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Russian Art Week - June 2016

Event preview

RUSSIAN Art and Culture is presenting the eighth edition of Russian Art Week, which will return to London from June 3 to June 10, 2016.

Auctions of valuable Russian paintings, icons, Fabergé and works of art will be held at all the major London auction houses, alongside a series of Russian art exhibitions, various events and performances by celebrated Russian musicians.

Russian art sales this June will offer a variety of artworks, representing Russian art from icons to the present day. The only-known sculpture by Yuri Annenkov is one of the highlights of the Bonhams sale, while Christie’s will offer an impressive gem-set silver-mounted and enamel wood casket by Khlebnikov among other artworks.

In addition to their traditional Russian Art auction, MacDougall’s will present their new Russian photography sale, featuring works by Rodchenko and Grinberg. Sotheby’s will host three auctions, dedicated to Russian art, with works ranging from Ivan Shishkin and Léon Bakst to Komar and Melamid.

Museums and galleries around London will present Russian art in its diversity, showcasing contemporary artists alongside renowned masters.

One of the main highlights of the exhibition programme during the Russian Art Week is a unique show at the National Portrait Gallery – Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky. Focusing on the great writers, artists, actors, composers and patrons in Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see portrait masterpieces from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

To coincide with the exhibition, the Gallery will hold Russia & the Arts International Conference, exploring music, literature and the visual arts in Imperial Russia.

Another exhibition, Romanovs to Revolution: Life in Imperial Russia 1721-1917, at Sphinx Fine Art explores life and society in Imperial Russia through works by Russian and Western artists. For the first time Hampton Court Palace has collaborated with the State Hermitage museum to showcase The Empress and the Gardener, bringing to the UK a remarkable collection of watercolour paintings and drawings once owned by the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

For visitors interested in the Soviet period, GRAD explores the development of the Soviet woman and her legacy today in Superwoman: ‘Work, Build and Don’t Whine’ show. Pushkin House has dedicated their exhibition space to Russian Contemporary Drawing. No Limits, showcasing works by young and established contemporary Russian artists.

In East London, Calvert 22 will open Power and Architecture, a season of exhibitions, talks and workshops on utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world.

Back in Mayfair, FRONT gallery will showcase From Russia With Love, a complete series of designer rugs by Jan Kath, inspired by images from Nicholas II period and traditional Siberian shawls, and Shapero Modern is to host Encyclopaedia, an exhibition of pen and ink drawings by the acclaimed Moscow-based artist Amanita.

The programme of theatre performances, concerts and ballets will satisfy even the most demanding spectator.

One of the main highlights of the season will be the return of the Bolshoi Ballet to the Royal Opera House, bringing to London some of their most acclaimed performances, including Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Flames of Paris. Philarmonia Orchestra’s series of concerts, Myths and Rituals at the Southbank Centre will explore the music of Stravinsky and his obsession with ritual and myth, while the Barbican Centre will welcome the State Choir of Russia to celebrate Russia’s National Day. And Opera Holland Park will present Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, one of the greatest works in the history of Russian opera.

Theatre highlights of the season will include Vassa Zheleznova by The Faction at Southwark Playhouse and Flying Lovers of Vitebsk at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

For a full listing of events and to download the guide, visit

Sergei Pavlenko and Tatiana Radko at Herrick Gallery

Exhibition preview

FROM May 26 to June 25, 2016, Herrick Gallery is presenting an exhibition of oil studies by two distinguished artists, originally from Russia, Sergei Pavlenko and Tatiana Radko.

Pavlenko has a prolific career as a portrait painter, his sitters including: the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Lord Bonham Carter, HM King Abdullah II of Jordan and several members of the British Royal Family.

Radko’s impressive oeuvre encompasses lively landscapes, still lifes and interiors.

In 2000, HM The Queen sat for a portrait by Pavlenko, commissioned by The Worshipful Company of Drapers. It is said to be the Queen’s favourite portrait since her Coronation, and was personally unveiled by Her Majesty. In 2013, a detail of the head was used on a Royal Mail stamp to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.

The artist was subsequently commissioned to paint a large-scale picture of The Queen meeting Prince William and Prince Harry at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

The exhibition surveys a more intimate side to these artists’ work. In the case of Pavlenko, the brisk and expressive studies that he makes for his iconic portraits, and elegant nudes, demonstrate a skilful handling of paint and economy of expression where every mark is handled with assurance and sensitivity.

