News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th August 2006


Sixties Fashion, 40 years on from Time Magazine's famous 1966 Swinging London cover, looks at the central role played by the boutique and street style in bringing the phenomenon to the world's attention. It spans the mid 1950s, when Mary Quant established her first boutique, to the early 1970s, and the demise of decadent allure of Biba. The display of around 60 garments shows how a series of key 'looks' evolved in London, and reflects their impact on international trends: 'Mayfair Elegance & Chelsea Rebellion' showcases Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, including Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, alongside more radical Mary Quant pieces; 'Piccadilly Peacocks' focuses on the tailors who 'broke the stuffed shirt barrier' in menswear, including pioneers Mr. Fish and Rupert Lycett Green; 'Knightsbridge Chic' shows the response of middle market designers and department stores to the new fashions, employing new talent influenced by Quant and other trend setters; 'Carnaby Street And The King's Road' examines the quintessential swinging designers and entrepreneurs at the heart of Swinging London, such as John Stephen, Michael Rainey, Foale & Tuffin and Ossie Clark; 'Kensington Haze' documents the shift from clean mid 60s cool to the escapism and nostalgia typified by Thea Porter and Biba; and 'Out Of London' reflects parallel themes and influences beyond the UK, looking at designers working in Paris and New York, such as Pierre Cardin and Yves St Laurent. Archive films of fashion shows and shopping in the most fashionable boutiques are also on show. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th February.

Painting The Cosmos: Landscapes By G F Watts is the first exhibition devoted to the landscape painting of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts. The show includes both finished pictures, intended for exhibition and sale, as well as more private sketches and studies. A particularly noteworthy feature is a group of Watts's virtually unknown landscape studies in watercolour, which have never been exhibited before. Although Watts is best known for his portraits and allegorical subjects, he painted landscapes throughout his career. The exhibition begins with work from his first visit to Tuscany in 1845, where he took 'a violent fancy for landscape'. Later works demonstrate the extent and variety of his interests, with lovingly observed parts of the Surrey countryside at one extreme, and visionary subjects fraught with meaning, painted with an expressionist force that anticipates 20th century abstraction, at the other. Highlights include vividly painted views of sites in Italy, the Greek islands, Egypt, the French Alps, and the Scottish Highlands. Imaginative scenes include 'After the Deluge', with a fiery sun filling the composition. Views such as 'The Alps near Monnetier' and 'Invernesshire', painted on elongated canvases to encompass the vast spaces to which he was drawn, exemplify the grandeur of Watts's vision. The 100 year old Arts and Crafts building, created by Watts and his wife, which houses his extensive studio collection, was the first purpose built art gallery in Britain dedicated to the work of a single artist. Watts Gallery, Compton, nr Guildford, Surrey until 20th November.

French Drawings: Clouet To Seurat (Part 1 - Drawings From About 1500-1700: Clouet To La Fage), explores the innovations of the French drawing style, and traces the major artistic developments, through around 50 highlights from the earliest part of the national collection of French drawings. This includes sheets rarely seen today, because of their sensitivity to light, from royal court portraits of the 16th century by members of the Clouet family, to the elegant Mannerist style of Francesco Primaticcio and others working at the chateau of Fontainebleau. The collection also boasts rich holdings of the major masters of the Baroque, such as Jacques Callot, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, many of which entered the collection in the 18th and 19th centuries. The show is arranged chronologically, with major works and lesser ones jostling side by side - and a few of the lesser knowns prove surprisingly impressive. Some key artists are represented by more than one work, others by only a sketch. The entire collection covers the history of drawing and printmaking as fine arts, and comprises approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints, dating from the beginning of the 15th century up to the present day. The second part of this exhibition, from Watteau to Seurat, follows in October. The British Museum until 1st October.


A Particular English Music: John Betjeman 1906 - 1984 marks the centenary of the birth of the man often acclaimed as the best loved poet of the 20th century. His acute, witty, nostalgic, sometimes melancholy poems and prose pieces managed in their deceptively simple way to capture an essential Englishness.

Betjeman's textbook middle class upbringing and career: born in Highgate, London, educated at Marlborough and Oxford, on the staff of the Architectural Review, a journalist and, during the Second World War, working for various government departments, provided him with the ammunition for his satirical poems about lost suburban proprieties and aspirations. The exhibition celebrates Betjeman's life, his writing and his many enthusiasms in manuscripts, letters, books, photographs and memorabilia.

Pop Goes The Library: 50 Years Of The Album Charts is an audio display recognising the 50th anniversary of the album chart. Each of the LPs that reached the number one spot during that time is available at a number of listening stations, so visitors can choose from over 10,000 tracks, and discover how musical tastes have changed over the last half century. This is reflected in the range from the first number one, Frank Sinatra's 'Songs for Swinging Lovers', through Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Spice Girls and Take That, to this year's Arctic Monkeys and Gnarls Barkley.

The British Library, until 8th October and 31st December.

