News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th July 2004

Commencing

Energy - Fuelling The Future is a new interactive gallery designed by Casson Mann, dubbed an 'energy playground', where visitors, especially (but not exclusively) children, can explore how energy powers every aspect of our lives. It examines the vital role energy plays in our society, and questions how we will meet future demands when deposits of fossil fuels run out. The gallery houses no traditional museum artefacts, but engages visitors with thought-provoking interactive displays, to trigger debate, and ask critical questions about the political, social and environmental issues surrounding energy production and distribution. Visitors can play with novel interfaces from spinning drums and touch-screens, to dance-floor footpads. Specialist museum staff are on hand, and Energy Info Zone terminals, using the latest multimedia technology, are packed with games, quizzes and a rich information database. Having been presented with some of the latest ideas for fuelling the future, visitors are encouraged to post their opinions, choices or messages on a 13 metre LED Energy Ring, suspended from the ceiling. There are a number of accompanying free activities for children during the school holidays, together with a series of events, debates and comedy nights for adults. Further information can be found on the Science Museum web site via the link opposite. Science Museum, continuing.

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.

Status Symbols: Identity And Belief On Modern Badges provides an outing for one of the museums oddest and least known collections. The humble badge has been used throughout the centuries to signify political allegiance, draw attention to social injustice, express support or disdain for the monarchy, and more recently, as a symbol of international protest. The exhibition includes badges from all over the world, ranging from the mass produced to the individually crafted, the official to the subversive, the familiar to the strange, and the humorous to the serious. The first section of the exhibition examines badges that express identity and a sense of belonging. Examples include trade union badges such as Solidarity pins and NUM's 'Coal Not Dole', a 'Panther Power' Black Panther badge, an 'Indian Resistance' badge from the 70s, a 'Love Maggie', early 80s badge, and the iconic Blue Peter badge. The second section looks at belief, the issues people feel strongly about and the statements they make. These badges often refer specifically to other opposing badges and slogans, thus creating a debate. So a suffragette hunger strike medal sits alongside a badge of the 'National League For Opposing Woman Suffrage', and celebration Royal Jubilee badges are opposed by a 'Don't do it, Di!' pin. Badges of leaders such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are displayed alongside protest symbols, from the CND logo to the contemporary 'Don't Attack Iraq'. Finally, the limitations of badge sloganeering are shown in the satirical 'Gay Whales Against Racism' and a badge that proclaims 'Badges Are Not Enough'. British Museum until 16th January.

Continuing

Saul Bass: On Film celebrates the work of one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century, and the undisputed master of film title design. The elegance of the titles he created for Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick in the 1950s and 1960s and, later in the 1990s, for Martin Scorsese, transformed a banal medium into an art form. Before Bass, titles were simple lists of the cast and crew projected on to cinema curtains that were only drawn when the film began. As this exhibition shows, Saul Bass turned the film title into a visual spectacle. When he devised a simple paper cut out of a heroin addict's arm for Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm, it caused a sensation. Title sequences became independently shot short films or animations that set the tone for the film itself. Bass went on to create some of the most enduring images in design and cinema history, from the spiralling circles of Hitchcock's Vertigo, through the journey based animation of Michael Todd's Around The World In Eighty Days, and the emerging skyline of Manhattan in Jerome Robbins's West Side Story, to the frenzied neons of Scorsese's Casino. Underlying Bass's work were the principles of the Bauhaus movement, and a search for simplicity. Bass's greatest skill was to create a single symbolic motif or image to encapsulate and represent the film, and so his work also revolutionised the film poster, replacing the previous star portraits with an image that conveyed the film's essence. Design Museum until 10th October.

Walter Richard Sickert: The Human Canvas points up Sickert's influential role as a link between the French Impressionists and British art in the early 20th century. This exhibition of 43 paintings includes many of Sickert's most important works from each key stage his career. It highlights Sickert's technical mastery and experimentation, his uncompromising realism, and the innovative range of his subject matter. On display are nudes and portraits of cultural figures of the period, as well as townscapes, architectural subjects painted during his time in London, Venice and Dieppe, and the later works he derived from photographs. Sickert gained a reputation early in his career for a distinctive style, and range of subject matter inspired by his experience of London life, often characterised by the use of murky colours and a strong narrative. From his earliest music hall pictures, Sickert showed a fascination with people on the periphery of society, and those at the extremes of human behaviour. The exhibition includes several of his 'Camden Town Murder' series, which shocked critics of the time with their raw nudity in works such as 'La Hollandaise', and the juxtaposition of two figures to generate sexual tension and ambiguity, in paintings like 'L'Affaire de Camden Town'. Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal until 30th October.

