News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th May 2007


The Planetarium And Astronomy Galleries complete the £16m Time and Space Project, designed to bring the excitement of contemporary astrophysics to Britain's oldest astronomical institution. The centrepiece is a 120 seater state of the art planetarium, featuring a £1m laser projector made by US defence contractor Evans & Sutherland, which is only the second of its kind in the world. The planetarium shows are presented by the Royal Observatory's expert astronomers, ensuring visitors receive a truly authoritative guide. The opening show is The Life And Death Of Stars, an introduction to the mysteries and wonders of the night sky, giving a virtual tour of the solar system and beyond. The three Astronomy Galleries reveal how the universe expanded and how the solar system was formed; show the techniques used by current astronomers to explore the universe, alongside historic instruments explaining humanity's early understanding of the planets; and feature 'interactives' that allow the Observatory's experts to answer questions. Among the highlights are the Gibeon meteorite, which landed 4.5bn years ago; a soundscape composed by Martyn Ware from the noise of pulsars, solar winds and Shuttle launches; a grand orrery of 1780, a mechanical model of the solar system as understood at that time, with earth and only five planets; and the burning lens and thermometers used by William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, to detect infrared light. The education centre has computerised links to the National Schools Observatory, and access to remote telescopes in Australia and Hawaii, enabling children to view the night sky by day. The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, continuing.

BeWILDerwood is a new £1.8m eco-friendly outdoor adventure park, with treehouses, aerial ropewalks, slides, rope swings, scrambling nets, climbing walls, zipwires and a maze, all reached by a boat journey along the Dysmal Dyke, or a walk along the jetties and boardwalks of the Treatcherous Trail. Everything has been built from sustainable wood, and some 14,000 broadleaf trees, including oak, sweet chestnut and birch have been planted on the 50 acres of woodland and marshland. The really unusual feature however, are the 'magical' forest folk who inhabit the site, to fire children's imaginations, including Mildred, the vegitarian Crocklebog, a 14ft long crocodile like creature who lives in the Scary Lake; Swampy, a Marsh Boggle; a giant spider called ThornyClod; Tree Twiggles, goblin-like creatures that hate litter and mess; and the Wood Witch. Although the creater and owner Tom Blofeld claims to have been partly inspired by '90s computer game Myst, there is a pre-electronic, Enid Blyton style, old fashioned 'good clean fun' feel to the place. Events include storytelling, ghost trips, lantern tours, treasure hunts and puppet shows, and there is locally sourced and mostly organic food on offer (including ostrich burgers and elderflower cordial). Visitors can even take the experience home with Blofeld's fantasy book, A Boggle At BeWILDerwood, featuring the characters they have met. Further information can be found on the BeWILDerwood web site, via the link from Attractions in the Links section of ExhibitionsNet. BeWILDerwood, Hoveton, Wroxham, Norfolk, continuing.

Artists' Self-Portraits From The Uffizi: Masterpieces From Velazquez To Chagall presents a selection of 49 artists' self-portraits from the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. These remarkable works are usually housed in the Vasari Corridor, a kilometre of corridor linking the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti, which is not generally open to the public, and historically, the collection has not been allowed to travel. This is therefore an opportunity to experience a slice - never before seen in this country - of one of the most remarkable sights in the art world. The entire collection comprises some 1,600 artists' self-portraits in all, covering six centuries of Western art. This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to come face to face with Velazquez, Filippino Lippi, Andrea Pozzo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Guido Reni, Rembrandt, Angelika Kauffman, Giovanni Boldini, Frans van Mieris the Elder, Carlo Dolci, Tintoretto, Johan Zoffany Joshua Reynolds, Anders Zorn, Carlo Carra, Pietro Annigoni, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Giacomo Balla and Marc Chagall as they saw themselves - or possibly as they wished themselves to be seen. For while all portraits are investigations of people, looking at yourself is different from looking at someone else, and for artists, self-portraits were also a method of self publicity. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 15th July.


Dickens World is a £62m indoor visitor attraction, concept and design by G A O'Sullivan-Beare, themed around the life, work and times of Charles Dickens, recreating his vision of England. Visitors can experience the architecture and street scenes described in his novels, with a cast of characters who bring that world to life, as they explore the streets, alleys, courtyards, dockside, shops and a themed restaurant - gruel anyone? (Hopefully this isn't so authentic that visitors get their pockets picked, children abducted or throats cut) The attraction features Europe's largest themed dark boat ride, based on Great Expectations, transporting visitors from the depths of London's sewers through atmospheric streets and markets, to a flight across the roof tops of London; Ebenezer Scrooge's Haunted House, visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future; Dotheboys Hall school room, revealing the disciplines of a Victorian education; Peggoty's Boat House; The Old Curiosity Shoppe; and the Britannia Music Hall, with a multi-sensory animatronic performance throughout the day, and a live supper show in the evening. Dickens World is based on a credible and factual account of Charles Dickens works and the world in which he lived. Working with The Dickens Fellowship, attention has been paid to the authenticity of the time, characters and story lines. It offers a new way to gain an understanding of the times and conditions people experienced living in England in the early 19th century. Dickens World, Chatham Dockyard continuing.

