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Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon - NPG

Exhibition preview

AUDREY Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, a photography exhibition celebrating the life of the actress and fashion icon, will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from July 2 to October 18, 2015.

The exhibition, which marks the 65th anniversary of Hepburn’s career-changing performance at a leading West End night-club called Ciro’s (in the same building that now houses the National Portrait Gallery’s public archive), charts those early years through to her philanthropic work in later life.

A selection of more than sixty images will define Hepburn’s iconography, including classic and rarely seen prints from leading twentieth-century photographers such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn.

An array of vintage magazine covers, film stills, and extraordinary archival material will complete her captivating story. These will include the actress in her Broadway dressing room when she starred in Gigi, and family shots of her performing ballet as a young girl.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tel: 020 7306 0055


The Waddesdon Bequest - a new gallery at the British Museum

The British Museum

Exhibition preview

THE Waddesdon Bequest, the superb collection of medieval and Renaissance treasures left to the British Museum in 1898 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild MP, will be redisplayed in a new gallery that opens on June 11, 2015. The gallery is made possible through a generous donation from the Rothschild Foundation.

The new display will contain some of the most impressive objects in the British Museum’s European collection, and will give fascinating historical insight into shifts in taste, the growth of the art market, and the development of forgery in response to demand from collectors in the nineteenth century.

In addition, the redisplay will involve the most ambitious digital treatment of a permanent gallery by the Museum.

As a demonstration of power and discernment, the collection tells the story of the rise of the Rothschilds as a new European aristocracy in the 19th century. Until Baron Ferdinand’s death in 1898, it was displayed in a specially-created room, The New Smoking Room, at his country retreat, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, a National Trust house managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

With this new gallery, which reconnects the Waddesdon Bequest both with Waddesdon Manor and with the history of the British Museum, the collection can be fully understood for the first time in its proper intellectual and historical context.

According to the terms of the Bequest the collection has always been shown on its own in a separate room. It was previously displayed on the first floor of the British Museum. The new gallery, Room 2a, previously known as the Middle Room, was the original Reading Room and was part of Robert Smirke’s 1820s neo-classical suite which included the King’s Library (Room 1: The Enlightenment Gallery) and the Manuscripts Saloon (Room 2: Collecting the World).

Both rooms act as an introduction to the origins and breadth of the British Museum’s collection, which will now be complemented by the Waddesdon Bequest.

The Waddesdon Bequest is the creation of a father and son in the famous Rothschild banking family: Baron Anselm von Rothschild (1803-1874) of Frankfurt and Vienna, and Baron Ferdinand Rothschild MP (1839-1898), who became a British citizen in 1860. The rise of the Rothschilds from the Frankfurt Ghetto to become the world’s bankers within two generations is one of the best-known “rags to riches” legends in Europe.

The family helped to shape the modern world: by the end of the 19th century they controlled not only a European rail network but a global mining industry. The Rothschilds invested their wealth in great houses filled with some of the most sumptuous art collections ever seen.

This collection can be viewed as a small, select museum, formed on the fast-growing art markets of Frankfurt, Vienna, London and Paris. It is a treasury of intricate, precious objects, modelled on the art collections formed by princes and nobles in the courts of Renaissance Europe, known as Kunstkammern. Forming Kunstkammern of their own demonstrated the rise of the Rothschilds as a new European aristocracy.

One of the star objects is the Holy Thorn Reliquary, made of gold, enamel and gems sculpted around a simple thorn, supposedly from the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ at his Crucifixion. It was featured in the BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects, and was described by Neil MacGregor as “a single-object museum”.

As one of the most important Christian relics, the Crown of Thorns was acquired by Louis IX, King of France, in Constantinople in 1239 for the price of 135,000 livres – nearly half the annual expenditure of France.

The Reliquary was made in Paris around 1400 as a private devotional object for Jean, duc du Berry, one of the greatest collectors and art patrons of the late middle ages. In 1860, the reliquary went for repair to the restorer, Salomon Weininger, who copied it and sold the original which was acquired by Baron Anselm de Rothschild around 1873.

While the Waddesdon Bequest has a strong continental European feel, there are select objects with British historical associations that reveal Baron Ferdinand’s sense of British identity. The Lyte Jewel is a diamond-studded locket which was made in London in 1610-11 to hold a miniature of James VI and I of Scotland and England.

