George IV at Queens Gallery

George IV at the Queen’s Gallery

Scandals with the royals are nothing new and the George IV exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery gives us a peek into his life showing us his good points and what made him popular and a figure of fun.   He was famous and unpopular because of his extravagant lifestyle , his womanising and drinking but his collecting habit has left us with an extraordinary legacy, some of which is on display in this exhibition.  He was one of the great collectors of paintings and decorative  arts of his age but also the subject of much satirical ridicule for his lifestyle and for being out of touch with his people.  His reign was relatively short (1820-1830) but before this he was Prince Regent as his father George III was deemed unfit due to his mental health so George the younger effectively ruled from 1811.  This exhibition features of over 300 works from the Royal Collection gives us new and rich insights into the life of George IV.

George was a big spender but he was able to pick up a good deal of art, furniture and ceramics after the upheavals on the Continent following the French Revolution flooded the market with work which had belonged to the French aristocrats.  The furniture is grand, elaborate and somewhat over the top!

George IV at Queens Gallery George IV at Queens Gallery










Continue reading

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery

Cindy Sherman’s major show at the National Portrait Gallery looks back at her long career at the peak of world photography .  She is most well known for taking pictures of herself but this is not a world of selfies as she creates a wide range of personas using herself as the model, many of which are unrecognisable as the same person.  This show covers her 40 year career with examples from each of her major series of work.

The exhibition takes us from her earliest work, featuring her degree show pictures through each stage of her developing different personas.  We go through film sets,  history portraits, magazine covers, pornography, fashion  to society women.   The range is staggering and often it’s a challenge to see Cindy in them,  so brilliantly has she taken on the persona she is seeking, creating the illusion of a changed identity.

I was lucky enough to have a tour of the exhibition by the curator, Paul Moorhouse, and this gave me a deeper insight to Cindy and her work.  One thing Paul  told us that really stayed with me was that Cindy does not let anyone in on her creative process.  She works entirely alone in her study as she creates these characters, not even letting an assistant into the study.   Back in her early days she had done some work on location but this had proved difficult as it required help from others and getting dressed and ready in public so from then on all her work was made in the studio.

Continue reading

Serpentine Pavilion 2019

The Serpentine Pavilion 2019

The annual opening of the Serpentine Pavilion is a real sign that we are properly into the London summer, even if the weather is not always as warm as we’d like.

Each year a new architect is chosen to bring their vision of a temporary pavilion to the site next to the original Serpentine Gallery. This competition has been going since  2000 when the first winner was Zaha Hadid and it has grown into a showcase for emerging talent from around the world.

This year’s Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Junya Ishigami, a Japanese architect who is known for his experimental structures which reflect natural phenomena.   The result is a wonderful wing shape roof of Cumbrian slate which produces an open covered space.  The brilliance of the design and the construction gives us a structure which seems light and fluid in its shape.  The 61 tons of slate that make up the single canopy roof give it a strong organic feel but the way it is supported and shaped make it appear light and somehow growing out of the surrounding grass.

Serpentine Pavilion 2019

Continue reading

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Da Vinci’s drawings grace the Queen’s Gallery

The Queen owns priceless art treasures and thanks to her ancestors’ collecting habits the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.

The Royal Collection contains the greatest collection of da VInci drawings, a group of 550 drawings that have remained together since his death in 1519 and rarely shown so they are in excellent condition.  At his death in 1519, Da VInci left all his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi who kept them faithfully until his own death when the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired them and mounted them in at least 2 albums. By 1630 one of the albums had reached England into the collection of the Earl of Arundel until around 1670 when Charles ll acquired it, perhaps as a gift from the Earl but ‘acquired’ is a little vague in the royal context! King Charles II was keen buyer and acquirer of art and his interest in these drawings was a master stroke.  In the 1900s they were removed from the album but luckily it was kept and preserved and here it is, on proud display.  Its contents remain an unbroken group as they were in 1519.

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Continue reading

Painted Hall, Greenwich

Welcome back to the Painted Hall, Greenwich

The Painted Hall has been undergoing extensive renovation for the last 2 years so I was really looking forward to seeing this amazing place when it was unveiled.  They managed to keep the venue open to visitors during the work by offering tours on the enormous scaffolding erected to enable the painstaking cleaning and this gave visitors a once in a lifetime chance to see the ceiling really close up.  I went on one of these tours and you can read about that here. Continue reading

Modern Couples, Barbican

Modern Couples opens at London’s Barbican Gallery

It’s been a mammoth undertaking!  This was the introduction from Jane Alison, the co-curator of the Barbican’s new exhibition, Modern Couples, which explores how all the relationships featured in the exhibition have changed art and how society viewed these relationships.  This is not art  seen as it so often is through the lens of the single male genius but instead it opens up our thinking about what emerges from collaborations between couples and it makes a particular point of putting the women first in each couple (where there is a man/woman couple) making her the lead,  not the muse or supporter.   A refreshing viewpoint,  which feels very much in tune with our times. Continue reading

Buckingham Palace

Prince and Patron at Buckingham Palace

Each summer Buckingham Palace opens its doors to the public while the Queen is away on her holidays. You can tour the palace and see its richly decorated state rooms and extraordinary art gallery.  But there is more!  A special exhibition accompanies the opening of the rooms and as it’s Prince Charles’ s 70th birthday this year, he gets to chose his favourite pieces of art to put on display in an exhibition entitled Prince and Patron. Continue reading