Private View held by Richard Andrews
Light Motifs: An Aomori Float And Japanese Kites is a spectacular display of traditional illuminated lanterns and kites as only the Japanese know how to create them. The centrepiece is a Nebuta, one of the giant lantern floats decorated with dramatic scenes, which are paraded through the streets of Aomori in northern Japan during a fire festival each August. It has been specially constructed at the museum by Takashi Kitamura and a team of ten people from Aomori. A Nebuta is a wood and wire structure covered with paper, inside which between 500 and 800 light bulbs are installed. It is then decorated with ink and paint, with melted paraffin wax used to provide a barrier between the colours and to create a translucent effect. The themes illustrated in the floats are taken from historical, religious and folk tales, but also contain visual puns referring to current events. Some 5 to 10 metres high, they have articulated flaps at the top that are lowered to pass under street signs and cables. Anything up to sixty floats form a procession, which is accompanied by musicians and dancers. This exhibition also includes kites of all sizes and shapes, including one so huge that it takes twenty people to launch it. British Museum until 3rd March.
Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief is an exhibition of caricatures, cartoons and satires looking at fashionable 18th century life in Bath. Some of the greatest caricaturists of the Georgian period came to the city to create paintings and prints based on their observations of society at play in the Pump Room, Assembly Rooms, and out and about in the streets. People associate Georgian Bath with Jane Austen, taking the Waters, and genteel restrained behaviour, but this is only part of the story, as the city was also a place full of vice, rife with prostitution and gambling. Thousands of visitors came to Bath, never staying for long, and the fluid, ever changing social scene offered opportunities for people to behave as they liked, away from the watchful eye of their families and neighbours. Their immoral and foolish goings on provided a wealth of material for the artists. A wide variety of Bath caricatures, from Thomas Rowlandson's riotous series 'The Comforts Of Bath' to Bunbury's genteel dancers of 'The Long Minuet', plus works by Gillray, Cruikshank and others are displayed here. Victoria Art Gallery, Bath until 6th February.
Web Wizards: Designers Who Define The Web looks at one of the most dynamic areas of contemporary design - web design, spotlighting the new generation of design stars who dominate this fast-moving field. Idolised within the web community, yet little known outside it, designers like Joshua Davis, Daniel Brown and Yugo Nakamura have created the most innovative web sites of recent years. As well as dominating design on the web, their influence extends to many other areas of visual culture. This exhibition traces the history of the digital image by exploring landmarks in computer and games design, and offers visitors the opportunity to play vintage games. For those who baulk at the idea of digital design in a museum, the museum web site includes a Digital Design Gallery with designer profiles, newly commissioned works, and designers in conversation. The Design Museum web site can be found via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Design Museum until 21st April.
World City Galleries: 1789 - 1914, which have just opened, are the largest expansion in the Museum of London's 25 year history. Charting the birth of modern London, they explore the growth and change between the French Revolution and the First World War, illustrating the technological advances that altered life in the city, and attracted new inhabitants from all corners of the world. Film footage, photography, oral history recordings and over three thousand artefacts tell the story of the first great metropolis of the industrial age. Objects, costumes and ephemera, many previously unseen, range from Queen Victoria's parliamentary robes and Nelson's jewelled sword, to one of the earliest motorised taxis. It was during this period that London became the wealthiest, most powerful, and most populated city in the world, at the centre of an ever expanding empire. Londoners saw the introduction of the world's first postage stamp, the underground railway, the Great Exhibition, the formation of the Metropolitan police force, and compulsory schooling, but also the Great Stink, the Newgate whipping post, sweated labour, open sewers and numerous incurable diseases. Further information and an online exhibition about the Festival Of Britain can be found on the Museum Of London's web site via the link opposite. Museum Of London continuing.
Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, after its spectacularly successful launch last year, looks like becoming as regular a feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. The rink, which is bigger than last year and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed on the southern half of the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Gothenburg, home of the house's architect William Chambers, has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. At last London can return to the Thames Frost Fairs of yesteryear. Further information and advance booking details can be found on the Somerset House web site via the link from the Heritage section of ExhibitionsNet. Somerset House until 20th January.
Dawn Of The Floating World is an opportunity to see around 140 of the finest Japanese prints and paintings from the early ukiyo-e period (1660-1765), considered among the rarest and most highly valued Japanese art works extant. Ukiyo-e or 'pictures of the floating world' capture the daily life of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter and entertainment district of Edo (present day Tokyo) after the shogun's new capital was rebuilt following the great fire of 1657. Featuring work by pioneer artists Hishikawa Moronobu and Okumura Masanobu, with subjects ranging from the birth of Kabuki theatre to the world of the Royal courtesan, it provides a historic insight into 17th century Japan. Exhibits range from tiny book illustrations to huge street signs. Acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the early 20th century, the works have never been exhibited outside the city, and many, including a scroll of 11 explicitly erotic scenes by Torii Kiyonobu, have never been displayed in public before. This means that after 300 years the colours remain as fresh as when they were painted. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th February.
