Private View held by Richard Andrews
Seduced By Art: Photography Past And Present explores the relationship between historical painting, early photography of the mid 19th century, and work being done by photographers today. The exhibition looks at how photographers use fine art traditions, including Old Master painting, to explore the possibilities of their art. Rather than being a general survey, the show draws attention to one particular strand of photography's history, in major early works by the greatest British and French practitioners, alongside photographs by an international array of contemporary artists. The exhibition includes new photography and video specially commissioned for the show and on public display for the first time, plus works rarely seen in Britain. Paintings and early and contemporary photographs are presented together according to traditional genres such as portraiture, still life and landscape. These include provocative religious imagery by 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and late 20th century artist Helen Chadwick; spectacular battlefield tableaux by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet from 1821 and Luc Delahaye's work of 2001; Martin Parr's satire of class aspiration 'Signs of the Times' displayed alongside Thomas Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews'; photographs by Craigie Horsfield and the Victorian artist David Wilkie Wynfield showing the Baroque influence of Anthony van Dyck; painted and photographed nudes with controversial works by early photographers such as Oscar Gustav Rejlander and contemporary practitioners like Richard Learoyd; and landscapes by the early French photographer Gustave Le Gray and contemporary artists such as Jem Southam and Richard Billingham, capped by a huge eight part photogravure by Tacita Dean. In addition, three 'interventions' of contemporary photographs by Richard Billingham, Craigie Horsfield and Richard Learoyd are displayed in the permanent collection, juxtaposed with 19th century paintings by Constable, Degas and Ingres. National Gallery until 30th January.
Beyond Bagpuss - An Artist's Journey is a retrospective of the work of the artist and illustrator Linda Birch. The exhibition features work from Birch's early days as illustrator of the children's characters Pogle's Wood, Bagpuss and The Clangers, working with the legendary animators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, through her long career as painter, teacher and writer. Birch has illustrated some 150 books, including Conker by Michael Morpurgo, and Who Shot Queen Victoria, by Horrible Histories author Terry Deart. Altogether the exhibition features some 40 works, including illustrations from Bagpuss, along with artwork from the BBC's Jackanory series, such as Simon And The Witch, photographs, sketchbooks and new paintings of landscapes, wild flowers and animals, both farm and domestic, plus a video of her at work, outlining her 40 year career. Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, until 17th February.
Ritual And Revelry: The Art Of Drinking In Asia reveals the importance of water, alcohol and tea in cultures across Asia over the past 2,500 years. From Bronze Age China to modern South Asia, liquids have played an important role in both religious and secular spheres, though the boundaries between them are often fluid. The exhibition celebrates the ritual and social uses of liquids including sake (rice wine), toddy, water and the mighty Asian drink that has conquered the world - tea. The importance of tea is illustrated through many exceptional objects, including an exquisite silver tea set from Bhuj in Western India, where the handles have been shaped into bamboo stems, and a Japanese brazier shaped like a demon's face, pronouncing judgment on those around it. Tea became popular among Buddhist monks in the mountainous areas of southern China where conditions were good for cultivation. From the monasteries tea drinking then spread to the educated elite and on to the rest of society. Before the advent of steeped tea (leaves brewed in hot water) in the 15th century, large bowls such the black-glazed wares from the Jian kilns in northern Fujian were used, as seen in this display. The exhibition features vessels for drinking, pouring and performing religious offerings, as well as depictions showing their use in paintings and prints, covering their significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, as well as traditional Chinese and Japanese religious practices. The social side of liquids is revealed in sections on revelry and intoxication. These include stories of consumption of sake in the pleasure districts of Tokyo, alcohol in the Mughal courts of India and drinking games in China. The exhibition also uncovers the spread of tea across Asia, its use in the iconic Japanese tea ceremony and how butter tea is drunk in Tibet. British Museum until 6th January.
Hollywood Costume brings together some of the most iconic costumes from over a century of filmmaking, charting a journey from early Charlie Chaplin silent pictures to the motion capture costume design for 'Avatar'. The exhibition comprises over 130 costumes, with classics from the Golden Age, including Dorothy's blue and white gingham pinafore dress designed by Adrian for 'The Wizard Of Oz' , Scarlett O'Hara's green 'curtain' dress designed by Walter Plunkett for 'Gone With The Wind' and the 'little black dress' designed by Hubert De Givenchy for Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', with the latest Hollywood releases, including Consolata Boyle's costumes for Meryl Streep in 'The Iron Lady' and Jacqueline Durran's costumes for Kiera Knightley in 'Anna Karenina'. It explores the central role of costume design, from the glamorous to the very subtle, as an essential tool of cinema storytelling, illuminating the designer's creative process from script to screen, and revealing the collaborative dialogue that leads to the invention of authentic people within the story. The exhibition also examines the changing social and technological context in which costume designers have worked over the last century. From Joan Crawford's blue gingham waitress uniform in 'Mildred Pierce' by Milo Anderson, through Elizabeth Taylor's dress as 'Cleopatra' by Irene Sharaff, to the white 3 piece suit worn by John Travolta in 'Saturday Night Fever' by Patrizia Von Brandenstein, these costumes are united by their one purpose of serving the story. Using montages, film clips and projections, the clothes are placed in their original context, alongside interviews with key Hollywood costume designers, directors and actors talking about the role costume plays in creating a character. The steps of the costume designer's research process are explored using designs and sketches, photographs showing costume fittings, budget breakdowns and script pages to show dialogue that discloses character defining clues. Victoria & Albert Museum until 27th January.
