News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 31st May 2006


Constable: The Great Landscapes offers the first opportunity to view John Constable's seminal six foot canvases together, something that was not even done in his lifetime. The 'six-footers' are among the best known images in British art, and comprise a series of views on the river Stour, which include 'The Hay Wain', as well as later works such as 'Hadleigh Castle' and 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows'. As important as the paintings themselves, are the full scale preliminary sketches that Constable made for most of them, a practice unprecedented at the time. It has been said that it is this practice more than any other aspect of Constable's work that established him as an avant-garde painter, resolved to rethink the demands of his art and to address them in an entirely new way. The exhibition reunites the full scale sketches with their corresponding finished pictures, in order to explore their role in Constable's working practice. The exhibition includes 9 such pairings among around 65 works in total. The bringing together of the 6 river Stour pictures for the first time, reveals how, as the series progresses, Constable develops a single thematic concept - the life of the Suffolk river he had known since boyhood - and gradually invests it with a greater sense of drama, heroic action and narrative weight. A further highlight of the exhibition is a newly discovered watercolour, on display for the first time, 'The View in the Stour Valley Looking Towards Langham Church from Dedham'. It anticipates 'The Hay Wain', painted 16 years later, as both feature a hay cart prominently. Tate Britain, until 28th August.

Against The Odds: The Story Of Bomber Command In The Second World War is the first major exhibition to tell the stories of the air and ground crews, and examine the impact of the bombing campaign on the people of Germany, through objects, art, film, sound, photography and documents. Bomber Command's main role was the destruction of Germany's economic, industrial and military strength, but it was also active in combating the U-boats, attacking German warships, minelaying at sea, assisting during the Battles of France and Britain in 1940 and in the Middle East, supporting the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of North West Europe and countering the V-weapons. The exhibition charts the development of Bomber Command, from its ill-prepared beginnings in 1939, through to its undoubted contribution to winning the war. Key operations covered include the Dambusters raid, the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz, and the Thousand Bomber raids. Among the highlights of the exhibition are Dame Laura Knights's iconic painting 'Take Off', Commander Guy Gibson's cap, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire's VC and the George Cross awarded to Daphne Pearson, who rescued the pilot of a bomber that crashed and exploded in 1940. A series of 'interactives' reveal the human cost of Bomber Command operations, delve into the technical detail of aircraft production, and reveal how little space airmen had to work in while on an operation. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, until 7th January 2007.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Fame And Fate uses a unique collection of photographs and historic artefacts to examine the last project of Britain's greatest engineer. The immense steamship the Great Eastern - widely regarded as one of the industrial wonders of the world - was built on the Thames at Millwall, Isle of Dogs. As the ship neared completion, Robert Howlett, one of London's earliest photographers, was given privileged access to the yard and his images form an exceptional record of a major event in Victorian engineering. Howlett's iconic portrait of Brunel standing in front of the Great Eastern's launching chains has become the defining image of 'engineer as hero', and the exhibition explores the relationship between photography, image and fame at a time when this was new. Brunel's preparations for the Great Eastern coincided with a growing desire by the British public to own detailed photographs of the wider world. Three dimensional images - known as stereo photos - became the craze, and photographers travelled the globe to find new subjects to capture. The Great Eastern itself was the subject of two sets of these stereo cards, the first, entitled 'The Leviathan Steamship', was commissioned by the Illustrated Times in 1857. These, and other rarely seen Howlett photographs, give a unique insight into the world of Victorian engineering. The exhibition also features two original 12ft models of the Great Eastern, from the yard of John Scott Russell‚ made to calculate the sizes of the wrought iron plates to be cut for the hull. The Science Museum until November.


Front Page: Celebrating 100 Years Of The British Newspaper (1906-2006) reflects the changes in news gathering, reporting and newspaper production over the past century, through a selection of front pages. These are arranged into themes ranging from royalty, society, scandal, sport and celebrations to war, disasters and assassinations. Each theme has been 'curated' by a newspaper group in order to highlight their individual editorial values and styles, revealing what the papers say about themselves and their evolving industry. Commentaries from editors and journalists provide an insight into the decision making process behind the formation of the front pages. The display features some of the headlines that have become legendary in their own right. These include the 1912 Daily Mirror headline "Titanic Sunk - No Lives Lost"; The Sun's 1982 headline "Gotcha" about the sinking of the Belgrano in the Falklands War; and the Independent on Sunday's 2003 headline on Saddam Hussain's weapons of mass destruction, "So where are they Mr Blair?". The centrepiece of the exhibition is an interactive 'newsroom' where visitors can use computers to become Editor of their own newspaper, taking on the job of making up a front page on screen, using individual newspaper house styles and choosing from a 'jigsaw' databank of prepared stories and photographs, while working to a tight deadline. There is also a competition Make The Front Page, which challenges entrants to design a newspaper front page of the future, write a compelling article on one of today's burning social, business or political issues, or take the photograph that captures the essence of the story behind the headlines. The British Library until 8th October.