British Galleries 1500 - 1900, have been transformed, producing the most comprehensive display of British design and art anywhere in the world, with over 3000 exhibits on view. The £31m lottery funded project is the V&A's largest for over half a century. The fifteen galleries, occupying 10% of the entire floor space of the museum, tell the story of British design from the Tudor to the Victorian periods, with an unrivalled collection of furniture, textiles, dress, ceramics, glass, silver, prints, painting and sculpture. They contain some of Britain's most significant cultural treasures, including Henry VIII's writing desk, James II's wedding suit and the Great Bed of Ware. Every major name in the history of British design is represented, including Grinling Gibbons, Robert Adam, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as manufacturers such as Wedgwood, Doulton and Liberty. The galleries combine modern displays and five restored period rooms, together with the latest technology to enable visitors to identify the characteristic shapes or motifs of different styles, explore a painting, or date a design. There are also video and audio programmes, including music and commentaries on selected objects, and facsimile books and artefacts to touch and handle. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.
Braco Dimitrijevic: Triptychos Post Historicus is a collaboration between the Ikon Gallery and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, presenting the first exhibition of work in Britain since 1985 by one of Europe's most influential contemporary artists. His pieces juxtapose items from all aspects of human experience, combining works of art, natural phenomena and manufactured objects - previously at the Tate, a Modigliani, a pumpkin and a wardrobe. Here, Dimitrijevic makes a number of new works based on loans of paintings from both collections, including Vincent Van Gogh, Frans Hals, Luca Signorelli, Edouard Manet and Domenico Beccafumi. As an example, Evaristo Baschenis still life of musical instruments, is augmented by three cellos spiked in the floor in front of it, along with some fruit. Easy to dismiss as 'an ultimate makeover programme', in fact these are actually quality pieces that genuinely bring a fresh insight into familiar works. The Art Bus provides free transport between the venues on selected weekends throughout the exhibition. The Barber Institute and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until 20th January.
Handel House Museum is the culmination of a decade's work to restore the house where Handel lived for 35 years, together with the upper floors of the adjoining house, and open it as London's first composer museum. This is the house in which Messiah, Music For The Royal Fireworks, Israel In Egypt, George II Coronation Anthem and most of the organ concertos were written. The decoration scheme has been recreated as authentically as possible, Handel being the first owner in 1723, and the contents are based on an inventory taken shortly after his death there in 1759. The collection brings together original manuscripts and letters, early published editions of his works, portraits and sculpture, together with furniture and furnishings, and two specially built harpsichords, which will be played for visitors. Three original fireplaces from Tom's Coffee House in Covent Garden, where many of Handel's works received their first public performances, have been installed in the main rooms. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions, the first of which charts the refurbishment of the building. Handel House Museum, London continuing.
Christmas Past: 400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes looks at the meanings and origins of our Christmas and New Year customs, including the holly and the ivy, mistletoe and kissing boughs, decorations, trees, fire and candlelight, carol singing and the Yule log. Also featured are traditional foods and drink, with wassailing, parties, mulled wine, cakes and puddings. Twelve period living rooms decorated in authentic festive styles from 1600 to 2000 reflect our changing social habits, and show how Christmas as we now know it has evolved. There is an accompanying programme of decoration, card making and other craft workshops, candle lit entertainment, talks, carols and other Christmas music, right through to the burning of holly and ivy on Twelfth Night, with seasonal food and drink available. The museum is located in fourteen almshouses built in 1715 by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. Geffrye Museum until 6th January.
Making Spirits Bright is a changing programme of events indoors and out though the Christmas and New Year period. The gardens are illuminated to provide magical walks among seasonal plants - and not just holly, ivy and mistletoe, but frankincense and myrrh - plus a steam engine, a Victorian carousel and free explorer rides and guided tours. Inside, in the glasshouses, restaurants and museums, the entertainment includes performances by choirs, brass bands and a piper, an exhibition of flower paintings and prints, demonstrations of seasonal cooking and flower arranging, and storytelling, plus food and drink, and appearances by Father Christmas. There are free evening openings in December and free entry in the New Year for visitors bringing their trees for recycling. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 6th January.
Surrealism: Desire Unbound is the first major British assessment of the Surrealist movement for twenty five years. During this period surrealist images have moved from the avant-garde fringe to the stuff of advertising campaigns, so the question is, can the works fulfil their original brief? On the strength of the pieces selected here the answer is yes. The usual suspects appear, including de Chirico, Dali, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Dalí, Giacometti, Man Ray, Magritte and Miro, together with other lesser known artists, and surrealist pieces by those whose main body of work lies outside the movement. The exhibition reveals the group's obsession with desire and sexuality and how it encompassed everything they did. Through painting, sculpture, installation and film, it charts the varied paths chosen to bypass conventional reason and rationality in order to explore the mind's potentially limitless capacity to imagine, dream and invent. The exhibition is dramatically staged in 13 themed sections, each taking its title from a well known work. Further information and an Online Surrealism Shop can be found on the Tate web site via the link opposite. Tate Modern until 1st January.