News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th July 2005


Gunpowder Treason marks the 400th anniversary of the audacious plan to blow up the House of Lords, and with it the government of the day, most of the royal family including King James I, the majority of the aristocracy and the Palace of Westminster. This audio-visual display, tells the story of the arrest, imprisonment, torture and death of Guy Fawkes and the other gunpowder plotters. The Tower of London had a key role in the gunpowder plot story: the 36 barrels of gunpowder planted under the Palace of Westminster were delivered there after the plotter's arrests; Fawkes and the leading conspirators were imprisoned and tortured there in order to get them to reveal who was behind the plan; and seven men left its gates the following January to be executed. The display also explores the historic role of gunpowder, what the effect would have been on the London landscape and British history if the plotters had been successful, and examines the continuing historical importance of the gunpowder plot, with regard to modern political events, religious terrorism and conspiracy investigations. In addition to the display, there is a programme of associated events, including costumed interpretations of the final days of the plotters, and demonstrations of sword fighting and other weaponry used at the time, culminating on the actual anniversary in an interactive costumed event that explores the panic, conspiracies and chaos that would have ensued if the plot had succeeded. Tower of London until June.

The American West offers the first opportunity for Britain to view an extensive collection of rarely seen historical material from an era that continues to hold a global fascination, bound up with myths arising from European expansion across North America. The exhibition also brings this mythology up to date, exploring the cowboy culture that has emerged from the election of the current incumbent of the White House. In telling a series of visual stories it reveals how the west was really won, exploring themes such as invasion and genocide; frontiersmen; captivity narratives; the first official Indian wars; Native American encounters with white settlers and the U.S. army; natural resources and environment, and Hollywood and the cowboy. Included in the exhibition are historical depictions of the subject by Charles M Russell, Arthur Tait, Charles Schreyvogel and Alfred Jacob Miller; 19th century Plains Indian Ledger drawings; art and craft made by Indian prisoners, works by contemporary Native North American artists including Minerva Cuevas, Kent Monkman, Edward Poitras, James Luna and Cisco Jimenez; and interpretations on the theme by Ed Ruscha, Elaine Reichek, Luigi Ontani and Ed Kienholz. In addition, the exhibition contains a diverse selection of historic ephemera from popular culture, including documentation relating to Buffalo Bill's roadshow, period photographs, dime novels, billboards, film posters and John Fitzgerald Kennedy's presentation colt gun. Compton Verney until 29th August.

Graham Sutherland revisits a major figure, now somewhat neglected, who dominated the British art scene from the 1920s to the 1960s. This exhibition concentrates on the period from the mid 1930s, when Sutherland established his identity as a modern painter, to around 1950, when his influence began to wane. It looks in depth at two strands of his imagery, the landscapes derived mainly from visits to Pembrokeshire and the South of France, before and after the Second World War; and the scenes of devastation and production created for the War Artists scheme. In addition, there are small sections on the early 1920s etchings, which introduced certain fundamentals of his art, and on the emergence of his portraiture with 'Somerset Maugham' in 1949. To place Sutherland's work historically, and to bring out certain features, the exhibition includes selected works by other artists in whom he took an interest, such as Blake, Palmer, Nash, and Masson. It brings together the types of work that gave rise to a widespread consensus, amongst fellow artists, as well as critics and collectors, that Sutherland was the most exciting and compelling voice in contemporary British painting. The dramatic colour and lighting, and the semi abstract forms in his pictures, both the landscapes and the wartime images of bombed buildings, mines and factory interiors, produced an atmosphere of gloom and foreboding that, in those traumatic times, struck a powerful emotional chord. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 25th September.


