Private View held by Richard Andrews
Mass Observation: This Is Your Photo offers an examination of the role of photography in the Mass Observation Archive. Mass Observation began as a radical experiment in social science and is considered to be one of the most intriguing surveys of its kind in the 20th century. It was formed by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, journalist and poet Charles Madge and Surrealist painter and filmmaker Humphrey Jennings. The organisation aspired to gain insight into the lives, opinions and daily thoughts and habits of the British people. The objective was to counter what the group perceived to be the inaccurate representation of the nation as set out by the media and politicians. The first part of the exhibition features material from 1937to 1948, including Humphrey Spender's photographs in Bolton as well as his pictures of the Blackpool illuminations; Michael Wickham's photographs of crowds queuing for the V&A's industrial and product design exhibition Britain Can Make It; experiments in art appreciation involving local miners in County Durham known as the Ashington Group; the pioneer of colour photography John Hinde's photographs from Exmoor Village and of Circus Life; and a collage work and photographs by Julian Trevelyan, alongside his Collage Suitcase, a self-contained, portable studio which always accompanied his travels. The second part of the exhibition mainly comprises of snapshots taken from questionnaires, known as Directives, from 1981 onwards, often accompanied by written accounts, and focused on the observer's domestic life, plus photographs from One Day For Life, a national competition, based on pictures taken during a single day. The exhibition is an archive of everyday life - but seemingly of another world. The Photographer's Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1, 2nd August to 29th September.
Aquatopia: The Imaginary Of The Ocean Deep explores how the ocean deep has been imagined in art across cultures and through time. Ninety percent of the earth's oceans remain unexplored, and in the absence of knowledge the deep is a site where imagination has full rein. The exhibition reveals how human societies have projected their desires, their will to power, and their fear of difference and mortality onto the often mysterious and weird life-forms the ocean sustains. The art shown here has strong links with powerful literary archetypes, including The Odyssey, The Tempest, The Ancient Mariner, Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Aquatopia's briny depths are populated with ancient sea monsters and futuristic dolphin embassies, sirens and paramilitary gill-men, sperm whales and water babies, shipwrecks and submersibles, giant squids and lecherous octopi. The ocean's fantastical species are envisioned in paintings, drawings and sculptures by JMW Turner, Marcel Broodthaers, Oskar Kokoshka, Barbara Hepworth, Odilon Redon, Lucian Freud and Hokusai, amongst others. Alongside these are video, performance, sculpture and paintings by significant figures in contemporary art, such as Mark Dion, Spartacus Chetwynd, Sean Landers, The Otolith Group, Simon Starling, Wangechi Mutu, Steve Claydon, Juergen Teller, Alex Bag, Christian Holstad and Mikhail Karikis.Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery until 22nd September.
Horrible Histories: Spies explores the world of spies and spying during the Second World War. It is a family friendly exhibition based on Terry Deary's book of the same name from his Horrible Histories series, and shares their irreverent humour and imagination. The show features artefacts from Second World War, hands-on activities, digital and interactive elements and a 'stamper trail' that sets visitors on their own mission. Divided into themes such as Ruthless Resistance, Cracking Codes, Great Gadgets, Savage Sabotage and Clever Camouflage, it shows techniques used by the most cunning spies, including how to make invisible ink, crack codes and use fake feet. From exploding camel poo to irritating itching powder, this exhibition reveals the terrible tricks, traps and techniques used by spies to make secret war on the enemy - all the gore and more!
Omer Fast: 5000 Feet Is The Best is a new film offering a challenging exploration of the nature of contemporary conflict. It takes its name from the optimum operational flight altitude of a US Air Force Predator drone, and is based on a series of interviews Omer Fast conducted with a former drone operator. Speaking mostly off-camera, the drone operator details the psychological impact of engaging an enemy from thousands of miles away. Switching between documentary interview footage and fictionalised re-enactments, Fast creates a multifaceted and unstable sense of reality. The film offers a subtle exploration of how the use of drones is rapidly changing the politics, principles and personal experience of contemporary conflict.
Imperial War Museum, London, until 29th September.
The Future Is Here examines the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming the world. New manufacturing techniques involve the users of products as never before, revolutionising the role of the consumer. How we manufacture, fund, distribute, and buy everything from cars to shoes is progressing fast. The boundaries between designer, maker and consumer are disappearing, with a growing movement of 'hacktivists', who share and download digital designs online in order to customise them for new uses. The exhibition looks at what exactly drives innovation, and how it can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. It reveals how the new industrial revolution has the potential to affect everyone, radically altering our attitudes to the pace of change driven by new technology. Emerging technologies and platforms such as crowd funding, social networking digital looms, online marketplaces, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotech, networked manufacturing, CNC [computer numerical controlled] routing and open-source micro computing, are all removing the barriers of access to manufacturing. It is the role of designers and the design process to participate in exciting new technologies, so that more people than ever before can take part in the production of our physical world. Mass customisation is a central story: from trainer manufacturers offering personalised shoes on a global scale, to 3D printed dolls with features that consumers can design and order online. A carbon loom invented by Lexus to weave car parts such as steering wheels and dashboards from strong carbon fibre is represented, and other exhibits include an open-source approach to architecture, the WikiHouse. The exhibition includes the first 'Factory' of its kind, where visitors can discover how 3D printing works and witness live production. Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London SE1, until 3rd November.
