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Textured Shadow, Coloured Light – The Luxury Channel Meets Rashid al Khalifa By Fiona Sanderson

We talk to Rashid al Khalifa at the opening of his latest exhibition, “Penumbra: Textured Shadow, Coloured Light,” which is being held at Saatchi Gallery from 3rd – 21st October 2018. Rashid’s London debut invites us to explore the beauty of textured shadows and light cast through polychromatic metal structures. Aluminium mesh wall works, suspended steel grid mobiles, and a monumental maze form the basis of this immersive exhibition inspired by architectural grids and geometric lattices. In recent years, Rashid has experimented with metal and convex surfaces, creating openings in his aluminium wall works to reveal the intimate space within, which is usually kept out of view. “Penumbra” takes this approach a step further, exploring changes in spatial experience depending on the viewer’s position.

What was the inspiration behind your mobile pieces?

I wanted to have an element of “to see and not to be seen.” You can walk around the pieces and if someone is on the other side, you can see them but not very clearly. Similarly, with my lattice work, you can see out from the inside, but you cannot see in. The light coming from the outside creates light and patterns, adding to a further dimension to the work. Also, using different colours gives you that depth to show the different layers of my work. I wanted to use this technique on a larger structure which was interactive for the visitor, so I created a maze that you could walk through, but you would still have the shutters that open and close, thereby creating different patterns with light and shade. I wanted to have one colour on the outside and more colours on the inside, so I used this type of blue aquamarine which is very popular in our part of the world – it’s reminiscent of the sea – and on the inside, I wanted to use lively strong colours. You will see the walkways inside are very narrow, just like the alleyways that we have in the Middle East. The idea of the different colours represents the different walls and doors in the cities. I was inspired by winding narrow alleyways and traditional architecture. I would like the audience to experience the maze as a conceptual entity – a spiritual journey with no fixed destination.

Tell me about your 3D pieces on the wall – is this the first time that you have created three dimensional artworks?

Yes, it is really. I experimented with 3D structures back in 1982 but I did not pursue it. Back then I was working with timber, but it was too heavy, and it is only more recently that I have started to use lighter materials such as aluminium which gives more flexibility and durability. This work is a culmination of the things that I love: design, interiors and architecture. It was important to create a movement with these pieces so that they give you a different feeling and perspective from whichever way you look at them. You have to move with them. I also added a lattice pattern so that it can project beautiful light and shade through it. They are really based on complex mathematical geometric design, as “parametric sculptures.” I admire the architect Jean Nouvel who has used a similar technique in the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi. It’s beautiful. You will see that I have used a combination of muted colours – pinks and blues – and then I have used some strong coloured pieces in red and green. Colour is so important, and each colour has its own identity and a life that comes from it. Life without colour is very dull.

What would you like visitors to feel when they see your work?

I think you should let the visitor see for themselves and let them find out what it means to them. Sometimes they come up with names or visions that are better than your own. I don’t think that contemporary work should be given a title to summarise the works. With some modern art, they don’t respect that viewers may have their own interpretation of that work. It’s more of a “take or leave it” attitude. I would like them to leave my art having seen something they really appreciate and like, and that will stay in their memories.

Which painters inspired you as a young artist?

I was really taken by Turner because he used all the strong elements of shade, dust, cloud and haze. This really matched our environment of clear skies, dust and sand. The area that I lived in Bahrain had a lot of dust and not far away from where I used to live, there used to be a place where they would crack the boulders and stones and make a huge amount of dust. Then we would have these really blue skies with white clouds. This contrast is something that I have used a lot in my paintings and then seeing it in Turner’s work in real life at the National Gallery really amazed me. Then, of course, the impressionist movement impressed me too.

What role do you think art should play in our lives?

For me, art is a universal language – art is without borders, that everyone accepts and understands. Having this dialogue in this form open doors to friendship without the use of guns and war.

What do you like doing when you have time to yourself?

Whenever I have the opportunity, I love doing drawings and sketching, and I always have my pad with me. This is so important in fine art, architecture and design. Unfortunately, a lot of youngsters don’t concentrate on drawing but I think it is so important that you should be able to draw correctly. By drawing, you see the dimension and the composition. Computers, of course, can do the technical part but not the vision.

What are your future plans in terms of work?

I am planning to create some work for the Venice Biennale next year using sand and the movement of sand – it will be called “The Shifting Sands.” Representative of our region based on social, economic and political levels. These are the three aspects that I will be working around.

Of all the art that you have created in your life, which are the works that you would say really represent you and your work?

From the beginning, there are a couple of traditional landscapes that I want to keep for myself, two or three pieces of figurative work as well as the convex work and a piece from the current work. I like them all really. One work leads to another and gives you more ideas and you are always learning and improving, so I just carry on.

Rashid al Khalifa with HH Sayyida Susan Al Said (on the right) and her friend Elke

About Rashid al Khalifa

Rashid al Khalifa began painting at the age of 16 and had his first exhibition at the Dilmun Hotel, Bahrain in 1970. He travelled to the UK in 1972, where he attended the Brighton & Hastings Art College in Sussex and trained in Arts & Design. Rashid’s artistic practice has evolved over time: from landscapes in the 70s and early 80s, to merging elements of his figurative and abstract work in the late 80s, progression towards abstraction and experimenting with the ‘‘canvas’’ in the 90s, and recent mirror-like chrome and high gloss lacquer pieces. His solo exhibitions include Hybrids at Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2018); A New Perspective at Bahrain National Museum, Kingdom of Bahrain (2010); Art Department, Shuman Arts Organisation, Jordan (1997); De Caliet Gallery, Milan, Italy and El Kato Kayyel Gallery, Milan, Italy (1996). Biennials include: Bridges, Grenada Pavilion, 57 Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); 3rd Mediterranean Biennale: OUT OF PLACE – Sakhnin Valley, Israel (2017); Arab Delegation, TRIO Biennial – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2015); and In The Eye of the Thunderstorm, Collateral Events, 56. la Biennale di Venezia – Venice, Italy (2015). Rashid has also taken part in various group shows, international art fairs, and exhibitions alongside the Bahrain Arts Society.

About Curators Eva McGaw and Tatiana Palinkasev

Eva and Tatiana established “Metamorphosis Art Projects,” where they produce and curate art exhibitions with a special edge. They create extraordinary experiences to motivate artists in developing new forms of expression, helping them to communicate their most inner beliefs and convictions, and to inspire their audiences. Interaction and inspiration is the key element in their exhibitions.

Further Information

For more information about Rashid al Khalifa, go to www.rashidalkhalifa.me.

For more information about “Penumbra: Textured Shadow, Coloured Light,” go to www.metamorphosis-artprojects.com, or watch our film here.

A Portrait of The Tree By Scott Manson

Global influencers including Sir Richard Branson, Jasper Conran and Raymond Blanc share the secrets behind their favourite tree as The New Unit London hosts a new photographic exhibition, A Portrait of the Tree….

Sir Richard Branson’s Favourite Tree

The majestic glory of the longest living organism on the planet is showcased at an extraordinary collection of works, collectively entitled A Portrait of the Tree, that runs at Unit London’s new Hanover Square site from 17th to 28th September.

The images were shot and curated by renowned photographer Adrian Houston, who spent five years roaming the world – taking in Namibia, Madagascar, Ibiza, France, America and the UK – to capture the beauty of trees, chosen by notable names such as Richard Branson, actress Goldie Hawn and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

Asking people about their favourite tree sparked fascinating stories. Lord Tollemache, former Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, told of the ancient oak in whose hollow trunk Queen Elizabeth II used to shelter during the annual shoot on his estate. Designer Jasper Conran talked about the beech tree outside his bedroom window; the first and last thing he sees each day.

Goldie Hawn’s Favourite Tree

Perhaps most poignant of all is the Cedar of Lebanon, part of the proud history and landscape of the grounds of Le Manoir aux Quat Saison, owned by legendary chef Raymond Blanc. Sadly, this magnificent tree was diseased and had to be cut down. Adrian’s art now ensures it is captured for posterity.

Says Adrian, “I am very excited that we will be among the first to exhibit at Unit London’s new Hanover Square gallery. For the last few years, Unit London has championed the world’s most exciting emerging artists and I was thrilled when co-founders Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt offered to house this most personal of retrospectives.”

The exhibition is styled and dressed to make the entire experience immersive. The doorway leads visitors through an ancient oak into a world of trees and woodland soundscapes.

Alice Temperley’s Favourite Tree

A percentage of all sales will go to two leading charities: Future Trees Trust, a national charity dedicated to improving disease resilience, growth rate, form and adaptability to climate change of broadleaved trees, and Trees For Cities, responsible for planting over 700,000 urban trees in parks, streets, schools and housing estates across the world. A photographic competition will also invite 8-16-year olds to submit photographs of their own favourite trees. The best three images – and stories – will feature in the gallery space.

“A Portrait of the Tree was conceived as a way of illustrating how trees connect us all on a universal level,” says Adrian. “The stories behind the chosen subjects are as important as the images themselves. Together, they offer a powerful tool to help educate people, from children through to adults, about the vital role that trees play in all of our lives. After all, if there were no trees on the planet, we wouldn’t be here either.”

For more information, visit www.adrianhouston.co.uk.

The Luxury Channel Meets Cecil By Fiona Sanderson

Cecil (image courtesy of Henley Festival and Garry Jones)

Cecil is an alternate indie pop artist from Berkshire. She released her debut EP in April 2017 which subsequently received support from BBC Radio 2, BBC Introducing, BBC Berkshire, BBC Oxford and many other regional radio stations. The resulting success saw Cecil take to stages all over the UK and led to her opening the main stage at Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival, where she was the only unsigned artist to play the main stage. She has since performed at BBC’s Carfest for Children In Need and headlined the O2 Academy Islington.

Cecil takes her name from her great uncle Cecil McGivern, who was a broadcasting pioneer for British radio and TV and who wrote several wartime radio plays during World War II for the BBC. He also wrote the original screenplay for the 1946 version of Charles Dickens’ famous novel Great Expectations and was later awarded a CBE.

With lots of exciting things planned for the year ahead (including the release of a new album), The Luxury Channel caught up with Cecil following her performance on the famous Floating Stage at this year’s Henley Festival to talk social media, alter egos and playing at The Royal Albert Hall….

What does Henley and indeed the Festival mean to you?

As a Berkshire girl, it has a special place for me – I was here last year and it’s absolutely amazing. Last year, I was in the Bedouin Tent and it was more of an acoustic set but this year, being on the Floating Stage is quite an experience. Personally, I would come to Henley as a guest and pay because it’s an amazing festival!

Which venue would you ideally like to perform at?

I have always wanted to play at the Albert Hall; I would love that. It’s such a special place, even though I have only been there once, when I went to see the Christmas Orchestra. But what I loved about it was the atmosphere.

One of your pieces that you played tonight, called Ceasefire, has some very meaningful content. Can you tell me about it and what it means to you?

At the moment, I feel like we are living in a very a strange world – I feel there’s a lot of fighting and negativity. I wanted to write something that says stop – ceasefire. We have got to be positive and be happy – that’s where it comes from.

You followed this with Toy Box, with its unique sound that you will be making a video around – can you tell me about it?

I am so excited about this one – I am almost giddy! We have made a human-sized toy box, so it’s huge, and there is a motor inside and I am going to be spinning just like one of those ballerinas. Then we have got these dancers who are going to be crawling out of the box whilst I am spinning and we have actors who will be depicting a range of emotions. It’s going to be really creepy and scary – bringing up all my creative energy.

Where does all this creative energy come from?

Some has come from my great uncle, Cecil McGivern, and some from my mum who plays the drums and was in a local band, so I grew up with music. I was always surrounded by music. Even when my mum was pregnant, she used to blast out music and I would be kicking away. So music has been the love of my life since day one!

Is the persona that you portray on stage the same as off stage?

No, it’s strange really as I feel that the outside personality that you see on stage is different to the person that you see off stage. The way that I write and perform is often quite dark but when I am off stage, I am Sophie, my real name – it’s completely different. I am always laughing and joking, a kid really – that’s a little secret! My alter ego Cecil is who’s on stage.

What do you like to do at home – any passions?

At home, I like to wear jeans and trainers. I love home, and I love dogs. When you see them in dogs homes, I just want to let them out and take them home. I am always talking about them, but I don’t even have one yet! I also love butterflies. I had a special experience once. One day, the winds were crazy loud and I was at home playing piano and I saw this butterfly which was trapped, and so I caught it in my hands and let it out of the window. The next day – no joke – the same black and brown butterfly was back in the house fluttering around me. A happy moment and I will never forget it.

Social media can be used to push positive and negative messages but how important is it to you as a professional and how do you intend to use it to promote yourself?

Social media is not in my DNA so it’s very hard to remind myself that I need to be posting every day and these posts need to be relevant and they need to be interesting and keep people engaged. With social media, it’s very hard to get picked out and get noticed because everyone is doing it. It’s anyone’s game out there – it’s madness. For me, it’s about the music, that one record that’s going to capture everyone and they love it. As much as social media is a great platform to get your music out there, for me it will always be about the music.

For more information about Cecil, go to www.cecilmusic.co.uk.

The Luxury Channel Meets Flo & Joan By Fiona Sanderson

They may not be household names – yet – but anyone who frequently watches UK TV will be familiar with the work of musical comedy sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey (better known as Flo & Joan) from the Nationwide adverts. Following a sell-out run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and two sell-out stints at London’s Soho Theatre with their critically acclaimed debut show The Kindness of Stranglers, award-winning Flo & Joan – whose hit The 2016 Song, berating the anus horribilis that saw the deaths of icons from Bowie to Prince, received more than 47 million views online – will be returning to the Festival to perform their brand new show Alive On Stage at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar from 1st to 26th August at 4:00pm, before embarking on a UK tour from 19th September 2018 to 12th April 2019. As described by Steve Bennett of Chortle, “If Flanders & Swann and Flight of The Conchords and Garfunkel & Oates had a six-way, time-travelling gang-bang that somehow mixed all their DNA, the offspring might end up sounding something like Flo & Joan.” The Luxury Channel duly caught up with the musical duo following their set at this year’s Henley Festival to talk comedy, Canada and drinking too much….

How was your show at Henley?

Rosie: I think Henley is brilliant – people are dressed up, and it’s nice to perform to people who are dressed up. Although it’s probably the first time we have played to people in black tie. We did a little classic opener, a joke-heavy song, so that people know what we are doing, a little about ourselves, then we had a song about drinking too much which went down well – a bit of an acoustic number, which was great to play in a tent when Grace Jones is behind you! – but it was really fun.

How do you choose your content for different audiences?

Nicola: Most of the time, we know what the environment or age it’s going to be – so with Henley being a mostly mature audience, we did a song about marriage and divorce, whereas if we are playing to younger audiences, we would probably do more topical things.

Why do you think the Nationwide adverts were such a success?

Rosie: I think they were just easy, catchy and friendly family songs which are quite nice – because it’s quite different to what we normally do. They were light and joyful, and not too wacky. People really seemed to enjoy them.

Nicola: Getting to do the Nationwide ads was great and it was one of our first “proper” jobs.

There were some people on social media who were very negative about it – why do you think that was?

Rosie: Of course, everyone has their opinions but we didn’t pay attention to those comments.

In times of uncertainty and political turmoil such as these, what do you think people should be watching?

Nicola: I think it’s important for everyone to engage in those things, but I think it’s also important to have some light relief, such as Tom & Jerry. I understand why people watch reality TV because it takes you completely out of the world to concentrate on someone else, whether it’s good or bad. I watch Love Island because it makes me forget that everything else in the world is not always so great and I don’t have to think about it for an hour or so. Yes, sometimes we do topical things but sometimes we do silly things such as [the songs] Small House, or Lady In The Woods – because it’s fun for us and audiences can relax and don’t feel they have to concentrate – they can just enjoy laughing.

What led you to Canada?

Nicola: There’s a comedy school out there called The Second City and they have one in Chicago also, and it’s the birth place of comedians such as Bill Murray. They teach improv and sketch comedy through improv – we went separately but we both wanted to try improv and learn how to do it properly. We learnt a lot and loved it, and so that’s where we stayed for 3 years.

You are playing at Edinburgh again this year – what is it like to play at the Festival?

Nicola: We moved back to the UK last July and almost immediately went to Edinburgh, and we were lucky to have such a great crowd. We had never really performed in England before for that length of time and it gave us a chance to get the show just right before playing at the Soho Theatre.

What is your favourite luxury, and what does it mean to you both?

Rosie: Time, by ourselves. The best bits are having down time and maybe sitting with a bowl of pasta. At the moment, it’s so pressured getting shows ready. Typically a trip to the theatre is big on our list – indeed, it’s a real luxury for us, particularly in London, as well as exercising whilst listening to music.

As sisters, how different are you?

Rosie: We are very different people but we get along really well and it’s good because when we write, we know what the other is thinking – it helps to know what works and what doesn’t, as we understand each other.

Nicola: We lived together in Toronto and when we came back here, we decided to live separately and give each other our own personal life.

What is the comedy scene like at the moment, particularly for women?

Nicola: As far as I can see, everyone’s got their head down working really hard and it’s all our there if you want to see some extraordinary men and women doing some great work. We don’t think of ourselves as female comedians – we are just comedians, so you just do your job. Some people like musical comedy, some don’t. Same as some like women comedians, some don’t. It’s the same with clowns, or stand-up or physical comics. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer for people to come to you but you know that you are good so it’s fine.

Rosie: In terms of TV, there is so much to see on channels like Amazon and Netflix and we watch a lot of American comedy TV. So whatever budget you are on, you can find something that you like. There’s definitely some cool comedy coming through these channels. I used to love Smack The Pony and Dawn French but I personally feel that mainstream TV is missing a bit of that jolly weird character stuff but if you look for it, you can find it on other channels.

What are your plans for the coming year?

Rosie: We are playing again at Edinburgh Fringe in August and we are doing a live tour which starts in September which we are really excited about, cos we’ve never done one before! We are working on some podcasts and writing some small musicals, which we will hopefully have by the end of the year but we are not big planners, we like to run with the day.

If you could choose a woman from history, who would it be and why?

Rosie: I would choose Mary Anning, the English fossil collector who became know around the world for collecting some amazing fossil in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis.

Nicola: I really liked the Countess of Castiglionie, who married young but she had loads of pictures taken of her and she wore these amazing costumes and art directed every single picture of herself. In every part of her life, she was in control despite other people trying to control her – which I think was really cool, given she lived in the 1800s!

For more information about Flo & Joan and for a full list of their upcoming show dates, go to www.floandjoan.com.

Curtain Up At Garsington Opera’s World Premiere By Fiona Sanderson

Garsington Opera at Wormsley (Image © Clive Barda / ArenaPAL)

Garsington Opera’s box office is now open for what is anticipated to be a very exciting season of four new productions (Die Zauberflote – Mozart’s last opera, Capriccio by Strauss and Falstaff by Verdi) and its first ever Festival World Premiere, The Skating Rink by leading British composer David Sawer and award-winning librettist Rory Mullarkey. The opera is based on the novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño.

In a filmed interview (click here to watch in full), The Luxury Channel meets award-winning playwright Rory Mullarkey, to hear how he travelled to the original campsite in Castelledefels in Spain where Bolaño first set his story, so that he could immerse himself in a new structure and narrative that would work for the opera.

Stockport native Rory Mullarkey graduated from Cambridge in 2009, after which he studied at the State Theatrical Arts Academy of St. Petersburg. In 2014, he won the Harold Pinter Playwriting Prize, the George Devine Award (jointly with Alice Birch) and the James Tait Black Prize for Drama for his play Cannibals, published by Methuen Drama.

Hansel und Gretel at Garsington Opera (Image courtesy of Mike Hoban)

“I’m bad at being told what to do,” says Mullarkey with a grin. The playwright, raised in a military family, quickly found that taking orders wasn’t for him when he tried to join the army as a teenager. A few years later, fresh from studying Russian at Cambridge University, his stint at drama school in St Petersburg was similarly short-lived. “My temperament just was not suited to being told what to do for a year.”

The same unruly streak runs through Mullarkey’s plays. Cannibals, the play that made him the youngest writer ever staged in the Royal Exchange Theatre’s main house at 25, contained a whole section written daringly in Russian. His Royal Court debut, The Wolf From The Door, playfully set violent insurrection in the green and pleasant land of rural England, while Pentabus commission Each Slow Dusk deliberately eschewed accepted First World War narratives.

Avoiding or subverting convention, Mullarkey says, has paid off. “I wrote stuff for a while and sent it off to places, but when people really started to take notice of it and put it on was when I’d abandoned all desire to do anything that was what I thought I was supposed to do.”

Intermezzo at Garsington Opera

The acting might not have stuck, but Mullarkey’s fascination with Russia did. He reels off a long list of Russian authors – Dostoyevsky, Lermontov, Goncharov, Chekhov, Pushkin, Gogol – whose influence has seeped into his writing. “I read and re-read those guys until they were in my metabolism, because I loved what they said so much; not only their stories, but also the philosophical weight of the feelings they express.” Learning Russian as a teenager at Manchester Grammar School, he fell in love “with the sounds of it, with the way the words move.”

It was Mullarkey’s Russian that got him his first gig out of university. While performing in his own play on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007, word of the show spread to director Lyndsey Turner – Mullarkey’s “number one living inspiration” – who asked to read the script. Discovering that Mullarkey could speak Russian, she quickly set him to work on a series of translations for the Royal Court, offering a crucial foot in the door. It was also a steep learning curve. “Going through 20 plays and every single line, seeing it in one language and making it work as an active line in English – it’s probably the best education I could have asked for in making sure the dialogue I was trying to write was going to be active,” he says. “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done that.”

The Cunning Little Vixen by Janacek at Garsington Opera (Image © Clive Barda / ArenaPAL)

The Skating Rink

A beautiful young skating champion, Nuria (Lauren Zolezzi), has a powerful admirer, Enric (Neal Davies), whose obsession drives him to pilfer funds to build her an ice rink in a deserted Spanish mansion. A murder on the ice becomes the centre of this tale of jealousy, political corruption, and passion. Young American baritone Ben Edquist will make his British debut singing the role of Remo and the young British tenor Sam Furness sings Gaspar. Susan Bickley (Carmen), Claire Wild (Caridad), Alan Oke (Rookie), and Louise Winter (Pilar) complete the cast. Garry Walker (The Cunning Little Vixen, 2014) returns to conduct, with director and designer Stewart Laing making his Garsington debut.

Die Zauberflote

Mozart’s final opera celebrates the triumph of love and reason over chaos and evil. Benjamin Hulett sings Tamino and Jonathan McGovern, who sang Pelleas last season, is the bird catcher Papageno. Louise Alder, last seen as Ilia in ldomeneo, makes her role debut as Pamina and James Creswell is Sarastro. The Costa Rican soprano lride Martinez sings Queen of The Night and The Three Ladies will be sung by Katherine Crompton, Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Katie Stevenson, all of whom are alumnae of the Garsington Opera Alvarez Young Artists’ Programme. Conductor Christian Curnyn, who conducted The Return of Ulysses for Royal Opera House and The Roundhouse, and director/designer Netia Jones make their Garsington Opera debuts.

Intermezzo at Garsington Opera

Capriccio

Internationally renowned Swedish soprano Miah Persson makes her debut in the role of the Countess with Gavan Ring as the poet Olivier, and Sam Furness, who performed Baron Lummer in Intermezzo, as the composer Flamand, both of whom vie for her love and the primacy of their art. William Dazeley returns as the Count and baritone Andrew Shore as theatre director La Roche. They are also joined by Hanna Hipp (Clairon) and Graham Clark (Taupe). Artistic Director of Garsington Opera Douglas Boyd will conduct, and international director Tim Albery returns after his 2016 success with ldomeneo. This production is in collaboration with Santa Fe Opera.

Falstaff

Falstaff will feature several role debuts including British baritone Henry Waddington in the title role, American soprano Mary Dunleavy as Alice Ford (last seen as Christine in Intermezzo, 2015), Richard Burkhard as Ford and the young soprano Soraya Mafi, who recently performed Cleopatra in English Touring Opera’s production of Giulio Cesare, as Nannetta. Victoria Simmonds (Meg Page), Yvonne Howard (Mistress Quickly), Oliver Johnston (Fenton), Colin Judson (Dr. Caius), Adrian Thompson (Bardolfo) and Nicholas Crawley (Pistola) complete the ensemble cast. Bruno Ravella, who directed Intermezzo, returns to direct and Richard Farnes, former Music Director of Opera North and winner of The Royal Philharmonic Society 2017 Conductor of The Year Award, will conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in their second year of partnership with Garsington Opera.

Garsington Opera (Image courtesy of Colin Willoughby)

DIARY OF EVENTS AT GARSINGTON OPERA

Die Zauberflote – 31st May, 2nd, 8th, 14th, 17th, 22nd, 24th, 30th June, 11th, 17th, 19th, 21st July 2018

Capriccio – 1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 15th, 20th, 23rd, 28th June 2018

Falstaff – 16th, 18th, 21st, 29th June, 4th, 7th, 13th, 15th, 20th, 22nd July 2018

The Skating Rink – 5th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 16th July 2018

BOOKING INFORMATION

Tickets range from £110 – £215, including a suggested but non-obligatory donation of £70.
Book online at www.garsingtonopera.org or telephone +44 (0)1865 361636.

The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series – Carine Roitfeld’s Seven Deadly Sins By Fiona Sanderson

World-renowned fashion editor Carine Roitfeld talks exclusively to The Luxury Channel on the eve of her ‘‘SEVEN’’ Widow Series exhibition for Veuve Clicquot….

Carine Roitfeld attends The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series By Carine Roitfeld And CR Studio
(image courtesy of Dave Benett)

It was with a sense of true excitement that The Luxury Channel joined guests including Yasmin Le Bon, Leomie Anderson and Eva Herzigova for the launch event to open ‘‘SEVEN,’’ the third instalment of The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series, curated this year by iconic fashion editor Carine Roitfeld.

Carine reminded us that ‘‘when we think of ‘The Widow’ – the founder of Veuve Clicquot – she was such a modern woman, a business woman in fact. She was born at a time when women were not allowed to have creative authority but she proved everyone wrong with her champagne house. She was the first person to copyright a champagne colour – which, of course, is Veuve Clicquot’s magical yellow gold. She was radical and an innovator. There is a tradition within Veuve Clicquot which has a radical feminine energy, and that is something that has inspired us in our production.’’

Eva Herzigova, Leomie Anderson and Yasmin Le Bon attend The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series (images courtesy of Dave Benett)

With that, we were immersed in Carine’s dark and elaborate vision of the Seven Deadly Sins and their contrasting virtues, presented across four floors of raw concrete and metal in a hidden, subterranean venue. Upon arrival, glasses of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label were poured for us by seven widows dressed in black by Tom Ford, before we relished in own own moment of sin by throwing the empty glasses down a three-storey shaft into oblivion. In amongst the smashing of glass, the eerie soundtracks accompanying each installation and the murmur of 300 guests, Veuve Clicquot’s Rosé and their newest launch, Extra Brut Extra Old, were poured for us all to enjoy.