It was presented by the King to Thomas Lyte of Lytes Cary, Somerset, in thanks for a royal genealogy which represented James as a descendant of Brutus, the mythical Trojan founder of the British nation. As a Scot and survivor of several assassination attempts, James I was keen to assert his right as a legitimate king of England. Baron Ferdinand proudly showed this important document for British history to his British royal visitors at Waddesdon Manor, such as Queen Victoria and the future Edward VII.

Other treasures include the ‘Cellini’ Bell, encrusted with tiny lizards, beetles and grasses cast from life in silver by Wenzel Jamnitzer in Nuremberg around 1600. The Bell had previously belonged to the British connoisseur, Horace Walpole, who displayed it proudly at his villa at Strawberry Hill.

Other treasures in the Bequest range from precious amber and rock crystal, curiosities formed from exotic shells, nuts, ostrich eggs and a “griffin claw”, microcarvings in boxwood and masterpieces of glass, ceramic, goldsmiths’ work and Limoges enamel.

The new gallery has been designed by the architects Stanton Williams, who won the Stirling Prize in 2012. Their design invokes the Schatzkammer (treasure room) tradition that inspired Baron Ferdinand’s collection and extends it into the twenty-first century, allowing visitors to appreciate both the extraordinarily varied objects in the collection and the original library room designed by Robert Smirke.

High quality materials are used throughout, including bronze panels that are reminiscent of the luxury of the Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor and match the craftsmanship of the Middle Room. The curatorial narrative is embedded within the design of the gallery, which enables fully integrated interpretation of the collection through graphics and digital media.

The aim of the gallery, its digital programme and accompanying book, A Rothschild Renaissance, is to reward close looking. The ambitious digital programme accompanying the displays will embrace a variety of platforms. Six in-gallery screens will reveal objects in minute detail and show intricate hidden details. A large-scale projection will connect the gallery with Waddesdon Manor and the Smoking Room. Free WiFi access offers new opportunities for mobile interpretation on visitors’ own devices.

A fully responsive microsite will allow visitors to access further information about individual objects. The programme strikes a balance between the on-site and online experience; drawing on resources and knowledge across the collection and exploring the potential of digital media to engage visitors and attract new audiences.

The Waddesdon Bequest gallery is unique in showing an entire surviving 19th Century collection of exceptional quality and rarity. Similar collections formed by Jewish collectors during this period were mostly broken up or lost in the 20th Century: of the forty five splendid European houses and their collections created by the Rothschilds, only Baron Ferdinand’s creation at Waddesdon Manor survives intact and open to the public.

This year, an exhibition at Waddesdon, The Renaissance Museum: Treasures from the Smoking Room, explores the context in which the Bequest was originally displayed, before its transfer to the British Museum through the Bequest in 1898.

The beautifully illustrated accompanying publication A Rothschild Renaissance: Treasures from the Waddesdon Bequest, written by Dora Thornton, will be published in June 2015 by British Museum Press. By looking at individual objects in detail, and drawing on new photography and research, the book will enable readers to see and understand the objects in a completely different light. Hardback £30.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Tel: 020 7323 8181


Exhibitions at Rich Mix - April and May 2015

Exhibition preview

RICH Mix has a number of exhibitions lined up for the coming weeks.

Majajani – Mezzanine and Lower Café Gallery until April 30. Free.

This exhibition shows Chila Kumari Burman’s work from 2000 to the present. A feast for the senses, it challenges stereotypical ideas about Asian feminine identities.

Drawing Mudras: A Practice of Care – Lower Café Gallery from May 1 to May 4. Free.

A pop-up exhibition and series of participatory workshops led by artist Sarah Lawton in collaboration with participants from the South Asian Diaspora, in East London.

The Landscape of Murder – Mezzanine from May 8 to May 30. Free.

A photographic project by Antonio Zazueta Olmos documenting every place where a murder happened in London within the M25 in 2011-2012.

Island Girl Photography – Lower Café Gallery from May 8 to May 17. Free.

Island Girl is a project which has engaged a group of girls and young women from the Girls Group at George Green’s School in a series of research and photography workshops.

DIY Cultures – Lower Café Gallery from May 22 to June 12. Free.

DIY Justice explores the intersections of activism, craft and lo-fi art production accompanying struggles for justice. The space doubles as reading room and community hub.

