Exhibition Review : The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery – 16th November 2017 to 8th February 2018

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The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition 2017 is an opportunity to see over fifty new portraits by some of the best contemporary photographers from around the world. The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the leading competitions for contemporary portrait photography and attracts a large number of submissions from professionals and amateurs.

The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 5,717 submissions entered by 2,423 photographers from 66 countries. While the photographs are judged anonymously from prints, this was the first year in which the competition permitted digital entries for the initial selection.

The Prize continues its tradition for diversity of subject matter submitted by a range of photographers, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £15,000 first prize.

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Spanish photographer César Dezfuli won the Tenth Anniversary Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 for his portrait of a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast. Dezfuli, who was born in Madrid works as a journalist and documentary photographer, and focuses on issues of migration, identity and human rights.

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The winner of the £3,000 Second Prize is Abbie Trayler-Smith for her photograph of a girl fleeing ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. Trayler-Smith was there undertaking a commission for Oxfam documenting the camp where the charity was providing aid.

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The winner of the £2,000 Third Prize and the John Kobal New Work Award for a photographer under 35, is Maija Tammi from Finland for her portrait of a Japanese android called Erica. This is the first time in the competition’s history that one of the photographers shortlisted for a prize has also won the John Kobal New Work Award which offers a cash prize of £5,000 to include undertaking a commission to photograph a sitter for the Gallery’s Collection.

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The exhibition also features an In Focus display of previously unseen prints from a new body of work by the photographer, Todd Hido, who is known for juxtaposing mysterious and cinematic ruminations on the American landscape alongside portraits of women, which together speak of a fragmented and personal memory of the past. In Focus is an annual showcase for new work by internationally renowned photographers.

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The images around the exhibition explore many different aspects of the photographic portrait and feature a few famous faces but more often the friends and family of the photographers. This year, a number of photographers have explored many different areas around the world and especially the on-going migrant crisis in many parts of the world.

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In a competition of this size, the standard is always high and the various subject matter wide ranging which makes it very difficult to choose winners. However, few would argue with the competition winners who all displayed technical expertise but had a strong narrative.

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This enjoyable exhibition is always interesting and entertaining with some wonderful contemporary portraits, the range of photographs offer a wide variety of subject matter which provides evidence of the large number of talented photographers using their skills to record all facets of the human condition.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
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Exhibition Review – Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland at the National Gallery from 15th November 2017 to 4th February 2018

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The National Gallery presents Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland which explores a selection of paintings by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931). This will be the first exhibition in the UK devoted to this artist whose work Lake Keitele (1905) is one of the Gallery’s most popular works. The painting was purchased by the National Gallery in 1999 and it quickly entranced visitors with its unusual impressionistic style.

This exhibition provides an in-depth study of the work by bring together all four versions of Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele composition for the first time in the UK. Two Lake Keitele landscapes have been borrowed from private collections, one of which is on long-term loan to the Gallen-Kallela Museum, near Helsinki; the third comes from the Lahti Art Museum/Viipuri Foundation, Finland. Many of the works on display have rarely been exhibited publicly.

Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland is a deceptively simple image: a view of a lake bathed in brilliant light, however the different aspects of landscapes on display show how the artist moved from a more naturalistic landscape to a more impressionistic and abstracted image.

Although largely unknown in the UK, Gallen-Kallela is considered one of Finland’s most prominent artists, whose paintings came to embody the country’s cultural nationalism at a time that Finland struggled for political autonomy. Gallen-Kallela trained as an artist in Helsinki and Paris and had a great deal of success in the salons and exhibition rooms of Europe. However, Gallen-Kallela also drew on the ancient legends of his Finnish homeland with a number of representations from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic of poems glorifying the country’s heroic past.

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The exhibition which spans 30 years of Gallen-Kallela’s career features a dozen works,  including four versions of Lake Keitele. A group of his earlier landscape works, a rare, early stained-glass artwork of a lakeshore view by Gallen-Kallela (1896).

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Other paintings of lakeside landscapes executed in the summer of 1904 on the shores of Lake Keitele provide evidence of the hold this particular landscape had on the artist. There are also two works on themes from the Kalevala illustrating how the artist brings together his own particular style to the myths and legends of Finland.