A Garden Of Fans is an exhibition of over 100 fans with floral motifs of every kind from Europe and Asia. In the 17th century fans were a status symbol and sported serious subjects such as copies of classical paintings with scenes deriving from mythology and history on the font, but flowers were often painted on the reverse (the side which was held up to the face). Tulips, much in vogue at that time, took pride of place beside the rose, the flower of Venus, goddess of Love. There were also hyacinths, jasmine and carnations, popular at the court of Louis XIV. The 19th century, particularly towards the end, with the emergence of Art Nouveau, produced spectacular fans painted with life size blooms of botanical precision, which were often signed. As trade with the East increased, artists and craftsmen from Europe were influenced and inspired by the importance of flowers in Japanese culture, and the way flowers were used in art in China. Also on display is a recent acquisition, an important fan painted around 1889 by Walter Richard Sickert, which cost £90,000. In gouache on vellum, it depicts the Music Hall artiste Little Dot Hetherington performing on stage at the Old Bedford Theatre in Camden. The spot lit performer, raising her face to the gods as she sings the song "The boy that I love is up in the gallery", is copied from an earlier Sickert painting, and has been slightly amended to suit the fan leaf shape, with which Sickert and his contemporaries were experimenting. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 19th November.

Mummy: The Inside Story is a unique project that unlocks the secrets of a 3,000 year old mummy to help visitors understand the civilisation of ancient Egypt through a virtual reality experience. The mummy of Nesperennub, a priest from the temple of Khons who lived in 800 BC has undergone the first ever 'virtual unwrapping'. Using leading edge computer technology and state of the art medical scanning techniques, the mysteries of Nesperennub's mummy are revealed non-invasively, without opening the case and disturbing the carefully arranged wrappings and amulets. The exhibition starts with an introduction about the world of ancient Egypt, the practice of mummification, and how 3D technology can reveal the secrets of an unopened mummy case. The 20 minute virtual reality experience is then shown in a specially designed immersive theatre, which is equipped with a 12m curved screen and stereo projection equipment. Wearing 3D glasses, visitors look inside the mummy case, discover how it was preserved, what special objects were placed in its wrappings, and even travel inside the mummy's body. The experience features computer generated models and historical reconstructions showing how Nesperennub would have lived. In the final area of the exhibition, Nesperennub's mummy is displayed in its painted coffin, alongside examples of the artefacts featured in the 3D projection, together with explanatory panels telling the stories from the hieroglyphs and inscriptions on the decorated case and coffin. British Museum until January.

Absolutely Insane is one of this year's new theme park attractions, which catapults victims 300ft into the air, generating a 2.5 G force in its vertical launch, and then bungee jumps them back to earth. It offers riders a unique 'hands on' movement of their seat, enabling them to rotate forward in mid air to create a free fall sensation, the first ride of its kind in the world to do so.The Eye On The Coast, also new this year, but in a gentler vein, is Europe's biggest classic Ferris Wheel, offering panoramic views from its forty gondolas, each carrying up to six passengers. At night, it looks even more spectacular, when illuminated by 64,000 light bulbs and two miles of neon tubes, with a winking eye at its centre.These join the existing white knucklers of Volcanic Impact, hurling captives 200ft into the air, travelling from 1-100km in less than 6 seconds - now with seats that tip forward without any warning; The Beast, tossing its prey twisting through the air at speeds of 60kph, ending with a 360 degree spin on a triple roll; Amazing Confusion, spinning victims round and round at the end of an arm, which itself swings around, up and over; and Jubilee Odyssey, boasting 6 inversions, and at 60%, the steepest drop of any suspended ride in Europe. Perhaps best to experience it all at second hand through the 'ride cams' which can be found on the Fantasy Island web site, via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Fantasy Island, Skegness until 31st October.

