News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th October 2009


The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting And Sculpture 1600 - 1700 examines how the religious art of the Spanish Golden Age pursued a quest for realism with uncompromising zeal and genius, in which the arts of painting and sculpture were intricately linked and interdependent. During the 17th century, religious patrons challenged painters and sculptors to bring the sacred to life, to inspire both Christian devotion and the emulation of the saints. Sculptors often went to extraordinary lengths to achieve greater realism, introducing glass eyes and tears, as well as ivory teeth and human hair to their sculptures. The separate skill of polychroming (colour painting) of sculpture, performed by specially trained painters, added to the effect with remarkable flesh tones. By installing 16 polychrome sculptures and 16 paintings side by side, the exhibition aims to show that the 'hyperrealistic' approach of painters such as Velazquez and Zurbaran was clearly informed by their familiarity - and in some cases direct involvement - with sculpture. Among the highlights are Zurbaran's 'The Crucifixion', which achieves an astonishing sculptural illusion on canvas, shown in close proximity with Juan Martinez Montanes' sculpture of the same subject; Velazquez's 'The Immaculate Conception', shown with Montanes's sculpture; Gregorio Fernnndez's 'Dead Christ', which incorporates the bark of a cork tree to simulate the effect of coagulated blood, and bull's horn for Christ's fingernails; and Zurbaran's 'Saint Serapion', which demonstrates that painting can achieve the same disconcerting realism as sculpture. This is art created to shock the senses and stir the soul. National Gallery until 24th January.

Mind Into Matter: Eight Exemplary Buildings 1834 - 2009 looks at eight buildings chosen at 25 year intervals since the foundation of the Royal Institute of British Architects, which illuminate architectural practice during the last 175 years. New photographs by Nigel Green, together with original drawings, plans, models, photographs and other archive materials, tell the story of how each building came to be built, for symbolic as well as practical reasons. The buildings are: The Reform Club, Pall Mall, London, by Charles Barry; Oxford University of Natural History, by Deane and Woodward; Clouds House, East Knoyle, Wiltshire, by Philip Webb; St Mary, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, by Ninian Comper; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, by Mendelsohn and Chermayeff; The Economist Plaza, St James's Street, London, by Alison and Peter Smithson; Royal Mail Mechanised Letter Office, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, by Aldington, Craig and Collinge; and British Embassy, Warsaw, Poland, by Tony Fretton. The inclusion of a timeline, which points up important political, social and cultural events, provides a global context in which to understand the buildings. There will no doubt be controversy that none of Britain's megastar architects is represented (presumably they fell out of the 25 year register) but there can be no question about the inclusion of the building in which the exhibition is being held.

Matthew Holding: Sons Of Pioneers features new sculptures and collages inspired by the utopian zeal of modern architecture. Drawing on the relationship between intersecting materials and planes, contrasting geometry is framed by bold primary coloured Perspex, which casts a Californian sunny glow over split lever condo-like exteriors and interiors.

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, until 3rd January.

War Boy explores some of the complex themes of the World Wars, and the civilian connection with the British Army. The exhibition is an opportunity to see original artwork by leading children's illustrator Michael Foreman, offering an insight into the styles and techniques used in his books, alongside real historical artefacts. The exhibition focuses on two of Foreman's books, War Boy, based on his personal experiences as a child growing up in Lowestoft during the Second World War; and War Game, about the lives of four characters who enlist in the British Army in the First World War; as well as Billy The Kid, telling the story of a fictional Chelsea Pensioner, whose career as a professional footballer is interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939, illustrated by Foreman and written by Michael Morpurgo.

First Shots: Early War Photography 1848 - 1860 documents war photography when it was still in its infancy. Using some of the earliest images available, the exhibition examines what drove its pioneers, the technical, social and environmental pressures which shaped their work, and the impact the photographs they produced had on culture and society. War photography has indelibly etched on to the public consciousness many dramatic and shocking images, and visitors may find some images in this exhibition disturbing.

National Army Museum, Chelsea, until January.


