Private View held by Richard Andrews
Christmas Past: Seasonal Traditions In English Homes is a glimpse of the traditions, rituals and decorative styles of Christmases over the last 400 years, from kissing under the mistletoe to decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties. Twelve rooms in the Grade 1 listed group of fourteen almshouses, a chapel and their gardens that comprise the museum, from the 17th century with oak furniture and panelling, through the refined splendour of the Georgian period, and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity, seen in a 1930s flat, and a mid century 'contemporary' style room, sparkle with authentic festive decorations of their times. Special events include workshops creating Georgian Christmas decorations with natural materials, and traditional Christmas card making; festive food and unusual gifts; and candle lit evenings of carols and storytelling. It all ends outdoors with traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, celebrated with carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake. The Geffyre Museum until 6th January.
Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, covering 9000sqm and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is transformed, with music playing, and illumination from flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy the traditional fare of baked potatoes, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. Somerset House until 26th January.
Making Spirits Bright is a programme of events outdoors and in though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated by 30,000 lights to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - plus a Victorian carousel, a steam traction engine ride, free guided tours explaining the origins of the traditions of Christmas trees and plants, and Father Christmas in his Winter Wooded Dell. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes performances by choirs and brass bands; an exhibition of British Landscape In Winter photographs; demonstrations of seasonal cooking and flower arranging; carols and storytelling; and a recreation of a rural winter scene; plus festive food and drink. There are free evening openings in December, and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Further information can be found on the RBGK web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 4th January.
Thomas Jones In Italy features the work of one of the most innovative, yet least known British artists from the second half of the 18th century. Jones small oil-sketches, painted during travels around Italy in the 1770s and 1780s, are masterpieces of observation and concision, while his 'Memoirs' are the most complete and compelling records of an artist's life at the time. Neither were known until about 50 years ago, when their rediscovery led to the recognition that a major artist had been all but forgotten. This exhibition includes 70 informal oil-sketches, drawings and watercolours, painted in Rome and Naples, and the surrounding countryside. Jones speciality was architectural landscapes, or to be precise the depiction of walls - the more decrepit the better - and thus he was in his element in southern Italy. Although the sketches were made as records of locations, to be incorporated in later paintings created in his studio back in England, the acuteness of their observation and their freshness make them works of art in their own right. Among those included here is 'A Wall in Naples' of about 1782, recognised as a masterpiece of the oil-sketch tradition. National Gallery until 15th February.
Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future / Destination Mars is a double bill of exhibitions, allowing interplanetary fiction to meet fact, in examining the possibilities of space exploration. The first exhibition documents the adventures of Dan Dare and his crew from the Interplanet Spacefleet, travelling to asteroids and beyond, battling with aliens, and fending off global disasters. Originally conceived by Marcus Morris as a sky pilot (or interplanetary Vicar), and created by Frank Hampson, the 1950s Eagle comic strip featured many scientific ideas that later became reality, such as the space shuttle, and how the mechanics of space suits work. This is the largest exhibition of Dan Dare material yet assembled, with artwork, memorabilia and merchandise, and a wide range of artefacts and items used in their creation, displayed in a mock-up of the original artist's studio in Epsom. The story of the British Space Programme from 1955 to 1971 provides a link between Dan Dare and the modern exploration of Mars in the second exhibition. Using interactive displays, the latest scientific knowledge of Red planet and its history is revealed, including a simulation of a survey mission across its surface, and an assessment of whether it could support life. Museum Of Science & Industry In Manchester until 18th January.
History Of Modern Design In The Home traces the development of domestic design - both the spaces people live in, and the objects they surround themselves with - from the late 19th to early 21st centuries. It tells the stories behind landmarks in modern design that have transformed our homes and the way we use them. There is a series of living rooms, ranging from the elegance of a Bauhaus Master's House in 1920s Germany, through a prefabricated house built by Charles and Ray Eames in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and one of Verner Panton's pop-inspired 1960s dining rooms, to a contemporary live-work space specially designed by the Bouroullec brothers. The show examines how advances in technology and the introduction of new 'shapeable' materials, such as plywood and plastic, were exploited, and how fashion has become a major influence in the home. As well as reconstructing the iconic interiors that influenced design in particular decades, the exhibition deconstructs the design and development of influential objects. These include the bentwood furniture with which the Austrian manufacturer Thonet pioneered mass production in the late 19th century; the introduction of the first Penguin paperback book and early Anglepoise lamp in the 1930s; and recent innovations such as Apple's Powerbook computer and iPod player. Design Museum until September.
Architecture Unshackled: George Dance The Younger 1741-1825 reveals the range and variety of work by a man hailed as 'the most complete poet-architect of his day'. George Dance produced many groundbreaking designs for both public and private buildings. In his exteriors, as well as pioneering neoclassicism, he was the first European to introduce Indian proportions and elements into a design in Britain. Dance's interiors were equally revolutionary, with his use of domed and 'star-fish' vaulted ceilings, and his interest in invisible light sources. Among his public commissions in London featured here are the church of All Hallows, London Wall; Newgate Gaol, with its forbidding exterior pierced by a doorway over-hung with iron shackles; and the south front of the Guildhall. Of Dance's private house commissions, there are the library at Landsdowne House, Berkeley Square, and country houses at Stratton Park in Hampshire, Coleorton in Leicestershire and Ashburnham in Sussex, all of which contained startlingly new ideas. The exhibition also features Dance's extraordinary, unexecuted project for redeveloping the Port of London, at the heart of which was a double bridge spanning the Thames. Dance exerted a profound influence on the work of his one time pupil John Soane, who acquired his portfolio of plans, drawings and renderings, which form this display, in 1836. Sir John Soane's Museum until 3rd January.