For more information visit

Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Family Fun at Udderbelly Festival 2015

Event preview

UNDERBELLY and the South Bank Centre are hosting more than sixty of the country’s finest comedy, circus and family shows in the iconic upside-down purple cow and its inimitable surrounds, the pasture. And this year’s Udderbelly Festival runs until July 19.

This week, A Simple Space (April 21 to May 24) returns to London one last time for a gripping, uplifting and raucously fun demonstration of strength, athleticism and camaraderie from eight top class young acrobats.

In Bec & Tom’s Awesome Laundry (April 26), the pair desperately try to avoid their dreaded chores by immersing audiences in a glorious make-believe world of paper puppetry, tales and tomfoolery, featuring cult stand-up and artist Bec Hill (CBBC’s The Dog Ate My Homework) and funnyman Tom Goodliffe.

With a puff of smoke, a couple of Victorian conjurers Morgan & West (May 2, 9, 16 and 23) are thrown forward in time into a world of tricks, tea and hyper-reality for their Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Comedy Club 4 Kids (various dates in May, June, July) sees the international circuit’s best stand-up comics, cabaret stars and sketch acts clean up their act as they perform their usual routines with a child-friendly twist.

The world record-breaking human orchestra Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids (May 4 and 25) will take you on a twisted musical journey using just his mouth and his mic, while improv musical theatre maestros The Showstoppers’ Fantastical Story Factory (May 24 and June 14) encourages kids in the audience to get their creative hats on and decide everything from the storyline to the setting as they jet off on an interactive, magical adventure.

In Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure (May 30, June 7 and July 19) the world’s tiniest elephant Anabelle ventures off with her friends into an imaginary sphere of animation, live film, comedy and songs, created with the help of Arts Council England.

Phil Ellis’s Funz and Gamez (May 31 and June 20 and 21), the cult interactive smash of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe, sees Jim, Elf and Bonzo the dog host an hour of warped children’s entertainment, while Alex Horne’s world-renowned comedy-jazz extravaganza brings boisterous fun and folly to their new quiz show, The Horne Section’s Questions Sessions (June 11 and 21 and July 9).

Based on the book by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, The King of Tiny Things (July 11 – 13) is an interactive theatrical adventure packed with beguiling puppetry and spectacular circus performance in which two sisters meet a peculiar winged creature who soon leads them astray. On their quest, they rescue juggling slugs, contortionist worms and acrobatic baby bats before fulfilling a special request from the King himself.

This year’s London Wondergound will also feature a treat for tots and parents alike in the form of the internationally acclaimed Monski Mouse’s Baby Dancehall Disco, which allows the under-5s to dance the day away to the funkiest, most eclectic mix of hits and nursery rhymes.

The full Udderbelly Festival 2015 programme is available at

André Kertész in Europe - James Hyman Gallery

André Kertész in Europe

Exhibition preview

JAMES Hyman Gallery is presenting André Kertész in Europe, a new exhibition of images selected from works in the estate of André Kertész.

The exhibition – the first of its kind to focus on Kertész’s European work alone – spans the photographer’s whole career and features well known images as well as several unknown photographs which have never before been exhibited or published.

Born in Hungary in 1894, Kertész was one of the most internationally significant photographers of the 20th century, influencing figures such as Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson and laying the foundations for photojournalism as it is known today.

André Kertész in Europe begins with the artist’s earliest photographs, made in Hungary in the 1910s, moves on to his pioneering modernist work produced in Paris during the 1920s and then presents almost unknown, later works, made in Europe after the Second World War.

Although it is often assumed that Kertész seldom travelled after moving to New York in 1936, he did in fact return regularly to Europe. These trips included visits to London, France and Budapest in 1948; to Venice, France and Budapest in 1963; Hungary and Spain in 1971; London, Paris and Milan in 1972; France in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1984; and little known visits to England in 1972, 1980, 1983 and 1984.

James Hyman said: ‘In 1964 the great American photography writer and curator, John Szarkowski, wrote that “Kertész’s work, perhaps more than any other photographer, defined the direction in which modern European photography developed.” We are therefore delighted to have put together – in collaboration with the Estate of André Kertész – a show which focuses exclusively on his work from Europe, an opportunity to provide fresh insights into his activity through a series of previously unknown pieces.’