Richard Dadd 1817 - 1888 is a rare opportunity to see some of the lesser known but extraordinary paintings of the artist whose life was the stuff of a gothic novel. A Royal Academy graduate of great promise, Dadd began to show signs of insanity, and during his cultural grand tour in Europe, felt an uncontrollable urge to attack the Pope on a public appearance in Rome. Believing he was possessed by the Egyptian god Osiris, he killed his father, convinced he was the devil in disguise. In 1843 Dadd was committed to the lunatic asylum at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, where he spent the rest of his life - a period of 42 years. He was allowed to paint during his incarceration, and the hospital authorities kept the hundreds of works he frantically produced, many of them vivid recreations of the hallucinatory visions he experienced. Dadd's 'Passions' series refers to extreme emotions - Hatred, Jealousy, Madness and Murder are some of the titles - while other scenes relate to his periods of ecstasy, populated by nymphs, fairies and mythical creatures. One of his most celebrated paintings is 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke', about which the rock band Queen wrote their eponymous song. Although many of them are smaller than postcards, Dadd's miniature paintings were created with obsessively precise details, and the maritime and landscape scenes are all the more incredible given that they were entirely painted from memory. Leamington Spa Art Gallery, The Pump Rooms until 1st October.

Oskar Kokoschka: The Prometheus Triptych is on show for the first time in over a decade, primarily because of its enormous size - the three canvases together measure over eight metres wide. The triptych was commissioned in 1950 by Count Antoine Seilern for the ceiling of his London house at 56 Princes Gate. The central panel depicts the Apocalypse, while the side panels show a scene with Persephone escaping from Hades, and the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus. Kokoschka intended the piece as a warning of the consequences of 'man's intellectual arrogance'. The dangers faced by contemporary civilisation were symbolised by the figure of Prometheus, whose overweening nature drove him to steal fire, so that man could challenge the gods. Kokoschka's fear was that culture and society were being dominated by science and technology, which threatened the freedom and individuality of mankind. He worked with unceasing passion and commitment on the triptych, driven by a belief in the painting's importance as his most complete and powerful artistic achievement. This unique work, combining the contemporary and the classical, and on a scale unparalleled at the time, is accompanied by a range of documentary material, comprising photographs, letters and catalogues. These provide the painting's contemporary context in the Cold War period, and explore the background of the commission, its execution and subsequent reception. A selection of Kokoschka's other works, including the celebrated early lithographs 'The Dreaming Youths', are included in an adjoining display. The Courtauld Institute Gallery until 17th September.

Formula One: The Great Design Race tells the story of motor racing since the 1950s, revealing the mysteries of the intensely secretive industry that invests millions of pounds in design and technology each year. The exhibition features an iconic car from each decade, including the Lotus 79, in which Andretti won the 1978 Drivers' Championship and Lotus won the Constructor's title, demonstrating the potential of ground-effect aerodynamics; and the MP4/4-2, driven by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which won 15 of the 16 races for McLaren in 1988. It also includes an 'exploded' car, which deconstructs the design and development of the different parts. A series of design stories explain the aerodynamics of the chassis and cockpit; the power generated by the engine, gearbox and fuel; and the advances in suspension, brakes and tyres, which determine the drivers' ability to control their cars at extremely high speeds and in adverse weather conditions. As well as the history and technology of motor racing, the exhibition presents a year in the life of Formula One, a behind the scenes look at the complexity and logistics that enable a team to compete throughout a season. Each race team is represented: Ferrari, Honda, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toyota and Williams. The exhibition also looks to the future, with key industry figures giving their predictions for the ways in which the design and technology of Formula One will develop. Design Museum until 29th October.

The Bath Spa has finally reopened - many times over budget and many years late (with many legal wrangles pending) - and after a gap of nearly 30 years, it is now possible to bathe again in the natural warm spa water for which Bath has been famous since Roman times. The project, masterminded by the architect Nicholas Grimshaw, has restored five listed buildings: The Cross Bath, the Hot Bath, 7-7a Bath Street, 8 Bath Street and the Hetling Pump Room, and within them, created modern facilities with both baths and wet and dry treatment rooms. In addition, a new open air pool has been created on the roof, surrounded by glass walls, offering spectacular views out over the Regency city. The 1.2 million litres of thermal spring water that rise daily in the centre of Bath, enriched with Sulphate, Chloride, Calcium, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate and Silicate, feed the complex and its myriad treatments. A visitor centre describes and illustrates the colourful social and cultural history of Bath's Spa, from the founding of Roman Bath, through Saxon, Elizabethan and Georgian times, to the recent revival of the 'spa quarter', through interactive displays and archive records, photographs, audio recordings and film. An audio guide provides a tour of the surrounding spa quarter, and a drinking fountain allows visitors to once again take the waters and sample its 'unique flavour' (be forewarned by the use of the word 'unique'). The Bath Spa, continuing.

