Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Great Court at the British Museum creates a two acre square enclosed by a spectacular glass roof designed by Foster and Partners. It transforms the museum's inner courtyard, with the Reading Room at its centre, into the largest covered public square in Europe. The £100m project has been supported by £45.75m Lottery funding. Despite controversy over the stone used and height of the roof, once again Norman Foster has demonstrated his expertise in transforming existing structures with glass and steel. The Great Court will increase public space in the museum by fifty per cent, allowing visitors to move freely around the main floor for the first time in 150 years. Inside the courtyard two monumental staircases encircle the drum of the Reading Room and lead to the new Great Court Gallery and restaurant, from where a bridge link takes visitors into the upper galleries of the museum.
Human Image, the new gallery's inaugural exhibition illustrates how the depiction and definition of the body have been of fundamental concern in the communication of ideas and information across all world cultures. It explores the representation of the human form beginning with early artefacts from pre-historic Europe and ending with examples from contemporary China and Nigeria. British Museum Great Court from 7th December - Human Images until 11th February.
Andrew Logan trained as an architect but gave it up to make camp his life's work, expressed through costume and interior design, sculpture, and performance and installation art. He employs mirrored and coloured glass pieced together using a mosaic technique to create images and sculptures. Logan's obsession is trinket art, which has been reinforced by his travels to India. This selection of his work, reflecting this love of the fantastical and sparkling, makes a perfect celebration for the festive season. Typical of the kitsch and glittering awfulness which abounds is Piano Peacock, a figure of Liberace with a keyboard fan tail. Cheltenham Art Gallery until 13th January.
The Man Who Drew Pooh: The Art Of E. H. Shepard presents the illustrations for which he became famous: A. A. Milne's Winnie-The-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger. Pooh however, was only one achievement in a long and varied artistic career. Shephard started drawing and painting as a child, and went on to attend the Royal Academy Schools, where his first experience of copying from the old masters was Dulwich Picture Gallery's Philip IV of Spain. He painted portraits and landscapes, made on-the-spot drawings of both world wars, and produced political cartoons for Punch, as well as book illustrations of all types. Shepherd also wrote two children's books, and produced two illustrated volumes of autobiography. This exhibition of 170 pictures from his private collection, many previously unseen in public, include not only Pooh and friends but examples from his first painting aged seven through his whole career to his last aged ninety. Dulwich Picture Gallery 5th December to 21st January.
Treasures Of Catherine The Great launches the Hermitage Rooms, which are the final phase in the liberation of Somerset House from occupation by Civil Servants by the forces of culture. The rooms will act as an introduction to The Hermitage, Russia's finest museum which is situated in the Imperial Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Housed in five buildings constructed between 1754 and 1762, the collection comprises over 3 million items. The five rooms at Somerset House recreate the splendour of the imperial decor of a wing of the Hermitage in miniature, with marquetry floors, 19th century furnishings and chandeliers. Catherine the Great was probably the greatest collector of all time, accumulating over 4 thousand paintings, medals, jewels, antique sculpture, clocks, ornaments, porcelain and other works of art. This exhibition of over 500 items presents an intimate picture of her personal possessions, her gifts to close family members and her many lovers, and diplomatic gifts received from fellow rulers, including the Emperor of China. Further information can be found on the Heritage Rooms web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Heritage Rooms at Somerset House until 23rd September.
Portraits Of John Ruskin marks the centenary of the death one of the most influential writers and critics of the 19th century. A series of works, including informal sketches, caricatures and photographs, as well as the formal paintings, busts and other portraits, trace his life from infancy to old age. Ruskin, an eco warrior, social reformer and champion of the arts was a century ahead of his time, and many of his visionary ideas (like a minimum wage and free access to museums) were virtually ignored in his lifetime. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the portrait of Ruskin at Glenfinlas painted by Sir John Everett Millais in 1853, together with the preparatory study and several other drawings made during the visit (before he ran off with Ruskin's wife Effie).
Ruskin And The Geographical Imagination is a smaller exhibition which runs alongside, exploring Ruskin's involvement with (and pronouncements on) the natural world, and includes sketches, watercolours and contemporary photographs. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 21st January.
Funny is a surreal concoction lurking in a basement, which looks like a cross between a teenage bedroom and an old curiosity shop. It encompasses a macabre mixture of paintings by Peter Harris, Peter Blake's Dickensian etchings of sideshow freaks, Peter Doig's painting of country and western singer Hank Williams, Chris Coombes official portrait of the Queen, Theo Sykes painting of Marilyn Monroe and live performances by Nigel Burch and The Flea Pit Orchestra of songs by Brecht and Weil. Andrew Mummery Gallery, London EC1, 020 7251 6265 until 20th January.
