific tool, recording every aspect of a plant to help botanists with their research. Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, until 8th August.

Fit For A King is a new permanent exhibition showcasing 500 years of Royal arms and armour, from the Tudor, Stuart, Hanoverian and Windsor dynasties. The exhibition charts the design and creation of armour for use on both the battle and sports fields, through to its decline and eventual redundancy. Highlights include two contrasting 16th century armours created for Henry VIII, an intricately decorated 'silvered and engraved' armour celebrating his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, shown astride a life sized horse wearing bard (horse armour) decorated with scenes for the lives of Henry and Katherine's patron saints, displayed alongside field and tournament garniture armour from 25 years later, the huge difference in size reflecting Henry's significant weight gain over the course of his reign, with etched and gilded decoration designed by Hans Holbein, with one of only two known existing examples of a ventral plate or inner breast plate for added protection; traditional Japanese armour given to James I by Tokugawa Hidetada, made by his personal armourer, which was almost certainly the first Japanese armour ever to be seen in Britain; Charles I's gilt armour, with its surface engraved and punched with foliage decoration and covered entirely in gold leaf; armour made for the young princes Edward VI and Charles I, so they could 'dress up' as their heroic fathers and ancestors; James II's harquebusier (light cavalry) armour, with a faceplate in the form of a royal crest, which gradually replaced those of the more heavily armoured traditional cavalrymen, marking the start of armour's decline; a pair of flintlock pistols decorated in the French fashion and depicting the image of the William III; and a collection of swords starting with George I's through to that of George VI. Tower of London continuing.

Objects Of Affection: Pre-Raphaelite Portraits By John Brett features paintings, drawings and early photographs by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, many of which have never been seen in public before. John Brett is principally known as a painter of luminescent landscapes featuring the coast of the British Isles. However, he was also an accomplished portraitist, and although he received few commissions for formal portraits, he did, like many of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, create a significant quantity of intimate studies depicting friends and lovers, his family, and friends in the literary and artistic world. Brett was also an enthusiastic pioneer photographer. His best portraits, whether drawing, oil painting or photograph, have a meticulous delicacy comparable to that of his landscapes, while also revealing deep psychological insight and affection for many of his subjects. The exhibition includes paintings of Christina Rosetti, Arthur Brett, Jeanette Loeser, and his children Michael, Daisy, Jasper, Alfred, Pansy, Spencer and Gwendolin, drawings of Francis Martineau and 'Edwin', and photographs such as Pansy Posing for Jasper. As well as the portraiture, the exhibition also includes a selection of Brett's trademark landscapes, and archive material including his original letters, which reveal much about his personality. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, until 4th July.

Curious: The Craft Of Microscopy showcases the photography of Susanna Edwards, providing an opportunity to view objects that are rarely or never seen by the public. Using 9 different microscopes dating back to the 18th century, Susanna Edwards has photographed a collection of Victorian slides to create a series of natural images. Each photograph, taken as the eye would see through a microscope, documents how developments in microscopy have changed the way we see the world.

The show features large scale photographic prints alongside the actual historic slides and the instruments used to capture them. The oldest is a 1730s Culpeper microscope, and the most recent, an Axioskop from 1994. The slides contain a range of natural materials gathered for their aesthetic, scientific and educational qualities, including a cat lung, an insect egg and a salamander foot. The exhibition allows visitors to see real examples of the development of the light microscope over the past 300 years, and reveals the crucial importance microscopes have played in the advancement of medical knowledge, and the understanding of health and disease.

Ivory: Treasures From The Odontological Collection comprises a selection of ivory specimens from terrestrial and marine mammals that have teeth or tusks large enough to be classed as 'ivory', ranging from the extinct woolly mammoth to the elusive narwhal. Also included are a selection of historical medical instruments and dentures fashioned from ivory.

Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, until 3rd July.