As Pavlenko explains: “I try to create a painting that would appeal even to people who do not know the sitter. Every brush stroke on all parts of the painting working to show the character, soul, taste and lifestyle of the subject.”

Philip Hook (Senior Director, Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Sothebys London) said of his work: “Sometimes it takes a foreigner’s eye to capture an essentially British ‘look’. One thinks of Van Dyck and Lely from Flanders, or more recently Sargent from America. Sergei Pavlenko belongs to that tradition.”

Sergei Pavlenko graduated from St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts in 1988 and was nominated for the Gold Medal. He moved to the West in 1989 and became an established portrait painter in Europe and the USA. In 2004, he had two solo exhibitions, at the Russian Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Moscow. In Britain, Channel 4 showed a film about Sergei and his portraits. Pavlenko’s name has been added to the list of “highly distinguished emigrants”. He and his wife Tatiana are both now British citizens, and live and work in London.

Tatiana Radko also studied at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. She was taught by the master and academic, Yuri Neprintsev, famous for his emphasis on colour and impressionistic vision. She graduated in 1988 and taught for several years at the Children’s Fine Art School in St Petersburg before marrying Sergei Pavlenko, and moving to the UK in 1992. She has exhibited widely and her work is in private collections in Russia, USA, France, Spain, Austria and the UK.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

Herrick Gallery, 93 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NQ


British Museum - rare bowl returned to Afghanistan

Afghan Bowl

A VERY fine Safavid tinned copper bowl which had been looted from the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul was presented to the Embassy of Afghanistan in London for return to Kabul.

The bowl, dating to the early 17th century, was lost during the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. It was bought in good faith in December 1994 from an Afghan antique dealer in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) by Patrick and Paola von Aulock who owned it for twenty years before deciding to sell it when they contacted Christie’s for a valuation.

The bowl was identified by Sara Plumbly, Specialist and Head of Christie’s Islamic Art department as being a piece from the museum in Kabul. The bowl had been published in 1974 by Souren Melikian-Chirvani and was included in his catalogue of Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World (Melikian-Chrivani 1982).

Christie’s gave permission for the bowl to be examined by the British Museum. The Museum confirmed the provenance and negotiations were entered into with the current owners and with the National Museum of Afghanistan to return the bowl to Kabul.

This return is all the more significant as much of the Islamic metalware collection of the National Museum of Afghanistan was lost during a devastating fire following a rocket strike on the museum in November 1995. The National Museum of Afghanistan has confirmed the bowl will be put back on public display as soon as possible on its return.

The bowl dates to the Safavid period (1501–1722), and includes a cartouche which mentions the owner’s name and date: ‘Owned by Mohammad Abū Tāleb 1013 [30 May 1604–18 May 1605]’. Three medallions depict scenes from the famous Persian tragic romance Khosrow and Shirin by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141–1209) and the piece is sufficiently similar to another in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris that the two may come from the same workshop which was probably in the city of Herat.

It appears the bowl had been very carefully mutilated in the past by engraving deep lines through each of the faces: this may have been at a moment when the Safavid dynasty was dethroned by the Afghan invasion in 1722 (Melikian-Chirvani 1982: 277). This defacement was not restricted to the human figures but also extended to the animals and was executed so carefully that it amounted to a subtle transformation of design rather than simple iconoclasm.

This bowl was scientifically analysed at the British Museum with the permission of the owners and the National Museum of Afghanistan.

It shows that the bowl was manufactured by casting, with some additional working and use of a lathe for finishing. Analysis using surface X-ray fluorescence spectrometry confirmed that the bowl is largely of copper and the white metal plating is tinning. The decoration was engraved and was finely executed. A black material has been applied to the engraved design, which although it could not be firmly identified, is likely to be related to the organic black inlays seen on many brass bowls.

Sara Plumbly, Head of the Islamic Department at Christie’s in London, said: “Christie’s are delighted to have played a role in facilitating the return of this work to the Kabul museum and we would like to extend our thanks to the previous owners Mr. and Mrs von Aulock for their collaboration. This is a good example of where research, cooperation and a wish to facilitate the right solution has succeeded. Christie’s maintains its on-going commitment in this area and takes matters of cultural property very seriously”.

