News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th August 2008


Turmoil And Tranquillity: The Sea Through The Eyes Of Dutch And Flemish Masters 1550 - 1700 focuses on the emerging genre of maritime art in the Low Countries, during the 17th century. The exhibition of some 70 paintings examines the emergence of the seascape as an independent painting style, with works by early Flemish masters including followers of Jan Brueghel the Elder and Joachim Patinir, Cornelis van Wieringen and Andries van Eertvelt. It displays highly dramatic seascapes and depictions of storms and shipwrecks, which characterised Dutch seascapes of the period. The use of allegory, with examples depicting ships as symbols for the soul, is traced in paintings such as the 'Wreck of the Amsterdam' by an anonymous Flemish artist and Adam Willaerts's 'Jonah and the Whale'. The interplay between paintings of tranquil coastal waters and the assertion of a Dutch national identity is explored through the work of Jan Porcellis, Simon de Vlieger, Ludolf Backhuysen and Jacob van Ruisdael. Depictions of Mediterranean and Scandinavian scenes and other foreign shores, are examined through works by Hendrick van Minderhout, Simon de Vlieger, Gasper van Wittel (called 'Vanvitelli') and Pieter Mulier the Younger, 'the Cavaliere Tempesta'. The demand for paintings recording battles at sea and illustrious naval heroes is illustrated with works by Abraham Storck and the Willem van de Veldes, who moved to London, and for 20 years had their studio in the home of this exhibition. The Queen's House, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until 11th January.

John Muir Wood And The Origins Of Landscape Photography In Scotland is the first exhibition to examine this subject. It concentrates on images produced between 1840 and 1860, and in particular, on the work of John Muir Wood, arguably Scotland's first systematic landscape photographer. With bulky camera equipment, Muir Wood travelled by steamer along the Firth of Clyde, exploring the geography of Arran, Bute and the north Ayrshire coast. Chosen from an archive of 900 images, the selected photographs present a romantic view of nature during a time of rural upheaval, and strongly evoke the contrast between Victorian social and religious values and increasing urbanisation. Many of Muir Wood's photographs seem desolate, yet they are curiously uplifting. His ruined cottage image may appear to be a stony skeleton, but it lies above lush grass and a stream. Muir Wood's grasp of sensual detail is evident in how he captures the raw texture of scattered rocks in the water, and how the pallid tones of his forest photography suggest an almost ethereal glow. The exhibition puts Muir Wood's imagery into context by displaying examples of the landscape work of other early photographers, including Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill, Thomas Keith, Horatio Ross and W H Fox Talbot. It charts the emergence of a new creative form as each struggled to express the Scottish landscape imagination through photography. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 26th October.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! the American chain of 'odditoriums', whose slogan is 'Proudly freeking out families for 90 years', has just opened a London branch. The city centre equivalent of a Victorian travelling fairground freak show, it features over 500 weird and unusual artefacts in 22 themed galleries spanning 4 floors - only a real live Elephant Man is missing. For over 40 years in the first half of the 20th century, Robert Ripley - a kind of Indiana Jones figure - travelled the world collecting the unbelievable, the inexplicable, and the one-of-a-kind, and then made a career of exploiting them. Exhibits here range from genuine shrunken heads from the Jivaro Indians of Ecuador, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and a Victorian vampire killing kit, via mannequins of Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man, and other freak show stalwarts, to a portrait of Princess Diana made entirely from lint collected from clothes dryers, a 12ft long model of Tower Bridge made out of matchsticks, and a real Mini Cooper covered in 1m Swarovski lead crystals, in the images of 10 American icons. The attraction also includes a Mirror Maze, consisting of a series of columns and arches surrounded by hundreds of mirrored reflections in every direction, with floor lighting enhancing the 'infinity effect' by giving the illusion of continuing hallways. The London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London W1 continuing.


Weird And Wonderful Gadgets And Inventions is an opportunity to see over 50 extraordinary 'labour saving devices' patented over the last 150 years, from the private collection of Maurice Collins, author of Eccentric Contraptions and Ingenious Gadgets. Built up over a period of 30 years, the Collins's family collection contains gadgets ranging early versions of technology we take for granted today, to inventions that would not be out of place in a Heath Robinson compendium. Among the highlights are: a two handled self pouring teapot; a clockwork burglar alarm; the purse pistol, a one bullet gun concealed in a seemingly normal ladies purse; a grenade for putting out fires; a mechanical page turner for musicians; a brass and copper clockwork teasmade; an automatic nose hair cutter; the original Sat-Nav wristwatch, which incorporated a roll of paper with directions printed on it; a mechanical envelope sealer, which dampened and then pressed home the flap; a pianist's finger stretcher, designed to increase a musicians' 'spread'; a beer can hole maker; spectacles with built in battery powered lights above the lenses; the Dynamo Shaver; an eye massager, which puffed cool air to massage the eyeballs; and a whisky bottle lock. Business & IP Centre, The British Library until 10th November.