Collective Observations: Folklore & Photography From Benjamin Stone To Flickr explores the complimentary relationship between photography and folklore practice. Since Benjamin Stone established the National Photographic Record Association in 1897, photographers have had a fascination with the rites and rituals of Britain. This exhibition, curated by the Museum of British Folklore, features contemporary photographers such as Faye Claridge and Doc Rowe, alongside archive images from the Benjamin Stone Collection, Flickr and more. There are 720 recorded events, rites and customs practiced in the UK each year, and folklore is reflected in every element of our community, life and values. The medium of photography captures the ephemeral moment that is the heart of folk activity. The exhibition considers the enduring appeal of vernacular traditions as subject matter for image makers, and explores how photographers have consistently turned their lenses toward the spectacle of these archaic customs, whether by documenting events, like Homer Sykes (cheese rolling) and Sara Hannant, making portraits, like Henry Bourne and David Ellison, or taking a more conceptual approach, like Matthew Cowan (morris dancers) and Tom Chick. Photographs from the image repository of our times, Flickr, reflect that folklore is adapting to new circumstances, and remains as relevant today as ever. At the same time there appears to be an upsurge of interest in folklore through music, art and dance, and a growing trend and desire for people to reconnect with their communities, heritage and environment. Towner Galler, Eastbourne, until 13th January.
Richard Hamilton: The Late Works is a final statement of intent by one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Up to his death in September 2011, Richard Hamilton was planning this major exhibition of recent works. It includes 30 paintings in a labyrinth-like space, also designed by Hamilton, encapsulating many of the influential directions his art had taken over recent decades. Just before his death, Hamilton was at work on a major painting based on Honore de Balzac's short story 'Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu'. When it became clear he would not live to finish the work, Hamilton decided that the exhibition would culminate in the initial presentation of three large-scale variations on this work. Each one shows three masters of painting, Poussin, Courbet and Titian, contemplating a reclining female nude, and together, they suggest how the final work might have evolved. The exhibition traces several themes of Hamilton's career from the 1980s. They include his exacting attention to single-point perspective and the pictorial creation of interior spaces; the theme of the beautiful woman and desire; and his later interest in space and perspective in works by Renaissance artists. The show also surveys Hamilton's engagement over more than 50 years with the art of Marcel Duchamp, whose master themes, including the nude descending a staircase and the bride stripped bare, he re-addressed. In addition, Hamilton's innovations as a pioneer in the artistic use of the computer, and his advocacy of the use of computer technology, collage and photography in his pictures are also examined. National Gallery until 13th January.
Doctors, Dissection And Resurrection Men explores the extreme lengths to which 19th century medical pioneers were prepared to go to increase anatomical understanding. Victorian surgeons faced a torturous dilemma: learn their skills on stolen corpses or practice on a living patient - and so began a gruesome trade. Body-snatchers, or 'resurrection men', stalked the city's graveyards to supply fresh corpses for medical dissection. In 2006, archaeologists excavated a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, revealing some 262 burials. Amid the confusing mix of bones was extensive evidence of dissection, autopsy, amputation, bones wired for teaching, and animals dissected for comparative anatomy. Dating from the period of the Anatomy Act of 1832, the discovery offered fresh insight into early 19th century dissection and the trade in dead bodies. Passed amid deep public fear following a notorious case of murder for dissection, this fiercely-debated Act gave the State the right to take 'unclaimed' bodies without consent, and remained almost entirely unchanged until the Human Tissue Act of 2004. Bringing together human and animal remains, exquisite anatomical models and drawings, documents and original artefacts, this exhibition reveals the shadowy practices prompted by a growing demand for corpses. Amongst others, it tells the story of grave robbers Bishop, Williams and May - London's Burke and Hare - and sheds new light on the case of an alleged 'resurrectionist', who died in prison while his wife protested his innocence. The exhibition also includes unrivalled evidence of surgery and amputation - before anaesthetic - and of dissection, anatomical teaching and students practising their craft. Museum of London until 14th April.
