Private View held by Richard Andrews
Great Escapes examines and illustrates some of the extraordinary escape attempts made by Allied servicemen from German prisoner of war camps in the Second World War. It compares fact - much of which seems too far fetched to be true - with the fictional versions seen in the films The Wooden Horse, The Great Escape and Colditz. The ingenuity employed in engineering the escapes themselves - be it tunnelling under, or flying over the walls - and subsequent survival - supplying clothes and identity papers to avoid recapture - is revealed. The exhibition includes the first public display of objects recently excavated from the original tunnels. Among the exhibits are forged identity tags and papers, rubber stamps carved from boot soles, a Monopoly game used to smuggle in hacksaw blades, tins from Red Cross parcels converted to shovels, and German currency concealed inside records. Also on display are replicas of the wooden vaulting horse used as the cover for tunnelling at Stalag Luft 111, and the glider constructed but never actually used at Colditz. In addition to the original artefacts, interactive and hands-on displays allow children and adults to try on disguises, forge an identity pass, crawl through an escape tunnel, find out facts about escape attempts, and use their ingenuity to plan their own escape route from Colditz. Imperial War Museum, London until 31st July.
A Gentle Madness: The Photographs Of Tony Ray-Jones provides an opportunity to view a body of work rarely seen or discussed, by one of the foremost observers of 'The English'. Tony Ray-Jones produced his finest work between 1966 and 68 in the form of a sardonic and surreal portrayal of the seaside resorts, customs and festivals of England. The youngest son of the British painter Raymond Ray-Jones, he studied graphics and photography in London before gaining a scholarship to study at Yale. There he developed his vision and began working on assignments for magazines in New York. Ray-Jones returned to Britain in 1965 charged with the dynamic spirit of the New York photography scene, and employing a fresh viewpoint, set about his major project of documenting everyday English eccentricity. Rituals such as sunbathing on a cloudy day in Brighton, a beauty contest in Southport and daft carnival costumes in Skegness were exhibited in two of the earliest solo photography shows in London, and published posthumously as A Day Off. The series has become a landmark in the history of the medium, leaving its mark on a new generation of British photographers.Faking It: Between Art Photography And Advertising demonstrates the visual parallels that occur between art photography and advertising. Through a series of fabulous, staged images, it reveals the surprising crossovers between art and advertising photography, by identifying themes, props, poses and styles that are common to both kinds of studio practice. National Museum Of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford until 9th January.
Iron Ladies: Women In Thatcher's Britain is the first exhibition to consider the impact of 'Thatcherism' on British women in the 1980s, and to look at the ways in which Margaret Thatcher's presence as a role model affected women's lives. Cold war ideology, political and social protest and the changing status of women in the workforce are all examined, alongside consideration of Margaret Thatcher's experiences as Britain's first female prime minister, and her subsequent legacy for women and the women's movement. Using a wide range of original material, including previously unseen visual and archival documents, recordings, photographs, posters, leaflets, badges, memorabilia and clothing of the period, the exhibition addresses central issues from this defining period of recent history. Artifacts used conjure up representations of the Eighties include a gym outfit with leg-warmers beside a Jane Fonda video, a red and white polka dot baby-doll dress beside The Sloane Rangers' Handbook, and of course, one of the legendary handbags. An extensive programme of talks, study days and events accompany the exhibition. Women's Library until 2nd April.
Raphael: From Urbino To Rome is, surprisingly, the first major exhibition of paintings and drawings by the great Renaissance painter to be held in Britain. In little more than a decade, between 1500 and 1513, Raphael transformed himself from a competent master of provincial church decoration into one of the greatest painters who ever lived, whose compositions influenced Western art up to the 20th century. This exhibition follows Raphael's dramatic stylistic evolution from his origins in Urbino to the works he produced under the patronage of Pope Julius II in Rome. It meticulously explores the meaning and historical context of his works, reveals the techniques he used, and how these developed, with early cartoons and sketches of alternative compositions alongside the finished paintings. Drawing on collections world wide to complement the gallery's unrivalled holding of Raphael's early works, including the recent controversial acquisition 'The Madonna of the Pinks', the exhibition features a number of paintings never seen in Britain before. Highlights include 'The Holy Family with the Lamb', 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria', The Vision of a Knight' and 'The Entombment', plus the 'Alba Madonna' from National Gallery of Art in Washington, the 'Conestabile Madonna' from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the 'Saint George' and 'Saint Michael' from the Louvre in Paris and the 'Self Portrait' from the Uffizi in Florence. National Gallery until 16th January.