Maharaja: The Splendour Of India's Royal Courts is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the world of the maharajas or 'great kings' and their rich culture. It spans the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, bringing together over 250 magnificent objects, many being lent from India's royal collections for the first time. The exhibition examines the changing role of the maharajas within a social and historical context, and reveals how their patronage of the arts, both in India and Europe, resulted in splendid and beautiful objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity. Highlights include a life size model elephant adorned with animal jewellery, textiles, and trappings, surmounted by a silver gilt howdah; court paintings, including four portraits from the 1930s by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, depicting the Maharaja and Maharani of Indore; three gaddi (thrones) including the golden throne of Ranjit Singh; a palanquin from Jodhpur, used to carry the Maharaja's wife, containing prints and cushions; photographic portraits of members of royal families by Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Raja Ravi Varma; gem-encrusted ceremonial weapons; armour belonging to Tipu Sultan of Mysore; elaborate turban jewels; a custom made Rolls Royce; an Anglo-Indian design Spode dinner service; rare archive film of ceremonial events; a carpet of pearls, rubies, emeralds and diamonds made for the Maharaja of Baroda; and the Patiala necklace, the largest commission ever undertaken by Cartier, containing 2,930 diamonds. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th January.

Living With The Wall: Berlin 1961 - 1989 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, built by the Communist East German authorities to stop its population fleeing to freedom in the West. The Wall stretched 155 kilometres, slicing through private homes, shops, farms and the city's transport systems. The exhibition of photographs, many of which are on display for the first time, chart the evolution of the Wall from primitive barbed wire barricade to modern fortification - and artist's inspiration. It includes images captured by German photojournalists illustrating the impact on the people of Berlin, as families were separated, or sought to escape the restrictions imposed on them; together with photographs taken by British Army photographers, documenting the confrontation between the East and the West, together with the day when they were reunited, crystallised by the image of a solitary child chipping away at the Wall with a chisel. In addition to the photographs, there are a number of accompanying items, including a checkpoint sign signalling the end of the British zone; an Eastern block Trabant car; what is believed to be the only survivor of 302 searchlights mounted on watchtowers along the Wall; an East German riot shield and visor; and a piece of the Wall itself. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, until 21st March.

Order: Myth, Meaning And Beauty In Architecture examines what the Classical Orders of architecture are, where they originated, why classical architects built according to them, and why they are still referred to by architects today. The exhibition further explores how a building can have a 'secret' language of meaning in the way it is decorated - and even a gender. Drawing on some of the 30,000 drawings held in the resident collection, the show reveals how the human body and the natural world were the inspiration for architectural forms, and how the Classical Orders allowed architects to communicate a variety of political and religious messages in their buildings. Highlights include some of Sir John Soane's large scale lecture drawings, which are on public display for the first time in nearly 200 years. Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 30th January.

The Ceramics Galleries have been given a 100th birthday refurbishment designed by Stanton Williams. These galleries tell the story of world ceramics, with 3,000 objects on display, from the earliest Chinese pottery to contemporary ceramic art. They now include an introductory room, presenting a world history of ceramics, highlighting connections between ceramics of different cultures and periods. The central gallery shows masterpieces dating back as far as 2,500 BC, with highlights including a drinking cup from Ancient Greece; Ming dynasty Chinese porcelain; 14th century pottery from Spain; a Chinese inspired blue and white bowl made in 16th century Turkey; Meissen figures; Dutch Delftware ordered by Queen Mary for Hampton Court Palace; colourful painted Japanese porcelain imported to Europe by the Dutch East India Company; tea bowls rescued from an 18th century Chinese shipwreck; and a vase painted by Picasso in the 1950s, depicting himself with his model. For the first time, there is an area exploring ceramic production, incorporating a workshop, where techniques are demonstrated, and visitors can make, decorate and fire ceramics. A part reconstruction of the studio of Dame Lucie Rie, one of the greatest 20th century potters, includes film showing her at work. A gallery featuring British designers includes work by Susie Cooper, Clarice Cliff and the Wedgewood studio. The refurbishment has revealed a beautiful domed ceiling, around which artist Edmund de Waal has created a site specific installation entitled 'Signs and Wonders'. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Fantasies, Follies And Disasters: The Prints Of Francisco De Goya provides an opportunity to see a selection of the artist's rarely displayed etchings. The 30 prints are selected from Goya's three best known and most significant groups of etchings: 'Los Caprichos (The Fantasies)',' Los Desastres della Guerra (The Disasters of War)', and 'Los Disparates (The Follies)'. Goya's etchings, produced largely in private, feature a mixture of satirical caricatures attacking the ignorance and hypocrisy of late 18th century Spanish society and the Church, and dark, nightmarish landscapes exposing the atrocities and misery suffered in war. Only fully known after his death, many of the works were withheld from publication during his lifetime because of their controversial and disturbing qualities. Now, Goya is as well known for these works, as he is for his portraits of Europe's 18th century nobility. The exhibition includes some of Goya's most memorable images, such as the iconic 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters', with a sleeping artist visited by the terrifying creatures of his imagination. Elsewhere, the war subjects withhold nothing in their horrified depiction of violence, torture and famine: a woman holds a child in one arm while she spears a soldier with the other; and a scene shows bodies strung up from a tree. Goya's later, final etchings are perhaps the most memorable of all, transforming some of his earlier themes into a timeless, dreamlike world, which anticipates much of 20th century art. Manchester Art Gallery until 31st January.