An installation at The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series

We were then led on a journey through seven installations to experience the bewitching aspects of each sin. Roaming between the bustling spaces, we were immersed in the furore of Wrath through the eyes of FENDI, tempestuous Greed and Gluttony, slumberous Sloth, feverish Envy and Pride, and uncontrollable Lust, which had been dressed by Atsuko Kudo. We were grabbed by hands adorned with jewels, sauntered down a staircase of butterflies, were grimaced at by a woman buried beneath mattresses and were privy to a lustful performance by dancers bound in latex, with each installation enhanced by champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot portfolio.

The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series By Carine Roitfeld And CR Studio (image courtesy of Dave Benett)

Carine Roitfeld revealed to us that ‘‘Seven has always been my lucky number in life. I constantly find inspiration in the number seven: the shape of it, the sound of it, the meanings and what it represents. It’s the seven wonders of the world, it’s lucky seven, it’s the seven days of the week, and now for me, it’s Seven Deadly Sins.’’

Working alongside Carine to create the visual spectacle were renowned Creative Director Patrick Kinmonth (an internationally acclaimed opera set director and costume designer), and Antonio Monfreda, famed for his artistic work with Italian fashion house FENDI. Both supported Carine in bringing ‘‘SEVEN’’ to life and guided guests through the space, sharing their inspiration behind each vision. Patrick explained that they ‘‘wanted to make something that was really focussed. We have all experienced attempts to make environments that are immersive, but quite often these experiences can become quite generalised so we thought, let’s concentrate on something very clear and we quickly came to the idea of seven deadly sins, which is kind of a perennial subject for fashion, for art and for culture.’’ He added that, for this project, we thought about the magical world of the pleasure of Veuve Clicquot champagne and the idea of celebrating this time of year – witchcraft and other darker things – so we thought we could bring these all together, using seven categories and seven subjects to concentrate on artistically.’’

The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series By Carine Roitfeld And CR Studio (image courtesy of Dave Benett)

Carine’s enviable black book was fully utilised for the creation of the exhibition, with Tom Ford involved as the designer for the main bar dressing the seven ‘‘Carine’’hostesses, and FENDI providing lavish fabrics and a couture outfit for the sin of Wrath. Atsuko Kudo, the designer behind Kim Kardashian and Rita Ora’s famous latex dress designs, also co-curated the installation for the sin of Lust, and renowned Italian designer Gianvito Rossi also provided the footwear for the series.

An installation at The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series

Carine revealed that ‘‘as I come from a world of fashion, ‘‘SEVEN’’ had to have a big fashion emphasis. It’s interesting that people criticise the fashion world and say we are not very smart and we’re superficial, but funnily enough now that we have gone through this journey, they see that we do have soul and that we are thinking beyond the fashion pages.’’ Of the exhibition itself, she added that ‘‘I want people to let their emotions come out – to be shocked, or even disgusted – but certainly not to be indifferent.’’

The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series By Carine Roitfeld And CR Studio (image courtesy of
Dave Benett)

Patrick agreed with her sentiments about perceptions of the fashion industry. ‘‘It’s interesting what Carine says. Over time, we have seen a change in the fashion world, and that is that fashion is no longer regarded as superficial; people understand that clothes are a manifestation of deep cultural processes. It proves that the general public are extremely capable of making these profound connections to do with clothes, ideas, emotions and meanings. People have no problem with the idea that clothes can be a make-up of profound ideas – and the Alexander McQueen exhibition was a good example of this.’’

For more information about The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series, go to www.veuveclicquotwidowseries.co.uk. To read about last year’s exhibition, click here.

At Home With Artist Eileen Cooper OBE By Fiona Sanderson

On the eve of her first solo exhibition at the Fine Art Society, The Luxury Channel talked to Eileen Cooper, one of the UK’s foremost and most collectable female artists, about her life and works and her forthcoming exhibition, “Till The Morning Comes.” This exhibition will feature new paintings and a series of drawings inspired by English National Ballet’s recent production of “Giselle,” choreographed by Akram Khan.

With an illustrious career, not only as an artist, Cooper was the first woman to be elected as Keeper of the Royal Academy, the first woman to hold the post since the Academy’s foundation in 1768. As Keeper, she is responsible for guiding the next generation of artists admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. Cooper was also the Curator of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

“Dancing In Limbo 3” by Eileen Cooper

Cooper rose to prominence during the 1980s, when her strong and passionate figuration, and unapologetically female perspective to her subject matter, attracted much attention. Sometimes described as a magic realist, she depicts her male and female subjects in a bold yet tender way, encompassing everything from sexuality and motherhood to life and death. Today, her works are highly collectable and can be found in museums, galleries and private collections all over the world.

Cooper’s forthcoming exhibition “Till The Morning Comes,” draws on her existing interest in the female body in motion, but demonstrates a new visual vocabulary inspired by Akram Khan’s choreography from “Giselle.” Cooper captures the power and energy of Khan’s style – a unique fusion of classical ballet and Indian Kathak dance – as well as the drama of the storyline and impressive stage production in a combination of contorted, yet strangely beautiful figures. Cooper’s fascination with dance and performance started at college and has often resurfaced in her art. When the opportunity came about for Cooper to collaborate with the English National Ballet on Khan’s “Giselle” – a tragic story about love, betrayal, revenge and forgiveness featuring a strong female protagonist – it seemed a natural fit with her own artistic vision.

“Body Talk” by Eileen Cooper

Tell me about your new work inspired by the English National Ballet?

Contemporary dance and ballet is something I really like, where the body is used quite expressively rather than in a controlled romantic vision of the ballet. I have looked at lots of dance photos over the years so what I hadn’t anticipated when I went to draw the English National Ballet was just how fast everyone was moving. I made a lot of drawings and I started painting based on what I had witnessed. Then I had the idea to slow it down with just one dancer. They arranged for one dancer, Madison Keesler, to come to my RA studio. She recognised the phrases and gestures that I had drawn, and I really liked that. It was based on a particular type of Asian dance (called tacsomorcopine) with those lovely hand movements. Madison held these positions so I could draw from them. Over a year, I had all these drawings and prints and big ambitious oil paintings. It was a really big challenge and I think it’s brought a darkness to my work; certainly, in the palette with lots of dark blues and reds. At first, their bodies looked very fragile and yet every bit of their body was energised. It was a very different female body to the ones I was used to painting. The female body is a big subject for me and I am constantly returning to it.

“Dancing In Limbo 2” by Eileen Cooper

Why do you like painting women as opposed to men?

I think there is a sense of one’s own identity and a sense of understanding one’s self – it’s always my means of expression and when I had my own children, it was just an extension of that. Male figures are always there in my work, but they are often there as another figure, whereas the female figure is represented twice sometimes in the same picture, as a duality, or a twin. The same figure can appear in different guises. The women used to be naked but strangely covered in colour so they were much more primal – early passions of a younger woman – and now they are clothed and more modest but just as strong. Creativity, sexuality and passion were quite linked in my early work but now some of that is behind me. Now my figures and colour of the skin are more life-like whereas they were red, crimson and brown. The best work always has its counterpart, strong and vulnerable, joyful but possibly disturbing. I would like to think that my work has those two sides.

“Let It Be” oil on canvas by Eileen Cooper

Of all the works that you have done, which one do you identify with most?

There is one from 1989-90 which I bought back in an auction (Woman Examing Her Shadow, pictured below). It’s of a woman bathed in colour and it’s a shadow growing. It’s very significant for me. These red paintings are classic for me. I have such an intense connection with it. The woman who bought it sadly died and they put it into an auction, and it had been badly stored, quite an oily painting, and it didn’t sell but I managed to buy it back.

In this one, I love the drawing (Boy With A Bird, pictured below left) because this one is probably Sam, my son. This one (pictured below right) I love because it’s about my mother, with the donkey becoming a biblical connection. I didn’t mean to use a tortoise but my mother’s brother had two tortoises since we were kids for 40 years.

If there was a fire, which painting would you rescue?

I would rescue that red painting [points]. I will at some time probably sell it because I want it to be in a good collection. It’s very meaningful work. Somebody told me early on that you can’t be a collector of your own work because the work that you think is best usually sells first and the collector usually thinks the same. So, you can’t hold onto them just for that reason. Let the best pieces go. I have got lots of pieces that I have kept for the boys.

Tell me about your role as the first woman Keeper of the Royal Academy?

I feel very privileged to have had this position and have enjoyed it immensely – you are always learning. It’s kept me on my toes!

“Peace of Mind” oil on canvas by Eileen Cooper

How do you keep up with new technologies in digital art and design?

You are always confronted with something that you can assess on one level but you don’t understand the technology, but you have to learn as much as possible so you can see how it arrived. For instance, in print-making which I am really keen on, I have worked in many forms but now there is a new hybridity in print-making that the younger generation are using. Artists have always used old technology with new technology. You see people using polaroid cameras, cine cameras etc. They love the texture of what these bring and now their sketch book is their computer. I do get worried in the way people don’t make marks in the way that I did. It’s always a digital drawing rather than physical machines. I wouldn’t criticise it. One of the discussions is that you have to draw in a traditional way from observation but there are many forms of drawings and for some, it’s quite irrelevant whether you draw from observation or not.

“Heavenly Day,” “Layla” and “Interval” by Eileen Cooper

As Curator of this year’s Summer Exhibition, how difficult was it to select the works?

When you are curating, you try and look after everyone which is hard and if you don’t, you are going to get such flack from other Academicians and exhibiting artists but the people who get most upset are the ones that don’t get in, which is the majority of people. Now we look at the first round digitally and that is even harder until the second stage when you invite 2,500 in. It takes a week and it’s a very intense week. I like to think that this year I was able to bring a very particular theme of inclusion, both cross-generational and cross-cultural, also focusing on breadth of practice and media.

Was there one piece that stood out?

Yes, Isaac Julien’s amazing film installation which about small boats coming from Africa to Southern Italy. It was very beautifully filmed and presented on multi screens. But there were also lovely prints and paintings, many from international artists as well as Royal Academicians – just the breadth. Once a work is accepted, the artist is one of 1200 exhibitors which I think, given that we start with over twelve thousand works, is quite an achievement.

Is there a time in life when you think your art is at its best and have you ever felt you had reached your best?

I think the key is to never feel really satisfied. You have to hope to improve and to find new things to say. Along the way, I am very aware that you lose things because there’s a big connection between the way I make my pictures and the things that are going on in my life. So, things that are in your life; the passions that you had as a young woman are no longer there and you can see that in the work and I think “Oh my God!” and then the new work is something different. The key is to keep it alive, often by using a variety of materials, imagery and processes.

Eileen Cooper’s exhibition, “Till The Morning Comes,” will be held at London’s Fine Art Society from 30th October – 21st November 2017 at The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London W1S 2JT. For further information, visit www.eileencooper.co.uk.

It’s All About The Family For Steinway & Sons By Ramy Salameh

Steinway Soundboard (image © Steinway & Sons and Christina Czybik)

“The word ‘family’ has a special significance for Steinway & Sons,” announced Mr. Guido Zimmermann, the company’s Managing Director for Europe, during a very special anniversary dinner to celebrate 25 years of the Boston Piano designed by Steinway & Sons. With production briefly halted and machinery pushed to one side, a small part of the Hamburg factory was transformed into an exclusive dining area, creating a very unique venue and occasion. The mood lighting, starched-white linen on the tables and glistening glasses complimented the family of Steinway Piano brands (consisting of the Steinway, Boston, Essex and Spirio) lined up like art sculptures in a contemporary gallery, waiting to be played.

The anniversary dinner table (image © Steinway & Sons and Christina Czybik)

It has been 25 years since the Boston Piano was first launched and ushered in a new era for the world’s finest piano-maker. In the late 1980s, chief piano designer Susan Kenagy and colleagues were tasked to design a new brand of Steinway. Kenagy commented that “the company realised that not everyone could afford a Steinway and so management wanted to invite more people into the ‘family’ and to enlarge the variety of brands, whilst offering their dealership partners a mid-price range of pianos.” In 1992, they launched their new product line, called “Boston designed by Steinway & Sons.”

The Boston 25th anniversary limited edition piano (image courtesy of Steinway & Sons)

Since 1992, 89,000 Boston pianos have been produced and have been very well received by the piano-playing world, enthused by the “clarity of tone, and breadth of dynamic and responsive action,” marking out the Boston line of pianos, as “best-in-class” within their market segment; the reason being that the Boston carries the Steinway DNA. A good example of this is that the Steinway Piano has a wide-tail design and so too does the Boston. Kenagy pointed out that the wide-tail design opened up other scale design possibilities “like a better location for the bridges, a bigger soundboard area for more sound creation and that it allowed for low tension scale; this with other features is what helped create the Boston tone.”

The Boston designed by Steinway & Sons (image courtesy of Ramy Salameh)

Based on the success of the Boston, the company developed the Essex line, which was Steinway’s third brand of pianos, offering a similar concept to the Boston. It incorporates some Steinway features but not others and whilst it is designed by the company, it is built in China and not Japan, as is the Boston. It also comes in at a lower price point, but again it is said to be the best piano in its class and respective quality segment.

Having been given an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour around the factory, it gave us a first-hand insight into the painstaking dedication given to each part of the manufacturing process to produce just one piano. In the late 1800s, more than 100 patents formed the basis for today’s modern concert grand piano; copies of original patents hang in various departments of the factory, a reminder of the original lineage and history that still goes into making a Steinway. It takes two years alone, to naturally dry the precious woods that go into making a Steinway grand piano. In the third and final year of production, the complex musical instrument is assembled. We watched intently, as around 20 layers of maple wood were glued together, before the case (rim) of the Steinway grand was bent into shape, emerging as the famous wide-tail piano contour and then clamped in position to set.

The Steinway factory tuning department (image courtesy of Ramy Salameh)

Walking between the various areas of the Hamburg plant, small teams of workers diligently create their own melodies of manufacture; from the sanding and painting to the veneering and tuning; 80% of this process is still hand-crafted and with 12,100 pieces contained within a grand piano, it is no wonder that most concert halls in the world have and trust a Steinway piano. Whichever brand of Steinway-designed piano is being put together – whether in the US, Germany, China or Japan – each product is rigorously tested and will contain the Steinway methodology. So much so, that every Boston and Essex produced in the Far East is shipped to the Hamburg Distribution Centre located moments from the factory, where trained technicians ensure its quality before heading to a dealership.

A Steinway factory technician (image courtesy of Ramy Salameh)

The family of Steinway workers are coveted as much as the complex instruments are by the world’s best pianists. As we walked towards the factory canteen, the stairwell is adorned with long service certificates for employees, starting from 25 years onwards; 80 members of staff have worked for the company for 40 years and another 12 have been there for 50 years. Steinway and his sons founded the company in 1853. Guido Zimmerman has been with the company only 5 months but understands the value of the family ethic, as “we all stick together, we count on each other and this has been so for many generations,” he says.

The same can be said of another important part of the “family,” that of the Steinway family of artists, who number around 1800 global pianists. This unique collaboration between Steinway and the best pianists on the planet has created a mutual bond and relationship between brand and artist, who have committed to play a Steinway piano wherever possible. During the anniversary dinner, one of the family of artists, Mr. Joja Wendt, played the Steinway Model D, producing the warm, rich, singing tone of a superior engineered musical instrument. As important as it is for the company to work with experienced artists, there is a need for them to nurture, develop and help produce a new generation of young artists. Mr. Wendt introduced competition-winning talents Alba Shkreli (who is 17 years old), who performed on the Boston Rainbow GP-193, and Florian Albrecht (just 15 years old), who performed on the Essex EGP-173; both of whom played with such artistry and confidence it belied their ages.

Steinway pianists Joja Wendt, Alba Shkreli and Florian Albrecht (image courtesy of Ramy Salameh)

Steinway & Sons is as committed to looking forwards as it is looking back. The Spirio brand is the latest innovation of the company, “keeping alive the innovating spirit of the founder Heinrich E. Steinweg; we continue in the tradition to improve the quality of the product,” Zimmerman states. As the newest arrival to the family of brands, the Spirio mixes heritage with innovation by bringing the “player piano” to those who wish to own and play a Steinway, but also to those who wish to listen to the world’s best pianists in their living room, the Spirio technology allows that to happen.

The Spirio (image © Steinway & Sons and Christina Czybik)

For Steinway & Sons, “family” is the integral ingredient that has fostered, created and sustained their continuing reputation as the finest piano maker in the world. Since its inception, Steinway has built 603,000 pianos, so just imagine the “family” celebrations when they reach a million, which (with increased production goals) may not be too far away!

For further information, please go to eu.steinway.com.

Mayfair Art Weekend By The Luxury Channel

The Summer Circus © Royal Academy of Arts. Photo Credit: Justine Trickett

The creative and cultural community of Mayfair will be joining together to celebrate one of the world’s most dynamic cultural districts with a weekend of public events, running from Friday 30th June until Sunday 2nd July. Over 60 Mayfair galleries, auction houses, fashion houses and restaurants are staging a rich array of exhibitions, talks, tours, performances and pop-ups which will bring the cultural landscape of Mayfair to life by celebrating the district’s diverse offering as a vibrant hub of talent, creativity and craftsmanship, where the worlds of art, fashion and luxury converge.

Elisabeth Caren – Ophelia 2013 © The Artist and Cynthia Corbett Gallery

Over 60 galleries, auction houses, leading fashion brands and restaurants in Mayfair and St. James’s will open their doors to the public, inviting culture seekers to explore the capital’s commercial galleries out of hours and engage with the world-class curatorial expertise on offer, through a series of special events.

Ludovica Gioscia – Future Infinite Present 2017 at Max Mara Shapeshifters Exhibition during Maw 2017, courtesy of Ludovica Gioscia

Kate Goodwin, the Royal Academy’s Programme Director for Mayfair Art Weekend, said: “The intention of the weekend is to bring as many people to the centre of London to enjoy a vast range of exhibitions, talk to artists and partake in art practice themselves. We want to try to break down the perceived barriers of this prestigious area and open the doors to art for all.”

Installation shot of The Mayor Gallery during the 2016 show of Francois Morellet, courtesy of
The Mayor Gallery

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The Royal Academy of Arts will be the hub for Mayfair Art Weekend, providing information about the arts offer in the neighbourhood. In the Courtyard, visitors can discover temporary, site-specific artworks by emerging artists and the RA’s Artistic Director, Tim Marlow, amongst others will host ‘‘On the Beanbag,’’ a series of informal conversations with artists, gallerists and local Mayfair figures.

Ian Davenport, “Colourcade Buzz” (2015). Courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London

From Old Master paintings to cutting-edge contemporary art, Mayfair Art Weekend brings together a broad range of exhibitions showcasing the virtuosity and expertise on offer in the neighbourhood. Contemporary exhibition highlights include Ian Davenport at Alan Cristea Gallery and Nathalie du Pasquier at Pace Gallery, while those with a taste for twentieth-century art will be well-catered for with exhibitions of Pablo Picasso at Gagosian and Milton Avery at Victoria Miro.

Portrait of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) as he poses in a large bull’s head mask and a pair of swimming trunks on a beach in Golfe-Juan, Vallauris, France, 1949. Photo by Gjon Mili/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images and © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso and Gagosian

chen_courtesy_of_herrick_gallery.jpg” alt=”” width=”555″ height=”267″ class=”size-full wp-image-17142″ /> Keqing Chen, courtesy of Herrick Gallery[/caption]

Special Events

Begin the weekend early on Friday evening, where twenty-one galleries will participate in the Gallery HOP!, a curated tour of the cultural district’s thriving gallery scene. Over 50 additional events will be hosted by participating galleries over the weekend, ranging from a garden party at Hignell Gallery in honour of Ben Russell’s cactus-inspired sculpture; and a tour of Hauser & Wirth’s Philip Guston, Lee Lozano and Ida Applebroog exhibitions with Director Tom Hunt, to live painting by Eugenie Vronskaya at John Martin Gallery and a pop-up bookstore at David Zwirner. Guided walking tours of Mayfair will comprise a tour featuring Emily Young’s sculptural installations in Piccadilly by Bill Gerrish, Director of Bowman Sculpture; a “Walk on the Wilde Side” ramble through Mayfair’s Victorian art scene with Colin Sheaf FSA, Chairman of Bonhams UK; and a walk through Burlington Arcade led by the Burlington Beadles.

Ben Russell – Cactus House Alabaster 2017 at Hignell Gallery, courtesy of Tanya Dolver

Fashion & Dining

Fashion brands Max Mara and Globe-Trotter, and art and dining destination, Sketch, will be working with artists including a group exhibition at Sketch in collaboration with Kinetica Museum. Hundreds of paper birds will fill the central atrium of Mayfair’s famous shopping gallery, the Burlington Arcade, created by artist and designer Mathilde Nivet. Curator Maev Doyle and broadcaster Joanne Good will lead a fashion and art ‘‘Dressed and Obsessed’’ tour followed by lunch at HIX Mayfair. One-off dining experiences will include an art-themed all-day menu at HIX Mayfair, inspired by dishes from Damien Hirst’s and Mark Hix’s Pharmacy 2 restaurant, featuring a specially-created ‘‘Less is MAW’’ cocktail created by The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel. Aligning with Mayfair Art Weekend’s ambition to share art with the public, the restaurant will present a selection of new and established artists throughout the weekend, in addition to Mark Hix’s collection of British artworks by Tracey Emin, Matt Collishaw, and other YBAs.

Tom Kemble, Head Chef at Bonhams Restaurant, courtesy of Bonhams

Participating Galleries

Alan Cristea
Almine Rech Gallery
Annely Juda Fine Art
Beaux Arts
Blain Southern
Bonhams
Bowman Sculpture
Browse & Darby
Brun Fine Art
Connaught Brown
Cortesi Gallery
Cynthia Corbett Gallery
Daniel Crouch Rare Books
David Zwirner
Fine Art Society
Flowers Gallery
Gagosian Gallery
Galerie Kreo
Gallery of African Art
Gazelli Art House
Gimpel Fils
Halcyon Gallery
Hanina Fine Arts
Hauser & Wirth
Herrick Gallery
Hignell Gallery
John Martin Gallery
John Mitchell Fine Paintings
Lévy Gorvy
Luxembourg & Dayan
Mackinnon Fine Furniture
Marlborough Contemporary
Marlborough Fine Art
Mayor Gallery
Mazzoleni Art
Messum’s
Michael Werner Gallery
Moretti Fine Art
Nahmad Projects
Omer Tiroche Gallery
PACE
Paisnel Gallery
Parafin
Partners & Mucciaccia
Photographers’ Gallery
Robilant + Voena
Thaddaeus Ropac
Thomas Dane Gallery
Redfern Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
Sadie Coles HQ
Simon Dickinson
Simon Lee Gallery
Skarstedt Gallery
Sophia Contemporary
Sprovieri
Stair Sainty Gallery
Stern Pissarro Gallery
Stoppenbach & Delestre
Victoria Miro
Waterhouse and Dodd
White Cube
Whitford Fine Art
Workplace Gallery

For further information, visit www.mayfairartweekend.com.

A New Way To Invest In Fine Art By Miguel Neumann

In uncertain times, the fine art market offers a reassuring investment opportunity. Largely immune to political change, it is less volatile than currencies or capital markets.

The global market was worth more than $45billion last year – a 1.7% annual increase, according to the European Fine Art Foundation Report 2017. Prices have fallen back a little from the peak of July 2015, but are around 15% higher than in the market trough of November 2012 and the market is stable and robust. The outlook is optimistic.

Wealth managers are looking beyond traditional investment products and there is a strong demand from investors – 88% of private offices and 75% of High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals want art in their portfolios, according to the 2016 Deloitte Art and Finance report.

However, the market can be daunting to newcomers. It has a reputation for being opaque and the major auction houses charge fees of up to 30%. Global auction house sales fell last year by 18.8% while sales by dealers increased by 20% to $27.9billion; looking more closely at the figures, it turns out the big auction houses conducted more of their business privately, which does nothing for transparency in the market.

Most investors are not in the art market purely for sentimental reasons – the emotional benefit of collecting is a pull, but Deloitte Touche found that strong returns were more important to 64% of investors. They see art as a tax-efficient asset with the upside of capital appreciation and want as diverse a portfolio as possible.

Art funds can offer that, combining ‘‘defensive’’ pieces by established artists with some rising stars and a few emerging faces. A balanced portfolio might look like this: 50% spread across Old Masters, such as Botticelli and Raphael, combined with an Impressionist, perhaps a Monet, and a 20th century name like Modigliani; 25% allocated to post-war or Modern greats, such as Liechtenstein, Bacon and Dalí; and the remaining 25% in high risk categories, such as emerging Latin or Indian art, and British contemporary art.

That is a good way of managing risk, but art funds are not liquid, and tend to have a long lock-in period. With minimum unit sizes normally upwards of $250k it can also be difficult for new art investors to join. Short-term investors should be aware that even the ‘‘blue chip’’ names can have a bad patch – last year, there was a 68% drop in the auction sales volume of Andy Warhol paintings, a 50% fall in Picassos and falls of more than 60% in Modigliani and Francis Bacon.

Meanwhile, betting too heavily on an emerging artist is as risky as backing a promising start-up. Several graffiti artists have attempted to move on to gallery work – Banksy managed to do it and one of his drawings from 10 or 15 years ago – which was then worth a paltry £2,500 – can now reach 100 times that amount, but thousands more like him have disappeared without trace.

‘‘The building blocks of the art market depend fundamentally on quality and trust,’’ concludes the European Fine Art Foundation report. ‘‘Key to this is maintaining reputation and credibility to ensure longevity, stability and resilience.’’

But for investors, two of the fundamental problems in the market are a lack of transparency and a lack of liquidity. Now, a new art investment platform is promising a unique solution by creating an online marketplace where owners, collectors and investors can meet without intermediaries to trade in real time. It is taking the idea of art funds, where art pieces are evaluated in financial terms, to a new level by giving investors the opportunity to have fractional ownership in artworks.

Maecenas will use blockchain technology to tokenise and digitally allocate single pieces, or portfolios, to several co-investors who can trade with other parties though an art exchange. While the owner retains 51% of the piece’s value, the remaining 49% can be traded, transforming the dynamics of the market and bringing much greater granularity to art investing. Prices will be market-driven and faster digital transactions will create more data points than ever before, allowing investors to monitor the evolution of pieces in a way that has never been possible.

This will democratise the fine art market, creating a secure, open global platform. Blockchain technology has been used to bring greater transparency to the provenance of artworks; last spring, at the ICT summit in Luxembourg, Deloitte Touche unveiled its ArtTracktive proof of concept, which provides a distributed ledger for tracking the provenance and whereabouts of fine art works. But this is the first time blockchain is being used to make art investment an easier, more transparent proposition. Lowering the barriers to entry will widen access to the market.

At the Affordable Art Fair in London, works by more than 1000 artists are on display, ranging in price from £100 – £6000. Getting investors involved at the bottom end of the market is important, but creating the first real-time trading market for fine art is a more ambitious vision, opening up all sectors of the market and allowing anyone to own a share of a masterpiece.