Somewhere Everywhere Nowhere is an exhibition of international contemporary art selected from five of France's FRACs (Fonds Regionaux d'Art Contemporain) which were set up in 1983 to collect, commission and present the art of our times. It looks at notions of place, space and context, from landscapes to interiors, embracing a wide range of media, including film, photography, sculpture and video. The works by major French and international figures - Lothar Baumgarten, Alighiero e Boetti, Dominique Gonzalez-Forester and Hiroshi Sugimoto, among others - reflect the breadth and quality of the contemporary art being collected. Among the works are photographs of industrial sites by Bernd and Hilla Becher; Willie Doherty's traumatised suburban landscapes; Jeff Wall's cibachrome of a man holding an exploding carton of milk, mounted on a huge light box; Chen Zhen's bits of urban detritus in an industrial-looking glass case; Didier Marcel's architect's model of a building in the process of being demolished; Erwin Wurm's film of a pair of cardboard boxes in a gallery space projected onto a pair of cardboard boxes in a gallery space; Douglas Gordon's compilation of fragments taken from 'Star Trek'; and Andrea Fraser's video of a visitor responding over-enthusiastically to an audio-guide's description of the Guggenheim Bilbao. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh until 28th November and Dundee Contemporary Arts until 4th December.
Asia: Body Mind Spirit explores Asia's holistic approach to medicine - which advocates a balanced relationship of body, mind and spirit - through over two hundred rare and beautiful objects. The materials on display include decorated manuscripts, rare acupuncture charts, early medical texts, and artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs from India, Tibet, China, Japan and other Asian countries. There is a real Chinese pharmacy, complete with drawers of herbs, and a reconstruction of a Tibetan chapel with protective banners. Other highlights include: a Nepalese Ayurvedic painting of the human body depicting channels and organs annotated in Sanskrit; a Korean scroll on acupuncture; a Japanese block print showing the first recorded use of anaesthesia in surgery; a Batak amulet used to protect against poison; a Japanese woodcut depicting a Chinese surgeon operating on a wounded war hero, who is playing go to distract his attention from the pain; a folio from a 14th century Persian horoscope showing the influence of planets on health; a Burmese illustrated text on the life of the Buddha; a 16th century text depicting Mahavira, founder of the Jain religion; and a new work commissioned from London artist Chila Kumari Burman showing how images of Eastern complementary medicine have become a familiar part of the 21st century Western life. The Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, London W1 until 12th December.
Eyes, Lies And Illusions is a treasure trove of optical devices and illusions, from magic lanterns, shadow plays, tricks of perspective and anamorphic images, to kaleidoscopes, zoetropes and other early forms of animation. Drawing on the collection of the German experimental film maker Werner Nekes, this exhibition includes over 1,000 of the most astonishing feats of optical wizardry, dating from the Renaissance to the early years of cinema. Alongside these are works by modern and contemporary artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Christian Boltanski, Tony Oursler and Carsten Holler, which demonstrate how perceptual ambiguities and paradoxes continue to fascinate and inspire artists today. Among the highlights are: 19th century hidden images, visual puzzles and optical riddles in a huge variety of forms; 'Witch' mirrors that multiply reflections to infinity; a camera obscura that shows the traffic on adjoining Waterloo Bridge upside down; shadow puppets of angels and devils circling the walls and concealed in unexpected corners; Line Describing A Cone, a seemingly 'solid' beam of light created from a projected white spot that grows into a complete circle filled with smoke; viewing devices made from prisms and mirrors presenting an inside-out, back-to-front illusion where solids appear void; and a reconstruction of an 'Ames Room', an Alice In Wonderland experience where visitors themselves are part of an astonishing shrinking and enlarging illusion. Hayward Gallery until 3rd January.
Wigan Casino: The Heart Of Soul is an exhibition featuring artwork, memorabilia, photographs and videos intimately connected with what was voted 'Best Disco in the World' by American music magazine 'Billboard' in 1978. It boasts original objects and previously unseen photographs courtesy of the DJ Russ Winstanley, who founded the Casino's legendary 'all-nighters', and even the sounds of those 'all-nighters' - complete with hand clapping - recorded live in the Casino in 1975. Complementing this is Granada television's controversial 1977 documentary, 'This England', directed by Tony Palmer. Soul fans themselves have contributed memories and memorabilia, including original badges, which were a great feature of the time, and clothing. In addition, new works by local artist David Barrow aim to give visitors a taste of what it was like to be inside Wigan Casino in its halcyon days. The exhibition also explores the wider history of the former Empress Hall, which opened in 1916, and quickly became a popular dancing venue. It attracted many famous acts during the 1950s and '60s, including American rock 'n' roll legends. In 1965 it was re-launched as the Casino Club and went on to host to such acts as the Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and David Bowie, before becoming THE Northern Soul venue from 1973 until its closure in 1981. The building was demolished in 1983 to make way for a civic centre, which was never built. History Shop, Wigan until 26th February.
