Private View held by Richard Andrews
Dulwich Picture Gallery is the location for latest £8m Lottery funded project for the Queen to reopen on 25th May. Sir John Soane's original structure (a classic and still imitated design which was originally as big a talking point as its contents) has been refurbished and restored to its original appearance. It has also involved the creation of a new building linked to it by a glass and bronze cloister, into which services have been moved, thus releasing extra gallery space. Rick Mather, who designed the National Maritime Museum's Neptune Court, has created a new block forming a quadrangle with the existing structure, which contains the Sackler Centre for Arts Education, a practical art studio for the gallery's extensive education programme, the Linbury Room, a flexible space for lectures and exhibitions, and a new Picture Gallery Café. The opening exhibition is the story of gallery itself, how Soane designed and built it, and how it has developed to the present day. The original collection was assembled by Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois, whose mausoleum is part of the gallery. Further details from the Dulwich Picture Gallery web site via the link opposite.
Somerset House emerges from Inland Revenue occupation as a public building on 26th May, with the Queen Mother doing the honours. A £48m Lottery funded scheme by Peter Jenkins, of Inskip & Jenkins, has refurbished the South Building, restoring a riverside entrance on the Embankment, complete with a ceremonial Navy commissioners barge. The project provides galleries to house the Gilbert Collection of decorative arts (ranging from jewel encrusted snuff boxes to silver-gilt gates from a Russian Orthodox church) in the King's Barge House, the restoration of the Seamen's Waiting Hall, and an inevitable cafe. Still to come, The Hermitage Rooms, displaying highlights from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will open in the autumn, and the existing Courtauld Institute Gallery will be expanded to include a new department of digital and video art. Sir Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones, fresh from their National Portrait Gallery extension, have restored the riverside promenade terrace and linked it to Waterloo Bridge. They have also restored the central courtyard to its original 18th century appearance, designed new fountains, and made provision for it to be used as an open air performance venue. Further details from the Somerset House web site via our Heritage section, and the Gilbert Collection web site via our Museum section, and the Courtauld Gallery web site via our Galleries section.
Carnivalesque is a celebration of the art of the satirical, the subversive and the world turned upside down, from the medieval Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel through old masters such as Goya and Daumier to contemporary video installations. It is crammed with images of fools, hunchbacks, dwarves (if one is allowed to call any of them by those names any more) demons and grotesques in all manor of situations. There are so many examples of the morbid, the bizzare and the macabre, that the exhibition is spread over three galleries. The confining hand of the Catholic Church on European societies appears to have provoked a more substantial and dramatic backlash in their enthusiasm for Carnival than its British seaside confinement to the Punch and Judy show and annual street parade. Suitably therefore this show launches in Brighton, then moves on to Nottingham and Edinburgh. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Fabrica Gallery and University of Brighton Gallery until 2nd July
Fun de Siècle features more than 30 novelty and commemorative wallpapers, ranging from depictions of the Coronation of Edward VII through Batman to Manchester United, taking in Beatrix Potter, the Flintstones and the Beatles on the way. It provides an opportunity to marvel at how someone could actually live with lime green and silver foil parrots on their walls, and awake memories of personal wallpaper-enriched moments.
Endings is the first in a three part sequence of exhibitions to be staged this year called The Times Of Our Lives, which will examine human experience in relation to time, and events common to us all throughout our lives from birth to death. It looks at farewells, sleep, dreams, and happy endings as well as death in all its manifestations - in conflict, through illness, murder and suicide. As a Millennium exhibition, the death of Christ also features as an important theme in the show, which includes over 100 works by artists such as Dürer, Rembrandt, Blake, Goya, Millais, Sickert, Henry Moore, Evelyn Williams and Abigail Lane. The range covers modern and historic paintings, sculpture, drawings, watercolours, prints, textiles, wallpapers and other applied arts. Wentworth Gallery Manchester, Fun de Siècle until December, Endings until 2nd July.
Fragments Of Narrative might be described as the antidote to Tate Modern. The now disused Wapping Power Station houses an installation by Christie Brown, consisting of incomplete life size clay human figures hanging from the rafters. It evokes a strange combination of inspirations - the remains of previous inhabitants, Frankenstein's failures, attempts at cloning and replication, and the practice in some Catholic countries of placing wax models of diseased limbs outside churches in the belief that it will assist the healing process. Curiously affecting but not for the squeamish. Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London E1 Information 0906 302 0085 until 18th June.