That could be a catalyst for change in a market that has remained largely unaltered for 300 years. Just about every sector you care to mention has been disrupted by technology – now it’s time for art investors to reap the benefits.

Koo Stark Unveils Kintsugi By The Luxury Channel

Koo Stark has unveiled her first solo exhibition in London for 23 years, called Kintsugi, being held at Leica Mayfair in London until 26th May 2017.

Paparazzi (copyright – Koo Stark)

Kintsugi is a chronological, visual representation of Koo’s powerful and personal photographs, capturing fleeting moments during the last three decades of her fascinating and eventful life. The exhibition showcases a varied collection of Koo’s work from the 1980s to the early 2000s, covering many genres and subject matters: from her early reportage, formal studio portraiture, a series of nudes, and recent still life. Using her artist’s eye, daylight, film and camera, Koo shows us moments from travels with her guru, and a captivating new body of work depicting her lifelong interest in yoga. Each of the photographs included in the exhibition has been hand printed in silver or platinum.

Alongside this work, a collection of photographs will depict “who is Koo Stark?” and her relationship with photography in the Leica café. This unique selection incorporates portraits of master photographers captured by Koo, and portraits of Koo herself – taken by her mentor, Norman Parkinson, David Bailey and others. Koo famously shot back at the paparazzi hounding her during the 1980s and indeed was the first “unwilling celebrity” to turn the camera lens back on the press. Her powerful images of paparazzi were instrumental in the passing of new privacy protection laws in the UK.

The Geldof Family (copyright – Koo Stark)

What Is Kintsugi?

Kintsugi is a method of repairing and breathing new life into a person, place or thing that was otherwise broken. In developing her approach to art, Koo has recently been working exclusively in the Kintsugi genre. This is reflective of her Buddhist philosophy evolving from many years listening to the teachings of, and travelling with, her guru – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She believes that the voyage of life is precious. Even damage, breakage and loss can be transformed into wisdom, joy and healing. Kintsugi method uses precious materials like silver platinum and gold to repair and highlight the unique history and rarity of a person, place or thing that has not only survived but been transformed through life’s shattering events, gaining valuable wisdom. Koo uses silver, platinum and gold to hand print her Kintsugi photographs, and Kintsugi philosophy in her approach to the frailty of the human condition. Her own well-known battles with injustice and cancer are testament to this.

Koo explains, “Kintsugi is intuitive and counter-intuitive all at once. It’s a paradox; a way of learning to see individual beauty, and to appreciate the value of experience and honesty. It is the antithesis of digital, airbrushed, Photoshop-homogenised ‘beauty’ – a method of portraying and visualising people and objects as they truly are, were and have become through the vicissitudes of life: perfect in imperfection. My Leica M has been essential in capturing images in this intimate style. It has allowed me to approach my subjects in a discreet and authentic way, to get much closer, while ensuring utmost privacy and integrity.”

Bum Flash (copyright – Koo Stark)

The Kintsugi exhibition will be open for public viewing until 26th May 2017, Monday to Saturday, from
10 am – 6 pm at Leica Mayfair, 27 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NQ. Images shown are for sale.

Anderson & Low’s Voyages By The Luxury Channel

From the project Voyages; © Anderson & Low

Set sail with Anderson & Low’s latest project, Voyages, which continues the photographers’ exploration of themes that are recurrent in their work – the relationship between fantasy, artifice and perceived reality, pushing the boundaries of what a photograph is “supposed to do,” exploring how imagination and reality interact, and relating these concepts to art history.

From the project Voyages; © Anderson & Low

The images depict the ship models from the Science Museum’s extraordinary stores, re-presented and re-imagined through elegant means: simply by not removing the protective sheeting that covers the model ships, that additional layer acts as a prism, separating out an entire spectrum of previously hidden dramas for these tiny facsimiles. Simply by looking through this additional layer, both scale and context have been realigned. It’s as though the souls of these ships have suddenly been set free to sail the oceans. In this process, associations have emerged with historical depictions of ships and seas, and hidden sagas are revealed. The models have taken on magical new forms, some like legendary vessels emerging from sinister fogs to stalk and surprise an enemy, others as if lost and drifting at sea, or waiting for the tide to turn, or caught in a terrifying storm.

The book Voyages; © Anderson & Low

The premiere exhibition for Voyages is currently on display in the Media Space on the 2nd floor of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD. The exhibition runs until 25th June 2017 and admission is free. Additionally, the book Voyages has been published to coincide with this exhibition. Priced £40, the book has a linen hardcover and is distributed by Art Data. For further information about Anderson & Low, go to www.andersonandlow.com, or have a read of our interview here.

Philippe Pasqua’s Borderline Exhibition By The Luxury Channel

Built on the slope of the mythical Rock of Monaco and rising to a height of 85 metres above the waves, The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco offers a dazzling dive into the discovery of more than 6,000 species. As an internationally renowned location with over 600,000 visitors per year, the Museum offers visitors the chance to know, cherish and protect the oceans. Renewing its commitment to both scientific knowledge and contemporary creation, the Museum promotes an active conversation between the artworks, its collections and the aquarium, to reveal its treasures from a new angle. Since 2010, the Museum has given a new impulse to this program, by inviting renowned contemporary artists to enrich the theme of ocean protection through the originality and uniqueness of their gaze. As a result, Damien Hirst (2010), Huang Yong Ping (2010), Mark Dion (2011), and Marc Quinn (2012) have all occupied space at the Museum, as well as a Chinese artists’ collective which presented “On Sharks & Humanity” in 2014 in collaboration with Parkview Arts Action, and more recently the Taba Naba exhibition in 2016, dedicated to Aboriginal and Oceanic art.

The Museum has announced the latest artist to exhibit here is Philippe Pasqua, whose monographic Borderline exhibition will run until 30th September. Pasqua’s monumental works, most of which have been tailor-made for this show, will stand alongside the Museum’s mythical collection to create a unique dialogue. Twelve creations, including seven unseen works, will occupy the entire space – from the square in the front of the Museum and its panoramic terrace, to the cliff on which the building is perched. Pasqua’s works are characterised by materials that symbolise solidity and strength, such as bronze and onyx, or eternity and purity, like marble and silver. His works, which sometimes reach to 25 metres in length, echo the monumentality of his paintings and appeal to his audience through their volume and visual strength.

In his work, Pasqua experiments with the notion of limits. He flirts with the brink, brushes against boundaries and breaks free of them. Violent and raw, his oeuvre disturbs as much as it fascinates, placing the visitor in a dilemma: to gaze intently or to turn away, a mechanism of defence rather than one of indifference. “Pasqua questions, raises concerns and unsettles his audience, but never leaves unmoved. His work provides the ideal trigger for raising awareness in favour of marine and terrestrial life”, explains Robert Calcagno, the Museum’s director.

Pasqua’s penchant for the monumental is in contrast with his attraction to the vulnerable and profound. Faults and cracks are shown in size XXL. This instinctive artist does not theorise about his work and leaves visitors free to interpret it. In his view, art goes beyond the spoken and the visible. “Beauty is evocative power,” he explains. A work is beautiful because of the emotion it produces, the blow it deals to the heart.

In this century-old palace dedicated to art and science, the artist expresses his sensitivity and questions his audience’s relationship with nature, death, and rebirth. “Building on these recurrent themes, he plays with the ambiguous connection between mankind and the marine world, a relationship defined by both fear and fascination, in order to confront his audience with the current issues of biodiversity protection”, Robert Calcagno adds. These environmental concerns are an integral part of the Museum’s DNA and can be seen reflected in the Borderline works, on the borderline between the poetic and commitment.

For more information about Philippe Pasqua, go to www.pasquaphilippe.com. For more information about The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, go to www.oceano.mc/en. Philippe Pasqua’s Borderline exhibition runs from 5th May – 30th September 2017.

FKA Twigs And Veuve Clicquot’s Widow Series By The Luxury Channel

Widow Series

Performance art, set design, theatre and dance collide for “Rooms,” an original new performance and installation work written, directed and curated by FKA Twigs for the second instalment of Veuve Clicquot’s Widow Series. Told by a cast of 30 and set in a 12 room installation, Twigs’ story follows the journey of Diamas, in search of her spiritual and zodiac home. The installation has been created by a group of 12 artists, each creating zodiac worlds immersing the audience in every emotional trait, song and horror of the human emotion.

Madame Clicquot

Madame Clicquot

The Veuve Clicquot Widow Series (Veuve meaning Widow in French) pays homage to the revolutionary founder of the house, Madame Clicquot, who was famously widowed in October 1805. A trailblazer of her time, she single-handedly took on her late husband’s champagne business, and went on to pioneer several industry innovations whilst demonstrating her unparalleled creative prowess. Veuve Clicquot has a long history of innovation and creativity. When Madame Clicquot invented the riddling table in 1816 in an effort to make her wines crystal clear, she revolutionised both champagne and the champagne house forever. Since then, Veuve Clicquot has continued to lead innovation in every field. The brand is renowned for other noteworthy partnerships on the international scene, such as Tom Dixon, The Campana Brothers, Andrée Putman and Pablo Reinoso. Working closely with FKA Twigs on this project since its conception, Veuve Clicquot has continued its commitment to the champagne house’s creative heritage.

Veuve Clicquot - Libra

Veuve Clicquot – Libra

This annual event is also a nod to freedom of expression around Hallowe’en to celebrate the arts and creative community worldwide, this year marking 150 years since Madame Clicquot’s death. Many of Madame Clicquot’s defining attributes as a figure of female strength and innovation are reflected in FKA twigs work and aesthetic, making for the perfect partnership.

Veuve Clicquot - Gemini

Veuve Clicquot – Gemini

Globally renowned creatives involved comprise of Gary Card, whose work includes the infamous robotic Christmas tree made from car parts in 2012 and his elaborate headpieces for Lady Gaga, as well as one of the most inspirational contemporary beauty artists at the moment, Isamaya Ffrench. David White, the iconic set designer whose recent work includes the celebrated Calvin Klein SS16 campaign, is also creating a room. “I’m very excited to be working with Veuve Clicquot on their Widow Series,” he said. “It provides such an open and interesting platform with creativity at its heart. Introducing an innovative artist such as FKA twigs to the mix deepens and broadens an already rich collaboration with endless exciting possibilities.”

FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs

FKA twigs added, “There aren’t always opportunities to make your wildest creative ideas a reality. This is one of my most ambitious projects to date, so I’m very excited to be bringing it to life for the Veuve Clicquot Widow Series.”

For more information, go to www.veuveclicquotwidowseries.co.uk.

Changing Seasons By Camilla Hellman

Four Seasons Pool Room

This week, The Four Seasons Restaurant situated in the Seagram Building in New York – which has been the place to go for a “power lunch” since opening it’s doors in 1959 – auctioned (almost) everything off, due to its lease not being renewed (although the skyscraper’s owner, RFR Holding Corp co-founded by investor Aby Rosen, is looking for a new restaurant tenant). The restaurant was designed by renowned Scottish architect Philip Johnson. When it opened, The New York Times’ Craig Claiborn noted it was “spectacular, modern and audacious, both in décor and in menu.”

Four Seasons Lobby

Some items are to be relocated to the New Four Seasons Restaurant (no location as yet) but pots, pans, china, chairs, tables and even contents of the wine cellar were all auctioned off. However, the Seagram Restaurant space is landmarked and so preserved were architectural details – curtain rods, and the magnificent bar, for instance. The art was also not sold. At the last moment, The Metropolitan Museum of Art received some items (including a Philip Johnson sofa) which are rumoured to be for a Four Seasons Period Room at the MET.

The Glass House by Philip Johnson

The designer of the restaurant, Philip Johnson, was a leading voice within the modernist architectural movement during the second half of the twentieth century and was a big influence in the worlds of architecture, art and design. In New Canaan, CT, he designed The Glass House (pictured above) with its innovative use of materials and its seamless integration into the landscape. The Glass House is now a cultural centre run by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and will receive proceeds from the sale of Johnson’s famous three-sided Banquette (pictured below).

Philip Johnson's Three-sided Banquette

The Luxury Channel Shines The Light Between Oceans By Jayjay Epega

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander in "The Light Between Oceans" (image courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures)

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander in “The Light Between Oceans” (image courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures)

Acting favourite Oscar® winner Alicia Vikander and Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender are the main featured talent in DreamWorks Pictures’ new film, The Light Between Oceans. It is a sumptuous, heart-breaking drama about fate, love, moral dilemmas and the lengths to which one couple will go to see their dreams realised. The movie also stars Oscar and Golden Globe winner Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson.

The film is written for the screen and directed by Derek Cianfrance, based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by M.L. Stedman. This powerful book is a refreshingly honest and heart-wrenching work which tells the story of World War I hero-turned-lighthouse-keeper Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), who is still numb from his years in combat, and his young, feisty wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander), living on the tiny, fictitious island of Janus Rock. Between the Great Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean, on this small spot of land, the couple make a life-altering decision: to keep a baby that is not theirs. Tom is torn between reporting the lost child and pleasing the woman he loves, and against his better judgement, he agrees to let Isabel raise the child as their own, making a choice with truly devastating consequences. Stedman effortlessly paints the inner turmoil of a complicated man with acute observations and raw compassion, and we find ourselves taking pity on poor Tom, who is described as a grounded man whose guilt festers as the couple’s ‘‘adopted’’ child grows up.

The Light Between Oceans

Alicia Vikander describes her character Isabel as ‘‘openly fierce but also openly very vulnerable. She doesn’t make even the best or the right choices or decisions, but you kind of still know they come from her heart and not from a bad place.’’ Fassbender added, “if Isabel wants something, she goes for it. I think that’s a pretty attractive quality about her and it’s all sort of unfiltered.”

A veritable tribute to another time and another place with a cast of well-rounded characters charged with authentic traumas of their own, The Light Between Oceans is a harrowing, yet must-read novel and compelling motion picture for all story lovers.

The Light Between Oceans film opens in the US on 2nd September and in the UK on 4th November 2016.

The Luxury Channel Meets The Band Blake At Henley Festival 2016 By Fiona Sanderson

Blake and Dame Shirley Bassey

Blake and Dame Shirley Bassey

The 34th black tie event at Henley Festival, billed as “The UK’s Most Magical Summer Party,” returned to Henley-On-Thames last week and brought music, visual arts, fashion, street theatre, comedy and fine dining to an audience of over 5000 people. Amongst the line-up were notable musicians including Sir Elton John, and Elvis Costello & The Imposters who kept the party going on the famous Floating Stage.

Sir Elton John

This year, the Festival returned to its classical roots with Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel, who gave a special performance with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra. On the Saturday evening, the amazing Dame Shirley Bassey and the band Blake (made up of Stephen Bowman, Ollie Baines and Humphrey Berney) wowed the assembled audience with a number of well-known songs from film and stage. With over a million albums sold, and having performed on nearly 150 TV shows around the world, Blake have built a reputation as one of the most eclectic and exciting pop-harmony groups in the world. Mixing classical and pop songs with rich harmony vocals, the band launched their first album in 2007 – and have never looked back. We caught up with them before they performed to find out more….

What’s so special about Henley Festival and singing with Dame Shirley Bassey?

Stephen: Firstly, the Henley audience is dressed even smarter than we are! Henley fits our remit perfectly, and it’s amazing to be here in such an English setting with the boats and the water and the Floating Stage. To be here with Dame Shirley is amazing, something we will never forget and I am still shaking from the sound check when they played Goldfinger – when the brass came on, Ollie and I couldn’t believe we were here; it was great!

Dame Shirley Bassey

Ollie, you were born in Oxford – so this is your home town down the road?

Ollie: I left when I was 3 but there is that sense of homecoming. I was born in a little place called Aston Tirrold near Didcot. All my family are here tonight. We said to them all, it’s a bit of special one and you should probably come as it may never get better this than this – you could die happy after this!

Ollie Baines

Who else would you like to sing with, and why?

Humphrey: Elton John is the obvious one. We have always wanted to sing with Elton John, as it would be an incredible opportunity. We have been along and watched him from back stage and in front, and seen how he plays the piano and how he works the audience. He’s got incredible energy and I think performing with him would be a very big highlight for us, so fingers crossed. In terms of other musicians, Paloma Faith is top of the list. She is an incredible singer, and it could work for three guys looking smart. Tragically, David Bowie would have worked really well and would have been way up on our list. It’s very sad. I don’t know though; we are taking it as it comes at the moment so we are really lucky to be working with someone as amazing as Dame Shirley. We’re just living in the moment.

Sir Elton John

You have travelled and performed all over the world – tell us some of the things that have stood out for you?

Humphrey: Every audience is very different. For instance in Russia, we performed the first song and got a very muted response, then we performed the second and kept going until in the end we thought it was the worst concert we had ever performed. But at the end of the second half, they just went crazy, and someone said they don’t show emotion until the very end. Traditionally, that’s just what they do. Compare that to Japanese audiences, who clap so quietly it’s like a hush. In the Philippines, they like romantic music so when singers hit the high notes, they go absolutely crazy. We used to perform in the Philippines a lot. The first time we performed there, they started singing along to all our numbers – it was amazing. It was karaoke or rather Blakeyoke en masse; 30,000 people. They love singing, and they are good at it. We’re hoping for a good sing along tonight!

Blake

What’s next for Blake?

Stephen: Well, we are touring the UK, with our brand new tour, called Songs From Stage And Screen, which is something we have actually wanted to do for the last 10 years and finally we have got it together. We have pulled together the biggest anthems from the movies and the best ones from musicals and put it all together in one show. We are always on the road and we do three or four shows a week.

Stephen Bowman

When you are working together so many hours a day, how do you stay such good friends?

Stephen: We are like brothers; we love each other and music is a great healer. We hate each other at times too, but even after 5 hours on the M1, you get on stage and you start singing and any differences melt away. It’s a great leveller. After 10 years together, we have learnt how to get on with each other.

Ollie Baines and Stephen Bowman

What will we see from Blake in the next 10 years?

Ollie: Yes, well we celebrate next year as it’s our 10th anniversary and actually we had something rather special today – the first person who signed us at Universal Records is in the audience tonight, which is great for us. We are making a very big album in 2017 which is to celebrate those 10 years and to work with many of the artists we have worked with previously.

Humphrey Berney

Do any of your partners come to watch you?

Humphrey: With so many shows, they like to cherry pick. The last one my wife came to was in Hawaii I think, funny that! [All chuckle]. She picks the more glamourous ones, rather than any of the UK ones!

Blake

What do you do on your days off?

Ollie: Normally we are mucking about with the nitty gritty of doing a concert, talking to orchestras, that sort of thing. A quiet time for us is January, February, so that’s normally family time. We go and have proper downtime so that when we get back together, we are refreshed. When we’re not touring, we go out for dinner and things. It’s a bit like a marriage!

Henley Festival

For more information about Henley Festival, and to find out dates for next year, go to www.henley-festival.co.uk.

Christie’s 250th Anniversary Summer Sales By Rani Singh

Dante Gabriel Rosetti's "Portrait of Jane Morris," Frederic Leighton's "Pavonia" and Lucien Freud's  "A Girl (Pauline Tennant)"

Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s “Portrait of Jane Morris,” Frederic Leighton’s “Pavonia” and Lucien Freud’s
“A Girl (Pauline Tennant)”

Bright, natural light illuminated the room at one of the world’s mighty auction houses. We barely noticed the rare appearance of sunshine over London though, because our gaze was captured by the great art on display. Gazing back at us, it seemed, was Amedeo Modigliani’s Madame Hanka Zborowska, hanging centre-wall in front of us. This typical, mature Modigliani was in this season’s set of sales and a few days later fetched $12,115,220; in the Impressionist and Modern Art evening auction.

Christie’s 250th anniversary is being celebrated with special fairs. One of them, Defining British Art at Christie’s, spans four centuries, right up to contemporary icons Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

Frederic Leighton's "The Golden Hours"

Frederic Leighton’s “The Golden Hours”

We spoke to Christie’s Global President, Jussi Pylkkänen; David Linley, Chairman of Christie’s Europe, Middle East, Russia and India; and Orlando Rock, Chairman of Christie’s UK.

As if the glories of the sale items were not enough, Christie’s has put on a special loan exhibition, which was formally opened by Linley on June 17th. His enthusiasm for the way Christie’s presents magnificent art was clear as he extolled the design of the entrance to the exhibition to us. “It’s exciting that the door to the exhibition changes from opaque to clear. Christie’s has the ability to create informed spaces,” he told us.

Burne-Jones' "Love Among The Ruin"

Burne-Jones’ “Love Among The Ruin”

Out of the items in the various sales, Linley’s personal favourites are works by Constable, Auerbach, and Freud. He says that you don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy what Christie’s has to offer, as “young collectors can dip into the free exhibitions at South Kensington, talk to experts and have a free coffee.” He advocates studying the online sales for familiarisation and cites a Vampire Killing Kit, a watch and a bottle of wine as examples of the variety on sale.

Orlando Rock told us that over the 250 years since founder James Christie started selling to his English-based market, the biggest change is that buyers are now of thoroughly international origin. So how does Christie’s adapt to new ways of marketing and to economic swings? “Digital life becomes important as many collectors don’t see the work until it’s in their homes. You look after them by giving the best advice you can, being certain about attributions, the history of an object. You try to educate people about works of art,” says Rock.

Canaletto's "Whitehall"

Canaletto’s “Whitehall”

Linley, who travels for Christie’s, describes the division of labour. “People on the business side carry out commercial analysis,” he told us, “while client strategists work out where the markets are, and who is in the markets.”

Pylkkänen, who is lead auctioneer, recalls that the house’s most successful auction was May 2015 when Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) was bought “in a sale that made over 150 million dollars.” He is confident of the resilience of the art market: “Last year, I personally sold three billion dollars’ worth of art.” Pylkkänen says the most popular artists include “Peter Doig – he has amongst the broadest possible audience in the world; German artist Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, the great China’s Zhang Fang Zhi, Modigliani, and Picasso.”

Turner's "Lake of Lucerne"

Turner’s “Lake of Lucerne”

From this season’s sales, the affable Finnish-born Pylkkänen expects to be surprised by the eventual price of Constable’s View On The Stour Near Dedham; “the greatest work by an artist in private hands.” He recalls that Modigliani’s Nu couché (Reclining Nude) from a previous sale “made a hundred million dollars more than any work by the painter had made before.”

When the raging question of “what is art?” is raised, Pylkkänen leans back and looks thoughtfully at the central plinth showpiece, sitting proudly at the top of the staircase as you enter by the front door. “When Tracey Emin’s My Bed was sitting there, people came upstairs and said ‘Isn’t that absurd!’ It’s now in the Tate.”

Henry Moore’s "Reclining Figure: Festival"

Henry Moore’s “Reclining Figure: Festival”

Currently, the plinth is occupied by Henry Moore’s 1951 Reclining Nude: Festival. “There’s no greater work by any British artist. Any art work has its own personality, its own voice. There is no absurd. Everything is art.”

Sir Michael Caine Is Special Guest At Lincoln Townley’s Somerset House ICONS Presentation By Jayjay Epega

Sir Michael Caine, Lady Shakira Caine and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Sir Michael Caine, Lady Shakira Caine and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Sir Michael Caine and his beautiful wife, Lady Shakira Caine, made a rare and exciting appearance at Lincoln Townley’s Celebrity Private View of the ICONS Presentation which took place at the sumptuous Somerset House on the Strand in Central London. The legendary actor wanted to personally participate in the celebrations and take a look at all of Lincoln’s work, which he loves, and described the artist as the “next Andy Warhol.”

Michael Caine by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Michael Caine by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln Townley has become one of the world’s best known contemporary artists. The artist, who had an upbringing in London, had fallen into a fast life of addiction and decadence, but he is now truly a solid and living example of how with focus, dedication and indeed talent, you can change your life and change your destiny.

Prince by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Prince by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

He is now celebrated internationally and is even BAFTA’s Artist in Residence in Los Angeles. With all this hard work, he has built up a superlative portfolio of brilliant celebrity portraits, with an impressive roll call of names in the collections; amongst which are Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Charlie Sheen, Leonardo Di Caprio, Sir John Hurt, beautiful portraits of the late David Bowie and Prince, a stunning 90th birthday special portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and of course, an iconic and unusual portrait of Sir Michael Caine.

The Queen At 90 by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

The Queen At 90 by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln recently headlined the hugely successful “Brit Week” in Los Angeles where he unveiled his quadriptych birthday portrait of HM The Queen, a person he regards as the true ultimate icon. He said: “My ICONS collection covers some of the most famous faces in the world and The Portico Rooms at Somerset House is a perfect location to show the power of the works. The collection launched three years ago, after I painted Russell Brand, and I have since been fortunate enough to have been invited to paint some of the most famous faces the world and explore the fascination of ‘celebrity’.”

Russell Brand and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Russell Brand and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln’s career has been exceptional, indeed intriguing. It is has been particularly fascinating to see the phenomenal trajectory of his journey in art, and we can only hold our breaths to see what further excitement he has planned in the pipeline!

A selection of paintings by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

A selection of paintings by Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln’s work can be seen at Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, London (www.maddoxgallery.co.uk) and Art Angels in Los Angeles (www.artangels.net). To find out more about the artist, visit www.lincolntownley.com.

Luxury In China: K-Pop Non-Stop By K magazine

Korean girl group Girls' Generation

Korean girl group Girls’ Generation

Between K-pop music and many TV series over the years, Korean culture has been wildly successful in China, representing an ‘‘acceptable’’ and aspirational form of western culture. Laurence Lim Dally, founder of the Hong Kong-based marketing consultancy Cherry Blossoms, talks to K magazine about the Korean craze….

How do you explain K-pop’s success in China?

K-pop and Korean television series have an enormous influence in China because they create a bridge between Chinese and western cultures. Korean celebrities, from a purely physical perspective, embody a perfect combination of Asian and western beauty. They especially play a sort of mentoring role in the areas of fashion and lifestyle. Playing golf, jetting off abroad with your significant other, drinking wine, whiling away the time in cafés, barbecuing outdoors, going to a concert – this lifestyle remains a small niche in China, and Korean TV series promote it.

Drinking Wine

Can you give us a few examples?

Two cult TV series from 2014 come to mind: My Love From The Stars and The Heirs. The latter is a love story about a man from a wealthy family and a young woman from a disadvantaged background who is suddenly immersed in a world of luxury and sophistication that she eventually adapts to – a storyline that the Chinese adore. I believe that one key to the success of this series is that it portrays a new type of very international lifestyle, but one in which the main characters are Asian. As a result, the sense of identification is very powerful.

Image from the TV series, "My Love From The Stars"

Image from the TV series, “My Love From The Stars”

In practical terms, to watch how the South Koreans dress, put together outfits, use make-up, do their hair – to some extent, all of that is educational for the Chinese, who still look for guidance on fashion and social trends.

How would you characterise K-pop music?

K-pop groups take their inspiration directly from American R&B and hip hop, but their style is more ‘‘acceptable’’ to the Chinese: it has less violence and sex, and its look and lyrics are less extreme. They appeal to a lot of young people in China, but I think it has more to do with the singers’ image, style and way of dancing than the music itself. Here, too, there’s an educational component, with viewers learning about current fashion and trends. A development I find interesting is the rising popularity of girl bands, such as 2NE1, which conveys an image of emancipated women and wants to follow their example and emulate a singer like Beyoncé. The global trend, however, remains focused on young teens in mini-skirts; innocent but sexy, and the object of male fantasies.

