News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th April 2005


Andreas Slominski is the first solo exhibition in London by the German artist who always shapes the works on view to the location in which they are seen. A notorious prankster, he likes to create an air of artfully manipulated mystery with his work, which is rooted in irrationality and spontaneity, with a dash of Dadaist humour. In his reaction against a world geared to streamlined efficiency and simplicity, Slominski consciously aims for maximum complexity, and uses deliberately labour intensive methods in the engineering of his pieces. He examines everyday activities, and creates preposterous inventions for carrying them out, derived from a fanatical attention to detail (hardly German at all). The other frequent component of Slominski's installations are his custom made traps and decoys, which are diverse in scale and form, depending on the prey for which they are intended - mice, birds, dogs, foxes, leopards or deer. Simultaneously sculptural and functioning objects with potential for brutality, they would work, but that is not the primary reason for their construction, as Slominski aims to ensnare onlookers through their curiosity. A unique opportunity to see objects, interventions and schemes that Slominski has devised specifically for this presentation, and experience the element of surprise that he continually delivers. Serpentine Gallery until 12th June.

World Museum Liverpool is Liverpool Museum reborn, following a £35m project that has more than doubled its size, including the restoration of the former Upper Horseshoe Gallery, destroyed by bomb damage in 1941. This houses World Cultures, which brings together more than 1,500 artefacts from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australasia and the Pacific, reflecting the city's central role in international trade, exploration and the development of the British Empire. The Bug House displays a giant animatronic spider and fly, as well as real insects - many alive and crawling - that can be viewed with video microscopes and web cams. The Discovery Centre features objects from the archaeology and ethnology collections, and visitors can handle real objects up to 5,000 years old, as well as the inevitable computer 'interactives'. The new Aquarium complex shows live fish and other creatures in a range of underwater habitats, including coral reefs and lagoons, tidal mangroves, rocky coastlines and sandy shores. The Natural History Centre explores world of plants, animals, rocks and minerals through hands on exhibits, from tropical butterflies to a hippopotamus skull, and even a mammoth tooth. The new Treasure House Theatre will stage special events featuring archaeology, ethnology and natural science collections, as well as lectures, and music and dance performances linked to the collection. All together the new galleries are home to 20,663 objects, many of which are on public display for the first time. World Museum Liverpool from 29th April.

Danson House is an 18th century Palladian mansion that has just reopened to the public after a ten year £4m restoration programme funded by English Heritage. The house, designed by Robert Taylor, and once described as "the most significant building at risk in London", has been brought back from the verge of collapse to its former glory. This was a major task, since as well as the basic structural work needed to make the building watertight and sound, many of its original features, such as fireplaces, had been stolen during the 30 years it had been abandoned, and these had to be tracked down and retrieved. This has now been done, and the original plasterwork, colour schemes, decorations and carpets in the main rooms have been restored, and complemented with appropriate 18th century furniture. Highlights include a spectacular spiral staircase, classical wall paintings in the dining room, and an organ made by George England in the library. A second phase of work is now under way to restore the kitchens and servants quarters, and to reinstate the landscape surrounding the house to Nathanial Richmonds's original scheme, which will once again link the house with its vista to the lake and parkland beyond. Danson House, Bexleyheath continuing.


Gregory Crewsdon: Beneath The Roses is a group of twenty photographs from the American artist's Twilight series. They are elaborately staged, large scale tableaux, which explore the relationship between the domestic and the fantastical, between the North American landscape and the topology of the imagination. Although Crewdson describes himself as an 'an American realist landscape photographer', he makes filmic images that strongly reference television programmes such as The Twilight Zone and films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, dealing with fantasy and the paranormal. In the intensely coloured and detailed images Crewdson employs a cinematic, directorial mode of photography, the culmination of weeks of planning and complicated, behind the scenes production, described as 'single frame films'. In one image, a teenage girl stands in the street in just her underwear with shoulders hunched and head hanging low, confronted and shamed by her mother's accusatory and disappointed gaze. In other images, subjects are engrossed in odd, domestic chores, such as carving holes in the living room floor or uprooting a huge tree from the rafters of an otherwise standard bedroom. Several of the images possess narratives that are mythic in proportion, and which seem driven by a sense of quasi-religious task and ritual. Threat is everywhere and danger is a short walk down the garden path. These eerie and evocative photographs recall the films of independent American filmmakers such as David Lynch or Todd Solondz, who explore surreal suburban dysfunction and the terror that lurks beneath everyday life. White Cube Gallery, London until 21st May.

