Private View held by Richard Andrews
Gio Ponti - A World celebrates the achievements of one of the most influential European architects and designers of 20th century. A painter, poet, writer and teacher, as well as an architect and designer, Ponti led Italy's post war design renaissance. He also founded and edited the much respected architecture magazine Domus. Sixty years of work in thirteen countries spanned the extravagant Villa Planchart in Caracas (known as the Butterfly House) to the La Pavoni espresso machine that came to symbolise La Dolce Vita in the 1950s. Along the way, it took in stage sets and costumes for La Scala Milan; the Casino at San Remo, decorated with enormous playing car motifs; Murano glassware; the elegant Superleggera Chair, which is still in production after 40 years; Taranto Cathedral, conceived as 'a sail'; the interiors of four liners; and the recently newsworthy Pirelli Tower, dubbed 'Europe's first true skyscraper' in Milan. Ponti was influential not just because he was so prolific, but because much of his work was in collaboration with other artists, designers and craftsmen. Design Museum until 6th October.
The Deep claims to be the world's first Submarium - a fusion of aquarium and state of the art 'interactives' - which tells the story of the world's oceans through time, latitude and depth. Visitors travel in an underwater lift through Europe's deepest tank, containing 2.5m litres of water. This provides a home for seven species of shark, including Britain's only grey reef shark, plus other species from all the world's oceans, such as the humphead wrasse, which grows to the size of a small car. Having arrived on the seabed, visitors can then walk beneath 10 metres of water, with sea creatures circling above them. Features include a recreation of the Big Bang, the geology of the seabed explaining how gas and oil deposited are formed, and the different ocean environments from tropical coral lagoons to the icy wastes of Antarctica. This is a £45m project, half funded by the Millennium Commission, housed in a landmark building by Terry Farrell & Partners, which was inspired by natural geological land formations. The Deep, Hull continuing.
Behind The Mask is an examination of portraiture, considering three different themes: the face, the private personality, and the public front. It aims to find out to what extent portraiture can penetrate beneath surface appearance, and reveal to the viewer the real person being portrayed. The exhibition explores the techniques, symbols and messages that are used to convey information about both the outer appearance, and the inner personality of the subject, and how truthful these depictions are. It features the first showing outside London of the National Portrait Gallery's first ever 'conceptual portrait', Marc Quinn's Genomic Portrait of Sir John Sulston. This uses Sulston's DNA, so that whilst not depicting the geneticist's features, it is an exact representation of the sitter, in that it presents the viewer with a detail of his genome, and therefore carries the actual instructions that led to his creation, capturing all that is unique about him. Other artists represented include Francis Bacon, Louis-Leopold Boilly, Michael Clarke, Victoria Crowe, Gilbert and George, Goya, David Hockney, Alphonse Legros, Lewis Morley, Henry Raeburn, Ceri Richards, Kurt Schwitters, and Andy Warhol. Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne until 25th May.
Return Of The Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries provides the first opportunity in this country to see the finest possible examples of a whole artistic tradition formerly invisible to western audiences. In 1996 workmen clearing land in the town of Qingzhou in Shandong Province in eastern China unearthed a hoard of more than 400 Buddhist sculptures. The discovery of these figures, buried for over 900 years, is one of the most significant archaeological finds of recent times. It offers a remarkable insight into the nature and tradition of Chinese Buddhist art, and is immensely important for the history of Buddhism. The high quality and vast number of the sculptures has left archaeologists speculating as to why so many Buddhist figures, dating primarily from a 50 year period in the sixth century, were buried in a carefully constructed pit within the precincts of a monastery. Many of the statues are in remarkably fine condition, still bearing the original blue, red, green and ochre paint, and a number also retain the gold applied to the face and body of the Buddha to indicate his sun-like radiance. The Royal Academy of Arts until 14th July.
Vampire and Tomb Blaster are the latest of this year's new theme park attractions. Vampire is billed as the world's first suspended, swinging floorless ride (well you can't open a ride nowadays unless it's the world's first something). Victims are swept through the sky above the treetops with sickening swoops and twists. Tomb Blaster is an interactive adventure ride where combatants are armed with laser guns and must battle with the tomb's ancient inhabitants to lift its terrible curse. They join the existing white knucklers of Samauri, a 360° loop with a force of up to 4.5G; and Rameses Revenge, with height, speed, water and Egyptians in a Forbidden Kingdom; plus Denis the Menace's Madhouse in Beanoland - watch out softies! Further information can be found (with an interactive map promised soon) on the Chessington World Of Adventures web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Chessington World Of Adventures, until 3rd November.
Milan In A Van launches a new Contemporary Space, which will provide a showcase for contemporary design, craft, fashion, photography, architecture and the graphic arts, from around the world. This exhibition is truly upmarket Pickfords, in that it features the latest designs from the Milan Furniture Fair, with new products, materials and prototypes, including work by participants in the Fringe Fair, which features over 3000 up and coming designers. Strange shapes and very bright colours predominate - suffice to say that wood and traditional furnishing fabrics don't get much of a look in. Among the star designers whose work is included are Ron Arad, the Bourelec brothers and Pia Wallen. Don't miss Tom Dixon's Spaghetti Chaise Longue (extruded PVC rather than pasta); Konstantin Grcic's Public One Chair (aluminium and concrete); Tord Boontje's Blossom Chandelier (crystal and LED lights); and Humberto Campana's Sushi Chair (various fabrics in an elasticated tube). Victoria & Albert Museum until 9th June.