St John Simpson, Assistant Keeper in the Department of the Middle East, British Museum said: “This is another important step in the rebuilding of the National Museum of Afghanistan and we are delighted to have played a small part in the return of this important object to Kabul”.

His Excellency Ahmad Zia Siamak, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Embassy of Afghanistan said: “On behalf of the people of Afghanistan, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in London would like to express its gratitude to the British Museum, Christie’s and the owners for their role in returning a historic artefact to the National Museum of Afghanistan.

“During the civil war, the National Museum of Afghanistan was looted and destroyed, and during the last few years, the government of Afghanistan has attempted to revive the museum. The return of this piece, which used to be displayed in a showcase of the National Museum of Afghanistan for many years, has a high historic and intellectual value for the people of Afghanistan. Its forthcoming display in the National Museum will not only please our people, but is a valuable step in the restoration of the museum.

“We thank the British Museum once again for facilitating the return of this important object and for its invaluable assistance to the National Museum of Afghanistan”.

Fahim Rahimi, Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan said: “I hope returning this bowl will be a start for more artefacts to be recovered, not only those looted from museums as well those looted from archaeological sites in Afghanistan. I ask those collectors who keep artefacts from Afghanistan to help us return it back and encourage the auction houses to always check their collections for looted objects from Afghanistan”.

The British Museum has a long-standing, close-collaboration with the National Museum of Afghanistan. It has acted as an independent centre of expertise on the probable origin of trafficked antiquities and has advised government authorities and other parties in connection with stolen antiquities. The British Museum was involved in the cataloguing and subsequent return to Afghanistan of large quantities of objects seized by the UK Border Force in 2009 and again in 2012.

During the preparations for the exhibition Afghanistan: crossroads of the ancient world the British Museum helped to identify a group of 20 ‘Begram ivories’. These are ivory and bone overlays originally set into items of wooden furniture found at the ancient site of Begram and again dispersed following looting of the National Museum in Kabul during the 1990s.

With the generous support of a private donor, these objects were physically transferred to the British Museum in late 2010 where they underwent an intensive programme of conservation and scientific analysis. They were displayed in the subsequent exhibition in 2011 (with the approval of the Afghan authorities) and then returned to the National Museum of Afghanistan in July 2012.

Also returned in 2012 was the important figure of a ‘Fire Buddha’ which was found at Sarai Khuja in 1965. This magnificent Gandharan sculpture had been stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan in 1996 and entered a private collection. Thanks again to the generosity of a private individual, this was acquired on behalf of Kabul and displayed for a short period in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum prior to its return.

The British Museum continues to liaise with the UK Border Force, the Art and Antiques Unit at Scotland Yard and our colleagues in Afghanistan to try to combat the illicit trade in antiquities from the region.

May/June 2016 events at Foyles

FOYLES has a number of events lined up for the coming weeks.

Ray’s Jazz and Tomorrow’s Warriors Present: The Jazz Salon at Foyles – Friday, May 27 from 6-8pm. Tickets: £5.

A series of intimate performances and meditations on the cultural reverberations of jazz with regular host, journalist and broadcaster Kevin LeGendre, Gary Crosby and the Jazz Salon House Band.

This month’s theme is the link between Jazz and visual art. Specialist vinyl record label Gearbox Box records and host Kevin LeGendre take a look at the art that has been inspired by jazz and record sleeve art that has been used to sell jazz.

Laura Bates and Hibo Wadere in conversation – Tuesday, May 31 from 7-8pm. Tickets: £8, £5 for students or unemployed.

Join Foyles for a conversation between two key figures in British feminism, Laura Bates and Hibo Wardere.

Cookbook Confidential: Spice It Up with Cyrus Todiwala and Chetna Makan – Wednesday, June 1 from 7-8.30pm. Tickets: £5.

Spice experts Cyrus Todiwala and Chetna Makan talk about simple ways to use spices to jazz up your cooking. They’ll discuss some of their favourite spices, how to use them in cooking and ways to combine spices for maximum effect.

Nina Stibbe in conversation with Nick Hornby – Thursday, June 2 from 7-8.30pm. Tickets: £8.