William Blake is probably the most exhaustive exhibition ever mounted of the work of the unique and innovative British artist and poet, comprising over 500 items. Although largely overlooked in his time, and often derided as a lunatic, Blake's impact and influence on later generations of artists, writers and musicians has been considerable, and he remains a major reference point in British culture today. Blake was a one man industry, combining writing and illustration on engraving plates, the prints from which he hand tinted with watercolours. He was a forthright and opinionated religious non-conformist who frequently saw visions. These often provided the inspiration for apocalyptic images of God, angels, characters from Bible stories and figures from a mythology that he created. Blake's life long interest in the Gothic was a primary source of his distinctive style and technique, and remained for him an ideal of spiritual and artistic integrity. One of the highlights of this exhibition is the entire collection of 100 plates that make up the epic poem Jerusalem, which has not been shown in Britain for almost 80 years. Tate Britain until 11th February.
Lantern-lit Tours feature guides in full period costume who give visitors a taste of the atmosphere of a historic palace after dark. They bring to life the events that took place, together with the personalities involved, during a period of almost two hundred years when this royal residence on the Thames was at the centre of court life, politics and national history. Tours (which may be unsuitable for young children) include mulled wine and Tudor-style canapés served before a roaring log fire. Booking in advance only for Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5.30pm, 6.00pm and 6.30pm.
Tudor Christmas will celebrates Christmas with jesting and fire juggling in the palace courtyards. Visitors will be able to watch the palace's Master Cook and his team of chefs prepare a feast fit for a King, and even join in the farandole (a Tudor conga) in the state apartments. Hampton Court Palace, Lantern-lit Tours until 20th December - Tudor Christmas from 27th December to 1st January.
Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900 - 2000 is a simple idea, bringing together one portrait painted in each year of the twentieth century from collections around the world, and presenting them chronologically. The interest is generated by the prominence of both the artist and the subject in their time, and the history of styles represented. It provides a comprehensive chronology of the history and culture of recent times, and celebrates the extraordinary revolutions in styles and attitudes towards the portrait in European and American art during the course of the twentieth century. Artists are of the stature of Munch, Picasso, Beckmann, Grosz, Modigliani, Bacon, Warhol, Hockney, Sutherland and Freud plus a selection of less well known figures. Their subjects include personalities as diverse as Lenin, Elvis Presley, Mussolini, Charlie Chaplin, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates and David Bowie. National Portrait Gallery until 4th February.
The Wapping Project is a new arts centre created within the former Grade 2* listed Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, opposite the Prospect of Whitby, east of Tower Bridge. Built in 1890 for the London Hydraulic Power Company, its turbines provided the force to lift the safety curtains of West End theatres, power the elevators in Claridges and the National Gallery, and raise and lower Tower Bridge, by pumping millions of gallons of water under high pressure through a system of pipes across London. A £4m project undertaken by the Women's Playhouse Trust (without Lottery funding) has saved the almost derelict building, preserved its industrial heritage, and created a multi use arts space. It opens with Conductor, an installation by Jane Prophet, created by flooding the Boiler Room and hanging 120 electro luminescent cables from a grid on the ceiling, thus linking the building's historic past to a creative future. Amid the preserved machinery in the Turbine House, alongside a performance space, there is a bar and restaurant, the furniture of which forms an exhibition in itself. Installed is a continually changing selection of contemporary furniture which can be tried out, and purchased at exhibition prices. Future plans include a bookshop and further performance spaces. Not quite on the scale of Tate Modern but nevertheless a gem. The Wapping Project, Wapping Wall E1, 020 7680 2080 until 21st December.
Jemima Stehli in her first comprehensive solo exhibition "explores issues arising from the exposure of the female body as image, representation and object". Over the past four years, she has examined ideas of dependence, subordination and control, rendered through the power of the image. Stehli photographs herself in the act of photographing naked women, where the element of exposure and coercion is tempered by the sense of collaboration. In a further new series of images, she performs for the camera in photographs influenced by the paintings of Francis Bacon and other male artists. Chisenhale Gallery, Bow E3 until 17th December.
Apocalypse - Beauty And Horror In Contemporary Art raises the stakes in the battle for the modern art audience, in an attempt to outflank the hugely successful Tate Modern. It is the direct descendent of the 1997 Sensation exhibition, which virtually invented Brit Art, launching the careers of Damien Hirst (pickled shark), Chris Ofili (elephant dung) and Tracey Emin (love tent). There are thirteen installations, paintings, sculptures and multi media works, the majority of which have never been seen in public before. Described as "a story of extremes" it concentrates on themes inspired by the arrival of the 21st century. It is a contemporary, secular interpretation of the biblical story of St John the Divine, which contains elements ranging from the horrors of genocide to the beauties of Utopia. Deliberately controversial, the most disgust/discussion provoking works are: Hell - a monumental installation by Jake and Dinos Chapman depicting the horrors of 20th century genocide. Flex - a video by Chris Cunningham, the cult pop video maker whose work has never previously been exhibited in a gallery, which includes explicit sex scenes featuring two porn stars. La Nona Ora - Maurizio Cattelan's sculpture depicting Pope Paul II being struck by a meteorite. Other contributing artists are: Darren Almond, Angus Fairhurst, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Mariko Mori, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Richard Prince, Gregor Schneider, Wolfgang Tillmans and Luc Tuymans. Royal Academy of Arts until 15th December.