About Face reveals how contemporary artists and photographers challenge the conventions of the photographic portrait, in a digital era when images are increasingly open to manipulation. Around 100 works by over 70 international artists and photographers employ a wide range of approaches, from straightforward photography, through photomontage, appropriation of found imagery, and multiple exposures, to complex computer manipulation. Alison Jackson uses look-a-likes to construct fictional narratives around celebrity figures such as the Royal Family; Taliban fighters in Thomas Dworzak's hand tinted prints have an effeminate quality; the glamorous subjects of Elisabeth Heyert's full colour images reveal themselves to be corpses, death's pallor having been corrected with cosmetics; Valerie Belin attempts to blur the perception of what is real and what is artificial by presenting models' faces side by side with those of mannequins; the symmetrically perfect features of Greek gods and goddesses are superimposed onto human models in the work of Lawick Muller; Tibor Kalman presents a vision of what the Queen or Arnold Schwarzenegger would look like if they were black; Chris Dorley-Brown has fused/montaged the faces of two thousand inhabitants from Haverill to make The Face of 2000; and Orlan engages in surgical procedures to alter her own facial features, and then employs computer manipulation to blend them with pre-Columbian pottery. All human life - and a few things on which the jury is still out. Hayward Gallery until 5th September.

Concluding

Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon is the first major exhibition in this country of the artist who captured the essence of modernism and the spirit of Art Deco in her work. It focuses on her most prolific period, from 1922 to the early 1940s. Bringing together some 55 paintings, many never before seen in public, the exhibition confirms de Lempicka's reputation as one of the most iconic painters of her generation. Although brought up in Moscow, she moved to Paris in 1917, as it was about to become the capital of the art world. De Lempicka's images combine the forms of traditional portraiture with geometric architectural features that capture the sense of modernity and the machine age. Her subjects are often dramatically lit, with closely cropped compositions, so that they fill the canvas with their monumental and powerful presence. It is for the development of this contemporary and unique style that de Lempicka is recognised. These paintings reflect the combination of wealth and decadence that was synonymous with the French capital in the 1920s and 1930s. As well as focusing on her many commissioned portraits, the exhibition also includes some of de Lempicka's sensual nudes and beautiful still-lifes. The Royal Academy until 30th August.

Heaven On Earth: Art From Islamic Lands is a display of the finest decorative arts of Islam - calligraphy, textiles, jewels, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and The Khalili Collection in London. The artefacts range in date from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and in origin from Spain through the Arab world to Persia and the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition is in four galleries. The first celebrates the majesty of God, with calligraphy used as a vehicle for the Qur'an - literally the word of God - from manuscripts to woven prayer rugs, and lustre tile panels from shrines, bearing verses and rich arabesque decoration. The second shows how figurative art was used in the service of earthly rulers, with bronze and ceramic birds and animals, metalwork, stone relief carving and early Iranian silver, including the 'Bobrinsky' bucket covered with dense decoration in silver and copper. The third contains jewels from the Mughal treasury, with boxes, flasks, dishes, cups and bracelets encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and richly embroidered robes and other fine silks. The last gallery celebrates the interaction of East and West. A 10th century rock crystal lamp, carried off by Crusaders and mounted in gold and enamels in Italy in the 16th century, sits alongside sabres, daggers and other arms, richly embellished with jewels. There are also oil paintings of Qajar rulers wearing such arms, and of the ladies of their courts, in imitation of Western art, offering a curious blend of Oriental and European styles. Linking the galleries are framed miniatures from Persian manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries, some religious in theme, and others reflecting Islamic court life. The Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 22nd August.

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 Allen Jones and David Hockney, and there is a special focus on drawing, reflecting their joint passion, and underlining the importance of draughtsmanship in all the various media on display. There are works included by people from outside the spectrum of Fine Art, who nevertheless use drawing as an essential part of their creative process. The featured artist is Richard Long, who explores elemental materials, like mud, dust, water and stones, and has made a new sculpture on the floor of the Central Hall 'White Light Crescent'. Anish Kapoor has selected and hung the gallery dedicated to the display of sculpture, and has co-ordinated the placing of work in the Courtyard. There are memorial displays to Terry Frost, Patrick Procter, Lynn Chadwick, Colin Hayes and Philip Powell. An accompanying programme of lectures, events and workshops covers all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 16th August.