News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th June 2003

Commencing

Museum In Docklands has brought back to life one of Britain's oldest surviving warehouses - No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay. Built 200 years ago to store and handle coffee, rum, molasses and sugar, today it houses over 2,000 years of history, exploring the story of London's river, port and people from the Roman settlement to its recent regeneration as the Docklands financial and trade centre. The £8.5m conversion has created twelve galleries that hold thousands of artefacts, engravings, paintings, testimonies and photographs that capture the people and places of the area, which from the 1650s to the 1950s was the heart of London. Many of the exhibits are unique, having been rescued during the 1970s and 1780s when the port moved downstream, and they are joined by material drawn from the collections of the Museum of London and the Port of London Authority. Among the highlights are a scale model of Old London Bridge, the first stone structure over the Thames, on one side showing the state of the bridge and its buildings in 1450, on the other in all its Tudor glory; Sailortown, a recreation of gas lit riverside streets and alleyways typical of those behind the early Victorian Wapping waterfront; vessels including the Jillanjon, a double sculling pleasure craft from the 1880s and a PLA Waterman's Skiff of around 1925; and rarely seen film from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and captured Nazi footage, together with canvases by official war artist William Ware, documenting the impact of the Blitz. Meanwhile outside moored along the quay, there are vessels from the floating collection, including the 1920s ex-steam tug Knocker White. Museum In Docklands continuing.

Barbara Hepworth Centenary celebrates one of the foremost British artists of the 20th century, who was internationally acclaimed as one of the major sculptors of her time. Complementing the later bronze works on permanent display at the nearby Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in her former home, this exhibition concentrates on her earlier wood and stone carvings, and groups of drawings. It focuses on the specific themes of Single Form, wood carvings inspired by the human figure; Maternal Forms, stone sculptures on the theme of mother and child; Landscape Sculpture, inspired by the landscape of Cornwall; Scented Guarea, carved from logs of the tropical hardwood; Coloured Stones, an interest to which Hepworth returned in the 60s and 70s; Drawings For Sculptures With Colour, a series of studies for sculpture, combining geometric patterns of lines with areas of strong colour, and Interrelated Masses, pure, white marble sculptures, which have not been seen together for over fifty years. Many of her best known and most important works are featured. Tate St Ives until 12th October.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition panders to our continuing fascination with the myth and legend of the White Star liner, now rusting two and a half miles down at the bottom of the ocean. It presents a chronological journey from the ship's design and construction to its eventual discovery and salvage. There are over 200 artefacts recovered from the wreck, including the ship's bell, a chandelier, crockery and a 3 ton section of the hull which once enclosed two first class cabins - the largest item to be raised so far - as well as personal items such as jewellery, perfume bottles, clothing, a top hat, razors, diaries, playing cards and even bank notes. A sense of life on board for the passengers and crew is conveyed with reconstructions of 1st and 3rd class cabins, pointing up the differences in their experiences, and the bridge. Individual stories of some of the passengers, which ranged from millionaires to economic migrants, are explored. The exhibition also relates how advances in underwater technology have allowed scientists, marine archaeologists and historians to locate and visit the wreck site, and details how objects were raised from the seabed using the latest technology, and preserved for display in the exhibition. It ends with a memorial to the 2228 people on board who perished, together with reproductions of the press coverage of the event, and the reports of British and American enquiries into the disaster. Science Museum until 28th September.

Continuing

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 1200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions. Among this year's outrages are David Mach's collage showing nudists in St James Park (with Buckingham Palace in the background), and Dilek O'Keefe's estimation of where Kylie Minogue's talent really lies (it's behind her). Architecture takes a prominent role, with Norman Foster's 'Sky High: Vertical Architecture' exploring the development of the skyscraper from its earliest days in Chicago through to the most innovative skyscrapers currently being developed. Historic designs, such as William Van Allen's Chrysler Building, rub shoulders with contemporary proposals, ranging from candidates for the redevelopment of the World Trade Centre site to Renzo Piano's controversial London Bridge Tower. Models and graphics show how the skyscraper is taking a central role in urban redevelopment in cities around the globe. In a new feature this year the Royal Academy Schools, the Royal College of Art, Goldsmith's College and the Slade School of Fine Art, present work by emerging artists. There is an accompanying programme of lectures and events covering all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 10th August.

Metropolis: Manchester is part of an ongoing project by photographer John Davies to investigate and record major cities in the UK at the beginning of the 21st century. Davies aim is to document the changing face of Britain's major industrial and post-industrial cities. This exhibition comprises a series of large format images taken from high vantage points around the city during last summer. Davies is interested in the architecture of the social environment and the interaction between people and places, and so his photographs concentrate on popular open spaces that attract people. These include the new Urbis building, the redesigned Piccadilly Gardens, Oxford Street Station, the rebuilt Exchange Square, the gothic Albert Square, and the revitalised Arndale centre. Together they build up a composite of the architectural transformation that Manchester has undergone in the last few years. Davies has previously recorded images of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and London in this project. Urbis, Manchester until 6th September and Manchester Art Gallery until 7th September.

Painted Labyrinth: The World Of The Lindisfarne Gospels provides an opportunity to see the actual Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world's greatest books, and the greatest masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic art. Remarkable for its intricate designs, glowing colours and consummate workmanship, it was made between 715 and 720 in the island monastery of Lindisfarne. The book was the life work of Eadfrith, a uniquely gifted artist who created the pigments he used from a variety of natural sources, so that they still retain their brilliance after 13 centuries. It merges words and images reflecting many influences, including native British, Celtic, Germanic, Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, North African and Middle Eastern, to create a unique enduring symbol of faith. The Lindisfarne Gospels contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written in Latin on 259 vellum leaves, to which the oldest surviving translation into the English language was added between the lines some 250 years later. Each Gospel is introduced with a portrait of its writer, and a richly decorative 'carpet page' (like an oriental rug), with the first words elaborately ornamented. In addition to the actual book, thanks to new software developed by the British Library, visitors (both in person and online) can seem to turn the pages of the gospels themselves. British Library until 28th September.

