News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th October 2003


Women And War examines women's involvement in conflict in the 20th century, charting their changing roles from home front to front line. It tells the story of servicewomen, nurses, land girls, factory workers, secret agents, pilots and peacekeepers from the First World War to the recent conflict in the Balkans. The breadth of scope is demonstrated by highlights such as: the pistol carried by Sergeant Major Flora Sandes in Serbia during the First World War; a diary kept by Nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for espionage in 1915; a camisole worn by a survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania; Marlene Dietrich's Second World War uniform; Amy Johnson's flying tunic; a camera used by war photographer Lee Miller; the George Cross posthumously awarded to the secret agent Violette Szabo; and the wedding dress worn by a prisoner who married the British soldier who liberated her from the Belsen concentration camp - plus of course, the famous 'Rosie The Riveter' and other war time posters. An accompanying audio programme enables visitors to listen to women describing their experiences in letters, diaries and tape recorded reminiscences, ranging from a nurse on the Western Front to a widow in present day Rwanda. Imperial War Museum until 18th April.

Advertising And The Artist: The Work And Collection Of Ashley Havinden focuses on a time when advertising and art shared a common heritage. Ashley Havinden was director of advertising agency W.S. Crawford from the mid 1920s to the mid 1960s, but he was also a painter, living in Hampstead, and part of an international group of artists that included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth Alexander Calder, John Piper and Naum Gabo. British modernist 'serious' art, inspired by the Bauhaus and international futurism and cubism, informed the work that Havinden produced in both of his careers. Classic campaigns he created for clients, including Bird's Custard, Chrysler Motors, Eno's Fruit Salt, Gillette Razor Blades, Martini and Simpson of Piccadilly, established the look that we recognise today as epitomising the fresh, innocent and optimistically modern style of the time. This exhibition, marking the centenary of Havinden's birth, draws extensively from both his commercial archive and his contemporary art collection. It also includes material that reveals the process of designing and developing an innovative advertising campaign. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until 18th January.

Below Stairs: 400 Years Of Servants Portraits takes British portraiture, which traditionally concentrated on depictions of the upper classes and the celebrated, and turns it on its head. With a Gosford Park approach, it focuses on the workers, from grooms to governesses, and maids to musicians. The first ever exhibition of portraits of servants in Britain brings together many works that have rarely been seen in public. Around 100 pictures spanning the 17th century to the 20th century include not only domestic servants, but also institutional staff, such as the porter from the Royal Academy, the Arts Club cook and the British Museum's housekeeper. Some of the subjects worked for famous people, such as Queen Victoria and Admiral Nelson, others rose from servitude through their own hard work and ability to become established members of society. Many of the paintings in the exhibition were commissioned by employers who had formed a close attachment to their servants, in recognition of the loyalty (and sometimes eccentricity) of those who worked for them. Examples include a portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts of Tom Derry, Jester to Anne of Denmark; William Hogarth's painting of his own six servants; 'Fish Nell, John Sutherland, Laundryman and "Dummy" King' commissioned by the Duke of Buccleuch of his servants at Dalkeith House; and the group portrait of the 'Heads of Department at Holkham Hall' by Andrew Festing, commissioned by the current Earl of Leicester. National Portrait Gallery until 11th January.


Saved! 100 Years Of The National Art Collections Fund celebrates the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund by bringing together over 300 masterpieces which have been saved for the nation with the Fund's help. Spanning 4,500 years of great works of art from prehistoric times to the present, they comprise sculptures, paintings, drawings, ceramics, costumes, textiles, photographs, archaeological treasures and ethnographic material. Among the highlights are 'Jacob and the Angel' by Epstein; Canova's 'The Three Graces'; Picasso's 'Weeping Woman'; the Roman 'Bronze Head of Augustus', circa 27-25BC; major paintings and drawings by masters such as Botticelli, Constable, Holbein, Michelangelo, Rembrandt; and contemporary works by Lucian Freud, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie and Rachel Whiteread. Other treasures include jewels recovered from the Spanish Armada shipwreck of the Girona; the carved stern post of a Maori war canoe; van de Cappelle's seascape 'A Calm'; and the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written hours before her execution. A number of these works would have disappeared from public view or left Britain without the Fund's intervention, and the exhibition also tells the often dramatic stories behind their acquisition. Photographs, legal documents, letters and press cuttings illustrate the history of the Fund and its campaigning work. This exhibition marks the reopening of the Hayward Gallery after cosmetic surgery by Dan Graham and Haworth Tompkins, giving it a more prominent and spacious entrance, and a new small gallery. Hayward Gallery until 18th January.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti is an exhibition which proves that not all the best works by the founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood are currently to be found at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. The first major solo show of Rossetti's works since 1973 comprises over 150 items, including many of his most famous pieces. These medieval dreamlike and erotic paintings of powerful and mysterious women, though often derided as 'damsels and dragons', still retain their immediacy. This show features early drawings inspired by Romantic poetry; portraits of the Pre-Raphaelite circle; watercolours and drawings evoking the legend of King Arthur; subjects from Dante; and later paintings of love and death such as 'Dante's Dream' and 'The Blessed Damozel'. Rarely seen pieces include a sequence of drawings of Elizabeth Siddall, Rossetti's model and wife; and photographs of Jane Morris, posed by Rossetti, believed to be ideas of compositions for paintings, giving an insight into his use of photography alongside more traditional preparatory sketches. Critics have always sneered at Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites (and still do) but they remain as popular with the public as they have always been. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 18th January.