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This fascinating small free exhibition introduces the work of Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela to a wider audience. The success of the Lake Keitele (1905) at the National Gallery has created considerable interest in the artist and this exhibition provides some interesting background to the artist and the painting. The exhibition goes some way to explain the painting’s remarkable success beyond its attractive appearance; the artist somehow manages to incorporate many layers of meaning to the work which seem to strike a chord with large numbers of visitors. Perhaps one of the ways this is achieved is by drawing on some of the myths and legends of Finland and finding a way to  incorporate them into a typical Finnish landscape.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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On violence and beauty: reflections on war at the British Museum – 9th November 2017 to 21st January 2018

Documenting history through art is a longstanding tradition, and the British’s Museum new Asahi Shimbun Display will examine the relationship between conflict and art in a focussed way, through four specially chosen objects. The Asahi Shimbun Display On violence and beauty: reflections on war includes objects from 5,000 years ago to the present day. The British Museum’s first acquisition of a video artwork by the Iranian artist Farideh Lashai  will also be on display. The video installation offers a contemporary perspective on Goya’s iconic work The Disasters of War which he made between 1810 and 1820 in response to the Peninsular War. The British Museum recently loaned this work to the Prado Museum where, as ‘The invited work’, it was placed in juxtaposition with paintings and etchings by Goya.

The display will begin with some of the oldest representations of war – from Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia – each of which include highly stylised depictions of conflict, commissioned to articulate the ruling elites’ views of warfare, emphasising heroism and conquest.

The earliest object on display is the Battlefield Palette made in Egypt around 3300 – 3100 BC, probably intended for display in temples and most likely associated with early rituals related to power. Not intended to illustrate a specific event or battle, the palette reflects a desire to defeat chaos and restore order and the complete subjugation of enemies.

The two other Ancient objects, an Assyrian relief and a Greek amphora are more specific. The relief is part of a larger sequence depicting a battle between the Assyrian army and the kingdom of Elam in southwest Iran. In this scene the Elamite army have been defeated, and an Assyrian soldier is about to execute an Elamite general, Ituni. Having witnessed the devastation around him, Ituni cuts his bow in an act of submission and prepares for his fate. In cuneiform script are the dramatic words that tell the story: ‘Ituni….saw the mighty battle and with his iron dagger, cut with his own hands (his) bow, the ornament of his hands.’

The Greek amphora highlights a moment of combat during the Trojan War when the Greek hero Achilles kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons – an imaginary tribe of fierce women warriors. Achilles is masked by his helmet, while Penthesilea’s face is exposed to emphasize her vulnerability. Her spear passes harmlessly across Achilles’ chest, while he pierces her throat and draws blood. As a definition of Greek masculinity, the vessel was used at all-male drinking parties, illustrating an appetite for this type of imagery among the Greek middle class. According to a later version of the story the two warriors fell in love when their eyes met during combat, tragically too late.

Bringing the story to the present day, artist Farideh Lashai lived through the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the bombardment of Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). At the end of her life, Lashai watched the unfolding of the ‘Arab Spring’ that began in Tunisia in 2011.

Warfare can be traced back to at least 13,000 years ago and the Asahi Shimbun Display On violence and beauty: reflections on war will focus on four objects from across centuries that depict this particular aspect of human history. The Asahi Shimbun Displays allow an opportunity to consider the ways in which humans document their lived experiences and the significance these have in shaping our understanding of the cultures and times that came before us.

Free Admission

For more information, visit the British Museum website here

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Exhibition Review – Skylark: Britain’s Pioneering Space Rocket at the Science Museum from 13th November 2017

The Science Museum celebrates the 60th anniversary of the day when British scientists launched the Skylark rocket programme with an exhibition that tells the remarkable story behind the project.

The Skylark project began at the height of the Cold War to inform military research, especially in the development of the Blue Streak ballistic missile. However the scientific value of Skylark became apparent to researchers who were keen to use the rocket to learn more about the Earth, Sun and deep space.