Turner & Constable Sketching From Nature explores how the art of oil sketching in the landscape, rather than in the studio, became fashionable in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The exhibition comprises some 60 works by JMW Turner, John Constable and their contemporaries, George Stubbs, John Linnell, William Henry Hunt, John Sell Cotman, John Crome, Francis Danby, Thomas Jones, George Robert Lewis and Augustus Wall Callcott. The display gives an insight into the different approach each artist used for oil sketching, illustrating a variety of approaches similar subjects, at a time when oil sketching en plein air was still comparatively unusual. It introduces visitors to the practice and techniques of sketching, and the often surprising connections that can be drawn between the artists involved. These comparisons prompt questions about the importance of oil sketching in this period and how finished works were planned, evolved and executed. The oil paintings represent six principal landscape themes: sketching from nature; the closer view; water, shapes and silhouettes' the shapes of landscape; rural nature and looking heavenwards. Highlights include Turner's 'The Thames near Walton Bridges', 'Godalming from the South' and 'Barge on the Tiver, Sunset'; and Constable's 'The Grove, Hampstead', 'Hampstead Heath, with the House Called The Salt Box' and 'The Sea near Brighton'. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 22nd September.
War Games looks at the role of warfare in children's play from 1800 to the present day. The exhibition investigates how toys recreate and represent war, and asks why children play war games. War has always been replicated in children's play with toys and games often reflecting contemporary conflict and technology. They have also been used as tools of propaganda, as well as to instil a sense of militarism and nationalism in children. Over 100 objects examine the effect of war and conflict on toys and games through four thematic sections: Playing At War, with historic dressing up clothes, a range of toy weapons and strategy games, illustrating that children create pretend guns despite disapproving parents and teachers; On The Battlefield, providing a chronological overview of combat, exploring how toys have imitated the changing technology of weaponry, new geographies of war zones and the creation of new armies; Reality To Fantasy, looking at the change that came in the aftermath of the World Wars, when exposure to the brutality of war led to public distaste for war toys and manufacturers looked to the space race of the 1950s and 1960s, and its absorption into popular culture, leading to space rangers and ray guns; and Secret Weapons, revealing the use of toys in warfare - to train and influence, to comfort and heal, and to aid escape, questioning the role of war toys as tools of propaganda or patriotism. Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2, until 9th March.
Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out explores the ideas and ethos of the internationally renowned architect and urbanist at his 80th birthday. The exhibition examines the social, political and cultural influences on Richard Rogers, and their connection to his architecture. Previously unseen original material, drawings and personal items, present a unique insight into the thinking behind one of the world's most celebrated architects. The exhibition draws on key stages in Rogers' life, from the influence of his Italian family, his experience of wartime and post-war Britain, his education at the Architectural Association and Yale, and the impact of seeing new American architecture and technology. For over half a century, Rogers has advocated the social objectives of architecture, the importance of public space, urban regeneration and better planning, through innovative design, believing that architecture is the most powerful agent for social change. The high profile projects showcased include the Centre Pompidou, designed with Renzo Piano and still considered one of the most radical modern buildings, the headquarters for Lloyd's of London, and the Bordeaux Law Courts.
Sir Hugh Casson PRA: Making Friends explores the multifaceted artistic personality of one of Britain's most popular architects of the 20th century, revealing a spirited and significant contribution to British architectural life from a man of great wit and charm. Sir Hugh Casson bridged the often acrimonious gap in art and architecture between traditionalists and modernists, drawing Britain into the modern age, most notably as Director of Architecture of the 1951 Festival of Britain. The display brings to life Casson's charismatic personality, featuring watercolours, sketches, architectural drawings, publications, children's' books, images of his buildings, illustrated letters, photographs and memorabilia. Highlights include the transformation of aircraft hangars into rural buildings for the Air Ministry's Camouflage Service during the Second World War; stage designs for theatre and opera, many for Glyndebourne; and illustrative work, such as Midwinter Pottery, stamps and wine labels. In a short film, Brief City, Casson offers a personal tour of the Festival of Britain.
Royal Academy of Arts, Richard Rogers until 13th October ~ Hugh Casson until 22nd September.