K-pop girl group 2NE1

K-pop girl group 2NE1

South Korea’s influence began in the 1990s – what has changed since then?

The first Korean wave was more limited because the series were, in a sense, more ‘‘Asian’’ and traditional, such as Winter Sonata and Endless Love. The stories were very melodramatic and the pull was more emotional. Today’s series have a much greater impact because in addition to telling compelling stories, they portray a new type of lifestyle.

What can brands do to resonate with Chinese consumers?

You have to remember that Korea’s influence especially affects women, and very young women at that. Chinese men seem more impervious, particularly due to the portrayal of a very effeminate masculinity, represented by ‘‘flower boys’’ – these young men with make-up and perfectly styled hair who are gentle and understanding in nature. It’s not by chance that the Korean singer Rain, chosen to represent the American skincare brand Mentholatum in China, embodies another trend called ‘‘beastly beauty,’’ showing off his biceps in an exaggerated manner to allay any doubt.

American skincare brand Mentholatum campaign featuring Korean singer Rain

American skincare brand Mentholatum campaign featuring Korean singer Rain

How have luxury brands based in China used Korean celebrities to represent them?

The luxury brands are more likely to use product placements in TV series, which works very well because again, they fit into a lifestyle that the Chinese aspire to. For example, a handbag made by a Belgian leather goods company, became an ‘‘it’’ bag in China and was renamed the Jun bag on [social media site] Taobao after the lead female character of My Love From The Stars wore it for a few seconds on the show.

Gucci Timepieces campaign featuring Korean actress Jun Ji Hyun

Gucci Timepieces campaign featuring Korean actress Jun Ji Hyun

A few Korean celebrities do represent luxury brands, including Jun Ji-Hyun, who recently replaced Li Bing Bing at Gucci Accessories, but this is a very new development. The brands are more reluctant to employ female Korean ambassadors, most likely because their image is too accessible. The only celebrities well-known in China are those who act in TV series, but they don’t enjoy an aura of being ‘‘real’’ actresses. Korean cinema is not very popular in China, and the ‘‘street style’’ image of Korea’s female singers might clash with luxury.

Are there any pitfalls to using Korean celebrities?

Yes, they have to be careful. These TV actresses’ images are over-used and often in an indiscriminate way by lower-end brands – and also, of course, by Korean and Chinese brands. But at a time when luxury is reinventing itself and moving away from a certain traditional way of doing things – even keeping a chilly distance at times – choosing a Korean ambassador can be a means of connecting with consumers and breaking through the wall of self-censorship.

Home Advert

What would be the best way to promote luxury brands?

I think it would be far more effective for companies to take advantage of the paradoxical beauty of South Korean women than to bet on the reputation of a few stars. They can capitalise on this beauty, which is both natural and fabricated, accessible and aspirational, Asian and western, so that it resonates with the world of brands, leading to closer ties with Chinese women.

For further information about Kering, go to www.kering.com.

The Godfather’s Godmother – Francis Ford Coppola On Female Film-makers By K magazine

Tapis Rouge Cloture

He might be best known for his films about mean men, but Francis Ford Coppola is enlightened when it comes to women. Hardly surprising, as the great Dorothy Arzner was his mentor. K magazine caught up with him at the Marrakesh International Film Festival….

As jury president of the Marrakech International Film Festival, in December, Francis Ford Coppola reeled off an impressive list of women in history, from film to pharaoh. He elaborated on the theme in an interview that week.

Sitting comfortably inside the fabled hotel La Mamounia, Coppola slumps slightly in a chair and greets journalists, gathered to speak to The Godfather director, like a professor welcoming students. He wears a blue shirt, nothing fancy, and looks relaxed.

Francis Ford Coppola

In his opening talk, he proved himself to be a learned man, citing in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and San Bernardino, opening lines from the Koran, whilst talking of its beauty. And he is clearly well versed on women in history.

“When I was a boy, my father was in an orchestra, and only occasionally was the harpist a woman,” he says. “That was 1941. That is very recent. Now, if you are a woman instrumentalist the law, the rule, is that you must audition behind the curtain so that when they listen to you play, they don’t know what you are, what race, how old, if you are a woman. You look at an orchestra in modern times, and it is easily more than half women.”

There’s a long way to go in cinema: in 2014, only seven per cent of the top 250 grossing films in America were directed by women. And Coppola is aware of that: “Unfortunately, because of the evolution of the human species, women were first treated as children,” he says. “So in the glorious days of Greek civilisation, women and children were slaves. Then in Rome they got rights like divorce, or they could have some money of their own. So it has been a long evolution because of the type of species we are. Not only were they treated as slaves but they were also desired. I have no doubt that a lot of what was going on in archaic ideas, was to control the girls so that the older men get them and the younger men get sent off.”

Knowledge of women

Coppola’s history lesson continues, mentioning renowned men such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon, but he points out: “There have been women all along at that level. There was Hypatia in Alexandria, who was a philosopher and up there with the men. There was Hatshepsut who was a pharaoh in Egypt, and one of the great figures in history. There was Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Italian mathematician who was known as the Witch of Agnesi because she did formulae no man could understand…Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who was the first computer programmer, who sponsored Byron’s daughter.”

©monie du Plamar

He concludes: “We have a history of women every bit as great as great men, and we know women can do anything a man can do – and will, as our species evolves. It takes time and we have seen it happen now. The women are doing dazzling work and when I started in film, there were no women film directors, so my daughter became one of the first, so I feel there is good progress.”

Happily, his UCLA teacher, Dorothy Arzner, was an exception. “She was a very important Hollywood director,” he says. “She was a successful film director in the 1920s and 1930s; the only woman who was. She was a wonderful woman, and she was very encouraging to me. I think what meant so much, as I always had self doubt, was that she would say: you are going to do fine. She was very famous. I just had the good luck that I was her student.”

“The godmother”

Indeed, Arzner’s work stands to this day as the largest body of work created by a female director, within the studio system. Raised in Hollywood, where her father ran a restaurant frequented by Hollywood types, she landed a job through a connection to director William C. DeMille, and started out as a stenographer at Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. That company became Paramount, and Arzner was promoted to script writer and editor, working as such on over fifty films, before she began directing.

She made her first movie, Fashions For Women, in 1927, and directed actress Clara Bow in her original talkie, The Wild Party. The first female to be accepted to the Directors Guild of America, she is also credited with launching the career of many famous actors, from Katherine Hepburn to Lucille Ball. “She was such a professional and had such success, she could tell you what you hadn’t done without even looking,” says Coppola.

He comes across as one of those men that are all the more understanding from being nurtured by and knowledgeable of strong women, like Arzner. He’s supportive of women and keen to shed light on history in his own way. “The funny thing is the man that wrote The Godfather, Mario Puzo, who put all those great lines like, ‘an offer you can’t refuse’ – those were all things his mother said,” he says.

His daughter Sofia Coppola, who he calls a “strong, independent director,” is here with him in Marrakesh, and when he dedicates the main award at the Festival to all cinema, rather than one film, he cites his granddaughter. “Once my granddaughter exclaimed to me, I love all cinema,” he began. “And I was startled.”

Francis Ford Coppola

Man to Mann

As to why he chose to be in Morocco, “My grandmother was born in Tunis,” he says. “She spoke Arabic and French. She was Italian but born in Tunis. I have always loved the stories. I know a lot about the Middle East but just more from interest,” he says.

As an American invited to serve as a cultural figurehead by the Arab world in troubled times, Coppola was an ambassador of sorts at the Festival, but also a surprise. He spoke eloquently about a variety of subjects. As well as the Koran, his reading list is extensive. He compares his next project to Thomas Mann’s great autobiographical novel.

But it will feature his own family, both male and female. “Maybe I will make only one film more in my life but it may be very long,” he says. “What I’ve written is a story, sort of like Buddenbrooks. It is about three generations of a family: mine. What I know the most, is a family like my own.”

For further information about Kering, go to www.kering.com.

Music Moguls – The Music Industry Legend Alan Edwards Talks Talent And PR By Jayjay Epega

Alan Edwards (image courtesy of David Tett)

Alan Edwards (image courtesy of David Tett)

Alan Edwards, CEO of Outside Organisation, has represented some of the biggest and best known names in entertainment. These include The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Spice Girls, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams, Naomi Campbell and the Beckhams and David Bowie.

In April 2015, Alan hosted Always Print The Myth, a series of discussions which reflected on the evolving role of PR within fashion, culture, media, entertainment, sports and politics over the last 40 years, at the prestigious V&A. He was joined by a range of influential guests including Dylan Jones – Editor of GQ magazine, Lord Tim Bell and Sir Bob Geldof.

For well over 30 years, he handled publicity for rock music’s greatest chameleon, the iconic and legendary David Bowie, right up until his recent untimely passing.

Alan is due to feature and narrate the third part of BBC 4’s Music Moguls which will take viewers on a revealing tour of the music industry in the company of hugely influential insiders and their artists. Between them, they have shaped the face and sound of popular music loved by audiences around the world, cultivated new bands, managed crises and maintained the reputation of their longstanding clients. They feature alongside artists Debbie Harry, Ozzy Osbourne, the Sex Pistols, Uriah Heep, Brett Anderson and Hugh Cornwell. This is the untold history of the pop and rock world from the mouths of the men and women who pull the strings from behind the scenes – the unsung heroes of the industry.

We put a few questions to Alan:

How did you come to represent and work with the Rolling Stones?

I was introduced to Mick Jagger via the promoter Harvey Goldsmith. It meant flying out to New York for an interview in which he questioned me in great detail about the media. I then had a subsequent meeting at Shepperton Rehearsal Studios with Keith Richards who quizzed me in equal depth, but this time on my knowledge of music.

The Rolling Stones (image courtesy of Associated Press)

The Rolling Stones (image courtesy of Associated Press)

What were the roots of music PR and would you say it has changed much over the years?

The roots of music PR are really from Hollywood in the late 50s / early 60s. The publicist became very powerful and adept at developing and marketing movie star images. This then got picked up in London in the 60s, particularly in the music scene, with managers and entrepreneurs like Andrew Loog Oldham for the Rolling Stones, Brian Epstein for The Beatles and Lambert and Stamp for The Who, who all put enormous amounts of energy, ideas and creativity into getting their clients noticed. In some ways, music PR has changed a lot but in other ways, it remains the same. Obviously, the media is far bigger now and there are many different ways of getting your message out there. Also, it’s a millions times faster but from a PR point of view, it’s still about the story, the content and the narrative.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to build a career in music PR?

I would start with the basics. There’s a lot you can learn yourself by studying the media closely. The more magazines and newspapers you read, the more TV you watch and radio you listen to, the more you see patterns emerging, so you can start to think in terms of where you would fit a particular client into the media. I would say a lot of PR is hard work; it’s about following through, attention to detail and simple things like returning people’s calls and e-mails with the odd flash of creativity along the way. Try and think like a journalist and apply that to your future clients.

Nowadays, it seems that talent is promoted strongly mainly through being found and signed via reality TV talent shows, but do you still see bands developing from the grass roots music scene?

I think it would be great to see more bands developing from the live music scene. The Stranglers, for instance, did something like 350 gigs before they got a record deal. That meant their songs had really been honed down and developed in front of all kinds of noisy, disinterested crowds, so by the time they finally got to put them down on tape, they had more depth. There’s no replacing that ground work.

What would you say is the essence of Music Moguls – what do you want people to take away from the programme?

One of the messages is that PR is an integral part of music. After all, when we invite someone into our headphones and music systems, we want to like them. The personality, character and of course, looks can be just as important as the music itself. Some of the examples we use in the programme, particularly from the pre-social media age, are interesting. For instance, the group Slade adopted a very strong skin-head style and that attracted fans even before they heard the record – probably similar to One Direction, but in a different sort of way.

David Bowie album Blackstar released 2016 (image courtesy of Press/Jimmy King)

David Bowie album Blackstar released 2016 (image courtesy of Press/Jimmy King)

What were the highlights for you working on Music Moguls?

Working with Francis Whatley, who directed the incredible David Bowie documentary Five Years, was a very creative and rewarding experience. I learned a lot from him, so I really enjoyed watching some of the interviews that they had put together themselves; for example, listening to members of Uriah Heep laughing about a publicity stunt with such good humour and in joyous fashion – they seem like such nice guys. Also fascinating was when Hugh Cornwell and Jean-Jaques Burnel (when they were The Stranglers) discussed whether or not the punky aggressive publicity detracted from the songs or gave them a platform to be noticed.

The world has been devastated by the loss of David Bowie – what would you say is his enduring legacy?

One of the things I think the music world took from David Bowie was his incredible versatility and vision. After all, he made an impact on the worlds of art, film, design, fashion, theatre, as well, of course, as music, with the breadth of his abilities. It is unrivalled; something for new artists to aspire to.

Finally, after all this time and with all the successes, do you still feel the same excitement that you did in the early days of your career?

Yes, I still get the same excitement when the phone rings with a new assignment or client. I often feel like Sherlock Holmes with his famous “the game’s afoot, Watson” line. Must be the thrill of the chase!

To learn more about BBC’s Music Moguls, click here.

Movie Starring John Malkovich To Be Released 100 Years In The Future By Hannah Norman

Louis XIII Cognac, one of the most luxurious spirits in the world, is the brand behind 100 Years, an original and innovative film written by and starring Hollywood legend John Malkovich. Except there’s a catch – the film will not be released until 2115.

John Malkovich

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, 100 Years – The Movie You Will Never See (to give the film its full title) was inspired by the century of careful craftsmanship and patience it takes to make each decanter of Louis XIII Cognac, with four generations of cellar master putting a lifetime of passion into creating a bottle that they will never get to drink. “We developed this innovative aritstic project to explore the dynamic relationship between the past, present and future,” explains the brand’s Global Executive Director, Ludovic du Plessis, pictured below. “Louis XIII is the master of time,” he adds.

Ludovic du Plessis

To ensure that the film remains secure until its official premiere on November 18th 2115, one whole century into the future, the film reel has been placed in a state-of-the-art safe which features bullet-proof glass and a revolutionary countdown timer. The door to the safe will not open until the one hundred year countdown is complete. The first luxury safe box in the world that cannot be opened with a code or a key, it will open automatically regardless of access to a power source, further guaranteeing that there is no way that the film can be accessed before its 2115 release date. One thousand VIP guests from around the world have received an exclusive invitation to give to their descendants to attend the premiere at the House of Louis XIII in Cognac, France.

Louis XIII

A French art de vivre enthusiast, Malkovich developed the original screenplay for 100 Years. “John knew Louis XIII through its reputation,” du Plessis says of his involvement. “Given the unique concept, he was intrigued. The first time we met with him, we asked him to create a film that won’t be released until 2115. John loved the idea and immediately understood the link between the film’s concept and Louis XIII’s story.”

John Malkovich

Shuya Chang was cast as Malkovich’s onscreen partner, and the two journey through an unknown future achieved by innovative set design and extensive CGI effects. “When I was first approached, I really loved the idea,” Malkovich says of the film, adding, “it seemed exciting to imagine.” The actor then quipped, “I mean, in a way, I wish all the films I made wouldn’t have been seen for a hundred years – I don’t know how much that would change the way they are regarded!”

Shuya Chang and John Malkovich

Interestingly though, Malkovich hasn’t seen the film. Neither has the rest of the cast and crew. In fact, even director Robert Rodriguez has allegedly only seen a rough cut before it was sent to have special effects added in, after which it was put straight into the safe without him having seen the final version. This was done during an exclusive preview of the film’s trailer in Los Angeles, with Malkovich doing the honours and placing the film reel into the safe, setting the timer for the 2115 premiere.

Shuya Chang and John Malkovich

The safe will be transported around the world under high-level security for an international tour beginning in Hong Kong, before reaching its final destination at the House of Louis XIII in Cognac. When the safe is finally unlocked in one hundred years’ time, guests will be welcomed – including the future cellar master, and a descendant of each guest who received a ticket to the film’s preview in 2015 – to the exclusive premiere, on November 18th 2115. “Our goal is to inspire as many people as possible,” du Plessis concludes. “Much like the cellar masters who won’t know how their masterpiece turns out, no-one will be able to see the film in its entirety until 2115.”

For more information, go to www.louisxiii-cognac.com, or click here to watch a teaser.

The Luxury Channel Meets Nick Redman By The Luxury Channel

Stars Wars Anniversary Albums

Nick Redman is a consultant at 20th Century Fox Music and Co-Founder of Twilight Time (a Blu-ray label that has built up a catalogue of rare and “forgotten” films), and he produced the 20th Anniversary albums for Star Wars. He speaks to The Luxury Channel about music, movies and the one score that he hopes – some day – to be able to restore….

What are your earliest memories of movies?

My earliest memories of movies are living across the road from the Rembrandt cinema in Ewell, Surrey, and being fascinated by this huge building that contained a strange, fantasy world that changed every week. Among the first films I saw in my childhood were The Magnificent Showman (AKA Circus World), Zulu and A Hard Day’s Night.

Tell us a bit more about the restoration project of the Star Wars score for the 20th anniversary….

The restoration of the music for the original Star Wars trilogy was initiated by LucasFilm’s plan to re-release “Special Editions” of the three films to tie-in with the 20th Anniversary of A New Hope in 1997. This was not the first time I had been involved with Star Wars music – a few years earlier, I had produced a 4-CD “highlights” anthology for Arista Records, which sold a million copies and re-activated the public’s interest in John Williams’s scores and introduced them to a younger generation. In 1993, I had become a consultant to 20th Century Fox Music and was placed in charge of exploiting the back-catalogue. Obviously, the Star Wars universe was a natural place to begin and working with Fox, LucasFilm and Arista, the music was reborn. By 1996, with enthusiasm for the forthcoming Special Editions gaining steam, the decision was made to revisit the scores from scratch — to return to the original multi-track elements and re-present all the music from the three films in chronological order — three 2-CD sets (one for each film) jam-packed with as much material as we could uncover.

Nick Redman

What was the hardest part of the project?

The hardest part of the project, as always in any kind of restoration, is the state of the elements and the timeframe in which all the work has to be accomplished. RCA Victor was the label that had outbid everyone else for the right to release the music and we knew we couldn’t miss the release date, which was set more than nine months in advance. I believe we began in April 1996, and were still struggling to get finished by January 1997 when the films were due to open in theaters. All three Star Wars films — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi were coming out in the first quarter and each set of CDs had to meet the required street date.

What was it like working with John Williams?

Technically we didn’t “work” with John Williams – my associate Mike Matessino and I performed the restoration remotely, mostly based at Fox, with Mr. Williams having the right of approval when the masters were generated. My one point of contact with him on the project was at Abbey Road Studios in November 1996, when he was recording new music there for the finale of Return of The Jedi. This was to be incorporated into the film as well as being included on the CD. It was quite a thrill being present at a Star Wars music session!

Nick Redman

The release of The Force Awakens will introduce Star Wars – and by extension, the music – to a new generation of fans. Do you agree that some films (and soundtracks) really are works of art, in that their appeal is timeless and in some ways, quite nostalgic?

The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will inspire a whole new generation of fans – now that the franchise is owned by The Walt Disney Co., the whole world will be mad for it again. In 1977, John Williams’s brilliantly modern, and yet at the same time old-fashioned, movie score introduced the concept of music in a film to millions of movie-goers that had never thought about it before, and it fundamentally changed how music was used in movies from that point forward. Some movie scores are as much a piece of art as any classical piece in history, and John Williams became de facto the world’s most famous film composer. Trying to imagine movies such as Jaws, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Superman, E.T., Raiders of The Lost Ark and Schindler’s List et al without their singular scores is literally quite impossible. You mentioned nostalgia and I think that’s it. When we love something – a film or TV show or a piece of music – it is our recollection of it that counts, and whether we recognize it or not, it is the sound of it – working on our subconscious – that really cements the memory.

You’ve restored several titles over the years – what are your highlights?

Over the course of nearly 23 years at Fox Music, we have restored and released on CD more than 600 soundtracks – and the work goes on. Using modern technology, it is possible to put into usable shape many scores that would have been beyond salvation when we started. Some of my favorites include: The Sound of Music, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Cleopatra, The Wild Bunch, Once Upon A Time In America, The King And I, There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, Alien, Aliens, The Towering Inferno, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 — there are too many to remember. One that stubbornly resists restoration because of terrible damage to the stems is Alfred Newman’s glorious score for The Diary of Anne Frank. It breaks our hearts, but we never say never. Maybe some day.

Nick Redman

What is more important – the quality of the music or the quality of the sound?

The quality of the music is what counts – not the sound per se. What good is exquisite sound if the composition doesn’t work? When people were able to listen to the earliest Victrolas, it was the music that soared like a bird from the tiniest speaker.

What is your favourite film score, and why?

It is impossible to pick a favorite score – but I’ll go for it. Mind you, I will change my mind tomorrow. Bernard Herrmann’s 1947 The Ghost And Mrs. Muir – a truly glorious marriage of picture and sound. A score so perfectly fitting for a film that it makes you cry just thinking about it. It was one of the first I got to work on at Fox and it will forever be a favorite – I love it beyond all telling. There is a cue in the score called “Andante Cantabile” that I would put forth as one of the best pieces of music ever written. So there!

What is your favourite luxury?

My favorite luxury is being able to go away on holiday and visit some of the most exotic places on Earth.

What are you currently working on?

Well, the restoration of music at Fox continues – a program I am really proud to have been given the opportunity to initiate – but additionally, in recent years I co-founded a company with Brian Jamieson which releases hundreds of movies from various studios on Blu-ray. Our label is called Twilight Time and in a fairly short period, we have built up quite a catalogue. As a life-long film lover, I suppose I was always destined to be at heart a preservationist – bringing things to the public that they might not know of, or may have forgotten. The legacy of film and music is a living thing – constantly adapting and changing – struggling to find new life in an ever more advanced technology. I’m really glad to be part of it all.

Fairytale Interrupted – A Life With John Kennedy Jr. By Jayjay Epega

RoseMarie With JFK Jr.

A man admired from near, a man admired from far, John Kennnedy Jr. was the dashing Prince of Camelot, a true heir to the fabled Kennedy throne, who lost his life all too early in 1999, leaving an unfulfilled destiny, an unfulfilled promise.

John Kenndy Jr with his parents

In his life time, anyone who was anyone in powerful circles wanted to be a part of the enigma that surrounded him, being the son of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. One woman, RoseMarie Terenzio, was amongst a very few who got to be an integral part of his life and after over ten years of his passing, the inspiring publicist, writer and speaker has put together a moving, indeed heartbreaking book which reveals the story behind the legend, simply called Fairytale Interrupted.

Fairytale Interrupted

For five years, Bronx-born Terenzio worked for the iconic JFK Jr. She became his personal assistant and eventually the publicist at his magazine, George. She proved herself to be a model of loyalty, trustworthiness and discretion during her time in the job and even developed a strong friendship with his wife Carolyn Bessette, whom she also adored. Their tragic accidental death in 1999 painfully and suddenly ended this cherished association. The book is a perfect and fitting tribute. The Luxury Channel sat down with Terenzio for a very exclusive interview….

Could you tell us bit about your background?

I grew up in The Bronx in New York City in a loud Italian household. My parents worked two jobs each, but we never had much money. I have three older sisters, and my great-grandmother and grandmother lived with us. We had only one bathroom! We didn’t have much but we were a very close family and my parents gave us so much more than we needed.

RoseMarie Terenzio

When did you decide to write a book about this unique life experience, and how long did it take to pull it all together?

When my mom passed away, I felt that this book would be a tribute to her. I had an incredible experience working beside John, and my mother gave me everything I needed to be in that situation and thrive. I wanted to honour my parents as much as I wanted to honour John. I think the book gives the reader insight into my parents and shows that, in spite of their faults, they were incredible parents and people.

John Kennedy Jr

What did you learn that helped you in your career working for John?

John would always say, “Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems in the moment.” I try to use that as a guide.

What are your abiding memories of George Magazine?

George was the place to be at that time. It was new and exciting, and we were doing something no-one had ever attempted – a magazine combining politics and pop culture. It was interesting and fun. There was something new to learn about every day. I remember never wanting to miss anything! My best memories are of brainstorming cover subjects with Matt Berman in his office, narrowing them down, and then bringing our top 3 or 4 in to John.

George Clooney on George Magazine '97

“There goes my hero. He’s ordinary” from My Hero by Foo Fighters is a featured quote in your book. Music plays such a powerful role, in memory as well as in life – what songs remind you of the time, and was this one of them?

Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alanis Morrisette, Stone Temple Pilots, Fiona Apple, Oasis – this music always brings me back to that time. That line from the Foo Fighters song was definitely for John but also for my dad. That song will always remind me of both of them.

John Kennedy Jr.

Who would you cast in a movie adaptation of your book?

I truly can’t think of anyone who could capture John’s essence in its entirety which is why I would cast an unknown actor. The rest of the cast changes all the time but I could definitely see Angelina Jolie capturing Carolyn! Marisa Tomei would be my dream to play me.

John Kennedy Jr.

What were the challenges working for such a high profile figure?

It was challenging to sometimes be the only person John and Carolyn would confide in. While it was certainly an honour and a privilege, it was difficult to be so isolated.

John Kennedy Jr

Regarding John and Carolyn, how would you most like them to be remembered, and what would you say was their lasting legacy?

For John, it would be his honour, his character, and his foresight and accomplishments with George. For Carolyn, it would be her compassion, her friendship and of course, her style.

For more information about RoseMarie Terenzio’s work as a publicist, go to www.rmtprmanagement.com, or to purchase a copy of Fairytale Interrupted, click here.

The Royal Academy Welcomes Artist Lincoln Townley By Jayjay Epega

Lincoln Townley at The Royal Academy (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln Townley at The Royal Academy (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

On a surprisingly balmy late autumn evening, The Luxury Channel honoured an invitation to attend one of the world’s most prestigious galleries, The Royal Academy based at Burlington House in London’s Piccadilly, to view the exclusive celebrity launch of globally-renowned contemporary artist Lincoln Townley’s unique and superlative W1 Collection.

Lincoln’s visceral relationship with his canvases comes across vividly, with his collections being celebrated and presented globally. The work is collected by connoisseurs of art and several high profile individuals, many of whom share a fascination with the mesmeric and turbulent themes of his work that reflect the story of his rise from the gutters of Soho to become a phenomenal success story in the art world. He has gone on to be commissioned to paint the world’s biggest stars that include people like Al Pacino, Madonna, Robert Downey Jr, Russell Brand, Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke and Sir John Hurt, amongst several others.

Lincoln Townley and Russell Brand (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln Townley and Russell Brand (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Mayumi Tomita from the Royal Academy said: “We are delighted to be showing Lincoln Townley’s work. He is an outstanding artist with a unique style that sets him apart from his contemporaries.” Townley explained that “the W1 Collection explores the underbelly of an area of London famous for art, creativity, crime and excess. It’s one of the most visited areas of any capital city in the world and I wanted to express the chaotic energy that bubbles under the surface.”