James Hyman Gallery, 16 Savile Row, London, W1S 3PL

Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts

Richard Diebenkorn

UNTIL June 7, 2015, the Royal Academy of Arts is presenting a survey of Richard Diebenkorn’s figurative and abstract works to a UK audience for the first time in almost twenty-five years.

Celebrated as a post-war Master in his native United States, the exhibition serves as an opportunity to discover the importance of Diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) within the canon of American painting.

Richard Diebenkorn is a focused exploration of the artist’s ever-changing, always compelling career across four decades, shifting from the abstract to the figurative in both painting and works on paper.

The exhibition comprises over 50 works with significant loans from public and private collections in the United States and Europe.

Diebenkorn created an exceptional and consistently intriguing body of work. The exhibition reveals the vital role he played in the development of American art, and is arranged to reflect the three distinct periods of his work.

During the early stage of his career in the 1950s, he gained recognition as a leading abstract expressionist yet in 1955 he turned his attention to figurative painting, considered at the time as a surprising and unfashionable shift, although he achieved considerable success working in this genre.

In 1967, having relocated to Southern California from the San Fancisco Bay Area, he returned to abstract paintings and drawings beginning a second long and highly successful period in this style.

The exhibition highlights his staunch artistic independence and shows the ease of movement between styles, which were hallmarks of his career.

The first gallery explores Diebenkorn’s early abstract work, produced for his Museum of Fine Arts exhibition in Albuquerque, New Mexico and during a teaching post that followed in Urbana, Illionois between 1950 and 1952, as well as the earliest abstract works he produced in Berkeley, California.

The second gallery focuses on works made during his return to figurative and landscape studies in Berkeley, California between 1955 and 1966, when he became known as a successful Bay Area Figurative artist.

The last gallery displays his largest and perhaps most famous body of work, the non-objective Ocean Park series created between 1967 and 1988 in Southern California.

Diebenkorn was strongly associated with California and the American West, where he lived and worked for most of his life. The quintessential colourist, his sumptuous palette and compositions reveal an exquisite sensitivity to his environment and geography, capturing a sense of the light and space of the various locations in which he worked.

For Diebenkorn, each work was a search for ‘rightness’, an attempt to solve complex and often self-imposed compositional and spatial problems, so that each work becomes a perfectly balanced resolution.

Despite his deserved recognition in the United States, Diebenkorn’s work has been less widely exhibited in Europe. The only major solo exhibition was at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1991 and he was elected an Honorary Academician in 1992, shortly before his death in 1993, a testament to the level of esteem in which he was held by fellow artists.

Richard Diebenkorn demonstrates the variety and subtlety of the artist’s oeuvre and the ease of his transition from abstraction to figuration and back again, reinvigorating his position as a modern American Master.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions from Sarah C. Bancroft, Edith Devaney and Steven Nash.

Image: Richard Diebenkorn. Girl On a Terrace, 1956. Oil on canvas, 179.07 × 166.05 × 2.54 cm. Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. Gift of Roy R. Neuberger. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.

Admission: £11.50 full price (including Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

Times: Daily from 10am to 6pm (last admission 5.30pm); Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

Tel: 020 7300 8000


Bottom Natures - CGP London Cafe Gallery

Exhibition preview

BOTTOM Natures, a group exhibition curated by Matthew McQuillan and featuring Amir Chasson, Matthew Clements, Lucy Clout, Julika Gittner, Anthony Green, Laura Morrison, Sianne Ngai, Joscha Schell and Daniel Shanken, will be on display at CGP London Cafe Gallery from April 1 to May 3, 2015.

What happens when a work hugs too tight; when it refuses to grant the viewer the distance for a cool, detached reading? Or when a work overloads; when it showers information, references and signifiers upon the casual bystander?

Taking it’s title from the novelist Gertrude Stein, Bottom Natures sets out to explore ideas of proximity and pace, in relation to artwork. Stein used the expression to describe the structuring and word-play found within Tender Buttons, her book of poetic vignettes on Objects, Food and Rooms.

Tender Buttons playfully dismantles words and meaning to their bare-essentials. When reading, a gap appears between cause and effect – a brake in the chain of connectives, which forces the reader to stop and grapple with language; how to make sense, what sense and for whom.