Beatles To Bowie explores the leading pop music personalities who helped to create 'Swinging London' in the 1960s. Over 150 photographs, together with 150 items of ephemera, including record sleeves, illustrated sheet music, magazines and other memorabilia, illustrate how the photographic image, music and performance combined to make these pop stars the leading icons of their time. The exhibition includes classic images, as well as over 100 previously unseen or unexhibited ones. Huge cultural and social changes were reflected in the styles and imagery of the pop music scene. The classic rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones is played out visually by a variety of photographers, such as David Bailey, Gered Mankowitz and Robert Whitaker, who helped create and endorse their changing images. From pure pop, through psychedelia, and the birth of progressive music, the exhibition reflects the dramatic developments of pop music and culture, and their lasting impact that continues to live in the memory today. Sitters include Adam Faith, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Billy Fury, The John Barry Seven, The Dave Clark Five, Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark, Cilla Black, Lulu, Marianne Faithfull, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Kinks, The Tornados, Jimi Hendrix, The Walker Brothers, The Animals, The Who, Marc Bolan, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. Photographers include Fiona Adams, Philip Townsend, Jean-Marie Perier, Michael Cooper, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Terry O'Neill, Don McCullin, Tony Frank and Norman Parkinson. National Portrait Gallery until 24th January.


Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. New features this year include the Rengoli Peacock, using video projection and LED lighting, as well as sound effects, music and eye catching imagery to tell the story of Divali; 3 new monsters, including the Red Darlek, in an expanded Dr Who section; and a laser projected tableau featuring all the CBBC favourites, including 'In The Night Garden'. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from dusk to 11.30pm most nights. Blackpool Promenade, until 8th November.

The Robot Zoo is a menagerie of moving creatures that gives an insight into animal anatomy, based on the book Robot Zoo: A Mechanical Guide To The Way Animals Work, by John Kelly, Philip Whitfield and Obin. It consists of larger than life sized robot animals: chameleon, giant squid, rhinoceros, giraffe, grasshopper, platypus, house fly and bat, plus 11 interactives, which allow visitors to explore animal adaptations in more depth. Realistic sounds and atmospheric lighting contribute to the sense of immersion in each species habitat. The robot animals are constructed with cutaway sections showing the everyday machine parts that have been used to demonstrate their internal organs: pistons represent muscles, brains are computers, and filtering pipes serve as intestines. The robots move realistically thanks to hydraulics. The chameleon rocks as it turns its head, looks around, and fires its tongue at its prey. The platypus swims in breaststroke style while its tail moves up and down. A fish struggles in the grip of the giant squid's 8m tentacles, while the squid's beak-like mouth opens to reveal a spinning food grinder. Video technology is used to demonstrate the chameleon's ability to camouflage itself. Visitors can test their own reflexes against those of a house fly (revealing why flys are so hard to swat). Detailed illustrations give a deeper insight into animal physiology, such as muscular structure and its impact on movement, and reveal how incredibly specialised and adapted to their environment these animals have become. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 8th November.

Wallace & Gromit Present…A World Of Cracking Ideas is an interactive experience telling the story of invention and innovation. Britain's best known inventor (and his equally resourceful companion) guide visitors through a world of innovation to discover how simple ideas can transform into life changing devices. Created in collaboration with Aardman Animations and the Intellectual Property Office, the exhibition is designed to inspire a new generation of British innovators. Visitors go on a tour through 62 West Wallaby Street, the famous home of Wallace & Gromit, from the kitchen to the garden shed, taking in some of Britain's first ever real inventions to be awarded patents, alongside Wallace's own 'cracking contraptions' such as the Tellyscope, the Piella Propellor, Techno-trousers and the Blend-o-matic. Each room in the house looks at a different aspect of the thinking process behind ideas, and shows visitors how they can protect their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs and copyright, ensuring that they derive maximum value from their inventions. Visitors inspired by the exhibition can come up with their own creative ideas, which they can jot down and leave at 'Ideas Stations' located in the Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bathroom, Workshop and Garden. Visitors' ideas will also be used to power Wallace's new 3m high contraption called The Thinking Cap Machine. The Science Museum until 1st November.