Tate Modern is finally open to the public, after more previews than a Broadway show (and an equally star studded audience). Swiss modernist architects Herzog and de Meuron's £134m Lottery funded conversion of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside power station catapults London into the top three of the world modern art gallery league. There is no special opening exhibition, the building itself and hitherto un/hardly seen work from the Tate's 20th century collection are deemed attractions enough. The towering turbine hall, with its Star Wars overtones, allows for the display of work on the scale of Louise Bourgeois 30ft metal spider, through which visitors can walk, and four fully accessible steel towers with mirrors on top. The riverside galleries permit 60% of the collection to be shown, as opposed to just 15% at Millbank, with Richard Long's slate circle of rough hewn stone echoing Carl Andre's infamous bricks, which make a return appearance.
The Indiana Amish And Their Quilts is an exhibition which establishes beyond doubt that with their rich colours and intricate patterns quilts are art as well as handicraft. All the more surprising considering the dark traditional dress of their creators, descendants of Swiss Anabaptists, who still live a 19th century existence. The exhibition also includes clothes, toys, dolls and an original buggy. The American Museum in Britain, Bath until 29th October.
The National Portrait Gallery £15.9m Lottery funded extension is now open. The new building, developing a light well between the existing NPG and the National Gallery, provides 50% more exhibition and public space. The redesign, which is the work of Sir Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones, who were responsible for the Royal Opera House redevelopment, has uncovered architectural details hidden by previous work (such as original cornices) and restored natural daylight to four of the galleries. New features include: one of the largest escalators in London to whisk visitors from the new central entrance hall to the second floor Tudor galleries, which house some of the most important paintings in the collection, including the first acquisition - the portrait of William Shakespeare; an IT Gallery housing 11 touch screens enabling visitors to gather detailed information about the Gallery's treasures; a roof-top restaurant with panoramic views across Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament and the Thames; and a 150 seat Lecture Theatre providing the opportunity for platform performances and recitals based on the lives and works of people in the collection.
Museums And Galleries Month is the largest event of its kind in the world, with special events being staged across the country. These include over 120 Welcome Days, with free transport and entry to some sites, live costumed guides, translations, touch tours, and sign language interpreters. Friday 26th May is Welcome Night, when many venues will stay open until midnight, with a special programme of tours, talks, behind the scenes visits, drinks and entertainment. With many Lottery funded schemes coming to fruition, this year will see the greatest gallery and museum expansion in our history.
Bauhaus Dessau celebrates the Bauhaus school, which despite its brief 14 year existence, became probably the most important influence on the architecture, design and craft of the 20th Century. Although it started in Weimar in 1919, the school enjoyed its most successful period during the late 1920's, at a purpose built headquarters at Dessau, designed by its founder, the architect Walter Gropius. The exhibition concentrates on this period, with Marcel Breuer's cantilevered tubular steel chairs, Marianne Brandt's light fittings, Herbert Bayer's advertisements, Gunts Stoltz's textiles, paintings by Klee and Kandinsky and designs and models of the Dessau building itself. Design Museum until 4th June.
The British Art Show, mounted every five years, is a huge survey of the state of British art, which encompasses most of the galleries in Edinburgh. It includes work by fifty five artists, as diverse as David Hockney, John Stezaker, and the ubiquitous Tracy Emin. After Edinburgh the show travels on to Southampton, Cardiff and Birmingham. Various venues Edinburgh until 4th June.
The Stamp Show, the UK's largest philatelic exhibition, is held in London every ten years - like the Passion Play in Oberamagau and generating interest and enthusiasm in its supporters which is no less fervent. In addition to dealers from all over the world, there will be displays of rare philatelic material from the collections of the Queen and The Royal Philatelic Society London. The Royal Mail will feature special issues from its 160 year history, covering the first 1860 Penny Black to the Millennium Machin. Among the attractions, visitors will be able to create valid stamps with their own picture on, personalised franking with their image and message, and submit wildlife photographs for consideration for a future stamp issue. Earls Court 22nd to 28th May.