This exhibition will explore the Bottom Nature of art and art making. In this context, Bottom Natures is a state which renders the viewer tongue tied or dumbstruck. This obstructive state has the potential to mislead and muddle ones mental faculties and perhaps, to better question what grounds these faculties in the first place.

The exhibition features British and International artists, working in an array of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and video; with works that deploy repetition, humour, ambiguity, and contradiction to muddy the viewer’s reading. It includes an interview with theorist and critic Sianne Ngai, whose essay Stuplimity, has informed the exhibition’s focus. There will also be a coinciding day of lectures and presentations from invited speakers, organised by theorist and writer, Matthew Clements.

Anthony Green’s Absolute Redundancy, will function as a prologue for the exhibition. This graphite drawing is composed of two black holes on a slightly soiled but otherwise empty, page. The drawing slips between depiction and abstraction: in one sense it is empty, devoid; in another there are holes or stumps, exits and entrances; and because it is both and neither, it tires itself out.

Other works include Lucy Clout’s Shrugging Offing, a single-channel HD video, set in a pattern cutting studio and inspired by her research into ASMR youtube entries; and a newly commissioned, large scale, plasticine wall relief, by Laura Morrison. These works will operate on a range of tempos and intensities, to interrogate the thematic of Bottom Natures.

The specially commissioned interview and coinciding events day offer an alternate platform for considering the exhibition as a whole, and extending these ideas beyond the gallery remit.

Exhibition event:

Unpunctual Encounters – Saturday, May 2 from 2pm to 6pm.

Together with a series of speakers, the audience will be invited to consider the lags, lapses, and slippages associated with deferral and delay, addressing those anxious moments of an uncertain duration that perhaps now, more than ever, have come to characterise contemporary experience of the everyday.

Speakers include: Lisa Baraitser, lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London; Gareth Bell-Jones, writer and curator; Matthew Clements, writer and researcher with the London Consortium; and Laura Salisbury, Senior Lecturer in Medicine and English Literature at the University of Exeter.

CGP London Cafe Gallery, Southwark Park, Bermondsey, SE16 2UA

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7237 1230


Camden Arts Centre - Exhibitions for 2015

Season preview

CAMDEN Arts Centre has announced its exhibitions for 2015 and they include:

João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva: Papagaio – January 30 to March 29 (Galleries 1, 2, artists’ studio and central space).

Celebrated Portuguese artists João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva present a magical, immersive film installation at Camden Arts Centre – their first major show in London.

The kaleidoscopic world created by 27 16mm films and two camera obscura installations, takes viewers on an imaginative journey into science, philosophy and religion. Each film examines a particular subject – a treatise on material, animal or human behaviour – that probes at the nature of truth and perception.

Ruth Ewan: Back to the Fields – January 30 to March 29 (Gallery 3)

For this major new installation at Camden Arts Centre, London based artist Ruth Ewan brings to life the French Republican Calendar.

In use from 1793 until 1805, the calendar temporarily redefined and rationalised the Gregorian Calendar, stripping it of all religious references in post-revolutionary France. Months and weeks were restructured and seasons and days renamed in collaboration with artists, poets and horticulturalists to reflect the seasonality of nature and agriculture.

Simon Martin – April 10 to June 21.

A new film commissioned by Flamin – a continuation of Martin’s Ur Feeling project. In 2012, his exhibition of the same name was shown at Camden Arts Centre and is considered as the ‘trailer’ for this new film.

Jo Baer – April 10 to June 21.

An exhibition of work by Amsterdam based, American artist Jo Baer who emerged as one of the key figures of the Minimalist art movement in the 1960s and 70s. In 1983, she dramatically announced ‘I am no longer an abstract artist’.

This exhibition will centre around Baer’s most recent series, In the Land of the Giants, drawing a lineage from her earlier minimalist works, through her experiments with what she termed ‘radical figuration’ in the 1990s, through to her current exploration of esoteric imagery.

Hannah Collins – July 4 to September 13, 2015.

Hannah Collins is well known well for her large unframed photographs that cover whole walls, creating immersive spatial experiences. Her installations also extend to film and sound. Filling all of Camden Arts Centre’s galleries, the exhibition demonstrates Collins’ ability to convey the emotional aspects of space – across interiors, places of itinerancy and temporary inhabitation, sites of political significance as well as journeys into imaginative or unconscious realms.

Ben Rivers – September 25 to November 29.