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Divine And The Grotesque is the first to British exhibition focus on Leonardo's life-long obsession with the human form. Through his drawings and notes, often made at the dissecting table, he attempted to define perfect or 'divine' proportion. At the same time, he delighted in distorting the human face to explore the comic potential of the 'grotesque', in drawings often based on lightning life studies made in the street. These were among his most influential works and were largely responsible for his reputation as a bizarre genius. For Leonardo, drawing was the principal means of exploring both the real world and the possibilities of the imagination. His highly accurate anatomical drawings broke new ground in the history of scientific illustration. Several are annotated with his characteristic mirror writing. Leonardo's compulsion to draw imaginary heads is one of the most striking aspects of his work. Ideal types - the angelic youth, the fierce warrior and the decrepit old man - recur throughout his drawings and paintings. This selection includes studies for The Last Supper, portraits of Leonardo and his circle, and rare examples of his designs for festival costumes. All the rarely seen works in the exhibition come from the Royal Collection, which holds over 600 items, and is the world's finest group of Leonardo's drawings. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 9th November.

Mao: Art For The Masses gives Western audiences their first chance to see examples of the propagandist art created to promote the cult of Chairman Mao and his vision of New China. The formation of Communist Chinese state is charted through a private collection of extremely rare pieces made between 1950 and 1976, and acquired in Hong Kong during and immediately after the Cultural Revolution. These images, made in traditional media such as porcelain, lacquer and ivory, were created to illustrate the political idealism of the period, but now seem hypocritical or kitsch. The greatest master craftsmen were encouraged to use the best materials with no restriction on production time to produce perfect images of Mao's revolution. Exhibits include porcelain figures, plaques, tableware, ivory carvings, snuff bottles, posters, badges, and part of a hoard of 400 'Official Issue' busts of Mao discovered recently on the Tibetan boarder, plus a copy of his little red book. Royal Museum, Edinburgh until April.

My Favourite Dress is the opening exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, the £4m project masterminded by fashion icon Zandra Rhodes, and built entirely without lottery or other public funding. It comprises dresses contributed by 70 designers, and while some have used the opportunity to promote their current wares, others such as Jasper Conran, Romeo Gigli Christian Lacroix, Mary Quant, Pacco Rabanne, Oscar de la Renta of Balmain and Valentino, have delved into their archives and found some famous and iconic pieces. They are displayed on a special automated mobile system of crystal mannequins that give the frocks a twirl so that they can be fully appreciated. The museum's permanent collection was kick started by Rhodes personal collection of over 3,000 garments of her own and by other designers, such as Ossie Clarke, Bill Gibb and Jean Muir accrued over the last 35 years. The building, converted from a warehouse in now trendy Bermondsey, has been created in Rhodes image by Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, in that it is shocking pink, orange and blue inside and out. In addition to exhibition space, the project includes Rhodes studio, workshops, and accommodation for students visiting as part of its education programme, plus a 'living above the shop' penthouse for Rhodes herself, with a shop, café, library and research centre to come. Fashion And Textile Museum continuing.

Concluding

Art Deco 1910-1939 is the first assessment in this country of the first truly global art movement, which was launched at the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1925, as the way of the future, combining streamlining and extravagance. It started in the gallery with paintings and sculpture, moved into the home with individually created jewellery, objets d'art, dresses and furniture for the rich, and then the style swept the world in mass-produced items, with everything from household chinaware and textiles, through cars and ocean liners, to architecture such as the Chrysler building and the Rockefeller Center. It was even reflected in entertainment, both through the designs of the extravagant Hollywood musical spectaculars, and the buildings in which they were shown, culminating in Radio City Music Hall in New York. This exhibition endeavours to encompass the breadth of this massive canvass. It is crammed with wonders including the Maharajah of Indore's silver canopy bed, an Auburn Speedster car, a Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann dressing table, Walter Teague's Bluebird radio, and even the foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel. Areas recreate the Paris Exhibition of 1925 and the New York World's Fair of 1939 that mark the movement's beginning and end. A rich and glamorous treat. Victoria & Albert Museum until 20th July.

British Blondes celebrates the perception that from Greek goddess Aphrodite to pop goddess Madonna, blondes have always had more fun, by bringing together photographs of some the best known British blondes from the 1930s to the present day. Blonde hair has come to signify beauty, power and status, and the display looks at blonde bombshells from the worlds of politics, fashion, music, film and media. Highlights include Margaret Thatcher by Norman Parkinson, Twiggy by Allan Ballard, Diana Dors by Cornel Lucas and Joely Richardson by Alistair Morrisson, plus Diana, Princess of Wales, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor. The sublime to the 'gor blimey indeed. National Portrait Gallery until 6th July.

David Hockney: Five Double Portraits is a double celebration, marking the return to Britain of one of our most globally successful artists, and the discovery of (for him) a new medium - watercolour. Relishing the possibilities and restrictions of watercolour, these portraits are large (almost 4ft high), produced in a single six or seven hour sitting, with no preparatory sketches, and no possibility of over painted alterations. The centrepiece is a portrait of the Glyndebourne impresario Sir George Christie and his wife, commissioned by the gallery, which proved the catalyst for Hockney's interest in the medium, and produced a burst of creativity. National Portrait Gallery until 29th June.