Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Vault is a new gallery displaying some of the finest and most valuable gems, crystals, metals and meteorites from around the world. Each exhibit has a story to tell, whether of the American gold rush, African diamond mining, or in the case of meteorites dating back 4.5bn years, the history of the solar system. Among the treasures in their natural form are: a diamond embedded in what is known as yellow ground, like a shark's tooth jutting sharply from a piece of rock found in California; the Latrobe nugget, one of the largest and finest groups of cubic gold crystals in the world, found at a mine in Australia; large clusters of rubies clinging to pieces of limestone marble; an aquamarine and rose crystal the size of a grapefruit clasped in the coarse grain rock on which it grew; the Devonshire Emerald, one of the biggest uncut emeralds in the world, from Columbia; and the extremely rare Nakhla meteorite from Mars, which fell to earth in Egypt in 1911. The cut stones are just as impressive, including: the Aurora collection of 296 coloured diamonds; the famous Star of South Africa, which started the South African diamond rush; an 898 carat aquamarine gemstone the size of an orange; a huge 2,982 carat topaz from Brazil; and the Heron-Allen amethyst, looted during the Indian Mutiny and believed to be 'cursed and stained with blood', as everyone who owned it suffered disaster and misfortune. Natural History Museum, continuing.
Utagawa Hiroshige: The Moon Reflected is an opportunity to see the woodblock prints of famous Japanese landscapes by the 19th century Japanese artist. This exhibition features the series of prints, 'Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces', Hiroshige's first attempt to produce landscapes in the unusual vertical format, and 'Thirty-six Views of Fuji' - stylistically quite distinctive, although made using the same traditional woodcutting technique - as well as a number of sketchbooks, and the famous 'Snow', 'Moon' and 'Flowers' triptychs. These works, assembled from three separate prints, epitomise Hiroshige's vision, extraordinary for their breadth and ambition. The artist's last series, exhibited here, 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo', was originally intended to be 100 prints, but there are more, due to popular demand, with imagery featuring fascinating details amidst a range of evocative landscapes. Rivers, hills, bridges and temples are depicted in these compositions, each work revealing their different aspects depending on the weather, time of day and season. In these works Hiroshige uses to extreme his disconcerting techniques of radical cropping of the image, and a dominating foreground object - such a tree - that almost obscures the landscape, supposedly the subject of the print, so that the viewer is not quite sure what s/he is looking at. Ikon Gallery Birmingham until 20th January, and Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, 8th March to 26th April.
Shutting Up Shop presents a selection of photographs by John Londei of small independent shops, found on journeys covering the length and breadth of Britain. In 1972 Londei started taking pictures of retailers, often family run businesses, well established in their local communities, striving to capture the timeworn presence of these already anachronistic businesses: the butchers and bakers, button makers, cobblers, fishmongers and chemists. Over a 15 year period Londei photographed some 60 shops, but when he retraced his steps in 2004, and revisited the shops, he found that only 7 were still in business. This display captures a bygone age. Proud proprietors are pictured outside their enterprises, such as Frank Gedge, owner of a contraceptives shop opened in Stoke-on-Trent in 1935, and Oliver Meek, 86 years old, and last in a line of basket makers stretching back seven generations in the small town of Swaffham in Norfolk. The interiors of some of the more idiosyncratic shops are also shown as a backdrop to their proprietors, with Philip Poole photographed in his perfectly organised pen shop, His Nibs, formerly of Drury Lane in London, and Bill and Joan, standing at the counter of the provisions store they have run together in Lincolnshire since 1947. For Londei, the shopkeepers were vital to the portraits of the shops, as running the shop meant so much more to them than a business - as though they had turned the premises into living entities. National Portrait Gallery until 4th May
Space Age: Exploration, Design And Popular Culture examines the impact space exploration has had on everyday life, through popular culture, literature, film, design and merchandising. The exhibition explores how human fascination with space has developed, from the emergence of astronomy in around 2,000BC to NASA's future plans to put humans on Mars. Alongside science fiction and fantasy, it explains the realities and facts of space science, showcasing rare objects including a piece of a Mars meteorite, an original Cosmonaut suit belonging to Yuri Gidzenko, an Indo-Persian celestial globe showing stars and constellations, a model of SpaceShipOne, designed to take tourists into space, packets of NASA space food, and a Fisher Space Pen (the pen that defies gravity). At the height of the space race in the 1960s and 1970s the 'space age' feel filtered into both home and fashion, often using new synthetic materials, and some of the design classics which resulted are featured, including fabric designs by Eddie Squires, a Pastilli chair by Eero Aarnio, lunar wallpaper designed by Michael Clarke, an original Mathmos lava lamp designed by Edward Craven Walker, and clothing bearing a striking similarity to that worn in science fiction television programmes, such as Andre Courreges's iconic 'fembots' and Pierre Cardin's 'cosmos' collection. Science fiction itself is represented by film and television memorabilia in profusion, from a poster for Fritz Lang's 1929 film Frau im Mond, considered the first real space film, through the inevitable Star Wars and Star Trek, to the current regeneration of Dr Who. Museum of Childhood, Bethnel Green, London until 6th April.