A major solo show by Ben Rivers will bring together many of his works, including previous seminal works and a series of new films. Alongside his solo show, Rivers will curate a group show based on the concept of ‘edgelands’.

The exhibition will draw together a selection works that have inspired his interest in the borders of society, both physical spaces – often on the deserted peripheries of cities – and conceptually, where individuals are outside the mainstream culture.

Rose English – December 11, 2015 to February 21, 2016.

An exhibition of work by Rose English, who emerged out of the UK’s vibrant and pioneering feminist, conceptual art and dance scenes of the 1970s. She has worked across numerous disciplines, contexts and under many different guises exploring performance, installation, theatre, dance and film. This exhibition will include new work produced for the exhibition within the vocabulary of her practice of the last 40 years.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesdays late, 10am to 9pm; closed Mondays.

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG

Tel: +44 (0)20 7472 5500


British Museum - New Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World to open in 2018

Michael Rakowitz - The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist-Headless Femal e Figure Wearing Dress (IM9005) / Recovered, Missing,Stolen, 2009 (2010, 6025.8) © The Trustees of the British Museum.

THE Albukhary Foundation is providing significant support for a major new gallery to redisplay the collections of the Islamic world at the British Museum.

The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World will open to the public at the end of October 2018 and will reveal the British Museum’s outstanding collections in engaging new ways, underscoring the global connections of this vast region of the world.

This new gallery represents a shared vision between the British Museum and the Malaysia-based Albukhary Foundation and will give visitors an understanding of the diverse and wide-ranging cultures of the Islamic world.

This announcement is also marked by an award celebrating the contribution of the British Museum’s touring exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam that was first shown at the British Museum in 2012. This award is an inaugural annual Prize for Educators, instituted jointly in 2014 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS).

The objective of the Prize for Educators award is to promote dialogue and understanding between peoples, cultures and civilisations. The award promotes these shared values by paying tribute to major institutions, leading figures and sponsors active in the promotion of values of peace and coexistence.

This year, the award has been issued to the British Museum for its widely praised exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam, both for its display in Bloomsbury in 2012 and for the touring versions to Doha, Leiden and Paris, which encapsulated its concepts and ideas.

It was felt by ISESCO and OCIS that this exhibition has done much to promote greater understanding of the annual pilgrimage of Hajj and its importance to Muslims.

Unique amongst major museums, the British Museum’s collections are able to represent the diversity of cultures of the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South and South-East Asia from the advent of Islam to the present day.

The collections encompass the art and material culture of the Islamic world from Africa to China, including archaeology, decorative arts, the arts of the book, Middle Eastern and Central Asian ethnography and textiles, and modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art.

The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World will also reflect the connections between the cultures of Islam and the Ancient World on the one hand, and the cultures of the Mediterranean World and Europe on the other. With the support of the Albukhary Foundation, the Museum can now radically redisplay its important collections, placing them in a suite of galleries at the very heart of the British Museum.

The space for the new gallery will be achieved by joining two beautiful and historic galleries, Rooms 42-45 on the first floor of the Museum that are currently closed to visitors. These new gallery spaces are adjacent to the galleries of early and modern Europe, including the recently refurbished Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery of Sutton Hoo and Europe AD 300-1100, therefore presenting a more cohesive historical narrative between medieval Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The first of the two gallery spaces will look at the region from the beginning of Islam to about 1500, highlighting the arts of the great medieval dynasties.

The visitor will be made aware of clear connections to narratives within current displays nearby, where objects relating to Byzantium, the Vikings, the Crusades and Islamic Spain are displayed. Here we will also see the impact of Islamic art on western art with objects such as Mamluk mosque lamps and metalwork, which were sources of inspiration for 19th-century European artists and designers.

In the second gallery, the visitor will encounter objects that represent the pinnacle of creativity under the three major dynasties that dominated the Islamic world from the 16th century: the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals. Their enlightened patronage saw the production of magnificent objects, including ceramics, jewellery and painting that are among the glories of the British Museum’s collection.

Also highlighted will be objects and textiles from Central Asia and Muslim South and South-East Asia, which in turn will link to displays in other parts of the Museum. The juxtapositions and contextualization of objects from all reaches of the Islamic world in these galleries will continually draw attention to the cross-fertilisation existing between regions and time periods, encouraging visitors to explore these connections.