Monarch Of The Glen: Landseer In The Highlands is the first exhibition devoted to the work of the iconic nineteenth century British animal painter. It comprises 83 paintings, providing a unique opportunity to see the full range of Sir Edwin Landseer's work, encompassing literary pictures inspired by the novels and poems of Sir Walter Scott, Highland landscapes painted for his own pleasure, observations of Highland social life and customs, and studies of deer informed by his knowledge as a practising sportsman. A child prodigy, Landseer began exhibiting animal studies at the Royal Academy at the age of thirteen. From his twenties onwards he returned to Scotland annually to paint, shoot and fish, activities that brought him into contact with the Scottish aristocratic families of the day. Many became his patrons, resulting in works such as 'The Death of the Stag in Glen Tilt', 'The Hunting of Chevy Chase' and 'An Illicit Whisky Still in the Highlands'. This led on to Landseer being commissioned to paint Queen Victoria, her family and pets. He rapidly became the Queen's favourite court painter and painting tutor, accompanying her to Scotland to record her life in the Highlands, in works such as 'Queen Victoria Landing at Loch Muick' and 'Prince Albert at Balmoral (Sunshine)'. But it is animal paintings for which Landseer is best remembered, and a large section of the exhibition is devoted to his paintings of deer, including the world famous 'Monarch of the Glen', originally destined for the House of Lords. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 10th July.

Mountains And Water: Chinese Landscape Painting is a display exploring the traditions and qualities of Chinese painting. The Chinese term for landscape is made up of the two characters meaning Mountains and Water. They represent a natural balance of male and female elements in the universe, with Mountains the male Yang element, and water the female Yin element. Mountains were also associated with religion because of their proximity to the heavens: looking at paintings of mountains was therefore thought to be good for the soul. Landscapes were not painted from life however, but were idealized and imaginary. The exhibition includes works painted onto ceramics, fans and mounted as albums, though most of the paintings are in the form of hanging scrolls. These scrolls were not intended for permanent display, but were unrolled in a ceremonial act for special viewings. This is partly due to the delicate nature of the ink and colour used, which would fade if exposed for too long. Connoisseurs of Chinese painting did not view the work from a distance, but approached close to 'read the painting' as it was revealed one scene at a time. Paintings often incorporate both calligraphy and poetry, as men of culture were expected to be accomplished at all three of these 'excellences'. Inscriptions on paintings sometimes describe how or when a painting was produced or for whom. Artists often collected miniature mountains, carved out of different stones, to place on their desk as an inspirational reminder of the natural landscape, and examples of these are included in the display. British Museum until 28th August.

Spectres: When Fashion Turns Back brings together historic costumes by designers such as Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaperelli, with clothes by today's designers, including Jean-Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan, to explore the continuing and complicated influence of the past on the present. Special attention is paid to the endless reinterpretation of details, such as pleats, bows and lace. The staging reflects the theme of a journey into the past, through a world of Victorian fairgrounds and theatres, employing visual illusions, of magic lanterns, magnifying mirrors and peepholes, enabling the viewer to explore the detailing used by designers. Among those featured are many from the foreground of conceptual fashion during the past twenty years, including Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garcons and Helmut Lang, together with earlier designers such as Christian Dior, Madame Gres and Mary Quant. Designs from the past and the present are brought together: a Victorian dress is paired with one by Olivier Theyskens; Pierre Cardin's futuristic 1960s mini with Junya Watanabe's silver dress; and a gown by Madame Gres with Helmut Lang. The experience is enhanced by Ruben Toledo's black and white illustrations that adorn the walls, providing the basis for giant cut out figures, which cast fantastical silhouettes; and jewellery designer Naomi Filmer's crystal encrusted prosthetics, which embellish mannequins used throughout the exhibition. Victoria & Albert Museum until 8th May.

Watercolours And Drawings From The Collection Of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is the first exhibition devoted to the collection formed by the late Queen. It reflects the range of her interests, and her enthusiastic patronage and support of contemporary artists from the 1930s onwards. From her first portrait as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon aged seven, to watercolours marking the celebration of her 100th birthday, the exhibition offers a record of both private and official life, with events such as her Coronation, Victory Night 1945 and the Funeral Procession of King George VI. The selection of 73 drawings and watercolours embraces artists from Thomas Gainsborough to John Bratby, while subjects range from records of events to landscapes, still-lifes, figure studies and portraits. The Queen Mother was a shrewd and knowledgeable buyer, bringing together a collection strong in 20th century British art, with important works by Augustus John, L S Lowry, John Piper, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert, and Graham Sutherland, including several portraits of herself and other members of the royal family. The exhibition includes works from the most famous and important royal commission instigated by Queen Mother, the series of watercolour views of Windsor Castle and surrounding parkland by John Piper. There are also personal letters from Kenneth Clark, John Piper, Augustus John, and the illustrator and stage designer Rex Whistler. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until 25th September.

