News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd November 2010

Commencing

Journey Through The Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book Of The Dead explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death through rich textual and visual material. The 'Book', used for over 1500 years between around 1600 BC and 100 AD, is not a single text, but a compilation of spells thought to equip the dead with knowledge and power that would guide them safely through the dangers of the hereafter and ultimately ensure eternal life. The exhibition opens a window onto the complex belief systems of the ancient Egyptians where death and afterlife were a central focus. Beautifully coloured illustrations show the many stages of the journey from death to the afterlife, including the day of burial, protection in the tomb, judgement, and entering the hereafter. These include the fields and rivers of the Netherworld, the gods and demons whom the deceased would meet, and the critical 'weighing of the heart' ritual, the judgement that would determine whether the soul was admitted into the afterlife, or condemned to destruction at the hands of the monstrous 'Devourer'. Although the earliest texts appeared on the mummy shrouds of royal families and high officials, papyrus became the texts' main medium and remained so for more than 1,000 years. Due to the fragility of the papyri and their sensitivity to light it is extremely rare for any of these manuscripts to be displayed in public. Highlights include the longest Book Of The Dead in the world, the Greenfield Papyrus, which measures 37 metres in length and has never been shown publicly in its entirety before, and the paintings from the papyri of Ani and Hunefer, together with an array of painted coffins, gilded masks, amulets, jewellery, tomb figurines and mummy trappings. State of the art visualisation technology provides new ways of accessing and understanding this key source in the history of world religions. British Museum until 6th March.

R100 & R101 Airships At Cardington marks the 80th Anniversary of the R101 disaster with an examination of the British airship industry in the 1930s. The exhibition charts the story of how a small village became the country's major airship centre. Starting with the building of the huge airship sheds at Cardington (which still remain today), it then explores the government's grand plans for long distance airship travel across the British Empire. Film, photographs and objects bring to life the construction of the R100 and R101 airships in the Royal Airship Works, the stories of their staff and crew, and the R101's final fateful flight to India in October 1930, crashing in a field in France en route. The exhibition includes a wide variety of artifacts on display together for the first time, with personal belongings, unique documents and objects, including a passenger bunk bed from the R100 showing what life was like onboard these giants of the sky, designed to be 'floating hotels'. The R101 boasted two decks with luxury cabins, a dining room accommodating 60 people, a smoking room, and a spacious lounge of 5,500 square feet on its upper deck. Although airship building slowed down dramatically after the crash of the R101, the exhibition also shows how this was far from the end of the story of Cardington, which has seen regular attempts to resurrect the airship concept right up to the present day. Bedford Museum until 19th December.

The Glasgow Boys: Drawings And Watercolours is a selection of works by the informal grouping of artists who were inspired by progressive French painting, and produced some of the most decorative and adventurous painting in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. The group of around 20 artists became known as the 'Glasgow Boys', whose leading figures, James Guthrie, George Henry, E A Hornel, John Lavery, Arthur Melville, James Paterson and E A Walton, treated watercolour and pastel as mediums just as noble as paint. The 80 works on display feature drawings and watercolours that mainly belong to the second half of the artists' careers, when their early interest in rustic realism had been replaced by a commitment to decorative and aesthetic effect, and a wider range of subject matter. Highlights include James Guthrie's 'To Pastures New' and 'The Hind's Daughter', George Henry's 'Noon' and Edward Arthur Walton's 'A Berwickshire Fieldworker', among the studies of individual figures; James Paterson's 'Moniaive' and James Guthrie's 'Winter', both of which show a desire to experiment in an almost abstract manner with the forms and shapes found in landscape; Arthur Melville's 'A Byway in Granada', in which he achieved its strong contrast between light and dark by dropping pure pigment onto untouched areas of the wet paper; George Henry's 'A Japanese Pottery Seller' and 'Japanese Beauty', which mark a high point in his career; and John Lavery's 'The Tennis Party' and William Kennedy's 'Stirling Station', which record modern urban life. Royal Academy of Arts until 23rd January.

Continuing

Cezanne's Card Players is the first exhibition to focus on the these famous paintings of peasant card players and pipe smokers. They have long been considered to be among Paul Cezanne's most iconic and powerful paintings, standing alongside his 'Bathers' series as the most ambitious and complex figurative works of his career. The exhibition brings together the most comprehensive group of these works ever assembled, including 3 of the 'Card Players' paintings, 5 of the most outstanding peasant portraits, and the majority of the rarely seen preparatory drawings, watercolours and oil studies. Cezanne's depictions of card players was one of his most ambitious projects and occupied him for several years. It resulted in 5 closely related canvases of different sizes, showing men seated at a rustic table playing cards. Alongside these he produced a larger number of paintings of the individual farm workers who appear in the 'Card Players' compositions, major examples of which are reunited here for the first time. Cezanne devoted himself to his peasant card players, often repeating his compositions, striving to express the essence of these sun-beaten farm workers whom he found so compelling. Rather than posing his models as a group playing cards, Cezanne made studies of them individually, and only brought them together as opponents on the canvas itself. The men are not shown as rowdy drinkers and gamblers, in the way that, for centuries, peasants had been depicted in rural genre paintings. Rather, they are stoical and completely absorbed in the time-honoured ritual of their game. The Courtauld Gallery, London, until 16th January.