G F Watts: Portraits - Fame And Beauty In Victorian Society is a rare exhibition of portraits by the Victorian painter, who was much feted in his time, but is now often forgotten. Watts was a central personality of the era: a friend of Tennyson, the Pre-Raphaelite artists, photographic pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron, and married (albeit briefly) to the actress Ellen Terry. Today he is best remembered for his large-scale symbolist paintings, such as 'Hope', and for the 'Hall of Fame' series of portraits of his eminent contemporaries, including Carlyle, Tennyson, Browning and Rossetti, yet he also produced some of the most glamorous full-length portraits of women of the Victorian period. As a portraitist Watts had an enormous output - over 300 images in oils and countless drawings - from the 1830s to 1904. Rich in colour and detail, these are little known and have never been seen together as a group, though they comprise the artistic and social elite of mid-Victorian London. Some of the most beautiful of Watts's paintings are portraits of his personal friends. This exhibition brings together over fifty works, including several showing the seven Pattle sisters; Mrs Nassau Senior; a double portrait of Ellen and Kate Terry known as 'The Sisters'; Violet Manners, later the Duchess of Rutland, a fellow artist; Blanche, Lady Lindsay, artist, musician, and co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery; Lillie Langtry; and several drawings and oil paintings of Mary Augusta, Lady Holland, which reveal the nature of their 'close friendship'. National Portrait Gallery until 9th January.
Bodies Revealed: The Exhibition features a display of dissected full human specimens, plus hundreds of individual organs, allowing visitors the chance to see close up how the body works, and how organs are affected by disease. The specimens have been preserved using a process called 'polymer preservation', so that they can be examined long term, without deterioration due to natural decay. The same technique was used by Professor Gunther von Hagens, the gentleman that looked as though he had just stepped out of a Hammer Horror film, who dissected a body live on television, (no, not a live body) for the Body Worlds exhibition in 2002. This time the specimens are the work of the less alarming Dr Roy Glover, and the University of Michigan. His laboratory has supplied preserved human specimens for medical instruction in more than 125 undergraduate and postgraduate medical programmes, biotechnology companies, health education agencies and museums. All of the bodies and organ specimens in the exhibition came from individuals who chose to donate their bodies to medical science for the purpose of study and education. Possibly the most impressive exhibit is a figure showing the delicate knitting of the entire blood vessel system. Nevertheless, with the cirrhotic livers, shrunken lungs and ectopic pregnancies on display, plus the location on Blackpool's Golden Mile, it does evoke the memory of a Victorian freak show. Winter Gardens, Blackpool, until 14th November.
Enchanting The Eye: Dutch Paintings Of The Golden Age is a selection of works from the Royal Collection, one of the world's finest groups of Dutch 17th century paintings. The 51 pictures in this exhibition embrace genre scenes, portraits, still-lifes, history paintings, landscapes and seascapes. They include works by the great masters of the period, among them Rembrandt's 'Christ and St. Mary', 'Magdalen at the Tomb' and his 'Self-Portrait' of 1642, landscapes by Aelbert Cuyp, and Johannes Vermeer's 'A Lady at the Virginals'. Among the genre paintings - the depiction of everyday life - artists such as Frans van Mieris the Elder, Gabriel Metsu and Gerard ter Borch show the preparation of food, eating and drinking, and the enjoyment of music inside the home. The confidence of the Dutch, one of the richest and most powerful nations in 17th century Europe, is reflected in portraits by Frans Hals, Jan Molenaer and Hendrick ter Bruggen. A number of paintings in the exhibition came to the Collection as contemporary works, 'The Artist's Mother' by Rembrandt, presented to Charles I, was among the first examples by the painter to enter a British collection. The Queen's Gallery, Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until 7th November.
Paradise Lost: The Poem And Its Illustrators brings together works by a number of artists and poets in response to John Milton's epic 12 book poem. The exhibition is centred on 12 illustrations by William Blake - one for each of the books - that have not been seen in this country for nearly a century. It also commemorates the 200th anniversary of Blake's own retelling of the story, called Milton, in the preface of which he first published the poem Jerusalem. Other artists on display, whose work exploring heaven and hell, Adam and Eve, and God and the Devil, was associated directly with printed editions, or found inspiration from it, include John Baptiste Medina, John Henry Fuseli, George Romney, JMW Turner, Gustave Dore and William Hogarth. The exhibition also features a number of rare books and manuscripts, such as a first edition copy of Paradise Lost from 1667, a first illustrated edition from 1688, and an edition from 1827 with John Martin illustrations. There are also other books by Blake, and a 21st century manuscript from Tony Harrison 'On not being Milton'. The Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere until 31st October.