Mapping is an exhibition that is not (necessarily) about instructions for how to arrive at a physical destination. It investigates the whole process of 'mapping', and shows how contemporary artists have abstracted and expanded it into art. The show allows the visitor to explore not just maps of geographical territory, but also 'maps' that are essentially schematisations of thought processes, embracing many other disciplines, such as history and philosophy. The exhibition highlights how artists have used and interpreted maps, and explored the many different systems of mapping. It includes a great variety of forms, from conventional cartographic maps - both historic and contemporary created using GPS - to mind maps and other diagrammatic systems. As examples, Simon Patterson has reworked the London Underground map as a chart of cultural icons; Richard Long offers maps of his country rambles; Cornelia Parker contributes maps of meteorite landings, burned by the meteorites themselves; and Stomi Matoba provides a relief map of Utopia. Sarah Brown, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Johnson, Emma Kay, Langlands & Bell, Nalasha Wakefield and Emma Williams are also among the 60 artists whose works are on show. Bury Art Gallery until 14th July.

Celebrating The Proms: From Henry Wood To Hyde Park is an exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of the BBC taking over the running of the Proms, the world's greatest music festival. The display draws on the British Library's collections of photographs, programmes, documents and historic recordings, together with archive material from the BBC, to chart the history of this enduring musical phenomenon. It explores the world of the Victorian promenader, the experience of concert going during the bombing raids of the Second World War, the music specially composed for the Proms, the much copied Last Night of the Proms, and newer developments such as Proms in the Park. Among the highlights are Edward Elgar's autographed score of Pomp and Circumstance March No 1; letters to Sir Henry Wood from Sergei Rachmaninoff and Jean Sibelius, together with a poster for his jubilee concert in 1938; Malcolm Sargent's silver pocket metronome, one of his batons, and examples of his correspondence, including a letter written to BBC Controller of Music, Sir William Glock; a letter written by composer Malcolm Arnold to Glock expressing his fears about making changes to the traditional Last Night, which offers a behind the scenes glimpse into the running of the Proms; unique recordings of concerts from the 1930s, and other historic video footage and audio clips. The display also features audio illustrations, posters and advertising materials for concerts. The Folio Society Gallery at the British Library, until 8th July.

Sacred: Discover What We Share is a display of some of the world's earliest surviving, most important and beautiful religious texts from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Many of the lavishly illustrated or decorated books and manuscripts have never, or seldom, been on public display before, and this is the first time that texts from these three faiths have been displayed and explored together, side by side, in a major British exhibition. The rare and exquisite texts are treated thematically, exploring points in common, looking at the ways in which they have been produced, interpreted and used. Among the treasures on display are: the Old English Hexateuch, the earliest copy in English of part of the Old Testament, produced in the first half of the 11th century, featuring over 400 illustrations; the Lisbon Hebrew Bible, one of the last great examples of Jewish art from Iberia, completed in 1482, containing many intricate floral and arabesque designs as well as superb ornamental Hebrew lettering and micrographic embellishments; the 'Golden' Haggadah, one of the most lavish and luxurious of all manuscripts ever created of the Passover Ritual, the miniature paintings all having backgrounds of tooled gold leaf, produced circa 1320; Sultan Baybars' Qur'an, one of the finest of all Qur'an manuscripts, written in large letters of gold in seven folio volumes, each containing a magnificent double frontispiece, with intricate Islamic geometric patterns; and a Book of Psalms in Arabic, a 16th century illuminated Christian manuscript, heavily influenced in its decoration, script, and layout by the manuscripts of Islam. The British Library until 23rd September.

Towards A New Laocoon considers how the sculptural aspects of Laocoon have been interpreted and re-interpreted by artists over time. The Antique group - which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons in the grip of two giant snakes - was rediscovered in 1506 and almost immediately put on show in the Vatican. Since that time artists and writers have succumbed to its fascination, and its inspirational quality. This exhibition looks at Laocoon through a British lens, focusing on juxtapositions of seven works from the 18th and 20th centuries. While the historic works reference the original sculpture, highlighting interest in the Laocoon's drama, narrative, expression and status, the more recent pieces take the Laocoon's more formal characteristics, turning a figurative story into a more pop and abstract one. Eduardo Paolozzi, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon have each made a number of works that respond to or mirror the Laocoon. Paolozzi was fascinated by classical heritage, and owned his own small scale cast of the group. His works variously redefine its serpentine coils and imprisoned forms. Cragg's works also focus on the forms, which are caught up by the snakes, binding them together in an endless deadly embrace, but rendered in everyday, urban found objects. Deacon's monumental Laocoon similarly plays on the quality of time, by locking straight and curved wooden sections into one great continuous spiral. There is an accompanying show of sculptor's drawings on photographs, providing their contemporary response to classical forms. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 12th August.