Impressionism & Scotland explores the Scottish taste for Impressionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and assesses the impact of modern European art on Scottish art and artists. The exhibition comprises over 100 paintings, pastels and watercolours, with highlights including Renoir's 'The Bay of Naples', the first Impressionist painting to be bought by a Scot; Degas's 'L'Absinthe', which was 'hissed' when it came up for auction in the early 1890s, due to its 'depraved' subject matter; and John Lavery's 'The Tennis Party', a rare example of Scottish modern life painting. It also includes Monet's 'Poplars', Van Gough's 'Orchard', Gauguin's 'Martinique', Matisse's 'The Pink Tablecloth', Cezanne's 'Mont St Victoire', and works by Degas, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists. The exhibition points up parallels between the work of Dutch, French and Scottish artists, whose paintings are hung side by side: Corot and Walton; Bastien-Lepage and Guthrie; Degas and Crawhall; Manet and Fergusson; Matisse and Hunter. It demonstrates that, having absorbed these powerful influences, Scottish artists developed their own instinctive brand of Impressionism, quite unlike the more analytical approach of the French Impressionists. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 12th October.

The Science Of Survival: Your Planet Needs You! offers a glimpse of the world in 2050, and explores how mankind can survive on a changing planet. This hands on, thought provoking, interactive exhibition, examines how the way we live will change over the next few decades, in response to climate change and diminishing global resources, looking at options for a sustainable future. As visitors journey through the exhibition they are led by four characters who invite their help in solving problems in a city in the year 2050. In five interactive areas - Drinking, Eating, Enjoying, Moving and Building - it looks at why the future will be different, and what we can do about it today. Visitors examine current global issues and explore some possible technological responses, such as catching fog vapour to make fresh water, using nanotechnology to produce food, and building trains that run on biofuel. All the decisions made along the way are included in the Future City at the end of the exhibition, reflecting different choices based on different priorities, and the major effects these will have on the world of tomorrow. Visitors then see how well they survived, and discover the choices made by other people, revealing that while the way mankind lives will inevitably change, positive choices made today could radically affect what the future will be. Science Museum until 2nd November.

Love explores how artists from the 16th century to the present day have represented the complexity and intensity of the most powerful of emotions. Encompassing divine and mortal love, chaste and unchaste love, family love and charity, the exhibition demonstrates how 30 artists, including Raphael, Cranach, Vermeer, Murillo, Goya, Guercino, Turner, Holman Hunt, Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer and Garyson Perry, have described or responded to love in a variety of styles. Highlights include the juxtaposition of Tracey Emin's 'Those Who Suffer Love (I'm OK Now)' connecting the agony of the creative process and the intricacies of human relations, looking at tensions similar to those that surrounded Dante Gabriel Rossetti's iconic 'Astarte Syriaca', painted over 100 years earlier; the embrace of Mark Quinn's 'Kiss' questioning concepts of beauty and preconceptions about entitlement to affection; Joseph Wright of Derby's newlyweded couple the Coltmans, paintings by the Singh Twins contrasting the dissatisfaction of celebrity worship with the joy of love reciprocated; neighbourly love overcoming racial and religious prejudice in 'The Good Samaritan' by Jacopo Bassano, as a traveller tends to the wounds of a total stranger; and Lawrence Alma-Tadema's painting of two women whose friendship will be ruined by their love for the same man. National Gallery until 5th October.

Case Studies unravels some of the mysteries surrounding the very beginnings of railways, thanks to the discovery of a hitherto unknown a pen and wash illustration showing the locomotive 'Catch Me Who Can', from Trevithick's first London railway of 1808. Destined to become an icon of transport history, a copy of picture by John Claude Nattes reveals that three 'Rowlandson' prints of the railway are actually forgeries, dating to only just before the First World War. Objects on display accompanying the picture include the two known Trevithick model self moving engines, together for the first time since the 1930s, and the mysterious 'Sans Pareil' model, once thought to date from the Rainhill trials of 1829, but now revealed to be much earlier, and made by Timothy Hackworth around 1811, when he was experimenting towards building the famous 'Puffing Billy' locomotive. The exhibition is part of Search Engine, a new £4m state of the art Archive and Research Centre, which allows access to previously hidden treasures, including some of the most valuable and important objects from the dawn of powered transport. The archive includes over 1.5m photographs from the early days of photography in the 1850s onwards; over 1m engineering drawings of railway vehicles; sound and oral history archives; the UK's most comprehensive railway library; personal and business archives from key figures and organisations in the British railway industry; and the UK's most comprehensive collection of British railway posters, graphic art and advertising materials. National Railway Museum, York, until November.