Townley’s work has been described as “having an edge and authenticity that is rare.” Townley further explained about the composition of the work, saying “The twelve paintings that make up the W1 Collection are very large pieces and I use oil on canvas to bring out the colours, intense emotion and turmoil I want to express. It’s an honour to be exhibiting these paintings at The Royal Academy.”

From Lincoln Townley's W1 Collection (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

From Lincoln Townley’s W1 Collection (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

It has been a remarkable year for Twnley. To add to the many A-list stars he has been commissioned to paint, the American CEO of BAFTA has commissioned a portrait of an iconic star, to be presented to the actor at the Britannia Awards in Los Angeles.

His next project is the Las Vegas Collection. This group of 15 paintings looks at man’s desire to gamble and take huge risks, grasping every neon light and distorted crazed face in the realm of a magical yet dangerous environment – the casino. The Collection will be shown at The Wynn Casino Las Vegas in 2016.

For further information on Lincoln Townley, please visit www.lincolntownley.com.

Anderson & Low On The Set of James Bond’s Spectre By Hannah Norman

Just off from the Notting Hill Carnival parade route is an unassuming studio which, from the outside, utterly belies what is within. I’m sat at a desk where incredibly, almost unbelievably, what I’m staring at are photos of the set of latest Bond instalment Spectre, as shot by photographer duo Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low (better known by their surnames as simply Anderson & Low).

Shooting Gallery at the Old MI6 Building from "On the Set of James Bond's Spectre," copyright Anderson & Low.

Shooting Gallery at the Old MI6 Building from “On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre,” copyright Anderson & Low.

The pictures, quite simply, are stunning. Following on from their work on the last Bond film, Skyfall (their picture of Sam Mendes on the set is apparently hanging in his office and was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery), the pair was invited back onto the set of Spectre. This is a collection of behind-the-scenes images, but it hasn’t been done from a traditional, cast-and-crew-backstage perspective. Which is a good thing because what these pictures are more redolent of, is art.

“When you see sets, usually it’s behind the scenes, where you have a director or an actor being directed,” Low reveals. “That’s a typical scenario that you see. But this is the whole aspect of the place and the position, where it could be Tangiers, it could be Austria, or it could be Westminster Bridge, but it’s all created and replicated in a studio.”

Palazzo, Rome from "On the Set of James Bond's Spectre," copyright Anderson & Low.

Palazzo, Rome from “On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre,” copyright Anderson & Low.

“In a sense, these are really portraits of the sets, but they’re very honest portraits in that we’ve tried to also show the artifice and the reality, not just the fantasy,” Anderson adds. “We really are showing that collision of fantasy and reality.” In fact, one of the pictures that particularly caught our eye – the Palazzo in Rome – is of a grandiose table setting, surrounded by columns of green marble. “This is quite interesting,” Anderson says of the photo, “because it’s like a reverse of a Trompe L’oeil ceiling. You know all those ceilings that are all clouds and cherubs? Which is all pure fantasy. Except that this [the set] is actually the fantasy and the ceiling [the lights and rigging] is the reality. Which is really the appeal – this very constructed narrative.”

The work that Anderson & Low produced on Spectre came to the attention of auction house Phillips, who selected five of their images of the film sets for auction on the 6th November – and if you are as interested in the Palazzo picture as we are, you’ll be pleased to hear that is one of the photographs featured as a lot. “They’ve chosen a very wide range of imagery,” Anderson says. “I think they did it deliberately for variation in terms of colours and style,” Low points out.

Old MI6 Building from "On the Set of James Bond's Spectre," copyright Anderson & Low.

Old MI6 Building from “On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre,” copyright Anderson & Low.

Rather uniquely, the photographs that will be auctioned are large scale – almost five feet across, in fact – and will never be printed that size again, meaning that these auction lots are truly one-of-a-kind. Not that the size in any way diminishes the impact or the skill of the photography, and Phillips is building a special installation room just to exhibit these unique prints. This will therefore be the only time that all five of the photos can be viewed together on this scale (unless one person buys all five at the auction, of course).

What is captured in these images is the fantastic style of the Bond sets – not to mention the sheer attention to detail. “The level of detail is phenomenal,” Anderson says of the sets, as we’re looking at a photo of the Secret Room in the Tangier Hotel (available at the auction). “This is a small set, and some of them are massive, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small, the amount of detail is almost beyond comprehension. It’s an almost insane level of detail they put into this set, and it’s totally believable, and yet that artifice deliberately gets fractured above, because you can see the soft box and the lighting [in the photo].” But how does this come across in the film? “It’s very strange in the movie – you don’t see a lot of the detail that you see in the photographs,” Low says.

Secret Room at the Tangier Hotel from "On the Set of James Bond's Spectre," copyright  Anderson & Low.

Secret Room at the Tangier Hotel from “On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre,” copyright
Anderson & Low.

So, aside from the obvious associations with Bond, what is it that makes shooting on a film set so special? “It’s the sense of creating the magic to make it real,” Low says. “What you see here is only one dimension of it. Then when you see the moving image, you get a different sense.” Anderson adds that, “One of the recurrent themes in our work is preparation. This is actually about the same thing. It’s about everything it takes to create that.” Low agrees. “It’s about capturing that preparation,” he tells us. “It’s suspending disbelief,” Anderson affirms.

A tradition of merging the fantasy with the reality is very prevalent in the duo’s work, as anyone who has seen their Manga Dreams project will know. “Manga Dreams was like stretching reality to breaking point, almost,” Anderson smiles. “This is the exact opposite – this is like a collision of fantasy and reality head-on.”

Oberhauser's Control Room, Morocco from project "On the Set of James Bond's Spectre," copyright Anderson & Low.

Oberhauser’s Control Room, Morocco from project “On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre,” copyright Anderson & Low.

So, after having seen their incredible, intriguing but ultimately brilliant work on the set of Spectre, what about watching the film itself? “One of the really nice things I can promise you is that seeing this won’t spoil the movie at all,” Anderson tells me. “In fact, I guarantee it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the movie!” Well, that’s good news – no need to call upon the services of 007 this time then….

The world premiere of Anderson & Low’s project On the Set of James Bond’s Spectre will be at Phillips London 30 Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EX. The prints are on view from October 30th to November 6th. The five prints will be auctioned as separate lots on the afternoon of November 6th, as part of the “Ultimate” section of the Phillips photography auction. For further information, click here, or visit the 007 website here. For further information about Anderson & Low, go to www.andersonandlow.com.

The Genius of Anthony Quinn By Jayjay Epega

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

“I’m Anthony Quinn: son, brother, migrant farmer, student, lover, actor, husband, father, sculptor, painter, arrogant bastard. I am Mexican, Irish, Indian, American, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Chinese, Eskimo, Muslim. . . .Above all though, I am an artist. This was my beginning and it will be my end.” – From The Original Sin, the Anthony Quinn autobiography.

Jayjay Epega sits down with Katherine Quinn – wife of of the legendary actor, painter and sculptor – for an exclusive interview….

Anthony Quinn was an Oscar-winning, Mexican-American actor, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1915. Between 1936 and 1940, he’d already appeared in 40 movies; he later moved to Europe where he made his best foreign film, La Strada, in 1954, a Fellini masterpiece. Some of his most notable films include The Guns of Navarone, Lawrence of Arabia, Viva Zapata!, Lust For Life, Requiem For A Heavy Weight, Zorba The Greek, The Shoes of The Fisherman and Secrets of San Victoria. He worked alongside such fellow acting greats as Gregory Peck, Jackie Gleason, Peter O’Toole, Sir Laurence Olivier and many, many others.

Anthony Quinn and Frank Sinatra (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Anthony Quinn and Frank Sinatra (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

In the 1970s, he began his second career in television and on Broadway, and became the star of the weekly show, The Man in The City. Besides making approximately 200 films, he performed over 300 times as Zorba in Zorba The Greek on Broadway. He also played opposite Laurence Olivier in Becket. In 1997, he married his third wife Katherine Benvin. We were delighted to have a personal interview with Mrs. Quinn, learning so much about this true motion picture legend.

Katherine and Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Katherine and Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

When did Anthony’s journey in art begin?

At a very young age, maybe 5 or 6 years old, Tony would occasionally tag along with his father when he went to work as a cameraman at Zelig’s Studio in Los Angeles. Zelig’s was a small studio where they specialised in filming scenes with animals. Tony would sit quietly in a corner and observe the scenes being filmed and he would do sketches of the actors and animals. He once did a small drawing of Douglas Fairbanks and his father presented it to Mr. Fairbanks, who then gave Tony 25 dollars for it. Throughout his life, he carried a notebook and pen in his pocket and was constantly drawing. Later on, those sketches became the inspiration for many of the paintings and sculptures he would go on to create.

For you, what are the abiding memories?

The intensity and purpose with which he lived every day of his life. He worked all the time, whether he was writing, painting, sculpting, drawing or preparing for a role in a movie, he was always creating. He had a fantastic sense of adventure and loved to take long walks or bicycle rides with the children. Looking back, I believe those hours of “play” were critical to his creative mind. He never complained about the weather and woke up every day with the same enthusiasm, whether it was raining, snowing or the sun was shining outside. He also loved to laugh. He had a great sense of humour.

What were the major influences in the nature of his work?

The people he met and the places he travelled to. From a very young age, he was faced with many challenges. As a Mexican immigrant growing up in the US and having lost his father at the age of 11, he had to deal with discrimination and extreme poverty. The pain of those early years never left him. His work as an actor allowed him to travel the world and meet people from all walks of life, rich and poor. He was never satisfied just knowing people on the surface, but had to try and get to the essence of what drove them. He asked a lot of questions, read thousands of books and wherever he went, preferred to be where every day life was happening. That’s what inspired him to create.

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Could you tell us more about this year’s special exhibition, “Transcending Boundaries: The Art of Anthony Quinn?”

The exhibition is on display at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago through the end of the year and is an absolutely wonderful experience. The theme, Transcending Boundaries, came about for a couple of reasons. First of all, for the fact that Tony had a multifaceted career, as an actor, visual artist and writer. Second, because as an actor, he was able to play so many nationalities so convincingly. Wherever in the world we travelled, people considered him “one of them.” I think it goes back to his youth as a Mexican immigrant with an Irish name growing up in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. He never felt accepted as part of any one community.

What are the origins and activities of the Foundation bearing his name?

I established the Anthony Quinn Foundation after Tony passed away in 2001. I spent a lot of time volunteering at my children’s schools when they were young and was so surprised to find out how few arts programs exist as a part of the regular curriculum. I thought about what Tony’s life would have been like without the influence of the arts from a very young age, and decided to make the focus of the Foundation to promote the importance of the arts in education. We raised funding from private donors and started a scholarship program to help high school students attend intensive summer arts programs. I focused on high school aged students because that was the time when Tony’s life was turned around by a meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright and it is an age when kids have the least amount of help finding a direction in life.

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

Anthony Quinn (image courtesy of Katherine Quinn)

What would you say is his enduring legacy?

The fact that his life story and the work he left on this earth – in his film roles and his artwork – inspires others. He often studied the work and lives of many great artists before him. Their stories gave him the courage to seek his own artistic path. If his life story inspires others to seek the truth and express it through their work, it would be the greatest gift he could have left on this earth.

Where are people able to view his works?

At the moment, the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago has the largest selection of his artwork on view, and there are also several galleries around the world selling his work.

Where can people keep up-to-date with the latest news?

I wish I could say I was better at keeping up with the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The best way to keep up to date would be both the Anthony Quinn Foundation website (www.aqfoundation.org) and the official website of Anthony Quinn (www.anthonyquinn.com).

Jeremy Houghton – Speed, Horsepower And Flight By The Luxury Channel

Jeremy Houghton

The Luxury Channel met award-winning, contemporary visual artist Jeremy Houghton at the world-famous Goodwood Revival in September. This year, Goodwood welcomes Houghton as the first-ever Artist in Residence on the Estate. Telling us that he is “incredibly excited” about the appointment, being at Goodwood allows Houghton to draw inspiration from both the international events and the beautiful South Downs setting.

Jeremy Houghton

As Houghton stood by his vintage 1935 Bentley, he told us it was originally his great grandfather’s. It won the RAC Scottish rally in 1937, when it was driven by his grandmother, and during the war it went on to be used by his great uncle, as part of the homeland fire brigade in Coventry, where it survived the bombing. Family members have raced the car since then, and it counts a healthy 660.000 miles on the clock. Now BOP600 is in Houghton’s safe hands and the family uses it to potter, picnic and paint – but at a more moderate speed!

Jeremy Houghton

Themes of motion, time and space, encapsulate the Goodwood Estate and the subject matters here are all ideal: vintage cars, old-time racing bikes, magnificent Spitfires assembled for the big take-off from Goodwood Aerodrome to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and of course the pure-breeds at Goodwood Racecourse. Everything Houghton depicts in his work has reality and emotion, and every commissioned piece is somehow more convincing than any scene captured on camera.

Glass Ground

One of Houghton’s latest projects is Glass Ground, a link between conceptual and installation art, where an exploration of time and space is depicted via a completely different medium – see www.glassground.com for further information.

Jeremy Houghton and Sir Ben Ainslie

Houghton has also been announced as the official artist in residence of Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing for the America’s Cup. He will spend one week per month at the team’s home in Portsmouth before going to Bermuda in 2017, attending at least one of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events. For more information about Houghton’s works, go to www.jeremyhoughton.co.uk.

Olivia Bentley To Hold Debut Exhibition In London By The Luxury Channel

Olivia Bentley

Emerging young photographer, Olivia Bentley, is holding a London exhibition, to showcase her photography to a wider audience.

Self-taught and inspired by current photographers such as Brooke Shaden and Alex Stoddard, Olivia has been working as a photographer for two years. Olivia’s evocative, darkly beautiful images explore the synergy between the female form and elements of nature.

Olivia is based at her studio outside London and has sold to both individual and corporate clients. She is currently working on a new series of images inspired by the contrast between reality and escapism.

To view Olivia’s work, please visit www.oliviabentleyphotography.com.

A Question of Luxury By K magazine

The Victoria & Albert Museum’s “What is luxury?” exhibition challenges our modern interpretation of this elusive but enthralling notion, as K magazine reports….

What Is Luxury?

The 21st century definition of luxury is a subjective thing.
Luxury noun lux·u·ry \
• a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth
• something that is expensive and not necessary
• something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available

In this busy, hyper-connected world, despite a backdrop of political uncertainty, a booming luxury goods market and rising social inequality – there is something undeniably alluring about the concept of luxury.

It is human nature to seek out the high life, whether you choose to shop “luxury” loo roll or lemon curd from your local supermarket, or live vicariously through celebrities flying private jet on Instagram. Or perhaps your ultimate luxury is simply stealing a spare fifteen minutes to savour a cup of tea in silence.

Time For Yourself

So, what is luxury? It’s a question posed by the title of the V&A’s latest exhibition. Put on in partnership with the Crafts Council, it displays over 100 remarkable objects, which look beyond the widely understood perceptions of luxury and focus on skill, time and rarity to question what luxury means these days. It also examines how our perceived ideas of luxury will evolve in the future.

From a gold-plated skimming stone, to a concrete chandelier and Hair Highway by Studio Swine – human hair set in resin to create furniture – the subject is vast and complex. Dominic Wilcox, the maker of the stone, has a beautifully simple take on what luxury means to him, however. “I find luxury in things that feel personal and move me emotionally,” he says.

Rarity value

Elsewhere, American artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s DNA Vending Machine containing pre-packaged DNA samples, invites visitors to consider our increasing access to biotechnology, and how privacy may become a luxury in the future.

In the installation The Boltham Legacy, artist Henrik Nieratschker tells the fictional story of a British billionaire who sends altered bacteria into space in an attempt to find valuable metals on distant planets. The piece speculates about the luxury of having exclusive access to the planet’s resources.

Skimming Pebble

As the title suggests, the exhibition questions the very idea of luxury today. “It will challenge common interpretations of luxury, invite close examination of luxury production and extend ideas of what luxury can be,” says V&A curator of Contemporary Furniture Jana Scholze and co-curator of the exhibition. “Essentially, the question of luxury is a personal one.”

The exhibition draws to a close with The Last Man’s Seat, by the Last Man. It is a chair, in a room with a cup of tea resting on its arm. His ability to dream, and make his own decisions, all while savouring a cup of tea is a stolen, luxurious moment indeed.

“What is luxury?” – Until 27th September at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. For further information about Kering, go to www.kering.com.

Perrier-Jouët And Austrian Craft By Harriet O'Grady

Picture in your mind the iconic Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque champagne bottle designed in 1902 by Emile Galle, with its flowing Art Nouveau motif of delicate white Japanese anemones. Then step forward to 2015 and imagine an up-to-date reinterpretation of the Art Nouveau style. This is what was happening in the light and airy studio of the designers mischer’traxler in the heart of Vienna, where Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler had been commissioned by the champagne house Perrier-Jouët to create an installation for London Design Week. This free-standing installation entitled “Curiosity Cloud” was also shown until the end of the month in the famous Baroque cream and gold Norfolk House Music Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington.

Curiosity Cloud

Perrier-Jouët, ever since the creation of their champagne bottle, have been patrons of the arts. This led them to accumulate the largest private collection of Art Nouveau in Europe, including works by Galle, Majorelle and Lalique. The collection can be seen at the Perrier-Jouët Maison Belle Epoque at Epernay in France and is a must visit for lovers of Art Nouveau.

Curiosity Cloud

So what is this installation? It is called “Curiosity Cloud” and I can only describe it as a thing of beauty. Art Nouveau was famous for deriving its inspiration from the natural world, in particular from foliage and flowers but also from insects. micher’traxler have chosen to focus on butterflies, moths, bees, dragon flies, ladybirds – in fact, all those insects we love.

Curiosity Cloud

mischer’traxler are known for creating installations that surprise. They are concerned with the ephemeral quality and transience of nature as well as man’s interaction with it. One minute you see and the next you don’t. For example, one minute you will see a deer and the next minute it has vanished, so that you wonder if it might have been a trick of the light or your imagination. mischer’traxler already collaborated with Perrier-Jouët for Miami Design 2014 with a work entitled “Ephemera.” This consisted of a table from which coloured cut-outs of foliage and flowers sprang directly upright from the very wood of the table itself. As the visitor approached, the flowers and foliage reacted by leaning over horizontally onto the table. A couple of decorated mirrors with botanical motifs on the walls of the installation had an equally surprising reaction to the visitor. As he or she approached, the motifs disappeared.

Curiosity Cloud

Katarina points out that “Curiosity Cloud”, the installation for the V&A, is a sister to the design in Miami and should be viewed as thus. “Curiosity Cloud” will be made up of 250 hand-crafted and hand-painted insects, each hanging individually in its own mouth-blown crystal bulb roughly the size of a large ostrich egg, with specially crafted metal tops. The bulbs have been made by the exclusive Viennese glass and chandelier manufacturer, Lobmeyr, and the metal tops by metal spinners Wilhelm Seidl. As the visitor approaches, each insect will flutter and gather its own momentum as it bangs against the wall of the bulb. One has to imagine the sparkling lit-up brightness of a crystal bulb with its marvellous insect moving around inside and this repeated 250 times. The 25 species of insects are made of laser-cut printing foil, fluffy felt, glue, wood and other materials. Each insect is painted and coloured by hand reproducing the exact colours of nature. The butterflies are utterly beautiful, as are indeed all the insects for that matter. Of the 25 species that are represented, 2 are in danger, 6 are extinct, 11 are common and 6 are new discoveries. By mixing up extinct species with existing ones, mischer’traxler have added another dimension by creating what is a surreal experience. It will be interesting to see what the public’s reaction will be!

Curiosity Cloud

On a recent visit to the Austrian capital, I was able to meet Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, a young couple in their early thirties who met whilst studying design in Austria, England and Germany. They graduated in 2008, and in 2009 they founded Studio misher’traxler where they develop and design objects, furniture and installations. Despite their youth, their work is already in the permanent collections of the Art Institute in Chicago, the Vitra Design Museum and the MAK in Vienna. They have also exhibited widely around the world. Katharina has the impish face of an elf and Thomas the dark, all-seeing gaze of the artist. Both are serious as well as charming and happy to talk about their work. Katharina explains that they were asked by Perrier-Jouët to create a work for London Design Week that would have something to do with the Art Nouveau heritage of their champagne. With “Curiosity Cloud,” they want to “capture moments in nature in an artificial way, but somehow recreating a moment or a memory of a real encounter with nature.” They were also inspired by the curiosity cabinets found in museums, how we deal with the past and how things are kept.

Curiosity Cloud

As well as the mischer’traxler studio, I was able to visit the family-run crystal works of Lobmeyr, which made the 250 bulbs for the installation. Lobmeyr specialise in lead-free, mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal and have been producing exquisite pieces for nearly 200 years. They were purveyors to the Imperial Court in the 19th Century as well as carrying out such noted commissions as the chandeliers and wall lightings for the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1966. Most interestingly, they have not been afraid to work with innovative and avant garde designers. In 1910, they were in the forefront of the Modern Movement, working in collaboration with designers such as Stephan Rath and Joseph Hoffman. The lines of their glass became purer and more geometric challenging prevailing taste. In 1925, Lobmeyr exhibited at the “Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris. They were awarded the Grand Prix. This great exhibition signalled the beginning of the Art Deco period. Leonid Rath, one of the 6th generation family owners of Lobmeyr, says that the company is committed to carrying on this innovative tradition by working with a new generation of designers.

Curiosity Cloud

Wilhelm Seidl, a family-run metal works since 1908, made the aluminium capsules for the bulbs. They specialise in shaping and spinning unique single pieces in copper, brass, aluminium and silver, and will make anything from spotlights for theatres to customised mud caps. I was able to visit their works in an extraordinary turn-of-the-century building created for the sole purpose of housing different craft works. In this day and age, where everything moves so fast, companies such as Lobmeyr and Wilhelm Seidl still take the time to make things by hand with great skill.

Curiosity Cloud

I came away from Vienna feeling uplifted and reassured. It was a joy to watch Vienna’s famous cafe society spilling out onto the pavements, relaxing in the warmth of the summer’s evening. One could almost imagine Freud or Mozart doing the same thing 100 or 200 years ago. This city, which has seen so much history, has all the pedigree of its past but at the same time embraces the present. I stayed in an edgy hotel, The Daniel, in a converted sixties office block. The rooms were deliberately rudimentary although the shower was tip-top, as was the comfort of the bed. Breakfast consisted of wonderful home-made cherry, plum and apricot jams, caraway flavoured cream cheese, and the type of muesli one dreams of as well as several types of freshly baked breads, amongst other delicacies, reminding one that even though Austria can go minimalist, it won’t forego its traditional luxuries. One could say the same thing for its art, craftsmanship and design. With the confidence and back-up of its historic tradition for excellence, and with its capacity for renewal and new ideas, Vienna and its inhabitants are well set to sail the course of the 21st Century.

Further Information

Perrier-Jouët – www.perrier-jouet.com

mischler’traxler – www.mischertraxler.com

Lobmeyr – www.lobmeyr.at

Wilhelm Seidl – www.metalldesign-wien.at

Lincoln Townley Meets The Godfather By Jayjay Epega

Artist Lincoln Townley was lucky enough to meet The Godfather himself, Mr. Al Pacino, on his recent short trip to the UK and was able to present to him in person an exclusive finished portrait. Jayjay Epega finds out more….

Lincoln Townley and Al Pacino (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln Townley and Al Pacino (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Lincoln Townley, who paints in a dedicated studio at home in Cheshire, is fast becoming one of the world’s most renowned artists, and has been specialising in celebrity portraits with the likes of Actors Russell Brand, Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke, Madonna, Sir John Hurt and most recently, Charlie Sheen. Townley has also painted collections related to London’s Soho red light district and his own life journey, which is reflected in his book published in 2014 by Simon and Schuster, called The Hunger.

Hollywood Portraits (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Hollywood Portraits (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

This late spring, he was honoured to meet and present a completed work to The Godfather himself, the one and only legendary Al Pacino, when the Hollywood actor returned to England to appear on the London stage to present a Q&A about his life. The Oscar-winning star appeared in a second “Evening With…” after sparking a new flood of stage interviews in the capital with celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Travolta, following his appearance at the London Palladium in 2013. Townley was delighted to personally catch up with him during this very special trip.

Al Pacino in London (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Al Pacino in London (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

What motivates Townley’s diverse body of work, from capturing the raw essence of Hollywood legends, to expressing his own pain and suffering? “I express myself without fear. I descend into familiar, dark places, which, on many occasions, have almost consumed me,” the artist confesses. “But isn’t that what being an artist means? To paint without restraint, to face the fear of death, violence, insignificance, to know that that the chaos bubbling just below the surface, those unconscious forces we can neither name nor control, has something to teach us about what it means to be alive. I almost drank and drugged myself to death and painting my demons is my way of staying alive. If I wasn’t painting them, they’d destroy me. It may not always be easy on the eye or soft on the heart but my work is honest and I can only paint my truth.”

Al Pacino's Portrait (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Al Pacino’s Portrait (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Another exciting highlight for the artist is news that the American CEO of BAFTA in Los Angeles has commissioned a portrait of an iconic star (it has exclusively been revealed to The Luxury Channel to be Sir Michael Caine), to be presented to the actor at the Britannia Awards in Hollywood in October, in front of a star-studded audience. Townley will in the meantime be heading to Los Angeles this summer with his family to follow up on new commissions with major celebrity names that include Robert Downey Jr., Joaquin Phoenix and Martin Sheen. His next grand event will be this Autumn, when he will hold an exhibition of his work at The Royal Academy.

For further details, please visit www.lincolntownley.com.

Contemporary Art In The City By Camilla Hellman

Marc Quinn's Fortuna

In the days running up to the Contemporary Art Auction at Sothebys New York, a wonderful, large and athletic sculpture sat at the side of the Sothebys building with a guard stood posted by her. This, I learnt, was Fortuna by British artist Marc Quinn, sitting on the pavement on York Avenue and 72nd Street – sparkling white as the traffic and neighbourhood rushed up. I walk my Corgi Lulu there daily and I became quite intrigued by this wonderful sculpture. The work was expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2million. The Contemporary Art Auction offered 398 lots, of which 311 were sold. Fortuna, sadly, was not sold. I miss Fortuna on the street, though – this was a really rather beautiful study.

Sebastian Masuda

Sebastian Masuda

I love the temporary public art that pops ups throughout New York – it makes the city so interesting – and the other week offered a new surprise. As I made my way up Second Avenue in abysmal New York traffic, a very large, be-bowed Hello Kitty sculpture made me detour….who and what was this?? What was this unusual, almost whimsical, piece sitting in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, just by the United Nations? It is Hello Kitty, the work of 25 year old Japanese artist Sebastian Masuda. The nine foot tall, giant sculpture (which looks rather cuddly, I think) is where New Yorkers can deposit personal objects – all part of Masuda’s “Time Capsule” project.