Artworks For All is unique opportunity to see the original artworks used for iconic London Transport posters for the first time. Colourful pictorial posters to encourage travel by bus, tram and underground have appeared regularly since the early 1900s. In 1908 Frank Pick was put in charge of the Underground Group's publicity, and he commissioned work from both young and established artists, who were given a title and subject, but complete freedom of expression as to how they interpreted them. By the 1920s the Underground was producing more than 40 pictorial posters a year. The scale of this output turned every station into a gallery, bringing the latest graphic art styles to a huge popular audience. No other single organisation in the world has matched this high quality creative use of commercial art before or since. The exhibition features artworks by many artists and designers, including Edward McKnight Kauffer, John Bellany, Howard Hodgkin and Abram Games. The works are executed in a surprisingly wide range of media, including oil, gouache, collage and even mosaic. They offer a reflection of their times, not only in how they see London, but also in the style of their creation. The museum's core collection includes over 7,000 posters. London Transport Museum until 4th January.
It's A Great Night Out! The Making Of The West End 1843-2010 celebrates the development of London's Theatreland, and the fires, murders, paranormal happenings (and plays) that have taken place in these fine buildings. It tells the story of how the West End came to have over 40 theatres within a 2 mile radius - the largest concentration of performing arts venues in the world. The exhibition comprises playbills, models, posters, props, films, letters, memorabilia and behind the scenes images, combined with an atmospheric soundtrack, including Music Hall and musical theatre songs. It chronicles the commercial theatre's continual efforts to juggle the competing claims of artistic demands, changing tastes, audience enjoyment and financial survival. Although the first playhouse opened on Drury Lane in 1663, most existing theatres were built around a century ago, in a world of very different audience demands - of both entertainment and comfort - from today. The exhibition features pictures from Scene / Unseen, a book of photographs by Derek Kendall, recently published by English Heritage, offering glimpses of those parts of the theatre world not normally seen by the public, including rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, backstage areas and (inevitably) a royal toilet. The Theatre Museum until October.
Pre-Raphaelite And Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection is the first public exhibition of over 300 works by Pre-Raphaelite and other masters from one of the largest collections in private hands. Spread over 11 galleries, it features paintings by Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Waterhouse, Stanley Spencer, Tissot and Alma-Tadema, complemented by examples of furniture by Pugin and Burges, ceramics by William de Morgan, tapestries by Burne-Jones, and items executed by the workshop of William Morris. Lloyd Webber's life long passion has accrued a distinguished collection that now numbers over 15 works by Rossetti, including A Vision of Fiammetta and the coloured chalk study for the Blessed Damozel; early and late works by Millais, such as the finished watercolour version of Ophelia and the landscape Chill October; and a variant of Holman Hunt's Shadow of Death. The exhibition also features over 30 paintings, drawings and tapestries by Burne-Jones, including The Fall of Lucifer and the tapestry The Quest of the Holy Grail; one of Richard Dadd's most important fairy paintings, Contradiction: Oberon and Titania; and a group of paintings by Waterhouse including St Cecilia and Pandora. Other highlights are books printed by William Morris' Kelmscott Press, including the Kelmscott Chaucer and News from Nowhere; and Frilli's life size sculpture Nude Reclining In A Hammock; plus works that illustrate scenes from contemporary life, such as Tissot's The Captain and the Mate, and Atkinson Grimshaw's Dulce Domum. Current critics may sneer at the typical Pre-Raphaelite female subject as the Victorian equivalent of 'heroin chic', but the public undoubtedly shares Lloyd Webber's passion. Royal Academy Of Arts until 12th December.
Passion For Prams celebrates the craft of Silver Cross, the Yorkshire based company which has been hand making traditional coach built baby carriages since 1877. With a history of making prams for the Royal Family (and more recently tawdry celebrity royal couples), Silver Cross, dubbed the "Bentley For Babies", is Britain's last remaining traditional pram builder. In a time when most children are prepared for future school runs in a four wheel drive vehicle, by being transported in an 'off road' buggy (which has just a hint of the mid life crisis Harley Davidson to come) this is a welcome salute to the fine tradition behind the symbol of many British childhoods. The exhibition features many old and new models, including: The Silver Cross Fleur de Lis, The Silver Cross Balmoral, and The 1958 Greta toy pram; plus the Silver Cross archive, with an illustrated history of the company; and 'From Factory To Shop Floor' - a display explaining how the prams are crafted. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 4th December.
Hidden Art: Open Studios is the tenth anniversary of Europe's largest open studios event, an annual tradition for visitors wanting to buy or commission work direct from leading designer-makers. Fifty studio spaces and workshops, where contemporary textiles, furniture, jewellery, lighting, ceramics, glass and accessories are made locally by skilled designer-makers, are turned into public spaces for two weekends only. Over 160 designers are involved, from established names like Ella Doran (photographic imagery reproduced on coasters and trays), Kate Malone (ceramics inspired by land and sea), and Dominic Crinson (digital patterns on surfaces from carpets to Formica), to first timers such as Tine Bladbjerg (sculpted silver and gold jewellery), Ayumi Suzuki (fashion and accessories), Kirstin James (hand felted merino wool hats), and Helen Rawlinson (contemporary lighting). Further information can be found on the Hidden Art web site via the link opposite. Venues across East London 29th-30th November.