Huang Yong Ping: Frolic is an installation by one of the most distinguished contemporary artists to emerge from China in the past two decades. It explores the complex imperial history between Britain and China in the 19th century, the forerunner of today's globalisation, and in particular the Opium Wars. The installation comprises sculptures of enlarged paraphernalia associated with opium dens, which were widespread in the 19th century, and takes its title from the name of a ship built in 1844 specifically for the opium trade. It evokes the intemperance of the opium den whilst exposing the cruder, factory production of the drug, with piles of opium balls, scales and storage boxes. The central space is occupied with a statue of Lord Palmerston, who served twice as British Prime Minister and is widely considered as the initiator of the Opium Wars in China in 1839 and 1856. The statue, toppled on an opium bed, depicts Palmerston smoking an exaggeratedly large opium pipe. Importing opium from British India to China was a lucrative trade for Britain, and when the Chinese government attempted to control the supply as overuse of the drug was becoming rife, Britain refused to comply. The conflict between the two governments twice erupted into wars, and following its defeats the Chinese government was forced to tolerate the opium trade, and sign Unequal Treaties, opening several ports to foreign trade and yielding Hong Kong to Britain. The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, until 21st September.


Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891 - 1910 examines the work of a loosely knit group of avant-garde artists in northern Italy, in the late 19th century, who came to be known as Divisionists. They mounted a radical artistic response to conditions of economic crisis, political uncertainty and widespread social unrest in post unification Italy. Through 'the investigation of colour in light' the Divisionists sought to challenge the paradoxes of the modern world. Inspired by French developments with pointillism, and fuelled by a desire to increase the luminosity and brilliance of their paintings, these artists developed new techniques applying paint in a variety of dots and strokes. Influenced by the study of optical science, they believed unmixed threads of 'divided' colour would fuse for the viewer at a distance and bring maximum luminosity to their paintings. This technical innovation accounts for the singular intensity of their paintings. Many of the key Divisionists were also politically motivated, and Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza, Angelo Morbelli and Emilio Longoni, among others, adopted Socialist ideas and strove for 'an art not for art's sake but for humanity's sake'. From Longoni's 'The Orator of the Strike' to Umberto Boccioni's 'The City Rises' the exhibition explores the evolution of Divisionism from its early beginnings to the formation of Italian Futurism, which later emerged from this movement. As workers migrated from the fields to the cities, many Divisionists escaped to the countryside producing paintings such as Segantini's 'Spring in the Alps' and 'The Punishment of Lust', Pellizza's 'The Living Torrent', Morbelli's 'For Eighty Cents!', and Vittore Grubicy's eight canvas polyptych 'Winter in the Mountains'. National Gallery until 7th September.

The Fabric Of Myth explores the symbolic function of textiles in classical myth and their thematic influence on both historic and contemporary art. By tracing these narrative beginnings, the exhibition offers insights into the mysterious power of fabric, the celebrity of its makers, and the supernatural component of its production. For centuries weaving was a vital force that homogenised societies, thereby reflecting important principles and beliefs, and the exhibition features embroidery, tapestries, illustrated manuscripts and classical artefacts. Historically, the exhibition explores the theme of classical myths as seen through Greek mythological figures such as the Three Fates, Arachne, Ariadne, Circe and Penelope, in addition to Lord Alfred Tennyson's Lady of Shalott locked in her tower weaving, to the embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots in captivity. It also explores the work of artists who use fabric as a medium to communicate personal and cultural myths, including Delaine Le Bas, William Holman Hunt, Alice Kettle, Elaine Reichek, Bispo Do Rosario, Tilleke Schwarz, Judith Scott, Leonid Tishkov, Michele Walker, Shane Waltener and Annie Whiles. Highlights include Joseph Beuys's 'Felt Suit', which symbolically acts as the embodiment of the artist's personal myth; Louise Bourgeois's 'Spindle', expressing ideas relating to personal restoration; Henry Moore's 'Three Fates', which renders them as sympathetic and reluctant arbiters of life and death; and Ray Materson's miniature embroideries, created while in jail and made by unraveling then reconfiguring the socks of fellow inmates. Compton Verney House until 7th September.

Vilhelm Hammershoi: The Poetry Of Silence is the first retrospective of the celebrated late 19th century Danish artist, and features over 70 paintings spanning his entire career. Hammershoi's most compelling works are his quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted within a small tonal range of implied greys, these sparsely furnished rooms exude an almost hypnotic quietude and sense of melancholic introspection. Submitting these spaces to a decisive geometric stringency, Hammershoi dispenses with anecdotal detail, which transforms the interiors into hermetically sealed places of disturbing emptiness. With refined discretion, he uses the apartment as a pictorial laboratory to make the viewer sense the emotional abyss behind the facade. In addition to the interiors, the exhibition also includes Hammershoi's arresting portraits, landscapes, and evocative city views, notably the deserted streets of Copenhagen and London on misty winter mornings, such as 'Christiansborg Palace' and 'From the British Museum. Winter'. The magical quietness of Hammershoi's work can be seen in the context of international Symbolist movements of the turn of the last century but the containment and originality of his art makes it unique. The Royal Academy of Arts until 7th September.