News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 31st March 2004


Heaven On Earth: Art From Islamic Lands is a display of the finest decorative arts of Islam - calligraphy, textiles, jewels, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and The Khalili Collection in London. The artefacts range in date from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and in origin from Spain through the Arab world to Persia and the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition is in four galleries. The first celebrates the majesty of God, with calligraphy used as a vehicle for the Qur'an - literally the word of God - from manuscripts to woven prayer rugs, and lustre tile panels from shrines, bearing verses and rich arabesque decoration. The second shows how figurative art was used in the service of earthly rulers, with bronze and ceramic birds and animals, metalwork, stone relief carving and early Iranian silver, including the 'Bobrinsky' bucket covered with dense decoration in silver and copper. The third contains jewels from the Mughal treasury, with boxes, flasks, dishes, cups and bracelets encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and richly embroidered robes and other fine silks. The last gallery celebrates the interaction of East and West. A 10th century rock crystal lamp, carried off by Crusaders and mounted in gold and enamels in Italy in the 16th century, sits alongside sabres, daggers and other arms, richly embellished with jewels. There are also oil paintings of Qajar rulers wearing such arms, and of the ladies of their courts, in imitation of Western art, offering a curious blend of Oriental and European styles. Linking the galleries are framed miniatures from Persian manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries, some religious in theme, and others reflecting Islamic court life. The Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 22nd August.

Four New Galleries and new street frontage have just opened in a £7.5m redevelopment scheme at the Coventry Transport Museum. The Introductory Gallery explains the importance of Coventry's transport heritage and demonstrates the size and scale of the Museum's collection. Another new gallery is devoted to the 1980s and 1990s, and completes the existing Walk Through Time feature, from the 1860s to the present day. It traces the demise of Coventry's car industry in the 80s, and explores the globalisation of car companies, increasing environmental concerns, and the growth of interest in cycling - particularly BMX-ing and skateboarding. An interactive Futures Gallery examines road safety, the environment, and the high tech developments that will provide the new transport systems of the future. Another new gallery houses the museum's two World Land Speed Record Cars, ThrustSSC and Thrust2. An Education/Technocentre, and an area for temporary exhibitions complete the new features. They join the largest collection of British Road Transport in the world, with over 240 cars and commercial vehicles, 250 bicycles, 94 motorcycles, 25,000 models, and over 1 million other items on view. Among the highlights are the 1935 Daimler limousine used by Queen Mary, King George VI's Daimler, and Field Marshal Montgomery's Humber staff car. Coventry Transport Museum continuing.

From Quill Pen To Computer: The Bank Of England's Staff From 1694 celebrates the personalities who have conducted the business of the now august institution (which opened in rented premises with a staff of just 19) and reflects on how their working methods and conditions have changed. Objects, paintings, prints, books, documents and photographs bring to life people such as William Maynee, an Accountant's Office clerk found guilty of forgery of Bank notes, who was hanged in 1731; William Guest, a teller who committed High Treason by filing gold coins, and was drawn on a sledge to Tyburn and hanged in 1767; and Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind In The Willows, who was Secretary of the Bank for ten years from 1898, and is believed to have drawn inspiration for some of his characters from fellow workers. Although the Bank is not known for innovation, in 1894 it was amongst the first organisations in the City to employ women on clerical duties, causing shock waves among many business establishments. The exhibition reveals the skills required in earlier times, when prospective employees had to pass an examination involving handwriting, orthography (that's spelling), arithmetic, English composition and geography. To demonstrate how working conditions have changed, one of the latest computers in use in the Bank has a scrolling display of images of newly refurbished offices, together with the contrasting 18th, 19th and early 20th century workplaces. The Bank of England Museum until 27th October.


George III And Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting And Court Taste reflects the major contribution to the Royal Collection made by George III and his consort. The 500 objects in this exhibition, including sculpture, furniture, paintings, drawings, books, ceramics, silver, gold, jewellery and clocks, constitute one of the largest and finest groups of Georgian material ever assembled. When George III purchased Buckingham House in 1762, the decorative arts commissioned to furnish it included furniture by William Vile, silver by Thomas Heming, porcelain from the Chelsea, Derby, Wedgwood and Worcester factories, and ornamental metalwork by Matthew Boulton. George III also commissioned some of the most sophisticated clocks, barometers and watches ever created, and the case for Christopher Pinchbeck's four-dialled astronomical clock, and decoration for the mantel clock by Thomas Wright featured here, were partly designed by the King. An important purchase was the collection formed by the British consul in Venice, with works by Raphael, Zuccarelli and Annibale Carracci, and the finest group of Canalettos in existence, plus ancient and Renaissance gems, intaglios, medals and books. There are portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte by leading British artists, including Allan Ramsay and Thomas Gainsborough. Reflecting the Royal couple's domestic life, there are gifts they exchanged, with tableware, writing sets, gaming pieces and musical instruments, including case of a claviorgan, a harpsichord, and the King's flute. The Queen's Gallery, London until 9th June.