This innovative redisplay will draw on the full breadth of the Islamic collections and facilitate dynamic and engaging displays within a chronological and geographically organised structure. The gallery will also highlight the importance of non-Muslim communities.

While Islam was, and in most cases remains, the dominant religious and associated political culture of the region covered by the displays within these galleries, communities of other faiths – including Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Zoroastrian and others – played an immensely important role in the social, political and cultural life of the region and will therefore also be represented through the objects in the gallery.

This refreshing redisplay will be supported by digital media which will allow key objects, artists and techniques to be presented with more in-depth interpretation. New areas in this space will be dedicated to rotating displays of light sensitive material, a pressing need given the Museum’s world-class collection of Persian and Mughal paintings and calligraphies, and the rich and growing holdings of mostly organic ethnographic material including textiles and contemporary works on paper.

Through a shared vision and collaboration with the Albukhary Foundation, the British Museum hopes to encourage increased public engagement with Islamic art and culture while simultaneously placing the narrative of Islamic civilisations within a much wider context.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said:

“This generous gift from The Albukhary Foundation makes it possible for us to completely redisplay one of the world’s most important Islamic collections. These new galleries will allow us to present our collection in the context of world cultures exploring the history, complexity and diversity of Islamic cultures across the world from Sub Saharan Africa to Malaysia and Indonesia.

“I am delighted that the British Museum’s exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam has been awarded the Prize for Educators, by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, this recognition demonstrates how important it is to build and develop our collection to better understand the history of the Islamic world.”

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, Chairman of the Albukhary Foundation said:

“I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the British Museum on all its good works, especially in promoting arts and culture throughout the world. The Albukhary Foundation looks forward to working with the British Museum in promoting such a good cause.”

Farhan Nizami, Director, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) said:

“The British Museum has an unrivalled track record for mounting major exhibitions which enhance understanding and change hearts and minds. Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam was an especially powerful example of this. The judges had no hesitation in awarding the exhibition, and the British Museum, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Joint Prize for excellence in promoting understanding between peoples, cultures and faiths and for its contribution to Education for Peace.”

Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“On behalf of Her Majesty’s Government I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Albukhary Foundation for this generous donation to the British Museum. The Islamic collections are an extremely important part of the British Museum and these new galleries will allow the museum to display these fascinating exhibits in a way that will both delight visitors and increase understanding of Islamic cultures. Donations like these help ensure our great cultural institutions maintain their reputation as some of the best and most exciting in the world.”

Image: Michael Rakowitz. The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist – Headless Femal e Figure (Kh.IV 115) / Recovered, Missing, Stolen, 2007 (2010, 6025.1) © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Also at the British Museum: Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art (until July 5); Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation (April 23 to August 2); and Jim Dine Prints (until mid-June 2015).

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Tel: 020 7323 8181


Urban Village Fete at Greenwich Peninsula

Event preview

URBAN Village Fete presents a contemporary twist on the traditional village fair.

Taking place on Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Greenwich Peninsula, one of the capital’s most exciting new districts and set to become ‘London’s ultimate village’, it will celebrate the best in design, music, art, innovative events and modern craftsmanship.

The inaugural event will draw on local suppliers, designers and performers as well as offering a forum for top local talent, all set against a range of established design stalls and food trucks with an international flavour.

The free day out will feature a range of curated designer marketplaces, street food, design hubs, artist interventions, diverse and quirky events, art and design workshops, walkabout entertainment, music, dance classes and unique pop-ups.

Organised in association with Hemingway Design, Urban Village Fete will be the first free public event staged in Peninsula Garden, a new public garden for London designed by Alys Fowler and Thomas Hoblyn in association with Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio.

Local residents and visitors from further afield can take part in many of the Fete’s events including:

Best of British Design marketplace curated by Best of Britannia.

Pop Up Fashion.

Craft and Designer Maker marketplace.

Street Food sellers.

Dance Classes courtesy of Swing Patrol.

Engaging workshops for children from The House of Fairy Tales.

DJ sets from atop a classic London Routemaster including Gilles Peterson.

Upcycled and Vintage clothing and homewares market.

The Pooch Parade and Best in Show parades.

ELCAF (East London Comics and Arts Festival) presents Ricardo Cavolo’s Emblema at NOW Gallery.

Admission: Free.

Time: 12pm – 7pm.

The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London, SE10 0SQ