Exultant Strangeness: Graham Sutherland Landscapes examines one of the great British landscape painters and, during the 1940s and 1950s, one of its most famous artists. Initially inspired by the visionary landscapes of 18th and 19th century artists such as William Blake and Samuel Palmer, Graham Sutherland transcended his influences to create a vocabulary that was uniquely his own. This exhibition reveals the power of Sutherland's imagination and demonstrates the diverse ways in which he transformed his experience of his environment. Central to Sutherland's conception of the landscape was the 'accidental encounter' - the small-scale natural forms, such as tree roots, stones or foliage, that he would stumble upon by chance and work up into new creations. At the same time, he might also take a wide, open landscape and make it feel enclosed and self-contained as if it were an object. The exhibition features striking, otherworldly landscapes from throughout Sutherland's career: early, meticulous etchings which owe a debt to masters such as Rembrandt, Whistler and Palmer, the fluid drawings and iconic paintings from the 1930s and 1940s with their haunting forms, sinuous lines and daring compositions, and the mysterious late landscapes, rich in colour and often monumental in scale. Among the highlights are 'Entrance to a Lane', 'Green Tree Form', 'Western Hills', 'Narrow Road between Hedges', 'Welsh Landscape with Roads', 'Bamboo Forest' and 'Rocky Landscape with Sullen Sky'. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, until 15th September.
Laura Knight Portraits features the work of an artist whose portraits show a distinctive picture of 20th century Britain. The exhibition includes commissioned portraits by Laura Knight alongside those made with members from specific social groups such as circus performers, Gypsies, the ballet and war portraits. Knight began work as a resident in the artists' community at Newlyn, Cornwall, en plein air in an Impressionist style. Sitters there include the artist Lamorna Birch and poet W H Davies, and she also produced her idiosyncratic 'Self Portrait', in which she has her back to the viewer, painting her friend, the ceramicist and enamellist Ella Naper, posing as a nude model. In the 1920s Knight became famous for her backstage depictions of actors and dancers at the Ballets Russes and London theatres, including ballerina Lydia Lopokova and actress Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies. In Baltimore, USA, she worked in the racially segregated hospital wards, making drawings of the patients, including highly sensitive drawings of the children she met there. In the following decade Knight travelled for several months with Bertram Mills and Great Carmo's touring circus painting the performers in and out of the ring. She then spent a number of years painting Gypsies at the Epsom Races and was invited to a Gypsy settlement in Iver, Buckinghamshire. During the Second World War Knight produced portraits of female members of the auxiliary air force and munitions workers, aimed to attract further female recruits, featuring women who had achieved particular distinction in their field or decoration for great acts of courage. Knight's painting of the Nuremberg Trials is one of her most remarkable achievements, the multi-figure scene representing the view from the press box in the courtroom. National Portrait Gallery until 13th October.
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 11,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Norman Ackroyd and Eva Jiricna. Among the highlights are Grayson Perry's series of 6 contemporary tapestries 'The Vanity of Small Differences', inspired by Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress'; a room dedicated to portraiture, with new works by Frank Auerbach, Tom Phillips, Michael Craig-Martin and Alex Katz; a new large-scale sculpture by Anthony Caro; and works by Ron Arad, Sean Scully and Jock McFadyen. The Royal Academy of Arts until 18th August.
Stradivarius celebrates the life and work of the only maker of musical instruments whose name ranks alongside those of the great composers. This is the first major exhibition devoted to the work of Antonio Stradivari ever to be held in Britain. It puts on show 21 of his most important and well-preserved instruments, some of which have never before been displayed in public, to reveal the brilliance of his craft. These instruments are the finest and most beautiful of their kind, with 11 dating from Stradivari's 'Golden Period', between 1700 and 1720, when he was the height of his creative powers, and making instruments that became the classic models on which later violins and cellos were based. Among the star items are the 'Viotti' violin of 1709, which belonged to the violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti, who did more than anyone to establish the fame of Stradivari's violins in the early 19th century; the 'Batta-Piatigorsky' cello of 1714, played by the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky; and the 'Messiah' violin, Stradivari's best-preserved and most famous remaining instrument. There is also a recreation of Stradivari's workshop, displaying his original tools, wooden models and patterns, which allow visitors to follow the creation of a violin from a log of spruce wood through to the finished instrument, and to explore the techniques and artistry of violin making. Recordings and interviews with leading musicians provide an opportunity to hear some of Stradivari's instruments that are still being played. There is an accompanying display of paintings, etchings, drawings and photographs, providing background to Stradivari and his instruments. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 11th August.
Silver Service provides an opportunity to experience the unique culture of fine dining in Roman Britain in an intimate recreation of a late Roman dining room. The Mildenhall hoard is one of the most important collections of late-Roman silver tableware from the Roman Empire. This display features the iconic Great Dish, and reveals its central role at the very heart of the Roman meal. Made in AD 350, this glorious silver platter is exquisitely decorated with classical imagery that features a drinking contest between Bacchus, the god of wine, and the hero Hercules. A slice of late Roman life is recreated through video projections, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in an era where music, poetry, acrobats and dancing girls entertained the richest in society. It was an age where each Roman's status was reflected in their position at dinner, from the standing slaves to the elite reclining on stibadium (curved couches). The Great Dish is accompanied by two silver platters; with Bacchic scenes related in style and subject to the dish; decorated silver spoons; silver ladles decorated with dolphin handles; a silver dish with niello decoration; and 3 silver bowls, with chased leaf and geometric patterns, and animals in hunting and pastoral scenes. The curious drama of the discovery 70 years ago of the Mildenhall treasure in a Suffolk field inspired Roald Dahl to write his celebrated story and adds to its rich mythology. British Museum until 4th August.