1920s: The Decade That Changed London brings together fashion, art, architecture, film, politics and culture to examine the decade that transformed London after the First World War. Over 400 exhibits, some not seen in public in over 80 years, reveal the many ways in which Londoners began to come to terms with life in the 20th century. From Anna Pavlova's ballet costumes and an early Norman Hartnell wedding dress, to Selfridges' golden lifts and the gates of the 1929 Firestone Factory, costume and architecture capture the decade's unique style. At a more serious level the exhibition highlights the influence of America and Russia on political and social change. Letters from Gandhi and Bolshevik propaganda posters join the work of artists Eric Gill, Laura Knight, William Roberts, Doris Zinkeisen, Henry Tonks and Ambrose McEvoy in an exploration of the thoughts and ideas of the time. Everyday items, from one of the earliest red telephone boxes, through cartoons starring Fritz the Cat, to giant advertising posters, highlight the period as one of innovation and change. Meanwhile, a unique collection from the 1920s cult group The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift celebrates a return to a more spiritual sense of Englishness. This is the first exhibition in the new Linbury Gallery, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, which is part of a £33m redevelopment programme. This will extend the existing building to provide a 70% increase in gallery space, plus a new entrance at street level designed by Foster and Partners, while the existing interiors will be remodelled. Museum Of London until 18th July.

Gothic: Art For England 1400-1547 celebrates late medieval art from the reign of Henry IV to the reign of Henry VIII, the period brought to life by Shakespeare's history plays. It shows how the wealth and patronage of monarchs, aristocrats, the Church and merchants made this one of the richest periods for the arts in England. However, fires, war, and the Reformation have destroyed much of the art and artefacts of the period making the remaining pieces extremely rare. This exhibition brings together more than 300 surviving treasures from across Britain, including tapestries, manuscripts, sculptures, paintings, armour, jewellery, gold and silver chalices and reliquaries, plate, altarpieces, tomb effigies and stained glass. Highlights include: the funerary helmet, shield and sword of Henry V which he wore at Agincourt; the crown of Margaret of York (sister of Edward IV), which has been in Germany for 500 years; the gold Reliquary of the Order of St Esprit owned by the wife of Henry IV; a monumental stained-glass window from St. Mary's, Fairford; an early edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales printed by William Caxton in 1483; the gold and enamel Dunstable Swan Jewel; the prayer roll of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick; silver spoons owned by thrice Mayor of London Dick Whittington; the Dacre Beasts, carved heraldic monsters; and the silver salt and silver-gilt crosier of the Bishop Fox, Bishop of Winchester. Victoria & Albert Museum until 18th January.

The Victorian Post Office explains the importance of the establishment of the universal penny post, paid for in advance by the attachment of a stamp - the famous Penny Black - and how it revolutionised communication (and still influences the system we use today). Thomas More Musgrave was the first person in the world to send a stamped letter, posted from Bath on 2nd May 1840, four days before its official introduction. The simple, fast, reliable nationwide service, with the letter enclosed in an envelope at no extra charge (rather than just folded and sealed), was immediately popular. Writing became fashionable, and the invention of the Christmas, birthday and Valentine card soon followed. Examples of these, hand made with painted scenes and paper lace, plus other letters, such as those salvaged from shipwrecks are featured in the exhibition, together with decorated envelopes, ink wells, paper knives, and stamp boxes. Other items include the only known Victorian stamp perforating machine still in existence in the UK, post boxes of all kinds, and a variety of uniforms. The permanent collection covers the history of written communication from Egyptian clay mail to today's e-mail, but sadly the museum located at the birthplace of the universal penny post service is under threat of closure. Further information can be found on the BPM web site via the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Bath Postal Museum continuing.