Rex Whistler: The Triumph Of Fancy is the first major retrospective to bring together work in all media by one of the roaring 20s bright young things, who came to define an era of hedonistic decadence. It reveals the full extent of Whistler's achievement in the context of his 'live fast - die young' life and times. The exhibition traces Whistler's career as a painter, illustrator, muralist and stage designer for theatre, ballet and opera. It also shows how he moved in literary, social and artistic circles, numbering among his friends the Sitwells, Evelyn Waugh, Cecil Beaton, Edward James, Lord Berners and Stephen Tennant. The exhibition is divided into three chronological sections, which represent all Whistler's principal projects, with paintings, drawings and set designs, relating them to his life through portraits, photographs and mementos of his wide social circle. Whistler first achieved fame with his mural decorations for the Tate Gallery restaurant, 'The Expeditions in Pursuit of Rare Meats', an architectural fantasy, shot through with humorous touches, which immediately established him as the leading painter of his generation in this genre. Aside from his paintings, Whistler achieved widest recognition for the idiosyncratic, decorative and often amusing illustrations and jackets that he made for Gulliver's Travels, Hans Andersen's Tales and many popular books of his day. Brighton Museum until 3rd September.

Watercolours And Drawings From The Collection Of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is the first public exhibition devoted to the collection formed by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and includes many works that have never been shown in public before. It reflects the range of Queen Elizabeth's interests, and her enthusiastic patronage and support of contemporary artists from the 1930s onwards. From interiors and landscapes, to still lifes, figure studies and portraits, the selection of 73 drawings and watercolours, from over 500 that were hung on the walls of Clarence House and Royal Lodges, embraces artists ranging from Thomas Gainsborough to John Bratby. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth herself include works by Mabel Hankey and John Singer Sargent. Other subjects with Royal associations include John Piper, Hugh Casson and Paul Sandby's views of Windsor Castle and Great Park, R Beatrice Lawrence Smith and Albert Richardson's Glamis Castle, the Queen Mother's childhood home, Ricciardo Meacci's wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York, Muirhead Bone's Buckinham Palace after the 1937 Coronation, Feliks Topolski's funeral procession of King George VI and Charlotte Halliday's Queen Mother's birthday parade. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 29th October.

What's For Dinner? Half A Century Of British Eating Habits examines how the dramatic changes that have overtaken our eating habits over the last fifty years reveal the changes that have taken place in society. How we eat, where we eat, what we eat, and with whom, reflects both our place in the social and ethical diversity of Britain today, and also embodies our personal relationships with family, friends and neighbours. Fifty years ago the average woman spent 1 hour 40 minutes a day cooking for her family, and dinner was eaten as a group at the table in a dining room, whereas today, a cooking time of 8 minutes for a meal eaten in front of the television by a single person household is common. These changes are not just reflected in the food itself, but in the paraphernalia used to prepare, cook and eat it, as well as the spaces in which it is consumed. 'Contemporary' designs and new ideas in the late 1950s included the hostess trolley and oven-to-table cookware, whereas now it's woks and thumb plates. Gone are embroidered tablecloths, napkin rings, cruets and canteens of cutlery with special fish knives and forks - instead it's salt and pepper grinders and all in one fork-knife-spoon splades. The exhibition brings together video interviews, anecdotes, statistics, advertisements, photographs, recipes, magazines, packaging, tableware, utensils - and even the smell of boiled cabbage - to present a picture of a 'brave new world' that seems far more distant than just fifty years ago. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Middlesex University Cat Hill Campus, Barnet until 29th October.

A Modern Bestiary (While Darwin Sleeps…) is a contemporary version of a medieval bestiary: an illuminated manuscript describing both real and imaginary animals, in order to draw moral lessons from their different characteristics and types of behaviour. Each of the featured artists either creates their own fantastical species, or else reorders the animal kingdom into unexpected categories, where imagination triumphs over reason. Yuri A's film 'Unk', catalogues man made beasts, ordering hundreds of toy and souvenir animals into a sequence both alarming and comic. Tom G. Adriani's video 'The Boy Who Chose Sleep' mixes fantastical pencil drawings with still photographs to tell the stories of creatures which come to life through a boy's imagination. Ebony Andrews's taxidermied animals are transformed into extraordinary tableaux and quasi-functional objects. Paul Bush's film 'While Darwin Sleeps...' catalogues the infinite variety of the insect kingdom, revealing 3000 still images of insect species. Dawn Hannah's vinyl wall text proclaims that 'Monsters do exist'. Kate McLeod's neoclassical plaster sculptures are based upon human-canine cross breeds, akin to the mythical creatures described in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'. Bryndis Erla Hjalmarsdottir's animals create a tragicomic 'theatre of the absurd' recalling a W B Yeats poem. Robert Morgan's film 'The Cat With Hands' combines gothic horror with breathtaking imagery in a dark tale of metamorphosis. Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 1st July.