Nina Stibbe, the author of the bestselling Love, talks about her new novel, Paradise Lodge, with Nick Hornby, writer of modern classics such as High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Funny Girl.

The Medusa Chronicles: Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds in conversation – Saturday, June 4 from 3-4.30pm. Tickets: £8.

Join Foyles for a conversation with two leading figures in science fiction, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, as they discuss their new collaboration The Medusa Chronicles.

Joe Hill: The Fireman – Monday, June 6 from 7-8.30pm. Tickets: £24 including a copy of The Fireman, or £8 ticket only.

Join Foyles for a conversation with bestselling thriller writer Joe Hill as he talks about his bold new novel The Fireman, sponsored by Picturehouse Central.

New Writer’s Evening: Jem Lester, Barney Norris and Kit de Waal – Tuesday, June 7 from 7-8.30pm. Free.

Ever on the hunt for new literary voices, Foyles brings together a panel of authors and an audience of readers to explore the road to publication and what lies beyond. Join Foyles for an evening of readings and conversation from three new writers: Jem Lester, Barney Norris, and Kit de Waal.

New Zealand Night with Witi Ihimaera, Fiona Kidman, and Jason Bae – Tuesday, June 14 from 6.30-8.30pm. Tickets: £8, including wine.

Join Foyles for a special evening of words and music presented by the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts to celebrate two visiting giants of the Kiwi writing scene and a talented young musician.

Foyles Book Club: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk – Monday, June 20 from 7-8.30pm. Free.

Once a month, Foyles customers and staff get together to discuss a book chosen by its members. It’s an opportunity to share different interpretations, to adamantly disagree and to meet people united by reading.

Literary Death Match – Thursday, June 23 from 7-8pm. Tickets: £12.

Literary Death Match, now in 60 cities worldwide, was called “the most entertaining reading series ever” by the LA Times. The live show brings together four authors to read their most electric writing for seven minutes or less before a panel of three all-star judges.

Ray’s Jazz and Tomorrow’s Warriors Present: The Jazz Salon at Foyles – Friday, June 24 from 6-8pm. Tickets: £5.

A series of intimate performances and meditations on the cultural reverberations of jazz with our regular host, journalist and broadcaster Kevin LeGendre, Gary Crosby and the Jazz Salon House Band.

This month’s theme is the link between Jazz and Dance. Host Kevin LeGendre and guests will explore the changing nature of dance and movement in jazz with a focus on UK Jazz Dance and its influence on Acid Jazz and Hip Hop.

For more information visit

Venue: 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT

Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds - British Museum

Exhibition preview

THE British Museum is to stage a major exhibition on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean seabed.

On display from May 19 to November 27, 2016, the BP exhibition, Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds, will be the Museum’s first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries.

It will show how the exploration of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – submerged at the mouth of the River Nile for over a thousand years – is transforming our understanding of the relationship between ancient Egypt and the Greek world and the great importance of these ancient cities.

Three hundred outstanding objects will be brought together for the exhibition including more than 200 spectacular finds excavated off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria between 1996 and 2012.

Important loans from Egyptian museums rarely seen before outside Egypt (and the first such loans since the Egyptian revolution) will be supplemented with objects from various sites across the Delta drawn from the British Museum’s collection; most notably from Naukratis – a sister harbour town to Thonis-Heracleion and the first Greek settlement in Egypt.

Likely founded during the 7th century BC, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were busy, cosmopolitan cities that once sat on adjacent islands at the edge of the fertile lands of the Egyptian Delta, intersected by canals.

After Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332BC, centuries of Greek (Ptolemaic) rule followed. The exhibition will reveal how cross-cultural exchange and religion flourished, particularly the worship of the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris.

By the 8th century AD, the sea had reclaimed the cities and they lay hidden several metres beneath the seabed, their location and condition unclear. Although well-known from Egyptian decrees and Greek mythology and historians, past attempts to locate them were either fruitless or very partial. The exhibition will show how a pioneering European team led by Franck Goddio in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities made use of the most up-to-date technologies to find them.

Thanks to the underwater setting, a vast number of objects of great archaeological significance have been astonishingly well preserved. Pristine monumental statues, fine metalware and gold jewellery will reveal how Greece and Egypt interacted in the late first millennium BC. These artefacts offer a new insight into the quality and unique character of the art of this period and show how the Greek kings and queens who ruled Egypt for 300 years adopted and adapted Egyptian beliefs and rituals to legitimise their reign.