Diamonds is the world's biggest ever exhibition of diamonds, bringing together many of the world's most spectacular white and coloured stones, alongside the story of how nature creates them, and man 'refines' them. Among the many individual highlights are the De Beers Millennium Star, the world's largest diamond (the target of the attempted robbery at the Millennium Dome); the Steinmetz Pink, the largest pink diamond that took nearly two years to cut; the Ocean Dream, the largest blue-green diamond, and one of the rarest; the Moussaieff Red, one of the few true red diamonds in existence; Orange Flame, the unusual colour caused by small amounts of nitrogen within it; and the 616 crystal, the largest uncut diamond crystal in existence. Historical jewels include Shah Jahn's table cut diamond warn as a turban ornament, the George III Garter Star, Queen Victoria's Lesser George and the Star of South Africa, Frederick Augustus III's silver bow containing 662 gems, and the stone credited with starting the South African diamond rush of the 1870s. In addition there are examples of contemporary jewellery, using diamonds together with modern materials and in radical ways, by designers such as Michelle Ong, Georges Cuyvers and Scott Henshall. Multimedia exhibits and geological samples explain how diamonds are formed from carbon under extreme pressure and heat deep in the earth, and then thrust upwards by volcanic action, together with the methods employed to prospect for them, and cut, polish and finish them to create jewels. Natural History Museum until 26th February.

Lowry And The Sea is an exhibition that concentrates on a less well known and surprising element of L S Lowry's work, for those familiar simply with his industrial scenes. The display comprises around 50 paintings and drawings of coastal views, ranging from heavily populated beaches to 'empty' seascapes, by way of working docks and coastlines put to industrial use. Lowry's choice of seaside resort to paint in his younger days captures a time when Manchester residents headed for destinations like Rhyl and Lytham St Annes, before the advent of overseas package holidays. However, it is the seascapes of the North East coast, which he painted in his later years, with their dull grey sky and flat grey sea barely ruffled by waves, that are the most memorable. These have an almost 'Turneresque' quality, very different from the cheery matchstick men, red brick terraces and factory chimneys of his better known work. Their brooding melancholy and the lonely depth of these small and deceptively simple works make Lowry one of the greatest British seascape painters of the 20th century. The Lowry, Salford until 30th October.

70 Years Of Penguin Design marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books with a display of some 500 of its iconic book covers. Drawing on material from the Penguin archives that has never been exhibited before, the display shows how the company has responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing cheap paperback editions of distinguished books, for just sixpence per title. Its distinctive approach to cover design and typography was equally advanced, and has become an integral part of publishing and graphic design history, beginning with the simple bands of colour and the classic Gill Sans typeface. The display is divided into three themes. 'A Living Book' displays the changing covers of The Great Gatsby, showing how this popular classic has taken on various guises from 1950 to the present day. 'Covers Living With British Culture' are represented by Wartime Specials and designs from the swinging sixties, such as The Medium Is The Massage, where a printer's error was incorporated into the title, and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. 'Cover Design Now', goes through the design process of covers today, from paper to computer screen and back to paper again, such as the innovative Great Ideas series, shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Award. The display is rich in original art work, and hand drawn roughs, corrected proofs and in house notes bring the finished designs to life. Victoria & Albert Museum until 13th November.

Nelson & Napoleon is the first exhibition to explore together the lives of the two national leaders and adversaries, Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte. It examines how the men earned their reputations, their personal lives and the political and military conditions that brought them to the fore. The exhibition shows the impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon on Britain, concentrating on Napoleon's rise to power and his early career, before looking in depth at the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most significant sea battles in history. It also shatters some of the myths about both the battle and the two leaders. Presented in both English and French, the exhibition illustrates the impact on world history of the actions, decisions and behaviour of these charismatic and controversial leaders. It includes recent discoveries, rare and unseen material, letters, iconic paintings, models, weapons, maps, medals and personal items, amounting to some 300 objects in all. Among the highlights are: the uniform in which Nelson was killed, Nelson's pigtail, cut off at his request to be sent to Emma Hamilton, Nelson's hand drawn battle plan and innovative tactics for the Battle of Trafalgar, the sword used to proclaim Napoleon Emperor, one of the few surviving letters from Emma Hamilton to Nelson, the surgery kit used to remove the bullet from Nelson's body on board HMS Victory, Napoleon's English lesson notes written at St Helena, the Ingres painting of Napoleon as First Consul, and the uniform worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo. National Maritime Museum until 13th November.

Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, a new £31.5m building designed by Benson + Forsyth is a modern version of a Lakeland barn built with traditional materials, close to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere. It now houses the trust's collection of books, manuscripts and artwork relating to the Romantic period. This comprises some 30,000 manuscripts and letters, 12,000 books and 8,000 prints, paintings and drawings connected with English romanticism, including 90% of Wordsworth's surviving working papers. The centre consists of a three storey building with a separate rotunda built alongside, which is linked by a glass bridge. On the top floor, a reading room offers contemporary and significant editions of poetry for researchers, as well as Wordsworth's own library and many rare first editions. The middle floor is a work space where art and documents can be cared for and restored. The rotunda includes an introduction to the context of Dove Cottage and the rest of the site, as well as Wordsworth, his contemporary poets and the Romantics generally. Among the treasures in the collection are Joseph Wright's painting of Ullswater and Place Fell together with a manuscript copy of Wordsworth's poem about the same view, copied by his sister Dorothy, Wordsworth's lifemask by Benjamin Robert Hayden, and the collection of rare books that the centre acquired last year, with complete sets of Shelley and Keats first editions, as well as other Wordsworth and Coleridge first editions. Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere continuing

The Changing Face Of London brings together the architectural megaprojects that are transforming the capital, displayed with models, computer graphics and drawings. It is the inaugural show at New London Architecture, two new galleries at The Building Centre, designed by A-EM Architects, devoted to all that is new in architecture, planning, development and the built environment in London. The exhibition pinpoints the substantial number of developments proposed for the metropolis and examines their implications for the future. Around £100bn worth of major redevelopment, regeneration and infrastructure projects is planned for London over the next two decades, a scale of change that has not been seen for three quarters of a century. Some 400,000 new homes and around 8m square metres of office space are planned to provide for the expected 700,000 growth in population. Over 20 projects in the show range from the new towers in the City of London 'cluster', to Heathrow Terminal 5, and include the redevelopment of White City, Paddington, Kings Cross, Elephant and Castle, Battersea Power Station and the creation of Stratford City and the Olympic Park. The centrepiece of the permanent display is a 1:1500 model of central London, covering an area from Paddington in the west to Stratford in the east and Battersea in the south to King's Cross in the north. It is surrounded by a display of cross section of new architectural projects that have either been completed in the last year or already have planning permission. New London Architecture at The Building Centre, 26 Store Street London WC1 until 10th September.


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. This year, the show has been masterminded by Stephen Farthing and Christopher Orr, and there is a special focus on the use of multiple images or objects, across all the various media on display. Printmaking is strongly featured, with a number of photographs and sculpture editions displayed alongside more conventional examples, and there is a gallery dedicated to works created using mechanical or technological intervention. Internationally acclaimed artists whose work is on show include Paula Rego, Langlands and Bell, Mimmo Paladino, Richard Hamilton, Helen Frankenthaler, Chuck Close and Louise Bourgeois. Ed Ruscha is the featured artist, and his display, concentrating mainly on multiple works, includes photographs and books, in addition to some paintings. There are memorial displays to Peter Coker and Norman Adams. An accompanying programme of lectures, events and workshops covers all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 15th August.

Hirschfeld's Hollywood: The Film Art Of Al Hirschfeld features early work by America's foremost illustrator, who from the 1920s to his death aged 99 in 2003, created witty and stylish celebrity caricatures that appeared in the New York Times. Hirschfeld developed and perfected a signature style when he worked for the publicity and art departments of numerous American movie studios. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the first exhibition to examine these Hollywood years. Over 50 drawings, paintings, posters and movie ephemera, are featured, with a special emphasis on Hirschfeld's unique interpretation of British performers and film makers. National Theatre until 13th August.

Think & Wonder, Wonder & Think features the work of over twenty contemporary East London artists, who have been inspired by the unique toys, games and costumes in the permanent collection. Their creations are displayed alongside and amongst the objects that motivated them, providing a treasure hunt for visitors. Inspired by the dolls' houses, Kezia Cantwell-Wright has constructed a miniature tower block (more representative of the surrounding area than the Victorian building that houses the museum); while David Musgrave has made a tiny humanoid to sit among the mechanical toys; Dustin Ericksen has created his own display case, in which he has put photographs of the exhibits (perhaps pandering to what appears to be the current thinking in museums that seeing a video of an object is better than seeing the object itself); Lali Chetwynd is staging performances by local children; and there are works by Brian Griffiths, Jeff McMillan and Cornelia Parker, plus a tree planted for the porcelain dolls to enjoy, and a sculpture of seaside memories provoked by a display of buckets and spades. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 31st July.