Private View held by Richard Andrews
A Children's Midsummer Night's Dream takes advantage of the recent acquisition of a child sized woodland glade - complete with a working fountain. It comes from a new film version of Shakespeare's play, made with a cast of Southwark children by Sands Films, noted for its use of local craftspeople in achieving period authenticity. There is a trail through an enchanted forest for younger children to follow, using the project's costumes, puppets, props and scenery. Older children and adults can see a display about the making of the film in words and pictures, and all can enjoy clips from the finished article. Both the exhibition and a daily children's costume workshop are free. The continuing display consists of nearly 6,000 toys, games and costumes from all over the world spanning a period of 400 years. The National Museum Of Childhood At Bethnal Green until 30th August.
Look At Me: Fashion And Photography In Britain 1960 To The Present Day "looks at the relationship between fashion and art in the evolving visual and cultural language of Britain in the second half of the 20th century". Or, it presents the results of the great time increasingly well known and generously rewarded photographers had recording the ludicrous excesses of the extravagantly self important fashion industry. You pays your money and what you get is a truly evocative picture of both the style and obsessions of the photographers - David Bailey, Cecil Beaton, Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson, Derek Ridgers et al - and the periods they recorded. Nevertheless, despite how entertaining it is, it's hard to take these pictures of silly people in what are now embarrassing clothes as serious art, but then perhaps that was what they said about Van Dyck. Milton Keynes Art Gallery until 2nd September.
Forgery - The Artful Crime charts the history of the continuing struggle of the Bank Of England against the ingenuity of those who sought to counterfeit its wares - a crime which at one time was punishable by hanging. The exhibition shows examples of attempts at forgery of the Bank's notes, and the resulting action taken to foil them. The Bank is the longest continuous issuer of paper money in the world, dating back to its foundation in 1694, and the increasing complexity of bank note design and production over that period are illustrated and explained. There are also demonstrations of engraving and coin minting. The continuing display includes currency in all its forms, with gold bars, coins and notes, medals and commemorative issues, and documents relating to its famous customers from Horatio Nelson to George Washington. There is also a simulated foreign currency dealing desk, which gives visitors a chance to try to make a killing on the Exchange market, without actually breaking their own bank. An accompanying booklet is freely downloadable from the Bank Of England web site, which can be found via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Bank Of England Museum until 10th October.
Queen Victoria At Kensington - Her Life In Dress marks the centenary of the death of Queen Victoria with a new display of items from her wardrobe, including her wedding dress and coronation robes. It reflects the different ages of the longest reigning British monarch, and the changes in dress that occurred over that period. The exhibition also features some of Victoria's toys, including her doll's house and a selection of her dolls in costume of the period.
The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is a presentation of dress worn by members of the Royal Family, and officials and dignitaries undertaking ceremonial roles, such as heralds or members of Orders of Knighthood, dating from the 18th century to the present day. There are also recreations of a dressmaker's workroom, a tailor's shop, and dressing rooms. Highlights include Queen Mary's wedding dress and a collection of dresses owned and worn by the present Queen. Patterns, sketches, samples and dresses created by Catherine Walker for Diana, Princess of Wales are also on display for the first time. Kensington Palace until 31st March.
At Sea acknowledges that just as artists in the past have been fascinated by the sea as a representation of the power of nature, so many artists working today continue to find it a source of inspiration. This exhibition brings together a selection of contrasting reactions to the subject by 21 contemporary artists, embracing sculpture, photography, video, painting and installation. While Vija Celmins and Hiroshi Sugimoto see the sea as conducive to quiet contemplation, for Tacita Dean and Mariele Neudecker, it evokes scenes of danger or disaster, with shipwrecks, drownings and other tragedies. The seashore as a site for leisure and entertainment can be seen in Martin Parr's photographs of West Bay in Dorset, in Rineke Dijkstra's teenage models shivering on deserted beaches, and in Tracy Emin's Whitstable beach hut. The venue is particularly apt, being a 19th century warehouse in Albert Dock, from where many ships departed Britain for an Atlantic crossing. Tate Liverpool until 23rd September.
Isamu Noguchi is the first major British retrospective of the Japanese sculptor, stage designer, landscape architect and furniture designer. Noguchi is possibly best known in the UK for his Akari mulberry paper light sculptures, which inspired the shades that graced a million living rooms in the 1960s. Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and American mother, he trained as a cabinet maker in Japan, and then became assistant to sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Paris, before settling in New York. From this background, Noguchi worked throughout his career as an interpreter of the East to the West, moving between art and design, objects and landscapes, figurative and abstract, organic and geometric, and unique and mass produced. Among Noguchi's works were sculptural furniture for Herman Miller and Knoll Associates, gardens for Tokyo University, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and the national museum in Jerusalem, bridges in Hiroshima, stage designs for choreographers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, and collaborations with visionary engineer Buckminster Fuller. Design Museum until 18th November.