Turbulent Landscapes explores how the natural forces that shape our world inspire artists. It is an interactive art-science exhibition that lets visitors experience natural phenomena on a human scale, and encourages them to experiment. International artists Ned Kahn, Shawn Lani, Gail Wight, Michael Brown, Doug Hollis and Skip Sweeney have created nineteen installations using raw materials such as wind, water and sand, which capture the powerful and complex make up of our landscapes. These include: Magnetic Field Stone, where sand 'dances'; A Single Drop, with ripples and patterns created by falling water; Tornado, an indoors twister producing with a mist generator; and Air Rings with circles of air creating a vortex. There are also thrice daily performances of a specially commissioned aerial show by Scarabeus Theatre, with performers suspended from ropes and harnesses, interpreting the natural phenomena through movement, light and sound. Natural History Museum until 15th September.
Maelstrom, the latest of this year's new theme park attractions, hailed as Britain's scariest ride, is a £1m gyro-swing. The victims face outwards in a circular gondola at the end of a 17.4m long pendulum, which swings to a height of 22.5m, at an angle of 95° to 120°, while simultaneously whirling and revolving. This white-knuckle attraction joins the existing Apocalypse, featuring a 180ft vertical drop at speed of 50mph with a force of more than 4G; Shockwave, Europe's only stand-up roller coaster with a corkscrew; and StormForce10, the lifeboat wet ride with the first reverse drop in the UK. Thus one of the oldest adventure parks in the country, built in 1949 by George Bryan as an 'Inland Pleasure Resort', continues to reinvent itself. Further information and pictures of the rides can be found on the Drayton Manor web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Drayton Manor, Tamworth until 3rd November.
Cutting Edge: An Exhibition Of British Cutlery And Place Settings does exactly what it says on the tin, featuring five thousand years of the cutler's art. In a collection of knives, forks and spoons ranging from the New Stone Age to the 1950s, it provides a complete overview of the design and evolution of British cutlery. Over 500 pieces, including Neolithic flint, Celtic and Roman bronze and Georgian and Victorian silver, show the beauty and diversity of these everyday objects. The displays are arranged both in thematic and chronological order, with table settings including the appropriate replica food, which bring the exhibition to life.
Cutting Design complements the historical exhibition with the work of contemporary London designers. Some pieces function as cutlery, some as art pieces and others as jewellery. Materials used include silver, stainless steel and ceramics, and techniques incorporate casting, firing, piercing, waterjet cutting and hot forging. Designers featured include William Warren, Susana Shaw, Diana Greenwood, William Phipps, Lucian Taylor, Maike Dahl, Jonathan Levien and Nipa Doshi, Kay Ivanovic, Lisa Marklew and Rebecca de Quin. Geffrye Museum until 2nd June.
American Sublime is a collection of over one hundred 19th century epic landscapes on heroic scales - Niagara Falls 10ft tall by 8ft wide - most of which have never been seen in Europe before. These Great Pictures toured American cites in eagerly awaited single painting exhibitions as soon as they were completed, theatrically lit and swagged with velvet drapes, with audiences offered opera glasses. They were the equivalent of the Cinerama travelogues of 100 years later. Through them, the American people became acquainted with landmarks of their country of which they could only dream. These paintings reflect the awe and wonder with which artists of the European tradition responded to the vast and magnificent wilderness of a virtually unexplored and uninhabited continent. Turner and Constable inspired many of the artists, which is (presumably) how they find their place here. The painters include Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Sanford Robinson Gifford and Thomas Moran, who were the artistic equivalents of wagon train pioneers. Locations range across the Grand Canyon, the Catskill and Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley and icebergs off Newfoundland. A revelation. Tate Britain until 19th May.
Second Skin explores the use of life casting - taking plaster casts of the human figure to create sculptures - contrasting examples by 19th century and contemporary sculptors. In previous centuries life casting was mostly used for research, presenting the results as art objects in themselves would have been considered 'cheating'. Now that contemporary art consists of little but cheating, the technique has come into its own. In the 1970s and 1980s American artist Duane Hanson popularised meticulously hand painted life casts as works of art in their own right, examples of which are included here. There are accompanying works by John De Andrea, Paul Thek and Robert Gober, and more recent examples by Jordan Baseman, Don Brown, Siobhan Hapaska, Abigail Lane, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk. Together they illustrate the diversity of the casting techniques, and disparate uses to which end results are put. A star feature in this up market Madame Tussauds display is Marc Quinn's ice sculpture of the ubiquitous Kate Moss (can there be a serious exhibition in the UK now without her effigy?) which will melt away through the course of the exhibition. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 12th May.
Olly & Suzi Untamed is an art installation of photography, film, painting, drawing and 3-D artworks by British artists Olly & Suzi. They work with photographer Greg Williams in remote polar, desert, jungle and ocean environments, tracking, painting and interacting with predators, such as anacondas, saltwater crocodiles, white sharks, tarantulas and wild dogs. The animals are encouraged to interact with their paintings - mauling, biting or scratching the works, and so leaving their mark. Natural History Museum until 6th May.