Love And Death: Victorian Paintings looks at the themes of love, beauty, tragedy and death, as explored by late 19th century artists. The opening section of the exhibition examines the Victorian fascination with life in the classical world, from lovers' flirtations to dramatic martyrdom, including Alma Tadema's 'Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon', 'A Silent Greeting' and 'A Favourite Custom'; Frederic Leighton's 'The Bath of Psyche' and 'Lieder ohne Worte'; and Albert Moore's 'Dreamers' and 'Sapphires'. The highlight of the exhibition is John William Waterhouse's 'The Lady of Shalott', shown alongside earlier depictions of the subject by William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Arthur Gaskin; and Herbert Draper's 'The Lament for Icarus'. The final section looks at magic and the mysterious, including George Frederic Watts's 'The All-Pervading'; Anna Lea Merritt's 'Love Locked Out'; Waterhouse's 'The Magic Circle'; and Frederick Sandys's 'Medea' and 'Morgan-le-Fay'. The paintings are complemented by sculpture, sketches and works on paper exploring the same themes, including Frederic Leighton's preparatory oil for 'And The Sea Gave Up The Dead That Were In It', and his pencil study for the profile of Romeo in 'The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets over the Dead Bodies of Romeo and Juliet'. Birmingham Museum until 13th January.
The Lost Prince: The Life And Death Of Henry Stuart is the first ever exhibition about the Jacobean Prince of Wales, marking the 400th anniversary of his death. The exhibition focuses on a remarkable period in British history, dominated by a prince whose death at a young age precipitated widespread national grief, and led to the accession to the throne of his younger brother, the doomed King Charles I. It comprises over 80 exhibits, including paintings, drawings, miniatures, manuscripts, books, armour and other artefacts. Henry Stuart was the first British royal to actively collect European renaissance paintings, and he acquired the first collection of Italian renaissance bronzes in England. He brought the first collection of antique coins and medals to England, and also assembled the largest and most important library in the land. Henry's patronage of court masques and festivals, architecture and garden design established his court as a rival to the great princely courts of Europe. The exhibition includes some of the most important works of art and culture produced and collected in the Jacobean period, illustrating the artistic and creative community that developed under his patronage, including portraits by Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Robert Peake and Isaac Oliver, masque designs by Inigo Jones, and poetry by Ben Jonson in his own hand. Henry's death inspired a stream of poetical and musical tributes, published in nearly 50 contemporary volumes. The exhibition displays, for the first time in two centuries, the remains of Prince Henry's funeral effigy with an engraving that shows it lying on his hearse, dressed in his clothes. National Portrait Gallery until 13th January.
Daring Explorers reveals some of the situations that Victorian species seekers had to deal with, risking their lives in remote places, collecting animals and plants in the name of science. Surviving rhino attacks, typhoid and shipwrecks, these men, and a few women, left an important legacy, and their stories are told through hair-raising letters to loved ones, 'holiday snaps' and the specimens and equipment that made it back to England, even if sometimes the collectors didn't. The exhibition focuses on four fearless collectors, and compares their daring and skills: Charles M Harris, whose first expedition attempt to the Galapagos in 1897 was a disaster - the ship's captain died of yellow fever, one man was sacked for drunkenness and another ran away; William Doherty, who lost several years' worth of collections, journals and scientific notes in Java, Indonesia; Henry Palmer, who ran out of cash and could not send his specimens back or even leave Hawaii until more money arrived; and Alexander F R Wollaston, who lost most of his equipment and his original expedition diary when his canoe capsized in a remote area of New Guinea in 1912. But it's not just the collector's stories that still captivate. Many of the specimens that made it home continue to be used in scientific research, revealing fascinating information to scientists today. Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, until 18th November.
The Search For Immortality: Tomb Treasures Of Han China takes visitors into the 2000 year old tombs of Han Dynasty China, revealing an epic story of lust for power both in life and death. The Han Dynasty were the founders of unified rule in China as we know it today, but to maintain their empire, the emperors had to engage in constant struggles for power. The exhibition compares the spectacular tombs of two rival power factions: the Han imperial family in the northern 'cradle' of Chinese history, and the Kingdom of Nanyue in the south. Protected by clay guardians and filled with jade and gold, the tombs were palaces fit for immortals. Each tomb was a symbol of power and majesty, designed so its owner could 'live' again in eternity in the same luxury they enjoyed in life. Over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and ceramics reveal the secrets of the royal obsession with obtaining immortality. Among the highlights are: two burial armour suits belonging to the rival rulers, made from thousands of plaques of jade, sewn together with gold or silk thread; jade artefacts thought to ward off demons, such as a dagger to serve the emperor in the afterlife, and a cup to catch the morning dew that ensured immortality; spectacular objects in gold, including imperial seals and exotic belt buckles; pottery soldiers and bronze weapons; pottery dancers, musicians and servants; and unusual artefacts including a toilet and an early ginger grater. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 11th November.
Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for 6 miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. New features this year include Strobostorm, a kaleidoscope of stroboscopic lights created using over 1000 individual strobe lights; Nickelodeon, featuring 12 huge fibreglass characters from the television channel; Colourama Galaxy, with over 2000 multi-coloured lights in the sky, randomly twinkling in ever-changing patterns; and Snowflake In A Snowstorm, a series of 10 gigantic led snowflakes; plus old favourites Haunted House, Teddy Bears Picnic, Theatre D'Amour, Rangoli Peacock and Sanuk renewed and improved. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from dusk to 11.30pm most nights. Blackpool Promenade, until 4th November.