The exhibition will feature a number of extraordinary, monumental sculptures. A 5.4m granite statue of Hapy, a divine personification of the Nile’s flood, will greet visitors as they enter the space. Masterpieces from Egyptian museums such as the Apis bull from the Serapeum in Alexandria will be shown alongside magnificent recent finds from the sea.

One such piece is the stunning sculpture from Canopus representing Arsinoe II (the eldest daughter of Ptolemy I, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty). The Greco-Macedonian queen became a goddess beloved to both Egyptians and Greeks after her death and is depicted here as the perfect embodiment of Aphrodite, a goddess of beauty ‘who grants fortunate sailing’.

The exhibition will also cover the arrival of Greeks in Egypt, when they were hosts and not rulers; privileged but controlled by the pharaohs. A complete stela from Thonis-Heracleion advertises a 380 BC royal decree of the Egyptian pharaoh Nectanebo I. It states that 10% of the taxes collected on all goods imported from the ‘Sea of the Greeks’ into Thonis-Heracleion and on all trade operations at Naukratis were to be donated to an Egyptian temple.

A wide range of objects, from modest to grand and costly, bears witness to the piety of both inhabitants and visitors at these major religious centres. Lead models of barges uncovered in the sacred waterway linking Thonis-Heracleion to Canopus are unique and moving finds.

They are associated with the Mysteries of Osiris, the most popular festival celebrated annually across Egypt during the month of Khoiak (mid-October to mid-November). Ranging in size from 6 to 67cm, these reproduce in metal a flotilla of 34 papyrus barges that would have been displayed on a waterway to celebrate the first sacred navigation of the festival.

According to religious texts, each barge was to measure 67.5 cm and to bear the figure of an Egyptian god, and would have been illuminated by 365 lamps. The lead barges are lasting testimonies possibly left by people who, long ago, celebrated this festival in the Canopic region.

Only a tiny proportion of these sites have revealed their secrets. The on-going under water archaeological mission continues to bring to light new masterpieces and further research every year as the most recent finds from 2012 will show.

Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the British Museum, said:

“It’s hugely exciting to be announcing the British Museum’s first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries and to be welcoming these important loans to London. We are grateful to BP for their ongoing support without which ambitious exhibitions such as these would simply not be possible. We’re also delighted to be working with Franck Goddio, his expert team at IEASM, the Hilti Foundation and of course our Egyptian colleagues to bring the extraordinary story of these lost cities to life.”

The beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue, The BP exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, edited by Franck Goddio and Aurélia Masson-Berghoff, will be published on May 16, 2016 by Thames & Hudson in partnership with the British Museum. Hardback £40, paperback £25.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full public programme.

Image (top): Colossal statue of god Hapy, Thonis-Heracleion, Aboukir Bay, Egypt (SCA 281). ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation – Photo: Christoph Gerigk.

A colossal statue of red granite (5.4 m) representing the god Hapy, which decorated the temple of Thonis-Heracleion. The god of the flooding of the Nile, symbol of abundance and fertility, has never before been discovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the Canopic region. Height 5.4 metres, depth 90 centimetres, weight 6 tonnes. Early Ptolemaic period, 4th century BC.

Image (bottom): Pectoral in gold, lapis lazuli and glass paste, found in Tanis in the royal tomb of the Pharaoh Sheshonk II (~ 890 BC), Egyptian Museum, Cairo JE 72171. ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation – Photo: Christoph Gerigk.

This jewel belonged to Sheshonk I (945-925 BC), as indicated by the incised inscription on the left side of the gold plaque below the boat. The pendant represents the solar barque floating on the primeval waters under a star-spangled sky. The lapis-lazuli sun, protected by the spread wings of Isis and Nephtys, is incised, showing the goddess of truth and cosmic order (Maat) adoring Amon-Re.

Tickets: £16.50, children under 16 free. Group rates available. Booking fees apply online at and by phone on +44 (0)20 7323 8181.

Times: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm; Friday, 10am to 8.30pm. Last entry 80 minutes before closing time.

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

Rebecca Campbell: Love - Jonathan Cooper

Rebecca Campbell, A Dalliance with Dali, oil on linen, 61 x 50 cm.