Louise Bourgeois: Stitches In Time features new works by the nonagenarian Franco-American artist whose installation of three towers featuring spiral staircases, dark enclosures and mirrored platforms, inaugurated the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. This exhibition includes a group of extraordinary life size sewn fabric busts, several cell like vitrines housing scenes of torture and ecstasy, and totemic figures, which reinterpret in fabric, some of Bourgeois's very first sculptures from the 1940s and 50s. These are shown together with two major suites of etchings, the earliest of which is 'He Disappeared into Complete Silence', her first significant group of etchings and poems, in which tales of loss and loneliness unfold. Louise Bourgeois has employed many modes of practice in her career of more than 60 years, including carving, installation, castings in natural and man-made materials, performance art, text and illustration and needlecraft. Her diverse and experimental art has engaged with, yet remained at one remove from the major 20th century art movements, her artistic innovation setting its own path. Bourgeois's early family home in the Parisian suburbs, steeped in the tapestries of her seamstress mother, and the wares of her antique dealer father, continues to be referenced within the architecture, furnishings and artefacts of her sculpture. The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh until 9th May.

Bill Brand: A Centenary Retrospective celebrates the work of one of the pre-eminent photographers of the 20th century. With 155 mainly vintage, gelatin-silver prints from the Bill Brandt Archive, the exhibition displays the finest selection of his rare and famous prints to be seen in Britain for over thirty years. Brandt's career as a photographer began in Vienna, and included work as an assistant to Man Ray in Paris, before he settled in London in 1931. He became the great documentarian of British cultural and social life for the news magazines of the time, exposing the contrasts in 1930s society. During the Second World War Brandt photographed both the landscapes of 'Literary Britain', creating images of Hardy's Wessex and the Bronte sisters' Yorkshire Moors, and London, with the moonlit blacked-out streets, and crowds sheltering in Underground stations during the Blitz. After the War, returning to an interest in the surreal, Brandt acquired a wide-angle Kodak camera, and photographed nudes outdoors on the beaches of England and France. This 'Perspective of Nudes' series radically revised the genre by creating dramatic sculptural images of nudes merging with the landscape. From the 1940s onwards, he also produced striking portraits of great artists and writers, such as Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and Graham Greene. Brandt's innovations expanded the medium of photography and gave his work a timeless quality. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th July.Bill Brand: Portraits is a complementary exhibition, bringing together over 40 photographs, including a number of rare vintage prints from the 1940s, ranging from Cecil Day-Lewis and T.S. Eliot to John Piper and Augustus John. From the 1950s and 60s come Brandt's memorable studies of Peter Sellers, Rene Magritte and Harold Pinter. The 1970s and 80s are represented by his pictures of Martin Amis, Ted Hughes, David Hockney, Glenda Jackson and Bridget Riley. National Portrait Gallery until 30th August.

Exclusive! Tales From The Tabloid Front Line - 100 Years Of The Daily Mirror examines how the work of those engaged in producing newspapers has changed, as the industry has embraced a century of sweeping technological advances. The exhibition is divided into six areas, analysing the jobs of workers at different stages in the process. Technicians shows how the new Bartlane machine was used to transmit images around the world in 1920, and how the first wireless tests from an aeroplane to a receiving station on the ground were pioneered. Photographers contrasts how snappers were once weighed down by vast amounts of kit, including the actual De Vere Long Tom camera used to get close up pictures of the coronation in 1953, and how today they can function with just a camera‚ mobile and laptop. Reporters includes the then state of the art laptops that were issued in the 1980's, and the other equipment used over the years to get the stories back to the office - from tickertape machines to mobiles. Newsroom shows how raw words and pictures are shaped into a front page, with examples of some of the major science and technology news stories of the last 100 years. Editors looks at how a succession of editors have styled the Mirror‚ originally launched as a paper for women, creating the now established tabloid feel. Printers charts the revolution from 'hot metal', with pages assembled letter by letter, to digital technology, with pages set on a screen in the newsroom sent direct to the printing machines. Science Museum until 25th April.

Haunted: Hanna ten Doornkaat is a series of photographs which transform the detritus of urban life into intricate artworks of great beauty. Hanna ten Doornkaat creates narrative scenes commenting on our increasingly fraught relationship with nature, using non-degradable rubbish and packaging. Thus she painstakingly forms a butterfly from a Wrigley's spearmint wrapper, and a tiny beach hut from a Macdonald's carton, which she then places in a natural setting and photographs in extreme close up. In our daily lives we are surrounded by marketing symbols through a profusion of objects and images that have direct and indirect effects on our landscapes. Ten Doornkaat's fictional scenarios highlight the visual degradation of the urban landscape to which we have become inured, and point up how we have embraced a disposable culture, becoming divorced from nature. In other images, ten Doornkaat has used a reverse technique, meticulously digitally erasing forms she believes to be detrimental to the environment, using a kind of reverse drawing to remove that which she finds offensive. A minor gem. Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea until 24th April.