Tutankhamun - His Tomb And His Treasures breaks new ground in the presentation of cultural history - 'virtual archaeology'. It is a complete recreation of the tomb of the Egyptian God King Tutankhamun, as it was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. Visitors experience the wonder of over 1,000 burial artefacts - perfect replicas produced under the scientific supervision of renowned Egyptologists - in the space in which they were buried 3,300 years ago, and close enough to touch. The tomb contained not only the coffin of the king, but also golden shrines, statues, jewellery, cult objects, chests, chairs, amulets, weapons, a golden chariot, and the jars that contained the king's preserved organs, as well as the legendary golden death mask. These items were intended to equip the young Pharaoh on his journey to the afterlife. Owing to the delicate and immensely valuable nature of original historical artefacts, removing them from the safe and carefully controlled confines of a museum environment presents huge risks, no matter how much care is taken, and increasingly, many historic treasures can no longer even be viewed in museums. So, instead of displaying a mere handful of the original treasures locked away at a distance behind glass barriers, in this exhibition it is as if visitors are actually reliving the events of the historic excavation, and viewing the world famous treasures as though they were there themselves. In addition, there is a display about how Howard Carter made the discovery of the tomb. Museum of Museums, The Trafford Centre, Manchester, until 27th February.

Explore History: 1940 marks the 70th anniversary of a year in which momentous events determined the eventual outcome of the Second World War: Churchill's rise to power, the introduction of rationing, the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and the Blitz. The exhibition showcases some of the icons of 1940, such as the Spitfire, the 'hero' of the Battle of Britain; Tamzine, one of the famous 'little ships' that played such a significant role in Operation 'Dynamo' at Dunkirk; personal items belonging to Pilot Officer Frederick Cecil Harrold, who was killed when his Hurricane was shot down on 28th September 1940, including his pilot 'wings', and a dented cigarette case; and Sapper Alexander Graham King's accordion, which he played on the beaches of Dunkirk in a bid to boost morale during the evacuation. The display, encompassing films, photographs, sound recordings, documents, art, books, artefacts and ephemera, is accompanied by multimedia touchscreens offering visitors the chance to explore the stories behind each exhibit and event of 1940. Imperial War Museum, London continuing.

Venice: Canaletto And His Rivals presents the finest assembly of 18th century views of arguably the most paintable city in the world to be seen in a generation. The exhibition brings together around 60 major works, highlighting the extraordinary variety of Venetian view painting, juxtaposing masterpieces by Canaletto with key works by other artists, including Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Bernardo Bellotto and Francesco Guardi. In the first half of the 18th century, aristocratic travellers fuelled a highly competitive market for Venetian view painting, which saw artists jostling for commissions and fame. Together, they immortalised some of the best loved landmarks of the city, including the Grand Canal, the Piazza San Marco, the Rialto, the Molo, Santa Maria della Salute and the Lagoon. The exhibition features some of Canaletto's greatest masterpieces, including 'The Riva degli Schiavoni, looking West', 'The Stonemason's Yard', 'The Piazza San Marco, looking East', 'The Molo from the Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day', 'The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques-Vincent Languet…', 'The Entrance to the Grand Canal, looking West, with Santa Maria della Salute' and 'The Grand Canal with San Simeone Piccolo and the Scalzi'. Highlights of the works by other artists include 'The Molo from the Bacino di San Marco' by Gaspare Vanvitelli the founding father of Italian view painting; Carlevarijs's 'The Reception of the British Ambassador Charles Montagu…'; Marieschi's 'The Rialto Bridge from the Riva del Vin'; Bellotto's 'The Piazzetta, looking North'; and Guardi's 'View of the Venetian Lagoon with the Tower of Malghera'. National Gallery until 16th January.

Honest Pots explores the unpretentious beauty of handmade, functional English pottery, from medieval jugs, through country pottery, to contemporary studio ceramics. The exhibition highlights the influences and themes that stretch across the genres and periods. The diverse range of works includes pieces by Bernard Leach, Phil Eglin, Paul Young and Takeshi Yasuda. Each display case in the exhibition explores the many local links and stories, such as the contrast of work by one of Yorkshire's last traditional country potters, Isaac Button, alongside works by modern country potter Doug Fitch, who is based in Devon. Another case shows how studio potters have interpreted traditional forms in more radical ways, such as Alison Britton's double jug form, and Simon Carroll's dish form. Several large country pots are exhibited uncased - a set of nested pancheons, a big bottomless jar and a large cistern. A collaborative work by textile artist Alice Kettle and potter Alex McErlain, features a large machine embroidered textile and a ceramic Harvest Jug. Two films contrast the traditional country potter with a modern counterpart. 'Isaac Button: Country Potter' is one of the most famous pottery films ever made, while Alex McErlain's 'Hollyford Harvest' is a new film about contemporary potter Doug Fitch. Ceramics by McErlain and Fitch are included in the handling area of the gallery, allowing visitors to get a closer look at the styles and techniques they employ. York Art Gallery until 8th October 2011.