Walking With Beasts, combines cutting edge technology with life size models of the extraordinary creatures which lived on earth up to 65 million years ago, after the dinosaurs had died out. Based on the ground breaking BBC television series, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through time to distant worlds: from the hottest, wettest climate the earth has ever known, to one of the coldest - the Ice Age. It features models of Smildon, a sabre-toothed cat; Macrauchenia, a cross between a camel and a horse; Phorusrhacos, the 'terror bird' with razor sharp talons and a hooked beak large enough to swallow a cat whole; Doedicurus, an armadillo like creature with a giant spiked club of solid bone at the end of its tail; Megatherium, a bear the size of a double decker bus; a giant Woolly Mammoth; and man's early primate ancestors. The display reveals worlds where birds (Gastorni) were so large they could eat small horses (Propalaeotherium), and where elephants (Moeritherium) swam with fish. The exhibition brings these incredible creatures to life, animates the story of the evolution of mammals, and demonstrates how they came to shape the planet today. 'Interactives' offer visitors the chance to 'walk' in a prehistoric landscape via blue-screen technology. The exhibition is complemented by a selection of genuine items from the permanent collection, including fossil remains of these mammals, and a 10,000 year old mammoth tusk. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 4th November.


Luigi Colani: Translating Nature reviews the work of the maverick of 20th century design, who placed organic design on the contemporary agenda. In a career spanning six decades, Colani produced biodynamic designs for cars, boats, planes and consumer goods, as well as creating altenative futuristic concepts for the design of transport and architecture. Indeed, Colani describes himself not as a designer, but as an 'evolutionary biologist'. He emphasised the importance and evolutionary potential of design at an early date, often pre-empting major trends by decades. Colani began his career in the car industry, producing the first all plastic body for Simca. He treated car (and truck, boat and plane) designs as sculptures, not only creating spectacular biomorphic shapes, but enhancing performance through a knowledge of aerodynamics. Setting up his own studio, he applied the concept of sculptural foms, often inspired by nature, and executed in the new medium of molded plastic, to a wide range of objects, from the domestic, including furniture, to the industrial. Large scale projects, some of which have been realised, and some of which remain concepts, have included racing cars, a transatlantic glider, and a 'Judge Dredd' style streamlined truck. Perhaps Colani's best known design is the Canon T90 camera, which spread his biomorphic ideas across the world. The exhibition brings together a collection large scale prototypes, including trucks, aircraft and cars. Design Museum, London until 17th June.

Poets In The Landscape: The Romantic Spirit In British Art, celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake by exploring the creative links between poetry, the pastoral vision and British art, from the 1770s to the 1950s. The exhibition opens with George Romney's portrait of William Hayley, patron and friend to Romantic artists and poets, including Blake (who began his illustrated book 'Milton: A Poem' while working for Hayley), William Cowper, John Flaxman, George Romney, Charlotte Smith and Joseph Wright of Derby. Blake's influence on the pastoral imagery of Samuel Palmer during the 1820s is uncovered in the second part of the exhibition. Blake and Palmer's legacy is then reflected in the 1920s 'Etching Revival' period, when artists Paul Drury, F L Griggs, Robin Tanner and Graham Sutherland created poetic and nostalgic images of the English countryside in response to the horrors of the First World War. The final part of the exhibition moves to the 1940s, when artists John Piper, John Craxton, John Minton, Ceri Richards, Julian Trevelyan and Keith Vaughan found refuge from a war torn England in poetry and in a rural and idealised British landscape. Their search for a 'paradise lost' was epitomised by Palmeresque depictions of sleeping poets in bucolic landscapes, and the melancholy images included in the literary publications Penguin New Writing, Horizon and Poetry London, became a platform for the art and poetry of the period. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 10th June.

A Slap In The Face!: Futurists In Russia is a comprehensive examination of the Futurist movement in Russia, exploring the energetic, creative and occasionally violent encounter of East and West in the arena of avant-garde art, comparing and contrasting the Russian protagonists with their Italian contemporaries. The exhibition's title refers to the Russian Futurist's sackcloth-bound manifesto 'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste' published in 1912, which established their movement as something very different from their elitist Italian contemporaries. When Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, visited Russia in 1914, his revolutionary zeal was admired by some, but artist Mikhail Larionov suggested he be pelted with rotten eggs. There were many qualities the two movements shared - the enthusiasm for war, the love of technology, the obsession with finding ways to depict rapid motion - but Russian artists like Chagall and Popova also found revolutionary qualities in the simple, the childish and the innocent. The exhibition includes Goncharova's 'Cyclist', 'The Forest' and 'Mystical Images', Kruchenykh's 'Universal War', and Larinov's 'Blue Rayism', together with works full of colour, wit and life by Chagall, El Lissitsky, Malevich, Popova and Rosanova, alongside some of the frenzied creations of Italian Futurists Balla, Boccioni and Severini. Estorick Collection, London, until 10th June.