Hello Kitty

First viewed at Art Basel Miami in November, the “Time Capsules” project features large scale “cute” sculptures that will be exhibited in major cities around the world. After New York, Hello Kitty will journey to Amsterdam in September. The multi-city project concludes at the 2020 Japanese Olympics when all the “Time Capsules” are brought together from around the world – filled with the objects deposited.

Santiago Calatrava

New York has also seen the arrival of red waves of steel up the central divide of Park Avenue. The work of Santiago Calatrava, the seven sculpture installation runs from 52nd to 55th Street. The sculptures “flow” along the Avenue in Calatrava’s signature style. The renowned Spanish neo-futuristic architect is a structural engineer, sculptor and painter, who has undertaken the design of stations, public projects and bridges throughout the world. For the past 12 years, Calatrava has been undertaking the design of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York (although the latter project has been fraught with delays and problems). As New York awaits sight of Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, his waves of steel on Park Avenue can be enjoyed by New Yorkers until November.

The Incredible Artistic Journey of Lincoln Townley By Jayjay Epega

Charlie Sheen and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Charlie Sheen and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

“He has captured the essence of what it is to live with addiction and he is able to do this because he has his own story of addiction and recovery” – Charlie Sheen on the work of Lincoln Townley.

Charlie Sheen perfectly sums up the life and incredible artistic journey of Lincoln Townley, a prolific artist who specialises in figurative painting. Born in London in 1972, Townley discovered the wonder of art through his grandfather, who was an engineer and a painter. He classes the work of Francis Bacon as one of his earliest influences.

Russell Brand and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Russell Brand and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Townley, who is a disarmingly honest and a very personable man, spent many years leading a manic life of excess and decadence, during his time living and working in clubs in London’s Soho, giving in to every type of temptation laid before him. He spiralled into addictions of all kinds before cleaning up his act and turning his life around only a few years ago. His story is truly inspirational and having lived to tell the tale, he managed to put it all into book form via his 2014 memoir The Hunger, a bestseller, which was published by Simon & Schuster.

His early works capture the powerful, raw emotions exorcising his experiences from the punishing influence of substance abuse and alcohol indulgence, and are all about consumption, madness and the darker side of life, something he knew he had to completely remove himself from. He is self-taught and has found his art to have been a solid form of therapy, together with meeting and marrying his wife, actress Denise Welch in 2013, as they have been an enormous support for each other.

Brendan Coyle and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Brendan Coyle and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Townley has become one of the most talked about artists in the contemporary scene, with commissions now with a start price in the region of $50,000. He has been asked to work with a number of Hollywood greats and well-known media names, with recent commission requests from Mickey Rourke, Jack Nicholson, Gary Oldman, Russell Brand, Harry Dean Stanton and Nick Nolte. Townley recently visited Charlie Sheen at his home in Los Angeles, where he completed the work by getting Sheen to sign the finished product.

Hollywood Portraits

Townley has simple but very wise advice for those starting out – to “keep going and continually make sure to show your work, never give up on the passion of what you do. Check out other artists, other works, because that is such an excellent source of inspiration.” He practices what he preaches by often visiting galleries and various art events, his favourite being the National Gallery.

Charlie Sheen and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Charlie Sheen and Lincoln Townley (image courtesy of Lincoln Townley)

Townley, who has started on a new Madonna “Rebel Heart” commission, is next headed to New York to meet with both Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino and then to London to meet Tom Cruise, to personally present them with finished works, before showing a collection at The Royal Academy of Arts in the Autumn.

For further information on Lincoln Townley, please visit www.lincolntownley.com.

Investing In Photography By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel speaks to Dr. Jan Seewald, Executive Curator of LUMAS, about investing in photography….

Dr. Jan  Seewald - Executive Curator LUMAS

Dr. Jan Seewald – Executive Curator LUMAS

What do you think is important to consider when investing in photography?

Even though it is tempting to consider art as an investment, I would not recommend collecting with a financial motivation when starting out. Art should always trigger emotions and it is vital to actually “fall in love” with a piece to enjoy it over a long period of time. However, it is important to determine how much one is willing to spend on photography each month or each quarter, especially when starting out. Before buying something, it is most important to actually find out what you like. To determine this, the following strategy always worked for me: go to museums, browse through galleries, attend art fairs whenever possible and flip through photography books. This way, you will find out what you are drawn to because you may personally relate to it. Pretend you have an unlimited budget and see what you would buy, if there were no limits. Your taste will narrow down and you will know quickly where your soft spot is. Actually, LUMAS is a great place to experience a large variety of works, from established masters to young talents and from very affordable prices to more expensive pieces. Over the years, LUMAS has been making contemporary photography accessible to a wider audience of art enthusiasts and young collectors – both online and in over 35 galleries around the world. More than 1,800 works by 200 established artists and very promising newcomers deliver a comprehensive look into the contemporary art and design scenes.

Kate At The Launderette by Arthur Elgort, Red Parasol by Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Kate Shopping by Arthur Elgort (images courtesy of Vogue Archive Collection and LUMAS)

Kate At The Launderette by Arthur Elgort, Red Parasol by Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Kate Shopping by Arthur Elgort (images courtesy of Vogue Archive Collection and LUMAS)

Have you seen any particular trends across LUMAS’ 37 worldwide galleries over the last ten years?

A trend, which is quite interesting, is that more and more people are buying art online. That was not the case when we started out with LUMAS ten years ago. A lot of people come to one of our LUMAS galleries and see something they like, but they may not want to decide straight away. They want to think about the perfect place for their new work and make the choice at home. Picking up on this trend we created an app, which allows the user to visualise any work from the LUMAS portfolio in their own home, by downloading a placeholder code on the wall, which allows you to view any LUMAS photograph in 3D on your own wall. Once you find a work you like, convenient in-app ordering is possible from the LUMAS Online Shop.

The Women by Horst P. Horst, Dry Martini by Karen Radkai and The Mainbocher Corset by Horst P. Horst (images courtesy of Vogue Archive Collection and LUMAS)

The Women by Horst P. Horst, Dry Martini by Karen Radkai and The Mainbocher Corset by Horst P. Horst (images courtesy of Vogue Archive Collection and LUMAS)

Do you think photography will continue to increase in popularity as a fine art form?

Photography has become more and more popular over the last couple of years. Historically, prices for photographs used to be much lower then for other art forms, such as paintings or sculpture, but this is changing fast. There is a strong increase in value and in prices, especially when it comes to big names such as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Andreas Gursky, Richard Prince or Cindy Sherman. But the interest in photography is growing stronger, which is apparent in the growing worldwide interest in photo fairs, such as Paris Photo, Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam, AIPAD or the newly established Photo London, which is being held for the first time in May this year. I think photography will continue to grow in popularity and we have not seen the peak yet. The fact that photography is now considered to be an art form in the same league as painting and sculpture has only been a fairly recent development in art history. It slowly evolved from documentary photography and journalism to one of the most important mediums in art. Maybe that’s why photography is more accessible to new collectors than other, more established art forms. At least, that’s our experience and it has shaped our understanding of art, which was a key factor when LUMAS was founded.

AnthropoScene By The Luxury Channel

London-based artist Gayle Chong Kwan‘s “Anthropo-scene” is a multi-layered installation at Bloomberg SPACE that explores the built environment – and the resultant waste – in relation to the City of London. Fantastical, large, wall-based photographic panoramas are created from London’s lost buildings – as well as contemporary waste. Chong Kwan’s installation concentrates on this small geographical area to explore our footprint and its effect on the landscape through time and space, as a simple way of bringing home a global issue – that the planet has been irrevocably marked and changed by our impact on it.

AnthropoScene

Chong Kwan juxtaposes contemporary materials with historic and archaeological objects, mixing excavation and construction, ruin and renewal, and confounding their chronology in order to question the idea of posterity. Installations in the gallery recall stacks of archaeological drawers, adding a further historical dimension.

AnthropoScene

The shift in the relationship between humanity and nature further complicates distinctions between artificial and natural, and real and imaginary – questions raised by Chong Kwan‘s installation. Waste is not just “matter out of place,” a definition first given by Lord Palmerston in the mid-nineteenth century, but also calls into question the links between clean and dirty, wanted and rejected, inside and outside. The early uses of the word reflect its Latinate etymology – “waste” is derived from “vastus,” giving waste the same Latin root as the word “vast” and meaning spaces that are void or immense. The exhibition admits this temporal nature of waste, suggesting places so large, empty or lacking in utility that they bring to bear ideas of space in limbo and out of synch with human activity and proportion.

AnthropoScene

Ultimately, however, whilst Chong Kwan’s exhibition confronts the viewer with the reality of the concept of waste, there is also an underlying positive message. The stark presentation allows the viewer the opportunity to consider propensity to change, to transgress from excessive and, for the most part, thoughtless consumption, and in turn, enlighten their outlook on the impact that humanity has on the planet. Chong Kwan challenges the viewer to accept the idea that sustainability is a valid measure for the future, and that change is not only necessary but also progressive.

AnthropoScene

Chong Kwan’s exhibition for Bloomberg SPACE is the second in the 2015 series “The Homecoming,” a programme of four projects by Adam Dant, Gayle Chong Kwan, David Blandy and Melanie Manchot, which explore and respond to the history and architecture of the City of London.

Gayle Chong Kwan, Anthropo-scene, 10th April – 27th June 2015, is open Mon – Sat, 11am- 6pm, at 50 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1HD. For more information, go to www.arts-co.com.

Salt And Silver – The Luxury Channel Meets Carol Jacobi By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel meets Carol Jacobi, the curator of Salt & Silver – Early Photography at Tate Britain….

Salt & Silver

How did you select the pictures for this particular collection?

The photographs in the exhibition are from all around the world, but all are salted paper prints that have survived from the brief period when they flourished in the middle of the nineteenth century. Salt prints were the first form of paper photography as we know it today, introduced in Britain by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1839. They spread throughout the globe, but lasted only twenty years. Sharper, shinier methods replaced them and their distinctive look was lost. These rare examples have been collected over decades by Michael Wilson, and the Wilson Centre of Photography has collaborated with Tate Britain for this first exhibition of its kind in this country.

Salt & Silver

What has been the most exciting discovery for you curating this collection?

The special aesthetic of the prints. The tragic figure John Beasly Greene, for example, was a French-American archeologist who began photographing in Egypt at the age of 19 and died in Cairo at 24. In those few years he challenged the taste for clarity that dominated his field. He used the limits of the salt print medium – blurring, burn-out, shadow and their velvety texture – to explore its poetic potential and evoke the enigmatic atmosphere of ancient Egyptian sites.

Salt & Silver

So, what were early photographers actually taking photos of?

Their world. Photography was from the start an art of the contemporary. Salt prints materials were portable and almost immediately photographers were exploring the globe. They also made striking compositions of the new cities, railways, wars and disasters, working people and celebrities. Eugène Piot’s gritty image of the Parthenon shortly after Greek independence is striking. Photography was also a newly intimate medium and photographers such as Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson found ways to capture fleeting moments of childhood, lovers and friends.

Salt & Silver

It’s been argued that with the advancement of modern technology, the photos that we store digitally are in fact more fragile in many ways than salt print photographs – would you agree?

Digital cameras became commercially available after 1990 and it is interesting to ask yourself how easy it is to find and access photographs that you made 10 or 20 years ago. Institutions are perhaps more systematic than individuals in storing digital files and prints.

Salt & Silver

Is the art of photography now recognised as an art form?

This is the importance of the exhibition. The exceptional thing about those first two decades when photography was hand-made, before it became widely commercialised, was that people were fascinated by these paper prints’ potential as art. Many of the first photographers were artists. The painter Jean-Baptiste Frénet, for example, studied Raphael’s Renaissance Holy Families. Our poster image shows how his family groups entwine the figures, hands and gazes in a similar way to create wonderful complex relationships. Other early photographers were writers, scientists, surgeons, soldiers and engineers, and all of these seem to have been inspired by the artistic possibilities and challenges of the new medium. The pictorial creativity and beauty of light and shadow of salt prints look forward to modern photography.

Salt & Silver

Whose photography has inspired you over the years?

This is very difficult to answer briefly! Talbot has to take top place for the experimental, resonant images he made in the first five years. His image of Nelson’s Column being built in Trafalgar Square is one of the stars of the show. Roger Fenton and Félix Nadar cannot be matched for their psychological insight and superb handling of light and dark. Fenton’s famous portrait of a young soldier, shocked and exhausted after the rigors of the Crimea war, is unforgettable. These are well-known names, but I have also been inspired by landscapes and portraits in the exhibition by, until now, less well-known figures, such as Frenet, Beasly Greene or the Mexican photographer Ignacio Gavino Rocha.

Salt & Silver

What makes a great photograph?

Salt prints do not have that frozen quality of sharper photographs such as daguerreotypes and their soft, papery texture leaves room for movement and imagination. Hill and Adamson’s Newhaven Fishermen (Alexander Rutherford, William Ramsay and John Liston) circa 1845 is very early and the group was carefully posed and composed, yet the three men fill the frame with a marvellously informal camaraderie.

Salt & Silver

Salt & Silver – Early Photography runs at Tate Britain until 7th June. For further information, go to www.tate.org.uk/whats-on.

Ralph Heimans On His Crowning Achievement By The Luxury Channel

Ralph Heimans' painting of Her Majesty The Queen

Ralph Heimans’ painting of Her Majesty The Queen

For an artist, all commissions between the subject and artist are very personal but when your work demands you paint a portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, this surely must take on a whole new dimension of a client relationship.

Portrait artist Ralph Heimans is, however, no stranger to painting royalty, having previously been commissioned to paint the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. As the only artist commissioned to paint Her Majesty in her Diamond Jubilee year, it must have been especially challenging, if not nerve-wracking. The Luxury Channel was privileged to be invited to Westminster Abbey with a small group of guests to see this extraordinary painting, which was not only extraordinarily large but also very detailed.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

“It was the most ambitious thing I’ve done by far, without a doubt,” Heimans affirms. “Choosing just exactly how to represent the Queen was hard. That was something that I was completely struck by when I met her – she looked incredible, and she was beautiful.”

Heimans’ 11 foot painting depicts Her Majesty caught in a moment of quiet reflection in Westminster Abbey. “This is obviously an imagined moment – it never happened – but it’s almost as if it could have happened,” Heimans says. “She’s surrounded by this immense darkness and space, so you have a sense of her solitude. No-one can possibly imagine what it’s like to perform her role. Perhaps there’s a sense of the burden of office, and that is something I wanted to convey, in the way she holds her heavy robe.”

The robe itself – the robe of State, no less – is very much a focal point in the painting, and Heimans was keen for this to be the case. “The robe is a device, in the way that I’ve used it – to lead the viewer into the subject directly,” he says. During her sitting with Heimans, which took place not at the Abbey but at Buckingham Palace, “the Queen stood as close to [how she stands in the painting] for as long as she could. I mean, it’s a very heavy robe so I was told that she could only be standing for about five to ten minutes – understandably. It requires four people to carry it!”

Close-up of Ralph Heimans' painting

Close-up of Ralph Heimans’ painting

However, the effect, it would seem, is very much worth it. “It was an amazing experience,” Heimans recalls of meeting Her Majesty. “She was wearing [the robe], and when she first appeared down the end of the long corridor at Buckingham Palace, I was standing at one end and it was quite a long approach. The sun was streaming through the windows and she sort of sparkled as she passed every window, so it was quite a dramatic entrance!” But when the Queen finally reached Heimans, “she was a real person and there was this human dimension. I was struck by her warmth and her humanity, and that was a dimension I wanted to bring to the painting. When you see her face up close, there’s a lot of expression and soul in it. So that was the same experience that I wanted viewers [of the painting] to get – see the painting from afar and she has this sense of majesty, but come in closer and there’s a real sense of the individual – her humanity, what she’s thinking, what she’s feeling – to really involve the viewer in an emotional way.”

Heimans had his work cut out for himself, however. In addition to the quick timescale required to produce the work (just four months), he also had the logistical nightmare of subject and setting. “I think that the contextual dimension is often neglected,” the artist laments. “Portrait artists don’t often tackle the challenge of composition, but I think the choice of setting can be exciting and say a lot about a subject.” So why that particular spot in Westminster Abbey specifically? “It’s the epicentre of monarchy,” Heimans says. “That circle where the Queen is standing is the very spot where every monarch has been crowned for the past nine hundred years. She was crowned there on that very spot, so it’s very sacred and it’s like taking her back to where the story began.”

Ralph Heimans in his studio

Ralph Heimans in his studio

Story is an important element in Heimans’ works, and has always fascinated him. “My portraits are very narrative-based,” he agrees. “I always like to tell a story to connect the individual and the study of their character, with place and time. I enjoy playing with the narrative potential.”

So, where do you go as an artist following such a prestigious commission? “I’m doing a portrait of Sir Ben Kingsley, which is quite fun,” Heimans reveals. “I’m enjoying that. He has a great face. He’s a very spiritual man and we have a lovely connection.”

For Heimans, however, it’s his passion for his subjects (albeit a different sort of subject to those of a monarch) that remain his focus. “I love portraiture,” he smiles. “It’s something that I’ve chosen to do, and there’s love in the process.” Long live the portrait king!

Further Information

To see more of Ralph Heimans’ work, go to www.ralphheimans.com. For any enquiries, please contact Lady Penny Mountbatten by e-mailing pmountbatten@hotmail.co.uk.

Angela Palmer’s Adrenalin By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel meets sculptor Angela Palmer to talk about a unique collaboration for her solo exhibition, Adrenalin. Palmer was given unprecedented access to the highly secretive world of Formula One engineering to realise an extraordinary collection of sculptures for her show….

V8 Engine (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit -  Todd White)

V8 Engine (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit –
Todd White)

Firstly, what inspired you to work with the V8? Have you always been interested in machinery?

One of the major themes of my work is to take the familiar and peel back the outer layer to reveal the unfamiliar below. When I was stuck in a traffic jam, it suddenly struck me that although billions drive cars in the world, few have probably any idea what lies under the bonnet. I personally would not have had a clue what a crankshaft or a cylinder head looked like, yet we spend so much of our lives with this mechanical “beating heart” lying so close to us, sometimes all day, every day. The engine nowadays is hidden under a sheet of steel. I began to wonder what its individual components would look like, seen in the abstract, stripped of their function. I could physically “dis-embowel” an engine, piece by piece, and examine its sculptural possibilities. I started with a build-your-own Haynes 4-cylinder combustion engine which I bought online before moving to the real thing at my local breaker’s yard – a scrapped Datsun Cherry engine. After I stripped it down, I was immediately drawn to the crankshaft, which resembled a sculptural fusion of Brancusi and Boccioni.

Walnut Crankshaft (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.   Photo credit - Todd White)

Walnut Crankshaft (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.
Photo credit – Todd White)

The form of the orange cylinder head seal echoed a three-dimensional version of Philip Guston or Keith Haring. I imagined the crankshaft ten times its size, in wood, as a monumental totem pole; the gears sculpted from stone boulders and the fan belt as a massive coiling swirl in steel. A friend who used to be head of a Formula One team urged me to jettison the Datsun Cherry, determined that I should try and access the most supreme engine in the world: the RS27, the Formula One V8 engine designed and built by Renault Sport F1. It is regarded as the most advanced and most successful engine in the world, having powered Sebastian Vettel to four consecutive world Grand Prix from 2010 to 2013. He believed it exemplified the height of engineering genius today and he introduced me to the company’s then President, Jean-Michel Jalinier. I duly met up with him in London and he agreed to provide me with every detail of this phenomenal engine; I could hardly believe it. He invited me to their F1 HQ at Viry-Chatillon in Paris to meet the engineers and see the engines being built, and I was also provided me with CAD drawings and unique engine parts of the RS27. My timing could not have been more fortuitous: any details of the engine are normally guarded like state secrets to prevent industrial espionage, but due to a dramatic change in F1 rules which started this year, the V8 had been replaced by the downsized V6 engine.

You have described the world’s Formula One circuits as redolent of Eastern calligraphy. What did you mean by that?

Until I began this project, I was unfamiliar with any of the circuits. When I saw them in the abstract, they reminded me of the elegant brush-stroke shapes of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy which I’ve always found very arresting visually (I lived in Hong Kong for four years). I created them in wall-mounted neons in red and blue, and each person sees something very different in each which I find quite exciting.

Race Track 1 - Circuit de Spa, Francorchamps, Belgium (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.  Photo credit - Todd White)

Race Track 1 – Circuit de Spa, Francorchamps, Belgium (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit – Todd White)

Do you have a favourite circuit, and why?

Without a doubt, Shanghai! It is shaped like the Chinese character Shang, which means “high.” To the drivers who’ve seen the neon tracks in the exhibition, each twist and turn, or even the most subtle kink in the circuit, has some redolence; all seem to have a different meaning for each individual’s experience.

Portland Stone Double Cog (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.  Photo credit - Todd White)

Portland Stone Double Cog (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit – Todd White)

Why was it so important to you to have an audio component to your exhibition, as well as a visual one?

Renault designs and builds F1 engines for four teams – Infiniti Red Bull, Lotus, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Caterham – and they invited me as their guest to the pits at this year’s Silverstone Grand Prix. Almost immediately, I could see why people are so intoxicated by Formula One: it is glamorous and dangerous and sensuous in equal measure. It was compelling watching teams of smitten men attending to their charge, with such life-or-death focus. No-one spoke; it was eerily silent. Each knew his job with military precision and worked at frightening speed. The tension was palpable. I stood inches behind the car as it was being prepared, and it looked like some mechanical Marilyn Monroe – its wide-hipped body tucked dramatically in at the waist, then widening out again, dazzling in glamorous colours.

Red Exhaust (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.  Photo credit - Todd White)

Red Exhaust (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit – Todd White)

The sound of the Formula One engines was like some primal, visceral roar, running through your entire being. It was a like an electrical current passing from the driver and car to the spectators – I immediately realised sound must become an integral part of my project. By pure chance, it emerged that Nick Mason of Pink Floyd had recorded the sounds of his car collection. He has a serious passion for cars, and with his test driver Mark Hales, he drove his entire car collection to their limits at Silverstone and recorded the sound of each. He generously allowed me to use the recordings of his three eight cylinder cars which we then remixed with the RS27, providing almost a century of evolution of eight cylinder engines. Nick’s recordings are of his 1920s Bugatti, 1930s Alfa Romeo and 1980s Tyrrell. We created the sounds as an installation which people can experience in a small blacked-out room with synchronised light.

F1 Crystal Glass Helmet (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.   Photo credit - Todd White)

F1 Crystal Glass Helmet (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.
Photo credit – Todd White)

Tell us about the Child Mummy, and how you came to work on that? What was the biggest challenge of the project?

I developed a technique to show the inner architecture of the human body by drawing details of MRI and CT scans onto multiple sheets of glass, which are then presented on a slatted base to create a three-dimensional drawing in space. I collaborated with the Ashmolean Museum to apply this technique to an Egyptian child mummy in their collection. His bandages could never be disturbed, but I was able to show what he looked like through this method. We took him to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where over 2,500 CT scans were taken. I took details from these and drew them with ink onto 111 sheets of glass, to re-create the child life-size in three dimensions. This work is now a permanent sculpture, next to the boy himself, at the Ashmolean’s Egyptian Galleries.

Butterfly Valve (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society.  Photo credit - Todd White)

Butterfly Valve (image courtesy of Angela Palmer and The Fine Art Society. Photo credit – Todd White)

When did you first realise the impact that art can have, in its many guises? Why were you so drawn to sculpture as an art form?

From my earliest memories as a child: I escaped from the world of grown-ups, and the suffocating rules imposed by them, by creating imaginary worlds of my own in a sandpit, far, far away from our farmhouse. I created fantasy landscapes, modelled from the sand, and drove my imaginary car at tremendous speeds through precarious cliff-top roads, as the shifting sands gave way behind me. Next day, these fantastical landscapes would be gone, and I’d start re-sculpting again. I’m drawn to the three-dimensional properties of sculptures; I find two-dimensional too restrictive and limiting. Three dimensions invites the imagination to explore and often leads, subconsciously, into other dimensions beyond.

Adrenalin

Of all the projects you’ve worked on, do you have a particular favourite?

The Ghost Forest project was immensely challenging – moving ten mighty rainforest trees from a commercially logged virgin rainforest in the depths of Ghana in Africa to the feet of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London was a monumental undertaking, but an extraordinary experience. Visiting the birthplace and finding the burial site of the 2000-year-old Egyptian child from the Ashmolean was compelling and deeply moving. The Formula One project has been so different – I’ve learned so much, experienced working in exciting new materials, and enjoyed what seemed like impossible visions being realised. So it’s hard to select any one project as a favourite.

What is luxury to you? Do you see luxury as an art of expression, creativity and craftsmanship?

I am a Calvinistic Scot. I regard luxury like happiness, an experience, which can only be enjoyed in the knowledge; it will be transient and fleeting.

For more information about Angela Palmer’s work, go to www.angelaspalmer.com.

Be Inspired By The Luxury Channel

"Kanja Shaking" by Tim Flach

“Kanja Shaking” by Tim Flach

An exciting and irresistible selection of contemporary art from artists such as Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Idris Khan and Salvador Dali will be auctioned online, culminating in a live auction on Wednesday 1st October at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The BE INSPIRED Contemporary Art Auction is being hosted to raise vital funds for children with life-limiting illnesses, and for inspirational arts engagement programmes run for disadvantaged children by www.childrenandarts.org.uk.

"Sleeping & Dreams" by Tracey Emin

“Sleeping & Dreams” by Tracey Emin

Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts was set up with the fundamental belief that every child has the right to be inspired by the arts. The charity’s UK-wide arts engagement programmes work with deprived children from areas of social and economic disadvantage, and build partnerships between their schools and local high quality cultural venues. The charity takes children on a journey into their local arts venue and unlocks the arts for those who need to be inspired by them the most, raising children’s self-esteem and confidence, and nurturing their communication skills. Through the work of Children & the Arts, children learn that cultural venues are welcoming, accessible places to visit and since 2006, Children & The Arts has introduced over 300,000 children to life-changing arts experiences.

"Balmoral Castle" by HRH The Prince of Wales

“Balmoral Castle” by HRH The Prince of Wales

Every piece sold in the auction will allow more children to take part in Children & The Arts programmes, with a particular emphasis on the Start Hospices programme, which enables children with a life-limiting illness to enjoy special, organised family days out at local galleries, museums and theatres; bringing families together away from their usual day-to-day routine of clinical care and support at their local hospice. Chief Executive Jeremy Newton revealed that the money raised “will have a huge impact on our work, not least our Start Hospices programme, which gives families coping with this most difficult time a rare respite from the illness, allowing them to spend valuable time together in a new, relaxed but adapted and supported setting, enjoying arts activities and experiences that will stay with them forever.”

"The Coach And The Fly" by Salvador Dali

“The Coach And The Fly” by Salvador Dali

The auction itself is being run by Paddle8, whose Founder and President Alexander Gilkes said that the company was “honoured to be supporting Children & The Arts by presenting this auction to Paddle8’s community of 200,000 art collectors worldwide. The auction includes an outstanding group of artworks by some of the most coveted artists working today, and we are delighted to be a part of this.”