Turner And Venice is the first major exhibition devoted to works produced as a result f JMW Turner's trips to Venice in 1819, 1833 and 1840. It brings together around fifty five oil paintings, and over one hundred watercolours, as well as prints, maps and Turner's Venice sketchbooks. Much of the material is not normally on view because of its fragile nature, and some of the watercolours are displayed for the first time, including several of the romantic and mysterious studies of Venice by moonlight. The exhibition is set out as a tour of Turner's Venice, beginning with the monumental centre around the Doge's Palace and the Basilica of San Marco, and then reaching deeper into the city's heart, before finally culminating in a series of views of the Lagoon. In these, the city becomes a vital component in Turner's meditations on light, colour and the reflective surfaces of water and stone, in possibly his closest anticipation of impressionism. A perfect union of artist and subject. The exhibition also explores Turner's interest in literary evocations of Venice, particularly those of Shakespeare and Byron, which helped to shape and define his own reactions. Unusual items include pairs of pictures that were conceived as pendants but which have been separated since they were sold shortly after being completed - and two paintings originally thought to have been of Venice, but which have now been identified as of the arrival of Louis-Philippe in Portsmouth. Tate Britain until 11th January.


Medicine Man: The Forgotten Museum Of Henry Wellcome is a celebration of the British passion for collecting things. Henry Wellcome, the pharmacist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, saw human culture and history through medical eyes. A compulsive collector and traveller, he built up the world's largest, but least known, collection of medical exhibits. By his death in 1936, he had amassed over one million objects related to medical history - many (a la Citizen Kane) remaining still packaged and uncatalogued. This treasure trove of the bizarre, practical and exotic ranges from Chinese diagnostic dolls and Japanese sex aids to African masks and amputation saws, from amulets and ancient manuscripts to Napoleon's toothbrush and George III's hair. Among the more unlikely are: an English tobacco resuscitator kit used to revive the 'apparently dead' by blowing smoke through the nose, mouth or elsewhere; shrunken heads from the Shuar people of the Upper Amazon, created to control the avenging soul of the deceased (to be worn by the person who had removed the head); and a notebook alleged to be covered with the skin of the man whose execution is thought to have sparked the American War of Independence. British Museum until 16th November.

Boyle Family is the first retrospective ever held of four artists: Mark Boyle, Joan Hills and their children Sebastian and Georgia. Boyle and Hills began working together in the early 1960s, making junk assemblages, staging the first Happenings or Performance Art events held in Britain, inventing the psychedelic light show, and touring with Soft Machine and Jimi Hendrix. As they grew up, Sebastian and Georgia joined the family business of producing artworks. This exhibition includes assemblages from the early 1960s, film and photography, and many of the extraordinary 'Earth Surfaces' for which they are now best known. 'Earth Surfaces' are reproductions of small areas of the earth's surface in hyper-realistic low relief panels of astonishing detail, usually about 6ft square. The subjects are selected at random by throwing darts into maps of the world, and their plan is to record 1000 locations. The outdoor sites include city, country and coast, with pavements, roads, muddy tracks, sand, bricks, ploughed fields, mosaic paths, gravel, cobbles, snow and ice - the only surfaces to have beaten them so far are the Pacific Ocean and a Japanese paddy field. Using their own secretly developed techniques, (so secret that security cameras are turned off while the pieces are assembled) involving casting in resin and special paints, the Boyle family have created hundreds of seemingly exact facsimiles, which even on close inspection, seem to be the real thing. These are given a surrealist twist by bringing them indoors and turning them through ninety degrees from horizontal to vertical to hang them on a wall. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 9th November.

Franz West is the first major British show of the work of the Viennese artist whose output over the last 30 years moves beyond eclectic to unclassifiable. It's sculpture, it's painting, it's collage, it's furniture - it's the result of a good morning at a play school. West's roots are in the Viennese Actionists - 1960s performance artists who used the body to create experiences - but he makes a series of plaster body parts and off the peg performance props for visitors to use. Brightly coloured aluminium is twisted into strange shapes. Everyday objects are bandaged with papier-mache until they metamorphose into meteorite like shapes, which are then splattered with intense high gloss colour. Franz West is fascinated by images in glossy magazines and the allure of soft porn and the motor industry. He paints over these advertisements to isolate images and highlight their absurdity. West has also become famous for the furniture sculpture he has been making since the 1980s, and visitors are invited to lie on his couches to relax, and become transformed into an artist's model, a psychiatrist's patient, and a work of art. The exhibition also includes a collection of his collaborations with other artists - Martin Kippenberger, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Wolfgang Tillmans. An interactive art experience at its best - or worst depending on your point of view. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 9th November.