One of the great advantages of the Skylark rocket was that it could travel way beyond the height of scientific balloons and could be used for a range of experiments during its 10-minute flight time when it was in space. The results would be recorded on board and then parachuted back to Earth for recovery.

Most Skylark rockets were launched from the South Australian desert and conditions could be challenging but the relative simplicity of Skylark made it ideal for training space scientists. Many leading space scientists (some attended the launch of the exhibition) from university professors to Space Shuttle astronauts, started their space careers with Skylark.

The exhibition  includes archive footage of Skylark flights and interviews with the space scientists who used it and helped to build it. There is a model of the Skylark rocket and a number of objects that tell the technical story of how designing experiments for Skylark gave scientists the experience and expertise to work on future space missions including the Ariel 1 satellite and the Giotto spacecraft.

Remarkably, Britain launched a total of 441 Skylark missions over 50 years, making it one of the longest and most successful rocket programmes in the world. Some of the Skylark missions provided the first X-ray surveys of the southern sky and some of the earliest ultraviolet images of the cosmos.

This fascinating small free exhibition tells the little known story of Britain’s first space rocket and how Skylark laid the foundations for Britain’s space science programmes both in technology and training some of Britain’s top space scientists. Whilst Skylark was overshadowed by the American and Soviet space programmes, its relatively simplicity enabled scientists to explore a wide range of scientific questions in a number of new scientific areas. It was these experiments that laid the foundations for Britain’s later more prestigious space science programmes and the design and building of satellites.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the Science Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives at the Science Museum from 9th November 2017 to Spring 2019

The Science Museum present the Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives exhibition which explores human’s response to the unprecedented global threat of antibiotic resistance. It is estimated that superbugs kill almost 700,000 people a year globally and by 2050 this could rise to 30 million. The exhibition examines antibiotic resistance at the microscopic, human and global scale with news of scientific discoveries from across the globe.

Although we share our world with bacteria, medical advances especially antibiotics mean millions of people each year are cured of previously untreatable bacterial diseases. But bacteria have fought back, evolving into superbugs resistant to antibiotics.

In the exhibition, visitors can examine twelve real bacteria colonies including nine deadly bacteria that the World Health Organisation classifies as a significant threat to human health. Grown by bioartist Anna Dumitriu, the bacteria include Escherichia coli, often first to colonise new-born babies’ stomachs, Staphylococcus aureus, one of the earliest superbugs identified and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

The exhibition includes a digital interactive examining the microscopic world of bacteria and reveals how Bdellovibrio bacterivorous (a bacterium that eats other bacteria) and bacteriophages (a virus that infects bacteria) battle superbugs.

Although medicine has provided cures, it is also part of the problem with millions of antibiotics being taken unnecessarily. Bacterial infections in UK hospitals are becoming a real problem affecting up to 1.3 million people each year. Another area of concern is agriculture where a large amount of antibiotics are used each year finding their way into the food chain.

Surprisingly, it is thirty years since the last antibiotic was approved for human use and researchers are hunting for new antibiotics in unusual places. The exhibition shows a video that follows University of Illinois at Chicago researchers exploring the Icelandic fjords that may provide a new source of antibiotics. Also on display are South American leafcutter ants, which use fungi and bacteria to produce antibiotics that can kill superbugs like MRSA.

To encourage research, the UK Government and Nesta will award the £8 million Longitude Prize to the first team to develop a fast, affordable and accurate diagnostic test for bacterial infections.

This fascinating small free exhibition highlights one of the major global problems of the present and the future, as antibiotics become increasingly ineffective, the race to find a solution to the problem is gathering pace. The exhibition suggests that the widespread use of antibiotics globally means that global action will be needed to address the problem.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the Science Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Red Star over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55 at the Tate Modern from 8th November 2017 to 18th February 2018

To mark the centenary of the October Revolution, Tate Modern presents Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55. The exhibition is drawn from the collection of the late graphic designer David King and offers a unique visual history of Russia and the Soviet Union.