"Hyacinthine Macaw" by Elizabeth Butterworth

“Hyacinthine Macaw” by Elizabeth Butterworth

The online auction is available at wwww.paddle8.com/pfca. The live auction at the Saatchi Gallery on 1st October is by invitation only. To register your interest, please email beinspired@childrenandarts.org.uk.

Matt Dillon’s Musical Journey By Jayjay Epega

Matt Dillon (image courtesy of Michael Swartz, Icon)

Matt Dillon (image courtesy of Michael Swartz, Icon)

The Luxury Channel caught up with Hollywood actor Matt Dillon, who was recently in Europe attending the Taormina Film Festival in Italy, where he talked about his love of Cuban music and his forthcoming documentary. Dillon has had a prolific career and can count amongst his filmography The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, There’s Something About Mary, Crash – for which he got an Academy Award Nomination – and, most recently, Bad Country and The Art of the Steal.

Of late, he has been working on a project about the late Francisco Fellove, a Cuban scat singer who fled Cuba for Mexico in the early 1950s. “He was a great artist and he left a great musical legacy. It was a privilege for me to be able to work and spend time with him” says Dillon, a true music lover who says he’s also a “very amateur” percussionist. “The stuff the musicians of that time were doing was so creative and interesting, and that’s one of the themes I’ll be talking about, as well as the people and their relationships and the way they took care of each other.”

Matt Dillon & Francisco Fellove (image courtesy of Matt Dillon)

Matt Dillon & Francisco Fellove (image courtesy of Matt Dillon)

Francisco Fellove died in 2013 in Mexico aged 89, but is remembered for his fabulous onstage flair and original vocal stylings which, on songs like El Jamaiquino, established him as a pioneer of Spanish-language scat. He is considered a founder of the Cuban jazz-inspired bolero movement called Filin. Fellove wrote his signature song Mango Mangué at the age of just seventeen. Inspired by the calls of street vendors, it was recorded by Celia Cruz and salsero Johnny Pacheco, amongst other artists. The singer and composer was a long-time resident of Mexico and soon after his arrival, Mexican artistic director and producer Mariano Rivera Conde dubbed him “El Gran” (“The Great”) Fellove.

As far as the documentary goes, Dillon is open to working with new talent and developing original ideas. “I believe it’s good to use mixed media, to keep it as dynamic as I can,” he enthuses. Dillon also says he is keen to keep growing and learning. “I want to be more proactive; to do the things I’m excited about as an actor and director as opposed to just being an actor for hire.”

Matt Dillon in "Wayward Pines" (image courtesy of Fox Television)

Matt Dillon in “Wayward Pines” (image courtesy of Fox Television)

So what’s next for the star? Things are going from strength to strength, in particular with his starring role in Fox’s first event series, Wayward Pines, the drama from M. Night Shyamalan and Chad Hodge, which will air globally in 2015. It is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Blake Crouch, and is described as a thriller in the vein of Twin Peaks. The drama revolves around Ethan Burke (Dillon), a Secret Service agent who arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, on a mission to find two missing federal agents.

Though he readily admits he’s generally drawn toward darker material, Dillon says that what is most important thing to him, in any medium, is that the project is truthful. “That’s what inspired me to become an actor — it wasn’t the idea of performance, it was the power of being able to turn the mirror on the audience. Verisimilitude, that’s my new favorite word!”

For more information on Wayward Pines, go to www.fox.com/wayward-pines

Dido Belle And The Scone Palace Exhibit By Camilla Hellman

Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray

Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray

Belle is a poignant and powerful film produced by Damian Jones (whose past triumphs include The History Boys and The Iron Lady), telling the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race daughter of a slave and a British admiral, who brought Dido to Britain to live with his uncle at Kenwood.

Dido Belle is captured within a wonderful painting now hanging at Scone Palace in Perth, and in May, an exhibit opened at the Palace to coincide with the UK release of the film. The connection between the film and the exhibition is that the only portrait representation of Dido Belle known to exist hangs in the Ambassador’s Room at Scone Palace.

Dido Elizabeth Belle was born in the 18th century to Sir John Lindsay, nephew of the 1st Earl of Mansfield, and the African slave Maria Belle. She was brought up under the care and protection of the 1st Earl of Mansfield who was the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. The 1st Earl’s family home was at Scone Palace, and his successors are the owners of the Scone Palace and Mansfield Estates.

In 1772, the Earl of Mansfield ruled that no slave could be taken from England or Wales under force, saying: “The state of slavery is of such a nature and so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it.” This judgement is now viewed as a crucial early step towards the international abolition of slavery.

Scone Palace has announced that the exhibition will include interpretive panels which will explore Belle’s lineage and family tree, and provide background on her father Sir John Lindsay’s illustrious naval career, which saw him serve in a number of wars and campaigns that were crucial in the rise of the British Empire. A central focus of the exhibition will be the 1779 portrait attributed to Johann Zoffany, which depicts Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray.

The exhibition will also tell the story of Scotland’s connections with the slave trade, highlighting how, after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, many defeated Scots Jacobites fled to the West Indies to become slave masters in plantations.

Also on display will be costumes from the period, the only archive in the Scone Palace collection that relates to John Lindsay – a ‘‘very private and confidential’’ letter from Lord Sandwich, Lord of the Admiralty, to the 1st Earl of Mansfield – and an inkwell which belonged to the Earl and dates from the 1700s.

The Hon. William Murray, Master of Stormont, who carried out much of the historical research for the exhibition, said: “We are delighted to be launching this exciting new exhibition to coincide with the release of the film Belle. We hope the exhibition will provide fans of the film and visitors to Scone Palace with a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of Belle and her family, as well as a unique insight into the rich history of the period.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland added that “film tourism is a growing trend, and it’s great news for Perthshire that Scone has such strong ties to this movie, creating the exhibition to promote the history, heritage and real people behind [its] story.”

The exhibition runs throughout the summer season. For more information, please go to www.scone-palace.co.uk.

The Art of Investing By Hannah Norman

If there is one thing the global recession and fluctuating bank rates have shown us, it is that money is becoming increasingly less valuable left in the bank. With this in mind, more people are turning their attention to collecting and investing in art. This, we are told, is not only a pleasure but also a realistic and tangible asset that can have huge growth potential.

Fragonard’s "The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt"

Fragonard’s “The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt”

Several pieces sold by Bonhams over the course of the last year have been record-breaking, from Fragonard’s The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt, which sold for £17.1 million, to the rare Buddhist (377 BC – 1017 AD) Indian carved stone temple step, selling for £553,250 – a world record for a temple step of this kind. The beautiful 1,000 year old pre-Hindu stone step is one of only six examples known to date from this period, making this discovery the seventh. “The past year has seen a series of records broken in Bonhams salerooms round the world, from London to Los Angeles,” Julian Roup (Bonhams’ Director of Press and Marketing) revealed. “This comes on top of the successful launch of the company’s new headquarters in New Bond Street, London.”

From art to fashion – in recent news, Bonhams sold a rare, fancy deep-blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats for a record price of $1.8m per carat, which was bought by Graff Diamonds. The diamond, set in a Trombino ring, was made by Bulgari, the renowned Italian jeweller favoured by Hollywood film stars, and the epitome of fashion and innovation during the 1960s.

Fancy deep-blue diamond set in a Trombino ring, made by Bulgari

Fancy deep-blue diamond set in a Trombino ring, made by Bulgari

Fashion brands in particular are becoming aware of the importance of art, and several houses have gone to great lengths to show their appreciation for the arts. Gucci, for instance, is an associate sponsor of Frieze Masters and Alexander McQueen will be taking part at Frieze London. Miuccia Prada, a longtime supporter of contemporary art, is allegedly opening a museum of modern art in Milan in 2015. It all makes sense – the HNW buyers updating their wardrobes with designer purchases are the self same buyers looking to invest in art works. “It’s convergent practice,” reveals Sigrid Kirk, co-founder of Arts Co. “Fashion houses become involved with art, or film and art. People are collapsing the boundaries between mediums.”

It’s not just fashion houses realizing the value of an artistic association. Jeff Koons has designed champagne bottle holders for Dom Pérignon, and Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne House champions an artist annually, by commissioning a piece to be displayed in their Reims HQ. Wine makers Bernard Magrez meanwhile have their own art gallery, featuring pieces from the established (such as Anish Kapoor) to the more up-and-coming.

Alicia Paz's artwork is displayed in Nicolas Feuillatte's headquarters

Alicia Paz’s artwork is displayed in Nicolas Feuillatte’s headquarters

Up-and-coming artists are good investment-wise, according to the Saatchi Gallery’s Chief Curator Rebecca Wilson. “Works by emerging artists have the potential for increasing in value and leading to future gains,” she reveals. “They are also much more affordable than bigger name artists, and much easier to access.” She recommends investing in pieces by artists including Golnaz Afraz, Vivien Zhang and Hossam Dirar. For those who like their photography rather than paintings, Zena Holloway is making a bit of a splash in more ways than one. The underwater photographer has already been featured in publications such as the Financial Times, but she’s also worked with Faberge, Nike….and Kylie Minogue.

Sigrid Kirk meanwhile, thinks the works to invest in are those by mid-career artists, such as Phyllida Barlow (whose exhibition Fifty Years of Drawings runs until 26th July at Hauser & Wirth London). “These people have years of solid work behind them,” Kirk says. Another growing trend on the art scene is Outsider Art. “Outsider Art has grown and grown – that is, art by untrained artists,” Kirk reveals. “There are numerous examples of it, but it’s not made for financial gain, it’s by people who just have to make it – it’s an outward manifestation of something internal. They raise the question of ‘what is art?’ because people think the intent has to be to make art, which is not the case with Outsider Art. But Outsider Art pieces are becoming quite collectible. Henry Darger and Morton Bartlett are two particular examples.”

Phyllida Barlow, untitled, 2001 (image courtesy of Phyllida Barlow and Hauser & Wirth)

Phyllida Barlow, untitled, 2001 (image courtesy of Phyllida Barlow and Hauser & Wirth)

Whilst many serious collectors are interested in the long-term return on investment, caution is urged to new buyers. Primarily, the piece you buy should be one you like, as the market is notoriously difficult to predict. Impulse buys are discouraged, but if you find a piece you like – no matter how off the wall – consider it an investment well worth making. “You should always buy what you like, as there is no guaranteed return,” says Kirk. “But if you’re going to invest in art, you’re not just investing money, you’re also investing into your home and your family – art in your home is enriching! Go to galleries and meet some artists, and get a feel for what you like. People seem to like content-rich material, of which art is a good example. Art is a luxury – it signifies something handmade and original and authentic.” She has some further advice for new buyers to the art world. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can hire someone. Art consultants can help you invest your money into art, they can help someone building or expanding a collection, or they can take you on a tour to help you get a feel for what you like.” She adds, “If you learn as you go, you’ll find yourself moving away from ‘safe’ pieces to more challenging works.” That, surely, is one of the joys of investing and owning artworks – to appreciate it by continually discovering the layers and meanings imbued within. There is clearly beauty in investment.

untitled, Carlo Zinelli, c 1966 (image courtesy of the Museum of Everything)

untitled, Carlo Zinelli, c 1966 (image courtesy of the Museum of Everything)

New York Art By Camilla Hellman

The Luxury Channel brings you our pick of art news and gallery gossip from New York….

Arno Elias – Pop International Galleries

From Sari-clad women on the streets of India, to a pair of mating lions on Africa’s Savannah, to a panoramic perspective of New York City’s skyline, Arno Elias’ images conjure emotion and capture unforgettable moments from his photographic journey across the world. Elias’ most recent additions to his extensive body of work are to be unveiled at Pop International Galleries in SoHo, New York this week – a series of incredible, hand-embellished photographs highlighting global diversities. The artworks presented have been captured during Elias’ recent sojourns through Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Burma and Laos. He is involved with (among other organizations) UNICEF and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, which focuses on animal rights, but has also recently been commissioned by the St. Regis Hotel in New York to create two unique works of art for the hotel’s permanent collection, one of which will be prominently featured in the hotel lobby.

www.popinternational.com

Arno Elias' Rhino Duet

Piers Secunda – William Holman Gallery

Casts of actual bullet holes shot by the Taliban may not be to everyone’s taste, but Piers Secunda’s work is certainly thought-provoking. Secunda travelled to Kabul to the sites of two suicide bomb attacks, where bullet holes were confirmed on site by the Kabul police to be Taliban-related. The casts of the bullet holes have then been integrated into a series of wall-mounted paint sculptures, and the works will be on show in New York as part of Anthony Haden Guest’s War Stories at William Holman Gallery, until 21st June. The exhibition brings together an impressive and diverse group of artists, whose work focuses primarily on war and conflict.

www.pierssecunda.com

Piers Secunda's Taliban Bullet Hole Painting

Gerald Bland – The Fine Arts Building

Gerald Bland is smiling, but exhausted….his new gallery has opened, and New York loves it. Gerald Bland Antiques has been a destination on Madison Avenue for over 25 years – now his devoted followers will be making their way to his new gallery, which he opened this week within the Design Centre mecca of East 59th Street, in The Fine Arts Building. Now Gerald has space to show the direction he has been taking in the past few years – not only carrying 1690 to 1840 period furniture but also contemporary art and decorative accessories, unique pieces giving one tradition but with an edge. The space has an urban chic New York loft feeling, with high ceilings and deconstructed walls. Here, working with his daughter Georgiana, Gerald will be taking his company forward as a leading source for the new and exciting designers in decorative arts. Some of our favorite pieces were Eve Kaplan’s mirrors and lights – really distinctive and bright.

www.geraldblandinc.com

Gerald Bland

Sotheby’s – Impressionist And Modern Art Sale

It was a night of frantic bidding at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Sale, which saw sales of $219 million. Picasso’s Le Sauvetage proved the most popular work on the night, with a final hammer price of $27 million. Leonardo Di Caprio was spotted with his entourage in a private skybox, although the group left just five lots in – but their jubilant mood suggested they had bought whatever it was they had come for.

www.sothebys.com

Picasso's Le Sauvetage

Jeff Koons – Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s offered Jeff Koons’ most accomplished and major work of recent years: an immaculate, gleaming, seven-foot tall statue of the cartoon character and American pop culture icon, Popeye. The sculpture had never appeared at auction until now, nor been exhibited publicly, but carried an estimate in the region of $25 million. It eventually sold for $28.2 million.

www.sothebys.com

Jeff Koons' Popeye

Walpole Crafted – Class of 2014 By Hannah Norman

Downton Abbey table set with Grasmere Cumbrian Crystal.  (Image courtesy of Cumbrian Crystal/Lemon Zest PR)

Downton Abbey table set with Grasmere Cumbrian Crystal. (Image courtesy of Cumbrian Crystal/Lemon Zest PR)

The concepts of craftsmanship and luxury have for years gone hand-in-hand. High-end companies attest their credentials by the sheer skill involved in making and producing their goods (as well as justify their price tags). Today, there appears to be an increasing number of students looking to learn the skills of a craft – Bremont’s recent partnering with the British School of Watchmaking is just one such example of this in action. Added to this is the recent study revealing that 64% of urban Chinese believe craftsmanship is what most defines luxury. That’s a statistic that could surely be applied to any society with affluent, luxury consumers.

But a major concern for any luxury consumer is ensuring the future development of the crafted goods they buy, as the hunt for the true artisan becomes evermore fraught, with homogeny taking the place of exclusivity. Walpole Crafted’s subsequent founding has surely helped to allay some of these concerns. Firstly, through its mentorship programme, the craftsmen invited to participate can continue to hone their skills and ultimately their passion for their respective crafts but also, being part of such an exclusive “club” introduces them to a wider audience of consumers hungry for the bespoke, for the unique, and for the well-crafted. As Walpole Crafted founder and chairman Guy Salter succinctly put it, “despite advances in technology and precision engineering by intelligent machines, nothing can replicate something that has been made by the human hand.”

HRH Prince George's High Chair by furniture maker Katie Walker

HRH Prince George’s High Chair by furniture maker Katie Walker

Run by Walpole British Luxury in association with Vacheron Constantin, and with alumni including Cumbria Crystal (as seen on Downton Abbey) and Katie Walker (maker of HRH Prince George’s high-chair, pictured above), The Luxury Channel was keen to meet some of Crafted’s Class of 2014, to familiarise ourselves with the new generation of craftsmen we’ll be buying our goods from….

Emma Yeo

Award-winning milliner Emma comes from an interiors background, and whilst walls were of some interest, she “really missed the body and working with people. I missed that connection,” she explains, before an enlightening talk with her MA tutor convinced her that there were many facets of design, of which interiors was just one. A jewellery design MA course followed (the influence is evident in her current creations), before a fascination between an object and its ability to be worn enabled her to embrace millinery professionally. Three seasons (not to mention a lot of acclaim) at London Fashion Week’s Headonism followed. “I’m just doing what feels innate to me,” Yeo says modestly, but with a stockist in Milan and attention from as far afield as Australia (not to mention that her hats have been worn by none other than Lady Gaga), you should get your orders in quick for the racing season!
www.emmayeo.com

Emma Yeo - Milliner (image courtesy of Madame Peripetie)

Emma Yeo – Milliner (image courtesy of Madame Peripetie)

Pip Howeson

Bespoke tailor Pip’s coats are all made in England using British fabrics, which she sources herself. Limited fabric runs mean more exclusivity, and whilst there are ten “stock” cuts for clients to choose from should they wish, the emphasis is very firmly on bespoke. “It’s all about the fit and making people look better,” Pip explains. “That creates confidence. People do care about fit, but they aren’t catered for like they should be.” Employing several clever tricks to help her clients (a high, cinched-in waist will elongate the legs, for instance, a la Kate Middleton), Pip has a profound love of structure but acute awareness of practicality. Her clothes are made to be worn. A riding jacket on display emphasises the fun you can have with cut, but the wax lining on the inside – as opposed to lush, soft silk – is a firm nod to the fact that horse-riders get muddy! “I’m inspired by equine style,” Pip reveals, “as well as classic vintage.” Indeed, her current campaign is to get us all to Wear More Tweed – sign us up!
www.piphoweson.com

Pip Howeson - Bespoke Tailor (image courtesy of Chris Allerton)

Pip Howeson – Bespoke Tailor (image courtesy of Chris Allerton)

Naomi Paul

Whilst the thought of crochet may bring back scarring thoughts of dated 70s cushions, award-winning constructed textile designer Naomi doesn’t really need to say very much to entirely dispel such images – her beautifully structured lights speak for themselves. A trained electrician (yes, really!), Naomi had “always crocheted” before working on catwalk pieces for the likes of Giles Deacon, Jonathan Saunders and Pringle, but refined her handcraft skills in knit and crochet whilst working for Sid Bryan at Sibling. However, her passion lay more in interiors than fashion, and after a fortuitous interior sculpture commission, her new career path was set. Anyone who has wondered into the foyer of Conde Nast’s College of Business and Design will be familiar with Naomi’s work, in the form of the huge blue and yellow pendant light (entirely crocheted by hand) suspended from the ceiling!
www.naomipaul.co.uk

Naomi Paul - Constructed Textile Designer

Naomi Paul – Constructed Textile Designer

Mia Sabel

Leather-maker Mia Sabel spent 25 years working in brand, design and usability, before switching tack six years ago to become a qualified saddler. “I wanted to learn something traditional, authentic and tangible,” Mia told us. “Although leather is my language, it was traditional saddlery that I was originally attracted to.” There is hence a very strong equine influence prevalent in Mia’s “classic, English approach” to her work. But it’s not just saddles for which Mia is making a name for herself. “The most popular requests are for bespoke, made-to-measure watch straps, particularly for vintage and rare watches, whose straps have now become obsolete,” she reveals. Gloves for waxworks at Madame Tussauds in Sydney and Vienna, as well as “developing a brand new range of modern leather products for a 200 year old English saddlery brand, which will be launching later this year,” are also among her growing list of commissions. The career change was clearly an inspired bet!
www.sabelsaddlery.co.uk

Mia Sabel - Leather Maker

Mia Sabel – Leather Maker

IN PROFILE – Carreducker

We also take a look at a company who has already been part of the Walpole Crafted mentorship programme, and is now proudly part of the Alumni – Carreducker….

A decade in business is surely testament to the quality of product produced by bespoke shoemakers Carreducker. Deborah Carré and John Ducker met whilst training with the same master shoemaker after having “caught the shoemaking bug,” and decided to launch their own bespoke shoemaking business together. The business has subsequently developed so much over the years that the pair are now able to run their own courses for new students to learn the centuries-old skills of shoemaking, echoing what the Walpole Crafted programme is an embodiment of. “We have always believed that passing on our skills and enthusing others about the craft is vital to its survival and growth, so training will always be intrinsic to our business,” Deborah told us. “We have seen at least seven students go on to set up their own businesses whilst others continue to make for pleasure.” That’s not all, as “this year, we will take on our first apprentice.” That’s surely reason enough to have a spring in your step.
www.carreducker.com

Carreducker - Bespoke Shoemakers

Carreducker – Bespoke Shoemakers

The Kelpies And The Maquettes – Majesty On A Magnificant Scale By Hannah Norman

Sometimes, a sculpture becomes so large – both metaphorically as well as actually – that it becomes seemingly synonymous with its surroundings. London’s Fourth Plinth is one example; Newcastle’s Angel of the North is another. North of the border, Glasgow boasts the Heavy Horse. But Scotland is now home to a new work by the Heavy Horse’s creator Andy Scott. The 30 metre (100 foot) high Kelpies are two Clydesdale horse heads that sit on the Forth and Clyde canal, near Falkirk, while two sister sculptures, The Maquettes, will take up a residence in New York’s Bryant Park in March.

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

Since Scottish Canals’ George Ballinger came up with the name as part of regeneration work for the area, called The Helix Project, Scott was given “a basic concept and an open brief” to create a sculpture. “The Kelpies as a title is something that was gifted to me,” Scott says of the project. Taking a tea break from the day job, Scott is talking to us from his studio in Glasgow, where he’s currently working on his biggest commission in the USA to date, for a private art collector. Which, considering the sheer size and scale – not to mention the engineering ingenuity – of his other works, suggests something rather epic, although Scott is too polite to divulge any details.

The Kelpies, however, were not exactly small fry in comparison. “I had to work quite closely with Scottish Canals, and I had a couple of technical considerations to think of,” Scott says of the world’s biggest equine sculptures. “But the impact on the landscape became my main concern.”

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

It transpires that man’s relationship with the landscape – in fact, man’s relationship with anything – is what gives Scott his inspiration. “George [Ballinger] wanted The Kelpies to be ethereal and mystical, but I was drawn to the historical and social role of the horse,” Scott explains, “although there’s a spiritual bond between man and beast, and I try to convey that in my art. I was driven by the location and the brief, so that my passion for horses has evolved. I’m a city boy, so I didn’t have horses growing up, but I’m pretty fanatical now. I get why people are so emotionally attached to them.”

Despite his research, Scott surely still needed to have the real thing to work from, in order to perfect his sculptures? “My day-to-day work is pictorially-based, as it’s not practical to have the horses in the studio,” Scott explains. “But yes, I did have Clydesdale horses – my two ton muses!” he laughs. “They were huge, but docile – they were perfect gentlemen.”

Sculptor Andy Scott with "perfect gentlemen" Barron and Duke (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

Sculptor Andy Scott with “perfect gentlemen” Barron and Duke (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

In addition to the Falkirk installation, The Kelpies have taken on another life in the form of The Maquettes – although they were never part of Scott’s original plan. Created at one-tenth the size of The Kelpies, the smaller Maquettes were originally created, as the name suggests, simply as scale models. After Scott heard about a sculpture exhibition in Chicago, however, and received National Lottery funding to make a second, more refined set, he duly volunteered to send them Stateside, where they have remained ever since – firstly in Chicago, then Lake Michigan and currently in Purdue University’s Sculpture Park in Indiana. Their next home will be New York’s Bryant Park from March.

“It was unexpected, but wonderful,” Scott says of the ever-increasing interest in The Maquettes. Whilst the reaction has been hugely positive, The Maquettes will sadly not be a permanent fixture in Bryant Park. “It’s a donation of space only,” says Scott, although where they’ll head off to next is currently unknown, as it costs several thousand dollars to move them, and Scott goes personally to oversee each move. “It’s an unfortunate implication,” he says of the expense. “But people do feel safer if I’m there to oversee it all!”

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

The Kelpies (image courtesy of Ben Williams)

Perhaps this is a mark of good craftsmanship on Scott’s part, but his view on this differs somewhat. “A mark of good craftsmanship is to make it look easy,” Scott reveals. “With a piece of art, you want to be enthralled by the skill, you want to be able to appreciate the craft, which is not easy to achieve.”

For his part, though, Scott has achieved this with The Kelpies and The Maquettes. The sheer majesty evoked by what is essentially nothing more than steel is truly testament to that.

To see more of sculptor Andy Scott’s work, go to www.scottsculptures.co.uk.

Sotheby’s Wines – Investing In Futures By Suzanne Aaronson, Founder of Whatsworthit.com

Suzanne Aaronson, founder of Whatsworthit.com, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sotheby’s Wine President and CEO Jamie Ritchie, to learn about wine futures as well as Jamie’s recent trip to Bordeaux….

Sotheby's Wines

Jamie, thanks for filling me and our readers in on the topic of Bordeaux Futures. Let’s start basic: what are they?

Buying wine futures — also known as En Primeur — means purchasing wines from Châteaux in Bordeaux that are still maturing in the barrel — and have not been bottled yet. “Futures” typically come on the market for sale in the Spring, following the harvest from the previous Fall, and are available for delivery two years later.

Are Futures only for serious wine collectors and investors?

Certainly not! In fact, buying Futures gives the purchaser the opportunity to buy the wine at the first release price, when the margins made by wine merchants are smallest. Most often, the price of the wine increases, as are the margins by wine merchants, once the wine is offered for sale in the bottle. Many vintages and formats (half bottles, magnums, double magnums or even larger bottles) are often hard to find once they are bottled. Futures are often purchased for a special birth year such as a gift for children or grandchildren, for weddings or for anniversaries.

Sotheby's Futures

Why Bordeaux Futures?

While some other regions/producers may sell Futures, Bordeaux is the most important wine that is traded as a Future. The wines are known to improve with age and generally increase in value over time. The top châteaux in Bordeaux offer the majority of their wines (approximately 80-90%) for sale as Futures and it is the first opportunity to purchase the new vintage.

You were recently in Bordeaux. Share some juicy bits about your trip please….?

Each April, members of our team and I visit the châteaux and négociants (wine merchants) in Bordeaux for one or two weeks to taste and rate each wine. We then make a short list of the wines we are interested in buying and, when the prices are released, we decide whether the price matches our assessment of the wine’s quality and whether we will take up our allocations or pass. Hard work, but fun.

Sotheby's Futures

Why buy Futures through Sotheby’s Wine?

Sotheby’s Wine has an experienced team of professionals that not only understand what the wine should taste like before it is bottled but also understand the market and the value of each wine in that market. In addition, since the buyer of Futures will have to wait two years until actually receiving the wine, it is important that the customer can trust from whom they are buying. After all, Sotheby’s is a publicly traded company with complete transparency and unrivaled integrity and expertise — we will deliver the Futures.