Henry Moore And The Challenge Of Architecture explores the conflict between Henry Moore's interest in nature, and the tendency for his art to be shown in urban environments. Moore repeatedly stated that architects considered public sculpture as 'mere surface decoration' to adorn their buildings, and attempted to redress this, initially by making sculpture more integral to the building, and finally using tough abstract 'architectural contrasts of masses' that could stand as a force in their own right. Starting in the 1920s with Moore's architectural drawings and collaborations with Charles Holden for the West Wind relief on London's Transport Headquarters, the show follows both realised and abandoned architectural projects, resulting from his associations with Serge Chermayeff, Wells Coates, Maxwell Fry, Walter Gropius and Berthold Lubetkin, and post-war collaborations with Marcel Breuer, Gordon Bunshaft and I M Pei. A particular feature is Moore's work with Michael Rosenauer, including models and original maquettes for the Time/Life Building in Bond Street (which resulted in a legal dispute) and the unrealised English Electricity Headquarters for the Strand; and experimental sculptures for UNESCO that make use of elements such as steps, benches and walls. Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire until 31st October.


A Tale Of Two Cities is actually a misnomer - it's two exhibitions about one city at two different times, contrasting the Edinburgh of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the city of today. John Kay was a barber with a shop in Parliament Square, but it is his 900 witty caricatures of the great and the not so good of Regency Edinburgh for which he is best remembered. Here are sharply observed portraits of the real Adam Smith, Deacon Brodie and Admiral Duncan among others, together with local types such as The Daft Highland Laird and Jamie Duff The Idiot. Twenty eight etchings, a group of watercolours, an oil and a sketchbook take the viewer back two hundred years. These are contrasted with twenty three laser prints by Iain McIntosh, a contemporary graphic artist, whose Edinburgh characters have entertained the readers of Alexander McCall Smith's recent novel, 44 Scotland Street. Based on a 'daily novel' published in The Scotsman (like Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City) this is set in a fictional building in a real street of multiple occupancy flats, in which real life characters such as Ian Rankin, Gavin Hastings and Tam Dalyell, rub shoulders with today's Edinburgh archetypes. John Kay's satirical etchings inspired Iain McIntosh, who uses both traditional and digital techniques, and the two exhibitions, arranged side by side, pay tribute to a city and its characters. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 8th May.

Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting celebrates knitting as an end in itself, without the usual need or expectation to produce something with a practical function. It brings the domestic craft of knitting into the 21st century, with a snapshot of how contemporary knitting is used as a medium for art practice - no scarves or cardis here. With exhibits ranging from knitted sex adverts and subversive toys, to giant cobwebs and knitted interiors, it proves that there is more to knitting than just sticks and string. By exploring tradition, history, process, skill, materiality, individuality and future technologies, the show celebrates the creative potential and contemporary appeal of this craft tradition. It highlights the work of 15 international artists who are pushing perceived boundaries within knitting, and features a range of innovative and experimental work created with both new and traditional techniques, with work ranging from the lyrical to the eccentric. Exploring the process involved in knitting, and highlighting the skill of the medium, are Janet Morton's knitted furniture, Ruth Lee's lacy, ephemeral 'Spirit Dresses' and Susie McMurray's 3D hangings, which have been French-knitted from human hair. In recognition of the obsessive side of knitting, and the current fashion for knitting groups, is the collaborative work of Francoise Dupre and the guerrilla knitting of the Cast Off knitting club. Equally quirky are Donna Wilson's rebellious creatures and Kelly Jenkins's edgy wall pieces based on adverts and cards from the sex industry. Crafts Council Gallery until 8th May.

100 Years - 100 Chairs offers a view of the different periods of industrial design in the 20th Century by examining one of the most basic products. A revolution started at the beginning of the 20th century, when Gerrit Rietveld designed furniture with simple lines, while Marcel Breuer created the first tubular steel chairs, Alvar Alto was the first to use plywood, and Jean Prouve started to use techniques and materials from the aeronautical industry. Following the Second World War, American designers began to collaborate closely with industry as Charles Eames, Ero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia worked to make good design accessible to the general public. Meanwhile in Europe, furniture design was a developing mainly in Scandinavia, with Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen creating wooden furniture, and in Italy, where designers used more novel materials like plastic. The malleability of these materials, and the development of new types of foam, gave rise to creative fantasy in the sixties, with Pop Art providing a source of inspiration for designers Verner Paton and Joe Colombo. Since then, designs by Memphis, Archizoom, Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, and Frank Gehry have become even more radical. Drawings, sketches and documents accompany the chairs, which are shown in specially designed interiors evoking the historical context in which they were created. Six films reveal the manufacturing process of some of the specimins, and give an insight into different production techniques. CUBE Manchester until 5th May.