David King assembled one of the most comprehensive collections of Russian and Soviet material in the world with over a quarter of a million artefacts. The exhibition features over 250 posters, paintings, photographs, books and ephemera, many on public display for the first time including works by El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Nina Vatolina.

From the overthrow of the last Tsar, the social transformations inspired a wave of innovation in art and graphic design across the country. This innovation was the creation of a popular new art in the form of posters, periodicals, leaflets and banners. With a sizeable section of early Soviet Society unable to read, the Bolsheviks used art to create the idea of a brave new world. Monumental sculptures and propaganda posters were displayed on public squares, factories and inside people’s homes.

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The exhibition features examples of posters by artists such as Adolf Strakhov, Valentina Kulagina and Dmitrii Moor, whose depictions of heroic acts and industrial scenes illustrated the role of the working class was to create a new world after deposing of the last vestiges of the old Tsarist world.

It was not just in the Soviet Union that the message was disseminated, the exhibition features work by Aleksandra Deineka based on a giant mural centrepiece of the USSR Pavilion at the 1937 ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques’ in Paris.

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The international image of the Soviet Union achievements in art and culture is contrasted with a section of the exhibition which is dedicated to the memory of the millions who perished in Stalin’s purges. Photographs of ordinary people are interspersed with more well-known figures like Lev Kamenev, Grigorii Zinoviev and poster artist Gustav Klutsis who was executed in 1938.

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The fall from grace of major figures is illustrated by some rare footage of Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the revolution, he was exiled and eventually murdered.

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After the German invasion in 1941, the Soviet Union was mobilised into action. The patriotic posters called on all of the population to make a contribution, Nina Vatolina’’s posters called on the women of the country to come forward and play their part.

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There have been a number of exhibitions recently about the Russian Revolution but this fascinating exhibition clearly illustrates the difference between the idealised picture of the Soviet Union and the often grim realities of the system. The posters are a call to arms to create a new world and artists played their part in creating images that would inspire the population. Art was also used for propaganda abroad, the work for the 1937 Paris exposition was a part of a campaign to spread the revolution to other nations. The Soviet Union was not alone in using art for propaganda but it was innovative in the use of posters, leaflets and banners to get its message across.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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here

Exhibition Review – Venom : Killer and Cure at the National History Museum from 10th November 2017 to 13th May 2018

The Natural History Museum present an exhibition that explores the worlds of venomous creatures in a new exhibition entitled Venom : Killer and Cure. The exhibition has 250 specimens  on display, with multimedia films showing some of the creatures in action.

In the evolution of various species, they have developed the ability to create venom. Most of the venom targets the prey’s physiology, such as the muscles and the nervous system.

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The exhibition also reminds visitors that venom and poison are two distinct natural weapons because of how they may enter the body of the victim. The hallmark of venom is that it’s introduced via a wound. It can be injected through a number of means, including teeth, a sting, spines or claws. Poison is different as there is no wound involved. It can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin, inhaled or ingested. Some species are both venomous and poisonous such as the spitting cobra and the blue-ringed octopus.

Around the exhibition are creatures that have developed their own particular venom to gain advantage in the natural world. There are many kinds of specimens, from snakes, centipedes, snails and scorpions to various insects.

Venom plays a vital role in species whether they are predator and prey and often develop unusual ways of dealing with the effects of venom. Meerkats are so frequently at risk from venom and poison from their prey that they have developed a total resistance to them.

Human beings have used venom for both as a hunting aid by putting venom on arrows and within science constantly investigating some of nature’s deadliest venoms to save lives.

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Towards the end of the exhibition is a short film about Steve Ludwin, whose unconventional experiences injecting venom have led to developments in pioneering the world’s first human derived anti-venom.

Finally a 2.5 metre Komodo dragon specimen displayed in spirit allowing visitors to get up close to one of the most venomous land animal on the planet.

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This fascinating and unusual exhibition allows visitors to understand the many diverse uses of venom in the natural world. Used both for attack and defence, venom plays a vital part in a number of species to enable their survival. The exhibition includes a number of interesting  effects to remind us that we are not immune to attack from various creatures and that venom has enabled scientists to provide anti venom solutions and develop lifesaving drugs.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the National History Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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