Joseph Wright Of Derby In Liverpool offers an insight into a previously little known period of three years in the career of Joseph Wright, as he responded to the growing market for portrait painting among the town's burgeoning merchant class. During his time in Liverpool, between 1768 and 1771, Wright was remarkably busy, painting not only portraits, but also his trademark candlelight works. His account book, on display at the exhibition, reveals that in 1769 he was completing a portrait on average every 9 or 10 days. The exhibition features more than 80 of Wright's works, including the portrait of Richard Gildart, painted when the former mayor was 95 years old, probably the first Wright did in Liverpool as it is the only one dated 1768, together with portraits of Sarah Clayton, John Tarleton, Fleetwood and Frances Hesketh and Susannah Leigh. During this period Wright was also painting more typical groups of people by candlelight, such as 'The Philosopher' (known as 'The Hermit'), 'An Academy by Lamplight, 'Two Boys Blowing a Bladder', 'Two Girls Decorating a Cat', 'A Blacksmith's Shop' and 'The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone, Discovers Phosphorus'. Also featured are Wright's first candlelight painting 'Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator', and a portrait of Peter Perez Burdett and his wife Hannah, painted before he came to Liverpool. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 24th February.
Art Of Light: German Renaissance Stained Glass sets out to demonstrate that the best stained glass from the Renaissance period fully reflected, and even rivalled, the latest developments in painting, while exploiting to the full the vibrant properties of light. The exhibition brings together a group of some of the finest examples of 15th and early 16th century German stained glass, and juxtaposes them with a selection of paintings from the same period and from the same regions of Germany, along with some surviving examples of designs for stained glass. Many of these paintings originally hung in ecclesiastical settings, which frequently also included brilliantly coloured, boldly designed and exquisitely made stained glass windows. German stained glass of this period made use of the same imagery as painting, showed similar visual innovations and, increasingly, the designers of stained glass windows were also painters of panel pictures. There is a special focus, including prints, drawings, paintings and glass, on three artists who designed for stained glass as well as creating paintings: Albrecht Durer, Hans Baldung Grien and Jorg Breu. The exhibition culminates in a full scale recreation of one of the multi-scened glass panels from the Abbey of Mariawald. One of the greatest achievements of the glass painters of the early 16th century, the panels reveal the full range of the art of this period, including exceptionally beautiful landscape depictions. National Gallery until 17th February.
Top Of The Bill is a display of a material from the National Fairground Archive collection of 20,000 items of ephemera, some dating back as far as the 16th century, The show features giant posters, handbills and other display materials advertising fairground events across the country, promoting international acts such as Barnum and Buffalo Bill, along with stranger home grown entertainment, including a 'Nyctalope' who could see in the dark, a Peristrephic Panorama, which involved a long band of canvas on which a continuous sequence of scenes was depicted (the first 'moving pictures'), and FC Burnand's illusions show involving moving curried prawns. In addition to advertisements for particular acts and shows, there are also many fairground, travelling show and circus scenes, capturing the excitement of the traditional rides, attractions and amusements, portrayed in various period styles, reflecting the social changes in public entertainment. In addition, there are colourful letterheads, receipts, tickets and other printed matter, all created in the extravagant and spectacular fairground design style. These materials are on view to the public for the first time in the exhibition space that forms part of the National Fairground Archive's new 'front of house'. This now allows access to its book and journal collections, including a complete set of World's Fair newspapers, microfilm reading facilities, and electronic resources, including its 80,000 image database. Western Bank Library University of Sheffield, until 7th February.
Sleeping And Dreaming examines the mysterious state that we all experience, but still understand so little about, through the eyes of artists, scientists, film makers and historians. The exhibition brings together over 300 diverse objects, from Renaissance paintings to contemporary installations, to explore the biomedical and neurological processes that take place in the sleeping body, and the social and cultural areas of our lives to which sleep and dreans are linked. It is in five themes. Dead Tired, includes the experiences of DJ Peter Tripp, who broadacst continually for 8 days, and a victim of Stasi sleep deprivation interrogation. World Without Sleep looks at how artificial light, changing seasons and travel across time zones affects sleep patterns, with advice on combatting jet lag, Paul Ramierez Jonas's 'Another Day' counting down the time to sunrise in 90 international cities, and a collection of ingenious Heath Robinson alarm clocks. Elusive Sleep features Krzystof Wodiczko's 'Homeless Vehicle', a sleeping unit for homeless people, and 1930s public health posters warning of the dangers of fleas and bed bugs, insomnia and the use of sleeping pills. Dream Worlds looks at how dreaming and waking states intermingle, with Paul McCartney describing how the tune of Yesterday came to him in a dream, and an examination of Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams. Traces Of Sleep examines the association of sleep with unconsciousness and death, via Aristotle's treatise on Sleep and Sleeplessness, a machine from the 1930s designed to 'tune' the nerves to prevent sleepwalking, and Ron Mueck's 'Swaddled Baby'. Wellcome Collection, London until 10th March.