Predators marks a further step down the road from august educational institution to theme park, following the new robotic smellovision Tyrannosaurus Rex which arrived just after St Valentine's day. The exhibition explores the constant battle for survival in the natural world between predators and their prey. It looks at the skill and cunning that decides whether an animal gets a meal or ends up being one. There are giant robotic models of a great white shark, a chameleon and a deadly Sydney funnel-web spider, together with real specimens such as a Harris' Hawk, and interactive exhibits. The display reveals how both hunter and hunted have evolved to stay alive - from senses, tools and lethal weapons, to speed and cunning strategy.
Olly & Suzi Untamed, which runs alongside, 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.
Blackwell is one of England's most important surviving houses from the turn of the 20th century. Designed by M. H. Baillie Scott between 1897 and 1900, it is a superb example of Arts and Crafts movement architecture. Sixty years of neglect have been brought to an end with a £3.5m restoration programme, and the house has now been returned to its original condition. Downstairs, the living rooms have been furnished with examples of craft and the applied arts pieces of the period, together with small sculptures by Gaudier-Brezeska and Epstein. Upstairs, the bedrooms have been turned into exhibition galleries. The opening display is a retrospective of contemporary organic ceramics by Kenyan born Magdalene Odundo, comprising over 50 pieces, including 15 new works. Outside, the garden terraces give way to spectacular Lakeland views. Blackwell, Kendall - Magdalene Odundo until 23rd September.
Pompeii is an exhibition which charts the process of discovery and reclamation of Pompeii over the last 300 years. In 79AD, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, one third of the mountain was rendered into volcanic ash. Toxic gas was produced that poisoned the wealthy Roman inhabitants of nearby Pompeii in minutes, where they stood, sat or lay. The ash then descended and buried the city to a depth of 9 feet, freezing it in time for over 1600 years. When it was discovered in 1710, the first excavations were little more than looting expeditions, but gradually this gave way to a more academic study of evidence of the Roman way of life. This exhibition contains few original works, consisting mainly of casts of sculptures, artefacts, and figures in the attitudes of sudden death, together with photographs, prints and reproductions. Nevertheless it vividly evokes both the event itself, and the struggle to rediscover the lost city, and is all the more effective for being staged in the arches beneath this Victorian engine shed. Undercroft Of The Roundhouse, London, 020 7424 9991 until 2nd September.
Hogarth's Election Entertainment: Artists At The Hustings illustrates that little has changed in politics in the last 250 years. The methods of bribing the electorate may be more sophisticated but the intentions (and results) are the same. This exhibition centres on the four paintings that comprise Hogarth's An Election, based on the notorious contest for the Oxfordshire seats in the General Election of 1754, which paint a darkly comic view of the greed and corruptibility of mankind. They are joined by the best works of his successors in satirical and political engravings, paintings and cartoons to the present day, gathered from collections all over Britain. These include Thomas Rowlandson's The Poll (1784); Robert Dighton's Westminster Election series (1784-96); Benjamin Haydon's monumental comic reworking of Chairing The Member (1828); George Cruikshank's A Radical Reformer (1818); George Caleb Bingham's The County Election (1854); Ronald Searle's The Candidate (1954), and Steve Bell's Pant Burning (1997). Sir John Soane Museum until 25th August.
2001: An Architectural Odyssey - The Renaissance Of Public Space In Britain examines some of the public buildings and architectural projects that have been constructed throughout the UK in the recent Lottery funded building binge. It looks at thirteen projects reflecting the diversity of contemporary architecture and design, the demand for regeneration, and the impact of the landmark building upon our cities and regions. The exhibition is divided into six thematic sections, each highlighting different aspects of this architectural burgeoning, unprecedented since the Victorian age. These are: Urban ReBirth - Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Music Centre Gateshead; Space In The City - Market Place, Armagh and British Museum Great Court; From A To B - Sustrans National Cycle Network and Falkirk Wheel, Millennium Link; Living Futures, Living Pasts - Imperial War Museum North and Millennium Seedbank; Transformations - Eden Project and Magna, Rotherham; New Centres - Millennium Stadium and National Botanic Garden of Wales. RIBA Architecture Gallery, London, 020 7580 5533 until 18th August.
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 a thousand works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 10,000 submissions. This year's senior hanger, ancient terrible Peter Blake, has introduced some changes - Shock! Horror! Firstly, he has invited submissions from particular artists and celebrities. Secondly, he has divided works into categories of Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians, Invited Artists and Submissions, and hung them in different rooms, thus separating professionals from amateurs. Thirdly, he has increased the non painting content by introducing photographs, and devoting a whole room each to sculpture and architectural designs. Among the celebrity works on view (whose presence would seem to have been earned by publicity value rather than artistic merit) are Paul McCartney's flying choc ices, Holly Johnson's Village People sailor, and Ronnie Wood's shaggy bison. Ubiquitous Brit Art stars Tracey Emin contributes a chair embroidered/appliqued with primary school messages, Gavin Turk, a black plastic sack of rubbish recreated in bronze, the Chapman Brothers (metamorphosed into the Chapwoman Sisters) a painting of kittens, and Rankin, a photograph of a waxwork of Kylie Minogue - all presumably considered too conservative for the Turner Prize. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th August.