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power And Brilliance showcases the most important British portrait painter of his generation, and explores his development as one of the most celebrated and influential artists in Europe at the start of the 19th century. The first exhibition of works by Thomas Lawrence in London for over 30 years offers an opportunity to experience the beauty and virtuosity of his paintings, and also re-examine them in the light of recent scholarship on the art of the Regency period. Beginning as a child prodigy working in pastels, Thomas Lawrence succeeded Joshua Reynolds as Britain's greatest portrait painter. With the temperament and flair to capture the glamour of the age, Lawrence created the image of Regency high society with dazzling brushwork and an innovative use of colour. His international reputation was ensured when the Prince Regent commissioned portraits of all the foreign leaders involved in the downfall of Napoleon. The 54 portraits on view, many of which are rarely seen in public, are Lawrence's greatest paintings and drawings, conveying the power and originality of his work. These include portraits of Charles William Lambton, the famous 'Red Boy', Elizabeth Farren, three portraits of Pope Pius VII, Field Marshall Gebhardt von Blucher and Charles, Archduke of Austria. Providing a fresh understanding of Lawrence and his career, the exhibition explores both his technical innovations as a draughtsman and painter, and his unprecedented international reputation. It also places him within the broader contexts of the aesthetic debates, networks of patronage and international politics of his day. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd January.

Concluding

Kitagawa Utamaro is a survey of woodblock prints by the renowned 18th century Japanese artist. The exhibition focuses on images of women, in particular the courtesans of Yoshiwara, the regulated brothel district in Edo (now Tokyo). Kitagawa Utamaro formed a partnership with a master publisher, which enabled him to gain a wide reputation as a chronicler of the Yoshiwara district and, more generally, as a leading exponent of ukiyo-e ('pictures of the floating world'). Images of bijinga ('beautiful people'), Kabuki actors, landscapes and city life were typical of ukiyo-e, espousing a life lived only for the moment. They informed, amused and distracted their audience by depicting available pleasures. Utamaro's images of the women of Yoshiwara, often conceived in series, functioned as sophisticated advertisements or guides to a sensuous world, untroubled by overt references to the difficulties of work and politics. Gestures, demeanour, clothing, accessories and the decor of the womens' accommodation, rather than their personal features, are scrutinised and described in accompanying calligraphy. The exhibition also includes a number of Utamaro's explicitly erotic works, called shunga ('spring pictures'). Issued as albums of sheet prints and as illustrated books, they are unambiguous in their intention to titillate. Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until 14th 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 Fear The Glampire, a glamorous, gothic creation designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen; Dino Doom, a fantasy-inspired dinosaur attack in a spectacular large tableau, flooded with lighting effects and projections; Haunted Blackpool, genuine Blackpool ghost stories depicted in a spooky feature using projections and dramatic sounds and lights; and Fountainsey Island, with Gynn Island converted into a bright and colourful water paradise, awash with a mix of electronic fountains, water-based features and lights.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 7th November.

Industrial Revolutionaries: People Who Shaped The Modern World spans 150 years of industrial history, looking at the personalities that helped create the modern world, and then fought to redress the resulting problems of inequality through radical social reform and political activism. Delving in to the lives of key individuals, and the movements they created, this exhibition reveals their influence, political history and global impact through over 70 objects, including Joseph Wright of Derby's portrait of Richard Arkwright; a model of Horrockses Yard Works; a Tee-Total teapot; a newly conserved tram wagon; Preston Prison whipping horse; specially recorded versions of street ballads; and unseen archive footage by filmmakers Will Onda and Mitchell and Kenyon. The individuals featured are: Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the water-frame, entrepreneur and developer of the factory system; Charles Dickens, who visited Preston during the lock-out and strike of 1853, influencing his novel Hard Times; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who wrote about these events, seeing them as a test case for proletarian revolution; Elizabeth Gaskell, who fictionalised weaver and orator George Cowell in her novel North and South; Joseph Livesey, champion of the poor and temperence campaigner; Henry Hunt, a radical MP and people's hero; Father Joseph 'Daddy' Dunn, who was instrumental in Preston being the first gas-lit town in Britain; Rev John Clay, chaplain and reformer in crime and public health; Annie Hill, child mill worker whose portrait was painted by artist Patti Mayor; and John and Samuel Horrocks, industrial innovators who developed the Yard Works and created Britain's largest cotton-manufacturing company. Harris Museum, Preston, until 6th November.