Paul Sandby RA (1731 - 1809): Picturing Britain celebrates one of the Royal Academy of Arts' Foundation Members, regarded as the 'father of English watercolour'. The innovations and subject matter that Paul Sandby introduced into the practice of watercolour painting in Britain had a profound influence on artists of successive generations, including Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner. However, from the mid 19th century, Sandby's work slipped into obscurity. This exhibition of some 80 works highlights the range and variety of his techniques and subject matter, from exquisite watercolour depictions of the British countryside, from Surrey to Scotland by way of Wales, to print series of street vendors, which capture everyday life in 18th century London with Hogarthian wit. Through his extensive tours, initially as a military draughtsman and later as a professional artist, Sandby pioneered landscape painting. He both sought new sites and portrayed familiar ones with a fresh eye, capturing the diverse nature of the landscape of his day, and provides an important record of a country experiencing rapid social, economic and political change. The exhibition focuses on the finest examples of Sandby's work from a career which spanned 50 years, including the majestic landscape 'The Rainbow', and the depiction of 'Part of Wenlock Abbey in Shropshire', together with works which demonstrate the exceptional range of his creative output, from maps of North Britain (one of which is over 3m in length), to paintings, prints and his set of 12 London Cries, including the curiously titled 'My Pretty Little Gimy Tarters'. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th June.

Irving Penn Portraits is the largest British exhibition ever devoted to portraiture by one of the greatest photographers of his generation. It includes over 120 prints from Irving Penn's seven decade career, ranging from his early portraits for Vogue in 1944 to some of his last work, including previously unexhibited portraits of Lee Krasner, Edith Piaf, Harold Pinter and Cecil Beaton. The exhibition is a survey of Penn's portraits of major cultural figures, including Truman Capote, Salvador Dalì, Marlene Dietrich, Christian Dior, T S Eliot, Duke Ellington, Alfred Hitchcock, Nicole Kidman, Willem de Kooning, Jessye Norman, Rudolf Nureyev, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Tennessee Williams, Ingmar Bergman, Arthur Miller, Louise Bourgeois and Woody Allen (in disguise as Charlie Chaplin). Penn began his career as a photographer in the 1940s, making portraits that were a groundbreaking stylistic shift from existing conventions of portrait photography. In contrast to his contemporaries, who often used complex or dramatic sets, or showed sitters in their working environments, Penn worked in a studio that was almost empty, using simulated daylight and only the simplest props. From the 1950s Penn began to photograph many of his subjects close up, gradually eliminating the visible framework of the studio, resulting in a greater emphasis on gesture and expression. As time when on, Penn moved into even more intense head and shoulder studies. In addition to individual portraits, the show features some of Penn's celebrated group portraits, including the 1967 photograph Rock Groups, which captures Janis Joplin and her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, alongside the Grateful Dead, and his photograph of Ellsworth Kelly, Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Kenneth Noland. National Portrait Gallery until 6th June.

John Tunnard: Inner Space To Outer Space is the first major exhibition for 30 years of one of the most accomplished, yet frequently overlooked British painters of his generation. Nature-loving, star-gazing, bearded jazz extraordinaire John Tunnard's paintings were inspired by his many and varied interests, and drew on both surrealist fantasy worlds and developments in science and engineering. Tunnard found a way to create a stippled surface that looks textured, seemingly grainy to the touch, but which was entirely flat, seen to greatest effect in 'Fulcrum' and 'Man, Woman and Iron'. Although Tunnard began painting romantic landscapes the 1930s, it was when he moved into abstracts that he found his voice, with works perfectly capturing the post war 'Festival of Britain' 1950s style. He had a strong feel for pattern, which might be explained by his earlier career as a textile designer. The exhibition is grouped into the themes of Tunnards interests: Music and Surrealism, Nature and Landscape, and Science and Space Travel. Highlights include 'Plein Air Abstraction', 'Vane', 'Holiday' from the School Prints series, 'The Return', 'Self Portrait' and 'Messenger'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 6th June.