Home And Garden: Domestic Spaces In Paintings 1830 - 1914 explores the representation of urban domestic interiors and gardens in art, focusing on the middle classes rather than the more familiar Royalty or aristocracy. It offers an opportunity to examine the material culture, tastes, values and social milieu of this increasingly influential and confident sector of society at the peak of Britain's wealth and power. The exhibition comprises 40 paintings and drawings, including works by William Powell Frith, James Jacques Tissot, Walter Sickert, George Elgar Hicks, Rebecca Soloman, Mary Ellen Best, John Atkinson Grimshaw and Spencer Gore. It is divided into three main sections: portraits, the room or garden as subject, and genre. The genre paintings, which reflect morals, manners, roles and relationships within the domestic context, often contain revealing details or carry implicit messages reflecting middle class values. The exhibition explores the stories contained within each image in an attempt to assess to what extent these paintings show actual homes and gardens, and how much the artist may have altered or intervened in the interests of composition. These pictures are rich in meaning and symbolism, and provide vivid glimpses into private worlds. For example, 'Evenings at Home', a rare portrait of the great Victorian design reformer Henry Cole (responsible for the development of Victoria and Albert Museum) conveys both an enormous amount about his character and home life, and some of the design principals on which he based his career. Geffrye Museum until 18th July.


Blasting The Future! Vorticism In Britain 1910 - 1920 examines this important British artistic movement, and its turbulent relationship with Futurism. Vorticism is one of the most important and distinctive avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, and was Britain's most significant contribution to the development of Modernism. Established by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism aimed to liberate British culture from the legacy of the Victorian era, promoting a dynamic art that would embrace and reflect the industrial age, through an imagery of hard-edged, geometric and often completely abstract forms. The Vorticist manifesto appeared in the first issue of the movement's official publication Blast. Its signatories included William Roberts, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and the American poet Ezra Pound, who gave the movement its name. It was greatly indebted to the Italian Futurist movement, which was very active in London during the early years of the 20th century, but the British artists consistently rejected such comparisons, and fiercely defended their independence. All of the major Vorticist artists are represented in this display of 45 works, and in addition, figures such as Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg - who were sympathetic to the aims of the movement but never belonged to it - as well as Britain's only true Futurist, C.R.W. Nevinson. Estorick Collection, London until 18th April.

Crystal Palace At Sydenham celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which was almost twice the size of the original structure in Hyde Park built to house the Great Exhibition. While the 1851 exhibition is well known, range of the displays and activities at Sydenham, such as the Handel Festivals and fireworks, the exploits of the acrobat Blondin, the Festival of Empire of 1911, and the first days of the Imperial War Museum are mostly unfamiliar. The interior nave was originally a Winter Garden with botanical exhibits and statuary, and there were displays of architecture, industry, ethnography and natural history. The surrounding park was laid out in terraces, with elaborate formal gardens, informal English landscape gardening, the famous life size models of dinosaurs and other extinct animals, and waterworks - fountains, water temples and cascades - which were intended to surpass Versailles. The whole enterprise was intended to be a 'living encyclopedia', and for its first thirty years the Palace and Gardens drew an average of two million visitors annually. The displays had an important effect on the artists of the time, and works on view by Holman Hunt, Poynter and Alma-Tadema show how they employed more accurate detail in their depictions of archaeological and historical settings, having seen the meticulous reconstructions in the Architectural Courts. With a wealth of contemporary paintings, plaster casts, original photographs and engravings, artefacts, models and film clips, this exhibition makes possible an imaginary visit to the Palace and Gardens. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18th April.

Paintings And Drawings From The National Gallery Of Scotland:From Raphael To The Glasgow Boys is part of the celebration of the National Art Collections Fund's centenary, showcasing works it has helped Edinburgh's National Gallery of Scotland to acquire. The exhibition comprises forty paintings, prints and drawings by a wide range of artists, with Old Master paintings ranging from Renaissance Italy to Golden Age Denmark, and important prints and drawings that are not on permanent display for conservation reasons. At its core, are a group of English drawings and watercolours by Turner, Blake, Girtin, Constable, Cotman and Rowlandson. There are also Old Master drawings, among them Raphael's chalk drawing 'Kneeling Nude Woman with her Left Arm Raised', Poussin's preparatory drawing for 'The Dance to the Music of Time', which can be seen alongside the finished work for the first time, Rembrandt's etching 'Ecce Homo', and Ingres portrait of Mlle Hayard. Scottish paintings and drawings in the show include Joseph Crawhall's 'The White Drake', and works by Alexander Nasmyth, George Henry and David Gauld. The Wallace Collection until 18th April.