Bauhaus 1919 - 1933 focuses on the step-change in art and design history that was brought about by the most important school of art, architecture and design of the 20th century. Bauhaus evolved a new language of art and design that was abstract and dynamic, and liberated from historicism. Its aim was to give modernity a precise physical form, embracing all branches of design, and to bridge the gap between art and industry. The exhibition comprises a selection of major exhibits by leading members of the Bauhaus movement, including the original manifesto designed by Lyonel Feininger and written by the architect Walter Gropius, examples of work by founding teachers of the Bauhaus, including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers, selected film works by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, architectural models, design, applied art, furniture, utensils and specially commissioned wall drawings. In addition, a series of photographic works by Hans Engels show a number of well known and surprising examples of Bauhaus architecture in their present condition. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until 17th February.
Millais is the first exhibition in London in over a century to examine the entire career of the greatest painter of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who spearheaded the most radically modern artistic group in the history of English art. Traditionally, John Everett Millais has been presented as an establishment figure who swapped artistic innovation for commercial gain, but this exhibition examines Millais in the context of his whole career, from his beginnings as the youngest ever pupil at the Royal Academy to his late landscapes, revealing a complex and innovative artist whose work encompassed every genre.. It includes around 140 paintings and works on paper, from popular nostalgic fancy pictures such as 'Bubbles' through to 12 of his great Scottish landscapes - the largest grouping shown together since 1898. Displayed chronologically, the exhibition follows Millais's development from Old Master conventions through to 'primitivising' works such as 'Isabella', in which he deliberately rejected contrived compositional devices. It examines paintings from Millais's mature Pre-Raphaelite phase and also presents his pioneering role in the Aesthetic movement which focused on a new subjectless type of painting, based on mood above narrative and moral meaning. Highlights include 'Blow, blow thou winter wind', 'The Ransom', 'Christmas Eve', 'Sophie Gray' and 'Ophelia'. A series of portraits including 'Portrait of Henry Irving' shows how Millais negotiated a prominent position in British society. A recreation of his studio at Palace Gate - used from 1877 until his death in 1896 - conveys how his working environment helped to establish his social status.Tate Britain until 13th January.
Crime Scene Edinburgh: 20 Years Of Rankin And Rebus looks at the history of John Rebus, the fictional detective, and his author Ian Rankin, following the publication of the final novel in the series. The exhibition explores Ian Rankin's development as a writer and his process of writing; the character arc of John Rebus; the key part that the city of Edinburgh has played in the books; the various factors that have made the Rebus stories such a success; how police procedures and forensic science have changed over the past two decades; and in addition, the history of the Lothian and Borders Police. Among the diverse exhibits are Ian Rankin's first scribbled notes on the character (made in the library itself), his old computer, the manuscript of the first Rebus novel; manuscripts of works by other writers who have used Edinburgh as an integral part of their novels, from Sir Walter Scott, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to James Hogg; copies of Rankin's favorite and inspirational books; audio clips of Rankin reading from his work - and of his abortive punk band the Flying Pigs; the mysterious miniature coffins from the National Museum of Scotland that inspired a Rebus book; a recreation of Rebus's 'home turf', the Oxford Bar; excerpts from the recent Rebus television series; and assorted police memorabilia, including the death mask of William Burke (of grave-robbers Burke and Hare fame). Visitors can also put their own detective skills to the test in solving a murder mystery. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 13th January.
Eve Arnold In China is an exhibition of some 40 photographs by the American born British based photo-journalist, taken during two three month visits to China in 1979, when she was one of the first Western photographers to enter the country. It is the first time these images have been on display in Britain. The photographs capture a critical moment in Chinese history, when the government decided that economic incentives were to replace ideology, and that it would open itself to the West, in a gamble to become a world power by the year 2000. The resulting images of Arnold's visit are a candid look at a virtually unknown society, ranging from militia training in Mongolia, rice gleaning in Hsishuang Panna and Buddhist monks studying sutras in Tibet, through the daily tasks of milking cattle and noodle making, to performing artists on both the traditional opera stage and in local factories. A photograph of a television perched on two stacked tables, one covered with a starched lace cloth perhaps symbolises pride in a small token of modernity. Arnold is painterly in her compositions, combining bright patches of foreground colour with vast, broad horizons, and giving each photograph a sense of self-containment, both intimate yet detached. The contrast between these portraits of a nation isolated from developments in the rest of the world, and the highly industrialised China of today, now 'the workshop of the world', about to host the Olympic Games, could not be more marked. Asia House Gallery, London W1, until 12th January.