News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th March 2002


Body Worlds is definitely the exhibition of the moment. The real bodies with the skin taken off, and the remains dissected and put through a secret 'plastination' process, is dividing opinion right down the middle. The show comes trailing controversy stirred up by previous appearances in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium over the last six years. Is it art? Is it education? Is it a fairground both event? Some find the opportunity to see what the inside of their bodies is actually like a profoundly moving experience. Others dismiss the whole thing as a Victorian freak show - an opinion fostered by the fact that the Professor Gunther von Hagens, the gentleman who prepared the exhibits, looks as though he has just stepped out of a Hammer Horror film. The process renders (if that is the correct word) the specimens much more real than previous methods of preservation, but the 25 corpses and 175 individual body parts can't be considered any more ghoulish for that. There is no question that this is unique event. Go or don't go according to your response, but you can't say you weren't warned. Atlantis Gallery, London until 29th September.

Space Shot is the latest of this year's new theme park attractions, claiming to be the nearest ordinary mortals will get to experiencing takeoff in a space rocket. One of the tallest vertical tower attractions around, it catapults riders into the air to a height of 125 feet, at speeds of 80mph, with a force of 4Gs, then plunges them back to earth with a force of -1G. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Traumatizer, the UK's tallest, fastest, suspended looping roller coaster; Cyclone, a twin train classic wooden roller coaster with a 2500 foot track; and Chaos, a rotating ride with hydraulically operated cars moving through all three axes of movement. As elswhere, no pleasure without pain. Further information and virtual panoramas can be found on the Pleasureland web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Pleasureland, Southport until 5th November.

Bond, James Bond celebrates 40 years of the world's best known movie phenomenon, the James Bond films. Entering through M's office, complete with chair and hatstand, visitors can explore Q's workshop, with the gadgets that have become trademark of the 19 films, including the Aston Martin DB5, complete with its weaponry, the Acrostar Jet and the Hasselblad Signature Gun. Pandering to PC attitudes, there is a section devoted to the strength of character behind the glamour of the Bond women (which will probably come as a surprise to the actresses who played them). The villain's lair contains Jaws' teeth, Oddjob's bowler hat and Rosa Klebb's shoe - no sign of Bloefeld's white cat though. There is also plenty of background material, with storyboards, set concept drawings, and costume designs. The secrets of special effects and stunts are revealed, and there is an opportunity to actually try one out on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accompanying events include James Bond Day on 19th April, when the Bond films will be examined in a variety of ways, including a cultural history of the early movies, different generic traditions and issues of representation. National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford until 1st September.


Tiaras is an exhibition which celebrates the tiara as an art form, providing an insight into the history of the jewels themselves, their owners and their makers. It comprises are over 200 items, containing more than 100,000 gemstones, created during the period from the mid 18th century to the present day. The majestic tiaras from British and European Royal families are on display alongside those worn by today's poor substitutes such as Elton John, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Wonder Woman. Highlights by traditional jewellers such as Cartier, Faberge and Lalique include: four tiaras designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria - one of which, the Oriental Circlet, has regularly been worn by the current Queen Mother; the tiara chosen by The Queen for her wedding in 1947; Queen Mary's Russian tiara, which can be converted into a necklace; and a tiara containing 1041 diamonds and 40 emeralds made for the daughter of Louis XVI, from the French Crown Jewels. These upmarket titfers made with precious stones, are displayed alongside others of less conventional materials, including feathers, horn, plastic, steel and rubber, by contemporary designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Dai Rees, Philip Treacy and Versace. Victoria & Albert Museum until 14th July.

Sutton Hoo Visitors Centre has just opened, includes an exhibition hall devoted to Britain's most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological site. Sutton Hoo is a group of low grassy burial mounds, containing a complex collection of remains, some Royal, others possibly the victims of judicial execution. The site was first discovered in the 17th century, and has been extensively searched since then. In 1939 excavations brought to light the richest burial ever discovered in Britain, an Anglo-Saxon ship, over 27 yards long, containing the treasure of one of the earliest English Kings, Raedwald, King of East Anglia. Excavations in advance of the new building work uncovered the remains of another, earlier cemetery, believed to be from the 6th century, which are currently under examination. Finds here include copperware, pottery, jewellery, spears and shields. The exhibition tells the story of the site, which has been described as 'page one of English history' and displays some original objects as well as replicas of other treasures now on view at the British Museum. Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge continuing.

Colossus sets the agenda for this year's new theme park attractions, being the world's first gravity driven 10 loop roller coaster ride. Themed as in ancient Lost City, it climbs to a height of 100 feet before plunging down towards the ground and then rocketing skywards into the first 360º vertical loop, followed by a series of other barrel rolls, flips, twists and loops over water and through the air, down a track 850yds long, enduring speeds of up to 70mph, with a force of 4Gs. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Tidal Wave, Europe's tallest water drop ride, gravity-defying Detonator, stomach-churning Vortex and head-spinning Zodiac as the most unpleasant experience you can have outside an Islamic fundamentalist regime. Worse is promised for next year. Further information and a virtual ride can be found on the Thorpe Park web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Thorpe Park, Chertsey until 3rd November.

Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture From Donatello To Canova demonstrates how Italian sculptors have explored the versatility of terracotta - literally baked earth - to create some of the most expressive sculptures in the history of art. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to assess the wide variety of roles played by terracotta sculpture between 1400 and 1800, showing the importance of models in the development of Italian sculpture as a form. Clay is a very responsive material, recording every touch of the artist's hand or tool, and was employed in sculpture and relief panels, both plain and coloured. For the first time, this exhibition brings together a unique collection of pieces from around the world, including drawings, terracotta models and finished works, illustrating the changes between a sculptor's initial concept and the final result. There are works by some of the greatest sculptors ever, including Ghiberti, Donatello, Bologna, Bernini, Algardi and Canova. Victoria & Albert Museum until 7th July.

Nausea: Encounters With Ugliness examines the nature of what we consider to be ugly. A number of contemporary artists have created works that, by provoking a strong visceral response, engender a dynamic of unease and uncertainty in the spectator. Curiously, although the works may appear ugly or horrifying, at the same time they hold a strange fascination, a sense of reluctant enjoyment, where the conscious mind is strongly repelled but the unconscious mind is equally strongly attracted. Among the artists included are: Mat Collishaw - Infected Flowers, a series of photographs of exotic blooms, which are blighted with sores and cancerous melanomas digitally grafted from medical text books; David Newman - Sanctum II, sinister museum like cabinets containing meticulously filed images of the body in extremis; Margarita Gluzberg - Spiders, overwhelming the viewer with their gigantic predatory scale; and Lindsay Seers - Canibal Candy, a menacing mannequin which snaps images of the innocent viewers. Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham, 0115 951 3138 until 28th April.

Making Waves - How The Oceans Work is a new display exploring the power and workings of the oceans, showing how tides, currents and waves are formed. It the first of three Planet Ocean projects, which showcase the past, present and future of the oceans, through the themes of ships, time and the stars. An 11m by 4m transparent tank and wave generating machine gives a demonstration of how the oceans affect all life on the planet. Suspended above the wave tank is a modern, lightweight, 49-er racing dinghy, alongside Dodo, an 1890s sailing boat, demonstrating how and why boats move through water and the principles of sailing. Accompanying the wave tank is a mechanical wave flume, which will enable visitors to generate their own waves and watch them develop, as well as create twisting currents, vortexes and whirlpools. Oceans cover two thirds of the earth's surface and have an average depth of two miles. Other Planet Ocean projects opening this year will tell the history of scientific discovery above and beneath the waves, and examine modern day piracy, pollution and climate change. National Maritime Museum continuing.


William Beckford 1760-1844: An Eye For The Magnificent celebrates the achievements of the millionaire, travel writer, novelist, composer, visionary, builder of towers, and one of the greatest collectors of all time. Reputedly England's wealthiest man, Beckford indulged his passion for gothic architecture, design and history, and was one of the first British collectors of oriental and islamic works. His influence, through both his enthusiasm and sponsorship, shaped the taste of a generation of architects, designers, artists, sculptors and craftsmen. Beckford reconstructed a vast gothic abbey at Fonthill, where he lived behind five miles of twelve feet high spiked walls, filling it with his commissions and acquisitions. This exhibition covers the entire gamut of his collection, with paintings, furniture, silverware, pottery, object d'art, and architectural designs and models, across the diverse cultures that were his passion. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 14th April.

Barbican: This Was Tomorrow examines one of the icons of the post Second World War town planning dream, which in reality is generally regarded as a nightmare - where the 'Streets In The Sky' meets mixed work/leisure use. So long was the planning and construction, that by the time it was completed, its ideas had been discredited. Although the Barbican is the upmarket version of the Glasgow or East End tower block - here at least the lifts do work - its brutalist style remains unloved, and its recent Grade 2 listing by English Heritage has been greeted with disbelief. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Barbican Centre, this exhibition examines its evolution from the origins in the 1950s as a new vision of urban living created from the devastation of the blitz. This is recreated through a combination of original plans and sketches, specially commissioned photographs, video interviews and a reconstruction of a fantasy Barbican flat, showing in all its naivety what yesterday's future looked like. Barbican Centre until 14th April.

Paul Klee: The Nature Of Creation is a major exhibition of over 100 paintings, watercolours and drawings by one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. It examines and illustrates his development as an artist, which in turn shaped European art as a whole. Klee is best known for his vibrant use of colour, which dates from a visit to Tunisia in 1914, an experience that revolutionised his work. His famous definition of drawing was "taking a line for a walk", a comment that underlined the humour he brought to his work. A picture was finished when he "stopped looking at it, and it started looking back". Klee constantly experimented with different styles, subjects, techniques and materials, often using oils, watercolours and graphite in the same picture. Painting on almost anything, including glass, wood, paper, hessian, newsprint, plaster and celluloid, he once even used the duster kept under his chin while playing the violin. Klee's output was prolific, creating over 10,000 works in his 30 year career. Hayward Gallery until 1st April.