Exhibition preview

IN June 2016, Rebecca Campbell is returning to Jonathan Cooper with a solo show of over 20 new paintings.

In this exhibition, entitled Love, Campbell explores the pleasures and sorrows of love in all its myriad forms, journeying through passion and temptation, the agony and anticipation of courtship, and the bitter-sweet memory of lost love.

Whether depicting the great romances of history and literature, the comfort of familial love, or the modern mores of dating in the digital age, Campbell approaches this enormous theme with great sensitivity and humour, and all visitors, whatever their experience of love, will find works which delight and inspire.

Rebecca Campbell (b.1965, in Stamford, Lincolnshire) lives and works in South London. She trained at the City and Guilds of London Art School and in 2005 was awarded the Discerning Eye – Chairman’s Purchase Prize, Mall Galleries. In addition to solo shows at Jonathan Cooper, Campbell has also exhibited in Mexico City, San Francisco, and Houston, Texas.

She has developed a highly imaginative pictorial language, taking influences from Indian Mughal miniatures, Persian textiles, and medieval tapestries to create her own unique decorative style. In 2015, she was chosen to be Elephant Family’s Official Artist of the year, decorating a rickshaw which was one of 20 auctioned at the end of July 2015, raising over £700,000 for the charity.

Jonathan Cooper, 20 Park Walk, London, SW10 0AQ


100 for 100: Ben Uri Past, Present & Future

Eva Frankfurther, West Indian Waitresses, c. 1955.

Exhibition preview

FROM May 21 to June 9, 2016, at the generous invitation of Christies, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum presents a unique exhibition celebrating its past, present and future sharing the vision driving the museum into its second millennium.

Bringing together 100 works for 100 years – the majority from the celebrated permanent collection with a number of loans from contemporary artists from émigré and refugee backgrounds – 100 for 100: Ben Uri Past, Present & Future displays work by some 90 artists across a range of media and practices, highlighting the significant relationship between immigration and art.

Works by Jewish artists from migrant backgrounds – including Bomberg, Gertler, Epstein and Wolmark, who all worked in London, as well as Chagall and Soutine (who worked in Paris) and wartime refugees – including Auerbach, Bloch, Herman and Segal – are displayed alongside contemporary artists from migrant and refugee backgrounds, among them Behjat Omer Abdulla (from Kurdistan), Güler Ates (from Eastern Turkey) and Salah Ud Din (from Pakistan).

A registered charity and museum, Ben Uri began as a Jewish art society founded in London’s Whitechapel’s ghetto in July 1915 in the midst of the First World War. The collection has now grown to over 1300 works by some 400 artists from 35 countries, highlighting both its international flavour and British focus. Uniquely within the museum community, 23% of the artists represented are women (compared to an average of less than 5%) and 65% of the artists are immigrants.

Currently based in a small temporary space in Boundary Road, St. John’s Wood, Ben Uri’s collection spends most of its time in storage. 100 for 100 will showcase works usually hidden from view, including masterworks by London-based Jewish artists including Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler and Leon Kossoff, alongside their international contemporaries, whose work Ben Uri has acquired in recent years including Marc Chagall, Georg Grosz and Chaïm Soutine.

The final room in the exhibition features work by acclaimed contemporary artists, drawn both from the collection and from gallery exhibitions in recent years and from across the immigrant landscape, signifying the future of the Ben Uri collection.

Alongside seminal works, the exhibition will also feature lesser-known, but no less historically important artists, accompanied by newly-uncovered archival material. The archive display narrates Ben Uri’s colourful history from venues dotted across London (including a 32-year-stint in Soho) to the society’s wide cultural exchange programme with topics ranging from Yiddish folklore to Shakespeare and Dickens, to the great influence of émigré artists on the teaching and character of London’s art schools.

Visitors will be encouraged to share their own stories under the inclusive Ben Uri banner of ‘Art, Identity and Migration’, facilitated by a variety of innovative and interactive digital displays. Throughout the exhibition, volunteers will be on hand to help guide through and illuminate exhibition content, alongside enhanced online access to the entire Ben Uri collection, which will be available to the public for the first time.