Felicitas Volger: The World Of Light provides a rare opportunity to see the unusual work of the German photographer who became the third wife of sculptor Ben Nicholson. They shared a passion for the abstract, and had a profound effect on each other's work. Put simply, Volger photographed landscapes in such a way that the resulting images look like abstract paintings. Volger's use of strong colour to construct abstract geometrical forms moved colour photography into an entirely new area. This exhibition, the first in Britain for over 30 years, comprises around 50 large scale photographs, spanning a career that lasted for almost 50 years. Having met in the St Ives artist colony, Volger and Nicholson moved to Switzerland, where they were both inspired by the natural grandeur of the dramatic mountain scenery. They would often work together - she would take photographs while he would sketch. In Switzerland the couple were part of another artist colony, which included Jean Art, Mark Rothko, Hans Hartung and Mark Tobey. Volger later travelled widely, photographing the dramatic natural landscapes of Tibet, South Africa, China, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. This collection of Volger's images is complemented by a small display of Nicholson's sculptures. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 9th July.


Rembrandt: The Printmaker celebrates the father of modern etching, who produced more than 300 prints over a period of 40 years. Rembrandt profoundly affected subsequent graphic art, encompassing some of the most radical and contemporary forms of expression. The exhibition of 60 works shows the range of his work, including, biblical scenes, landscapes, character studies and self portraits. Among the highlights are his masterpiece as a printmaker, 'Christ Healing the Sick', (which was known as the 'hundred guilder print', because it changed hands several times for what was then an enormous sum); the nocturnal scene of 'The Three Crosses' exemplifying his command of light and darkness - two different versions are shown, giving an insight into his working methods; the landscape 'The Three Trees', which creates, in layer upon layer of tone, graduations of distance and atmosphere; contrasted with the rapid sketch from nature 'Six's Bridge' (allegedly produced after wager that he could complete an etching in the time it took a servant to fetch a pot of mustard from a nearby village); together with a series of self portraits: at the age of 24, open mouthed with wild, curly hair, wearing an expression that he then transposed to the face of a beggar in a study of the same year, in his 30s, wearing Renaissance costume, leaning on a sill in a pose inspired by Titian, and a decade later, humbly working at a window with etching needle in hand. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, until 18th June.

Steve Bell Does Art marks 25 years of the 'If...' strip cartoon published in the Guardian, by featuring over 350 of the best known strips, plus other political cartoons by Bell, including those published during the Falklands War, which helped to make his name. Prior to finding a home at the Guardian, Bell's freelance career embraced the New Statesman, Punch, NME, City Limits, Private Eye and Time Out, where one of his first strips was 'Maggie's Farm', which was condemned in the House of Lords as 'an almost obscene series of caricatures'. Since 1990 he has produced four large free standing cartoons a week on the leader pages of the Guardian. Bell has created many lasting images of politicians over the years, such as John Major as Superman with his underpants over his trousers, and John Prescott as a simple minded bulldog, and he was the first person to spot that the mad eyed stare of "call me Tony" Blair, is eerily reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher. In addition to the cartoons, the exhibition also includes over 30 of Bell's less well known respectful art pastiches, which either copy revered artworks, or draw on the style of historical artists. References include Michelango, Rembrandt, Goya, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Turner and Ford Madox Brown. University of Leeds Gallery until 16th June.

Pixar: 20 Years Of Animation provides an artistic and technological insight into the studio that revolutionised animated films, from Toy Story to the forthcoming Cars. The exhibition brings together 250 concept drawings, rough sketches (including early pencil drawings of Woody and Buzz Lightyear) and paintings; 50 3-D maquettes - resin figures created to ensure that the details of the characters are accurate; and computer generated multimedia artworks, to demonstrate the creativity behind the technology. It reveals how the studio has driven advances in technology to allow it to bring imagined worlds to life. Technological developments with CGI (computer-generated images) are charted through refinements over the years, which have achieved ever-greater degrees of realism through subtle changes in skin, fur‚ and other surfaces. The material reveals the levels of detail needed to realise and develop characters‚ storylines and worlds - three key elements utilised by Pixar in film production. At the heart of the exhibition are two specially created audio visual marvels. The first is a spectacular 8ft diameter zoetrope, a cinema device that creates the optical illusion of static images in motion, which features characters from both Toy Story films and uses a series of strobe lights to animate Buzz‚ Woody‚ Wheezy and others. The second is Artscape, an 11 minute audio visual installation that utilises digital technology to immerse viewers in various works on view. The exhibition also looks at the history of animation in film‚ using objects from the museum's permanent collection‚ including original Victorian magic lanterns‚ zoetropes‚ cameras and early pieces of animated film. The Science Museum until 10th June.