Antonioni's Blow Up is the first public showing of 'a mystery wrapped in an enigma' from the 1960s. Blow Up was the Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni's first film in English, made in 1966, which set out to capture the essence of 'Swinging London'. It did this through the experiences of its main character, a fashion photographer (not a million miles from David Bailey) who thinks he has discovered a murder, when he examines in detail photographs taken during a shoot in a park. This exhibition features the twelve photographs used in the film, which were actually taken by the war photographer Don McCullin. Alongside there are other photographs, taken on set by Arthur Evans, which are grouped in sections that correspond to key sequences in the film. Some concentrate on the photographing of models in the studio, others focus on the enigmatic documentation of the park, the later encounter with the unwitting 'heroine', and finally the process - in the dark room and studio - of rendering and disclosing an overlooked secret object.

The London Fire Brigade Archive presents a selection from the archive of over 300,000 black and white and colour photographs ranging from the foundation of the Brigade in the 1860s up to the present day. It focuses on the period between 1930 and 1970, and includes nearly 100 original images of scenes from domestic incidents across London and the stories behind them. Personal and individual tragedies are recorded and preserved in the detached and clinical method of the archivist, be it the blackened living room after a television explosion, or the scene of a child's bedroom in which little visible damage is detected, but the caption reads 'fatal fire'.

The Photographers' Gallery, London, both shows until 17th September.


The Starry Messenger: Visions Of The Universe explores man's ultimate quest in understanding the solar system. It examines visual representations by artists, scientists and thinkers throughout the ages, and how they have used various means to understand the mysteries of the universe and man's place in it - as well as considering the artist's role as transmitter of these ideas. The starting point is Galileo, whose observations marked a major turning point in the way that we view the world, and his book, Sidereus Nuncius (the eponymous Starry Messenger), and subsequent meeting with the poet John Milton, as described in the epic poem Paradise Lost. The exhibition explores the dreams and imagination of Western culture through the paintings of William Blake, John Martin and Odilon Redon, via the utopian worlds and dilemmas posed by science fiction, to contemporary works that question man's knowledge of life on earth. It includes paintings, drawings, photography, music, sculpture, science fiction magazines and large scale video installations. Artists represented include Glenn Brown, John Cage, John Flamsteed, Graham Gussin, David A. Hardy, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen, Aleksandra Mir, Heather and Ivan Morison, John Murphy, John Russell, Bridget Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans and Fred Tomaselli, together with a specially commissioned work by Paul McDevitt and Mark Titchner. Compton Verney, Warwickshire until 10th September.

Howard Hodgkin is the first exhibition to span the entire career of one of the most important artists working in Britain today. Bringing together 60 of Howard Hodgkin's paintings from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view new work in the context of earlier decades. It traces the evolution of his vocabulary through the portraits on canvas of friends and interiors of the 1960s, to his adoption in the mid 1970s of the wooden panel and frame, defining painting as object, and through to the later, looser and more gestural paintings of the 1990s. Displayed broadly chronologically, the exhibition includes a group of Venetian paintings from the 1980s and new work never seen before. Binding together all his work is a consistent exploration of the representation of personal encounters, emotional experience and memories of specific events. Whether trips to India, Egypt or Morocco, or social occasions such as dinner with friends, particular moments are simultaneously reconstructed and obscured through a layering of the picture surface with distinct marks and intense colours, often achieved only over a period of several years. Neither wholly abstract nor figurative, his paintings attempt to recreate the intensity of experience. While associations have been made to Matisse, Vuillard, Degas and American abstract expressionist painting, as well as Pahari miniature paintings of which Hodgkin is an avid collector through his many trips to India, he has continued to forge a strongly independent path, developing a distinctive style. Tate Britain until 10th September.

A Beautiful South… profiles artists who make work about the land and coast of southern England, from Romney Marsh to Dorset and the Isle of Wight, and how it has been shaped by both time and mankind. From farming to tourism, war and industry, this exhibition depicts particular aspects, such as the region's traditional land and coast-scapes, sound mirrors and chalk hill figures, while celebrating the incredible diversity of the land. The artists involved all base their practice in observational research, and natural, cultural and mythical elements as well as romantic and historical associations of landscape traditions are present throughout. The Caravan Gallery (Jean Williams and Chris Teasdale) project 'Bank Holiday Britain' records the ordinary and extraordinary realities of a collective day out; Thomas Joshua Cooper captures Cornwall's shifting sand and the turbulence of the Atlantic in his photographs; Andrew Goddard's oil paintings of the tidal mud flats of the river Yar reflect the flux of water and movement of land; John Holloway's black and white aerial photographs reveal geologocal chages made by time and man; Guy Moreton's images of Romney Marsh capture bleak settlements in the barren landscape; Eric Rimmington paints the sea, sand and sky of Selsey Bill in single on the spot sittings; Sadie Tierney offers watercolours of naval celebrations in Portsmouth, and a film of sunset on the sea; and Semiconductor's 'All The Time In The World' is a fictional documentary showing the changes that have shaped and formed the land over milluons of years played at the speed of sound. Millais Gallery, Southampton until 9th September.