The majority of Ben Uri’s collection and archive remains frustratingly inaccessible to the public, a situation which the gallery urgently aspires to change. Ben Uri is currently looking for a central London space to house its extensive collections, or a fruitful partnership with a distinguished museum and/or university. As well as making the collections permanently available to the public, the move will also complete Ben Uri’s evolution into the ‘Museum of Art, Identity and Migration’, highlighting the capital’s diversity in modern times.

Aiming to create an international centre of scholarship focused on the themes of identity and migration, underpinned by Ben Uri’s history and collection, the museum would be the first of its kind in London. The new museum would be a pioneer in many distinctive ways, not least by sharing its space with other émigré communities, using the joint exhibition programme to exhibit their art and tell their stories of migrating to and living in London.

Unveiling of a Masterpiece in Recognition of Ben Uri’s Centenary

Painted in Krakow by immigrant artist Alfred Aaron Wolmark, the monumental canvas The Last Days of Rabbi ben Ezra was the centrepiece of his major 1905 exhibition at London’s Bruton Galleries. Subsequently purchased in Berlin in April 1911 by Mr. Sally Guggenheim, this iconic painting was taken to the Villa Guggenheim in Switzerland, then passed by descent to the current owner, Eli Guggenheim, hanging for several decades in the family dining room in San Antonio, Texas.

From May 1997 through to July 2012 the painting was on loan to the Jewish Museum in New York, forming the centrepiece of its Judaica department. The Guggenheim family have now decided that Ben Uri’s Centenary is a fitting opportunity to return Wolmark’s greatest work to his adopted city of London on long-term loan to the museum. This display marks the first opportunity to unveil this remarkable painting to a new audience.

Exhibition venue: Christies South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3LD

London Clown Festival announces its inaugural London Event

CLOWN is big news in the theatre and comedy scene right now and gone are the assumptions of red noses and oversized shoes. Today’s clowning harks back to its glory days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton – amazing physical performers who could make people laugh with a twitch of their eyebrows.

Hosted at London’s newest Arts Hub, The Omnitorium at Manor House, from June 10 to June 19, 2016, London Clown Festival is a festival of physical comedy and clown influenced contemporary performance. It explores what clown is to the modern performer and their audiences.

The first festival of its kind in London, 34 shows will be seen over 10 days featuring highly acclaimed artists, alongside up and coming new talent from over 10 nationalities.

They include BAFTA and Chortle Award Nominee Spencer Jones (The Herbert in Eggy Bagel, Friday, June 17 at 8:30pm), Total Theatre Award for Innovation nominee Jamie Wood (O No!, Saturday, June 11 at 7:45pm) and multiple award winner Lucy Hopkins (Surprise Event, Tuesday, June 14 at 8:30pm).

In creating this Festival, the organisers hope to share the joy and exhilaration of Clown with a wide breadth of audiences both young and old and to help alter the image of Clown in the public consciousness.

The opening Cabaret and press night event will be held on Friday, June 10 at 8:30pm in The Omnitorium bringing a wonderfully ridiculous beginning to a stupidly entertaining festival! The Balkan Bad-Boys Boris & Sergey host a night of hilarity and absurdity, featuring acts from the festival. Entry will be free for this event with the bar hosting the after party until the wee hours.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge in comedy and theatre performers who have been influenced by the teachings of legendary physical performance trainers Lecoq and Gaulier. Many of these students have gone on to become celebrated award-winning artists.

But, Clown remains somewhat of an enigma to the general public who still sometimes think of the stereotypical image of the clown as found in circus performance, complete with squirty flower. Or of course as Tim Curry’s beyond-terrifying performance in Steven King’s IT.

So, say the festival’s creators, “if you see a clown show, but no one tells you it’s a clown show, then if you like this kind of thing how do you know what to look for?”

This has been such an issue that Clown now has become a somewhat misunderstood word and some performers are unsure whether to identify themselves as Clowns or not. Well, now this group of celebrated stage performers are bringing Clown back to centre stage it belongs

The London Clown Festival is a joint collaboration between Flabbergast Theatre Company, the creators of the greatest vaudevillian double act ever conceived for the small stage – Boris & Sergey, puppetry’s Balkan bad boys, and the award-winning puppetry, physical comedy, and mime performance Tatterdemalion – which will perform at the Festival as a solo show by Flabbergast’s own Henry Maynard. (Mimetic Festival Judges Award for Theatre Winner 2015 and Amused Moose Finalist).

Tickets: £5 in advance, £6 on the door (unless otherwise stated on event info) – available online at

Times: Vary by event, from early afternoon to evening.

The Omnitorium, Eade Road, London, N4 1DH

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life - RA

David Hockney. Barry Humphries (c) David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

Exhibition preview

IN JULY 2016, the Royal Academy of Arts will present an intimate exhibition of recent portraits by the Royal Academician David Hockney, revisiting the genre that has played such a major part across his long career.

Vibrant, observant and full of life, these 82 portraits and 1 still life, which Hockney considers as one body of work, have all been executed over the last two and a half years in the artist’s Los Angeles studio.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life will offer an insight into the artist’s life in Los Angeles, his connections to the art world and the people who have crossed his path over the last few years.

Hockney’s subjects – all of whom have been invited by the artist to sit for him – include friends, family, acquaintances and staff. John Baldessari, Celia Birtwell, Dagny Corcoran, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Barry Humphries, David Juda and Lord Rothschild are all represented as well as Hockney’s siblings, John and Margaret.

Each portrait has been created within the specific time frame of three days, which Hockney describes as ‘a 20 hour exposure’. The portraits are painted on the same size canvas (121.9 × 91.4 cm) with each of the subjects seated in the same chair against a neutral background.

The portraits provide a remarkable insight into the personality of the sitters, in addition to exploring Hockney’s own development working in the medium of acrylic. The works will be hung chronologically within the Sackler Galleries to emphasise this development.

Hockney has set himself a considerable challenge to complete this large body of work. His deep interest in portraiture and its changing role in the history of art are evident as he challenges our perceptions of the value of portraiture in the 21st century.

Born in Bradford in 1937, David Hockney attended Bradford School of Art before studying at the Royal College of Art from 1957 to 1962. Hockney’s reputation was established early, with his work featuring in the Young Contemporaries exhibition in London, 1960; an exhibition seen as marking the arrival of British Pop Art. He first visited Los Angeles in 1964, settling there in 1979 where he has since produced a large body of work over many decades.

In 2012, David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, was held in the main galleries of the Royal Academy. Showcasing vivid landscapes of the Yorkshire countryside, this vast show attracted over 600,000 visitors, making it one of the most successful exhibitions in the RA’s history. The exhibition subsequently travelled to the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

David Hockney was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and appointed member of the Order of Merit in 2012.

Exhibition tickets for David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life must be pre-booked.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The exhibition is curated by Edith Devaney, Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Royal Academy of Arts, in close collaboration with the artist.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book, David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, published by the Royal Academy of Arts in June 2016.

The book features incisive text exploring Hockney’s work in portraiture by Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and Edith Devaney, Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Royal Academy of Arts, interviews the artist. Photographs revealing intermediate stages of several paintings, from first to last mark, will give the reader a unique insight into Hockney’s working method. Price: £30 hardback, 32 × 24 cm, 176 pages, 150 in colour.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life Gallery

Image: Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 121.9 × 91.4 cm © David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

Dates: Saturday, July 2 to Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Admission: £11.50 full price (£10 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free. Tickets must be pre-booked and are available online at or by phone on 020 7300 8090.

Times: 10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm). Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Westminster Abbey - kids go free at half-term

Photo credit: Amy Murrell

EXPLORE England’s oldest garden or discover the world of William Shakespeare as Westminster Abbey’s free family events return this half-term.

Sunflowers in the Sunshine – Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1, 2016 from 11am to 3pm.

Celebrate plants, flowers and the environment in the beautiful setting of Westminster Abbey’s College Garden – the oldest garden in England. Enjoy this peaceful space then plant a seed and watch it grow at home all summer!

Suitable for ages 3+. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Places are free and tickets are not required – just drop in!

Entry to College Garden is through the Cloister Entrance in Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PA

Bloody Noses and Crack’d Crowns: Shakespeare and the Abbey – Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1 at 2pm.

A rare opportunity to explore the real spaces and characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Make exciting links between Shakespeare’s words and Westminster Abbey!

Suitable for ages 7+. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Places are free but should be booked in advance by contacting or telephoning 020 7654 4965

Meet at the Cloister Entrance in Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PA

For more information call 020 7222 5152 or visit