Thanks Jamie — frankly, I’d thought prior to speaking about Futures with you that it was a topic only real collectors/traders delved in!

For more information, go to www.sothebyswine.com, phone +1 212 894 1990 or e-mail winefutures@sothebys.com.

Human Nature In New York By Camilla G. Hellman

Human Nature

For seven weeks, New York’s Rockerfeller Center will be dominated by nine 20 foot high, human-shaped stone figures by Swiss-born, New York-based artist, Ugo Rondinone. The work, Human Nature, is free for the public to view from April 23rd to June 7th on the Plaza between 49th and 50th Street, and is striking in contrast to the high deco architectural buildings surrounding it.

As I viewed the colossal figures at the opening reception hosted by the exhibit’s premier sponsor, Nespresso, I couldn’t help but wander amongst their towering legs, and pose in front of these fascinating figures. It was a cold evening, and between sipping coffee and champagne laced with raspberry and chocolate, the weather seemed to give the right raw setting to these towering stone masterpieces.

“The stone figure is the most archetypal representation of the human form; an elemental symbol of the human spirit, connected to the earth yet mythic in the imagination. The image of the figure belongs to nobody, is timeless, and universal,” said Rondinone of his work.

Human Nature

Frederic Levy, President of Nespresso USA, explained further that, “as a brand rooted in innovation and design, we are constantly seeking inspiration through art and culture from all over the world. Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature so beautifully celebrates artistic expression and shares in our passion to inspire and be inspired.”

“Rockefeller Center is New York City’s greatest public venue, a place where timeless architecture and art come together. The work of a brilliantly inventive artist, Ugo Rondinone, will add perfectly to the Center’s artistic identity — particularly as Human Nature was originally inspired by the very plaza where it will now stand,” noted Tishman Speyer, co-sponsor of the exhibit with the Public Art Fund.

The wonderful Ugo Rondinone stone forms are a wonder and outstanding work of art. They are more inviting than intimidating, and it would seem that New York is enjoying having these massive stone forms in its midst.

Lions, Gnomes And A Whole Heap of Colour At The RHS Chelsea Flower Show By Hannah Norman

The RHS celebrates British horticulture

The RHS celebrates British horticulture

Defiance against the threat of rain, mixed with cheery, summer-bright hues – and that was just TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp in a striking orange coat! The RHS Chelsea Flower Show officially opens today, but The Luxury Channel was especially invited along yesterday to have a sneak peek around the Centenary show.

Kirstie Allsopp in her orange coat

Kirstie Allsopp in her orange coat

Organised by the Royal Horticulture Society, the Chelsea Flower Show has spent a hundred years celebrating all that is great and good about gardens, plants and flowers. From its first year of generating a mere £88 in profit (around £4000 in today’s money), Chelsea has grown to become one of the biggest attractions in the horticultural calendar, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and exhibitors each year from all across the globe.

The Best In Show winner - the Australia Garden (courtesy of Getty Images)

The Best In Show winner – the Australia Garden (courtesy of Getty Images)

Best In Show went to one of the biggest gardens at this year’s show, Fleming’s Nurseries and Trailfinders’ Australian Garden. It not only looked impressive, with large fountains of native plants and a bespoke studio overlooking the entire garden (not to mention a troupe of amphibian gymnastic performers!), but also harboured a serious message about water conservation. The garden’s water feature is powered by solar panels, and the trees themselves hold water in reserve for when it is scarce. This wasn’t the only garden to highlight the issue of water, however, as The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr was on hand at the Herbert Smith Freehills Garden for Water Aid, reflecting the work the charity does to provide clean water and sanitation in India.

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

It wasn’t all serious at Chelsea this year though, as a sense of fun and quirkiness pervaded. From Alice In Wonderland ceramics to costumed characters, there was a real sense of myth and make-believe. In a very rare break from tradition, the RHS has fuelled this somewhat by lifting its ban on mythical creatures, by inviting celebrities from stage and screen to paint their own gnomes. On display in the RHS stand opposite the Australia Garden, visitors can view gnomes from everyone from Sir Elton John to Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

Sir Elton John's Gnome

Sir Elton John’s Gnome

Further down from the RHS stand, one of the more impressive exhibitors at the show was driftwood sculptor James Doran-Webb, whose lion tree was a feature in itself. Also worth mentioning are David Harber’s metallic sculptures, perfect for introducing a piece of art into your garden, and oak garden furniture makers Gaze Burvill, who will soon be collaborating with Jamie Oliver on a new range of kitchens.

James Doran-Webb's driftwood sculptures of lions

James Doran-Webb’s driftwood sculptures of lions

With a hundred years under its belt, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s legacy is already assured, but this centenary show is certainly a fabulous celebration of why we love getting a bit of dirt under our fingernails. On that note, we’re heading outside!

Best Artisan Garden winner, Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory's Tokonoma Garden

Best Artisan Garden winner, Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory’s Tokonoma Garden

Winners of The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013:

Best In Show: Fleming’s Nurseries And Trailfinders’ Australian Garden
Best Artisan Garden: Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory’s Tokonoma Garden
Best Fresh Garden: Scape Design’s After The Fire Garden
RHS Chelsea Plant of The Year 2013: Mahonia eurybrachteata, subspecies ganpinensis ‘Soft Caress’ (exhibited by the SeeAbility Garden)

SeeAbility Garden

SeeAbility Garden

An Italian Diary of Feasts And Festivals By Lucie Shelbourne

Lucie Shelbourne reports from the Umbrian hills, and shares some Italian feast-day customs….

New Year’s Eve

My husband Richard and I went to a sophisticated New Year’s Eve party last night in the Umbrian hills over looking Assisi, frequented by people with knowledge and experience. There is a light mix of Italians and English. The setting for the feast looks amazing with a long refectory table in a stone-walled dining room. Very monasterial, giving a sense of a secret sect. Huge thick candles spread a veiled light across the room, creating a sinuous effect in the shadows. I begin to wonder if our hostess is going to serve up the traditional New Year’s Eve dish of Zampone – stuffed pig trotter, which I have to admit, I have never been persuaded to eat. I’m sure, however, that lentils will appear in some form or other as they bring prosperity if eaten on New Year’s Eve in Italy, an old Roman tradition.

Lentils

The time flies and suddenly, our host pushes back his chair and rises to his feet, holding his glass up, saying “Auguri” to everyone, another old Roman tradition. It is Midnight – Mezza notte! We are all hurried outside to watch the display of fireworks. On the freezing terrace, overlooking the valley, a cacophony of whizzing, banging, popping and squealing explodes all around us. A large section of the Upper Tiber Valley below us is alight and so is the sky above us. A glass of Prosecco is put into my hand and a man I have not spoken to grabs me, kissing me ardently on each cheek with a ‘Buon Anno‘ greeting. Richard catches my eye over this man’s shoulder. He pulls me over and we gaze up at the exploding rosettes of brilliant pink and green, dwarfing us as we take in this unbelievable scene. I sip my drink – it is utterly delicious, especially as I’ve hardly drunk anything but sparkling mineral water, having pulled the short straw before we came out.

Wine Glasses With Pasta

My above-the-knee Luisa Spagnoli gold sequined skirt is not designed for freezing night-time gardens, and we tumble back into the warmth of the house with its bubble of conversation. Everyone jumps as a loud smash comes from the kitchen. “No accident,” a sultry woman standing next to me tells me: the noise of breaking china drives away the bad omens tainting the coming year. “No negative auras please!” Then she pulls her hands up to cover her mouth, saying “Oh, Signore!” and then laughs as out of the kitchen runs a young man, naked apart from a minute pair of scarlet coloured briefs! He makes a dash for the far corner of the room amidst squeals of appreciation from the female guests and one male guest at close quarters! His contemporaries crowd round him guffawing. It is an after dinner ritual in Italy that red undergarments are exchanged. Red represents fertility. The red intimates have to be thrown out the next day in order for the ritual to take full effect. The English contingent appear confused and embarrassed, shocked even. At least it has taken everyone’s attention away from Italian politics!

It’s soon time to go and we leave with promises to all meet again soon. As we drive off down the long avenue of cypresses, an enormous owl swoops down under the velvety Italian night sky, caught in our headlights like an apparition with a glistening white wingspan the size of an angel. “Talking of omens!” I turn and say to Richard, but he is humming a tune to himself in happy oblivion, so I drive on into the dawn of 2013 thinking about my cosy bed waiting for me at home. We’ll have scrambled egg with white truffles grated on top for breakfast. Now that is something to look forward to!

Blossom Tree

Lent and Easter

I smell the almond blossom before I spy it; it always catches me by surprise. The cool February air is warmed up by the honeyed scent emanating from the delicate shell pink blossoms. It lifts the heart. Across the valley, only one other almond tree can be seen in bloom. I am amazed at how many bees buzzing there are round our tree. Where have they suddenly appeared from?!

Chestnuts

The honey lady up the valley is called Maria, and if I go and visit her with the intention of buying a pot of her honey, she will simply not allow me to pay for it. She usually has a good supply of chestnuts as well, gathered from her chestnut groves higher up in the hills. These Umbrian chestnuts are magnificent specimens, as round and shiny as a mare’s hind quarters. After Maria and her family have picked them during October and November, they put them in a bath made from bales of hay formed in a circle with a black liner draped over it. People travel up from the town to buy them from her. I plan to make a soup using some of Maria’s famous chestnuts castagne. This is one of my favourite things!

As I drive back down from the honey lady’s cottage high up in the hills above our house, I suddenly hear the familiar sound of the Cici-Cocha, our local area’s contribution to the Carnevale, the festive season which occurs immediately before Lent, lasting about six weeks leading up to Easter. The ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia have been absorbed into the Italian Carnival. An accordion pumps out wonderful old country tunes as the merry band of local people travel along on a tractor-trailer, visiting all the old farms round the valley. Once there, they are offered an array of things to eat, including cake and vin santo. It is an ancient custom. They carry a huge handmade basket of willow in which the Padrone is meant to place some eggs.

Carnivale

When the Carnival is over, Lent begins and no good Catholic is meant to indulge until Easter morning! “The winter months in Umbria can be rather bleak,” said Antonello, our only Italian friend in London. “It’s best to be there from spring to Autumn only,” he told me. I could not help remembering his advice, as I stagger in with a pile of wood, kicking the door shut. But I’m so excited as I’m off to an outlet near Florence to buy some clothes! I also want to get a new Furla hand bag (last year’s, but half price so who’s complaining?) because we have been asked to a smart party in May in Capri.

Shopping Mall

The outlet I favour is just like a mini version of Portmeirion, featured in The Prisoner and home of ‘Orange Alert!’ Orange isn’t the colour to wear any longer in Italy, so I’m not opting for anything so vivid. There are noticeably less ‘orange alerts’ coming towards one down the corso. There is a sale on in February and when you arrive, it’s a polite bun fight but well worth it. Not usually appreciated by husbands and boyfriends, I hasten to add, but Richard particularly likes Ralph Lauren. On this occasion though, I’m going with my eldest daughter India, who first introduced me to retail therapy. There are all the Italian designers here, including Prada, for 70% off at this once-a-year February sale. Beautiful Italian kid gloves, exquisite woolens, Intimissimmi underwear….it goes on and on.

Castagnioli

Richard is outside working as usual. He commented once that whilst living in London, he’d spent a total of thirteen years outside in its gardens! It is true. His February tasks have been spreading organic mulch on flower beds and top dressing the lawns of gardens he is in the middle of creating, and the hard pruning of various fruit trees and large evergreens, which he loves. I follow in the wake of all the branches that need clearing up. We come back inside and heartily eat the chestnut soup and fried bread, whilst my youngest daughter, Tatiana, volunteers information about the Valentine card she has received and who it’s from. Richard is indignant at the thought of his daughter being wooed by the butcher’s son!

Bruschetta

It is late March and Easter is upon us. Bruschetta, pizza della Pasqua, tortelini in brodo, roast lamb, roast potatoes with rosemary, fresh broad beans, Colomba and of course, the best Perugian chocolate eggs! I usually serve a Vino Moscato with the traditional Colomba cake at the end of the meal. If I can find it, I buy some corrallina salami, a speciality of Umbria, smoked with juniper berries then aged for four months. It would be a treat for Richard who has been a saint not eating such things because of his cholesterol. Don’t forget though, you have to be a martyr to be married to a saint!

To enjoy a stay in Umbria, go to www.labuia.com for further details. For more information about Richard’s gardens, go to www.shelbournegardens.com.

Nicky Spence – In His Own Words By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel caught up with renowned Scottish tenor and Opera Ambassador Nicky Spence before the inaugural International Opera Awards.

Nicky Spence

I think this is one of the first opera awards which has not left a stone unturned; it’s looking at opera as the giant machine it is, because so many people are involved with putting an opera on – not just the singers, who often get all the plaudits, but also technical staff, the orchestra, the conductor, the opera company itself that puts a lot of love into their programming and who use invention to make their season successful. I think on an international basis as well, this is the first time that it’s gone worldwide.

I think the Awards will raise the profile of opera, but I also think because a lot of the money being raised is going into the pot to help future generations of opera singers and conductors and anybody else who is trying to contribute to the opera world as a whole – it’s a fantastic thing.

I’ve seen all sorts of exciting set designs in my time. I’ve been in operas myself where there have been massive 30 foot buildings being moved around on stage, and whole villages are in the docks and getting moved across in a change of about ten seconds. When things like that are happening, I know who I’d rather be friends with – the person who’s moving that!

The one memorable opera that stands out for me is probably singing Peter Grimes in Salzburg and being involved in that project with Sir Simon Rattle and the Birmingham Philharmonic at the Festspiele, which is humongous. Just seeing the effort that went in from both the local people and everybody involved was heart-warming. Salzburg is great – it’s so romantic.

Opera is for everybody. There are always parts of opera that will always appeal to the elite. So if people want to put their furs and pearls on, then that’s great. But there’s also another very important duty that we have to inform our young and future audiences as well, which is why it’s great that ENO [English National Opera], for example, offer tickets for ten pounds for people under a certain age. Opera is such a wide genre now – it’s not just the old weepies; there’s also contemporary opera with contexts that really stimulate young people, so there’s no reason why it can’t be for everybody.

There are fantastic opera companies that tour to almost every hole in the hedge. You see opera everywhere. You just need to know that it’s going on, so it’s important that marketing departments let people know that it’s happening, so that you can see the most wonderful operas. There are people who are being recognized for doing exactly that – going into places which don’t have a main opera house and making it possible.

The UK has got a large standing in the Awards but also internationally, I think Sir Pappano is amazing and it would be fantastic to see him recognized [Antonio Pappano won the award for best conductor]. There’s also some great young talent – Allan Clayton, the tenor, and Sophie Bevan is fantastic as well [Sophie Bevan won the award for best young singer].

I’d love for everybody to have a great time tonight. The best thing is that in the opera world, everybody knows each other so well, so it’ll be good. Yeah, it’s very cliquey, but it’s very friendly, so it’s just going to be great fun, I should think. It’s not often that opera singers get a bona fide excuse to have a good drink as well, so I should think they’ll all just be kicking back and enjoying themselves. Rehearsals tomorrow all over the country will be slightly the worse for it!

I would suggest you book for ENO, who are just about to do a new production of Wozzeck, which I think will be interesting, and I’m making my debut at the Metropolitan Opera in September, which I did in London, called Two Boys by Nico Muhly.

The most luxurious thing about opera is bathing yourself in human-made sounds from the very souls of singers – there’s nothing more personal.

Bach By Candlelight By Hannah Norman

The archway to the entrance of the Priory Chuch of St. Bartholomew The Great

The archway to the entrance of the Priory Chuch of St. Bartholomew The Great

On 5th March, The Luxury Channel attended a memorable evening celebrating the music of Johann Sebastian Bach by candlelight, in the unique and ancient Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, London. Invited by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, we were there to soak up the peace and music, whilst supporting a great cause – The Lord Mayor’s Appeal. The Appeal in turn supports selected chosen charities – City Music Foundation, Futures For Kids, Gifford Wood Appeal and The Harold Samuel Collection Fund – as well as helping to fund the university education of struggling young Londoners.

These are without doubt worthy causes. City Music Foundation, for example, was set up to support talented youngsters with musical inclinations, offering both financial help and performance opportunities, allowing them to realistically pursue careers in the music profession. The Foundation also provides the professional tools musicians need in order to promote themselves and to support themselves financially through music.

The Lord Mayor of London, Roger Gifford, welcomes guests

The Lord Mayor of London, Roger Gifford, welcomes guests

Bach has arguably written some of the best music in the world, and the captive audience was treated to the soaring melodies of his Suites within the intimacy of this beautiful church setting. Since their re-discovery in the 1890s, the Suites have been celebrated for years as being perfect for the cello, and in-demand cellist Orlando Jopling certainly did not disappoint. As you would expect from a consummate professional at the very top of his game, Jopling gave a beautiful, fluid and emotive performance.

As well as his work as Musical Director of the 140 year old Royal Orchestral Society in London, Jopling is currently also on a Cello Pilgrimage, performing across the country in order to raise money to repair parish churches. The Pilgrimage has so far raised over £50, 000 for its cause. If his beautiful performance was anything to go by, Jopling is set to raise rather more.

Guests arrived via the spectacular Grand Staircase at the Great Hall, St Batholomew's Hospital.

Guests arrived via the spectacular Grand Staircase at the Great Hall

The City Music Foundation has a series of six concerts running right throughout the year, the next one being on 10th June at Mansion House in London, with a champagne reception preceding an evening of recitals performed by organists of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal and Royal Peculiars. As part of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, Mansion House will be the temporary home for a newly-commissioned chamber organ, until it is presented to the Queen in November, and it is this very organ that will be played during the concerts – providing a unique opportunity for audiences to enjoy its wonderful sound.

For fans of Beethoven, St. Paul’s Cathedral will provide the backdrop to Symphony No9 on 23rd May, followed by a Gala Dinner at The Guildhall with guest speaker Mario Draghi, President of The European Central Bank.

For more information about the work and upcoming events of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, go to www.thelordmayorsappeal.org.

Henrietta Spencer-Churchill And English Country Houses By The Luxury Channel

Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, celebrated interior designer, spoke to Fiona Sanderson about her family seat, Blenheim Palace, and the true essence of English style and interiors.

What defines your own personal style?

In the home, I like comfort and practicality. My homes are not show houses as I don’t want them – or me – to be on show when I entertain, or have family or friends to stay; they are a place to switch off (which is rarely achieved!) As I spend so much time travelling, it is critical to be organised and know where everything is and be able to shut the door and not worry. But I do love antiques and objects, and I am certainly not a minimalist!

What defines your style as an interior designer?

Classic Design with emphasis on respecting the style and architecture of the house, whilst ensuring practical use of the space and services and design that are suitable for the 21st Century.

Thame

What are the key characteristics of a British stately home?

Leaking roofs, draughty windows and damp! But all gracefully concealed. They are understated yet comfortable and sometimes with eclectic furnishings, which still make any visitor feel welcome! From an architectural point of view – usually large, grand but well-proportioned rooms, with beautiful architectural detail. Often, the setting is as important as the house so views from the inside out are picturesque and impressive.

How would you describe quintessentially British design? Does it exist?

It is understated yet elegant, often achieved by homes or furniture being handed down from one generation to another, thus retaining character. Any old home that has been over-modernised looses its character and once it has been stripped out, it is difficult to put back. My motto is “Retain And Restore,” rather than “Rip Out And Replace.”

What architectural qualities do you look for in a property? What can be added for maximum impact and value?

Good proportions, and good natural light. Depends on if the house is listed or not, as to what you can change or add – such as hardwood floors, hardwood polished mahogany doors, panelling (either wood or painted), cornices, and an elegant fire surround makes a nice focal point.

Kensington Square

Who or what is your greatest influence?

I get my inspiration from old houses both in the UK and abroad, especially from an architectural standpoint. For details and furnishings, it often depends on my client’s requirements. I also take inspiration from books, both old and new, of which I have a lot!

What is your greatest achievement/proudest moment?

The project I enjoyed the most and the one that gave me the biggest chance of being creative was a large new-build house in Scotland, which took about 3 years to design and complete, and I really felt that I had left a certain amount of my stamp on it! Hopefully, it will still be there in 300 years time and enjoyed. My proudest moment is seeing my 2 sons achieving great success in their chosen fields, which luckily is different to mine!

Favourite British artists, past and present?

John Singer Sargent and Alfred Munnings for past – I am not keen on contemporary art.

And your favourite British architects?

Many Georgian architects, mainly Palladian and Regency style, Sir William Chambers, William Kent, John Nash and Gibbs.

Camden Square

What led to the collaboration with Maitland Smith?

I carry out quite a lot of Interior Design projects in the USA and had wanted for some time to design a range of furniture and had talked to a few companies, but Maitland Smith seemed like the perfect match. They produce high quality products and their factory in the Philippines has talented craftsmen and the ability to create pieces using a variety of materials and techniques.

Tell us about your new book, The Life of the House, How Rooms Evolve?

This came about as a result in my interest in how rooms and architecture have changed and evolved over the centuries, from not only an architectural point of view but also from a social history perspective, and advances in industry and technology.

You also have an interior design company in America – do you need to adapt the British style for an American audience?

I try not to, but inevitably you need to adapt to their lifestyles and the way in which the houses are built. Homes tend to be more open plan and less detailed architecturally, therefore the decoration plays a larger part than it does in the UK.

What do you love most about Blenheim Palace?

The roofs – you get an amazing perspective of the complexity of building a house of that size and quality, and really appreciate the work involved.

Blenheim Palace

The best room at Blenheim for a party or a wedding?

That depends on the time of year and budget! The Orangery is beautiful, as you have direct access to the terrace which overlooks the Italian Gardens and South Lawn. Inside the house, the Long Library is perfect for dinner and can hold up to 300 guests, with drinks before in the Hall and Saloon. My favourite is the Saloon as we always have Christmas dinner there, so it brings back happy memories.

What was it like growing up surrounded by such beauty?

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my childhood in many beautiful properties. I preferred the smaller Georgian properties as they were more welcoming. Blenheim is imposing and the house can be quite intimidating, although the private side is surprisingly welcoming and I particularly love the park. I guess being in these properties led to my interest and love of architecture and design.

What will you be working on in 2013?

Various properties abroad, including a large villa in Poland, an apartment in Vienna, and house in the Channel Islands. A variety of restoration projects in the UK and a new collection for Maitland Smith and a new rug collection for a US company. Possibly a new book too.

To see more of Henrietta’s work, go to www.spencerchurchilldesigns.com.

Theo Fennell – A Master of Miniatures By Antonia Peck and Hannah Norman

In the wake of Theo Fennell’s win at the Walpole Awards for Best Luxury Craftsmanship, The Luxury Channel meets the designer to discuss the British jewellery industry past and present…

Theo Fennell

Theo Fennell

It should come as no surprise to learn that the winner of an award recognizing craftsmanship is a passionate advocate of originality. “Fashion jewellery has encroached onto real jewellery. Real jewellery has rather lost its way,” Fennell laments. “The high street is disappearing and without knowing it, our choice is being broken down by monolithic companies that control everything. We have to demand originality.”

This originality, he suggests, comes from the customer, as craftsmanship moves away from being design-led to being more bespoke, an idea encapsulated by Theo Fennell Masterworks. It’s not a new idea, however. “In the days when there was genuine craftsmanship and luxury, things were designed with huge care – people knew what they were asking for, and if they didn’t, they were educated into it by the shoemaker, the dressmaker, the jeweler or the silversmith that they visited,” he explains. “Then they became educated themselves and they knew what to look for and what to ask for, and they were much more sure of their own taste. They wanted unusual things.”

Theo Fennell Pyramid Ring

Theo Fennell Pyramid Ring

Now it would seem that being unusual is unusual in itself. “Very rich people are fed up with the same old thing, of walking into a room and finding that the thing they thought was unique is on five wrists or ten shoulders,” he says, clearly inspired by the concept of creating something completely unique for a client. “Everybody’s been bombarded with the idea of diamonds being a commodity. How many carats to say I love you?” If it’s the thought that counts, then bespoke will triumph every time. “The craftsman working with the customer to make something wildly beautiful is actually extremely democratic,” he adds – as it is to the benefit of the craftsman or artisan. “You need a bit of patience, you need to be educated into it – you can educate yourself into it. It is like a great wine, or enjoying pictures or any of those things – it is about appreciation. Then you really do know the difference between a well-known piece and a not so well-known piece, and it becomes a real pleasure – you become someone who really understands.”

With jewellery, appreciation comes from the craftsmanship involved, and thus the uniqueness of each piece. Fennell dislikes the homogeny that is becoming increasingly common-place in the jewellery world. “It was in the interests of the big brands to stop people wanting to be different,” he explains, determined to fight back in a society full of “the same thing everywhere.” So how to combat this? “What one is trying to do is develop a house style that can support originality of thought within it and originality not just of design but also of concept and manufacture,” he says. “This perpetuates craftsmanship; it brings people into the business to make things, and carry on making things; it perpetuates design and originality of thought – using new materials and trying new things. It brings the person who is buying it into the creative process.” This means that our jewellery will become much more personal by design and ultimately as a result, much more sentimental. “My feeling is that in really one-off pieces, every part of it needs to be unique – the concept, the design, the idea, the way in which it is carried out, so that in two hundred years, people will look at the mole ring or the garden ring and it will still be there,” Fennell says. “The person who buys it now – it will be their ring, Granny’s mole ring, or it will become Fred’s extraordinary watch and then in turn it will be passed down.” Sentimental then, but also timeless. Fennell agrees. “I would like to think in two hundred years time you could bring it all back and it would still stand the test of time.”

Theo Fennell Pyramid Ring - opened!

Theo Fennell Pyramid Ring – opened!

So, moving to the present moment, how is the modern British woman wearing her jewels? It transpires she wears them either very conservatively or with eccentricity. “I love the idea of eccentricity,” Fennell says. “The more eccentric ones wear it in a way that no-one else would dream of wearing, and I think that is the real beauty,” he adds, once again highlighting his passion for originality. It’s for this reason that he’s against the idea of product endorsement. “I have no brand ambassadors – I would rather people liked the pieces and bought them!” he laughs. “It all seems to me that if well-known people actually wanted to wear something, they would buy it and wear it, rather than having to be paid to wear it.” So who would he like to see wearing his jewellery? “It is invidious to say,” he responds. “I like seeing jewellery worn by less obvious wearers, so sportswomen, serious actresses, serious musicians or an adventurer. The idea of normal people wearing jewellery really well is much more interesting than an actress or a model.”

Finally, does Fennell think the British Government does enough to support young design talent? He admits that it could do more. He’s conscious that a lot of the reasoning for this is financial. He’s also acutely aware that the government sponsored initiatives “are on the whole somewhat fraught. The people running them do not have any experiences of being in the (creative) trenches, or any industry knowledge.” Fennell is playing his part to help overhaul this, however. He’s a big fan of The Goldsmith’s Company, who offer young apprenticeships, from which he sources his own apprentices – the future craftsman and artisans of an exceptionally original British brand.

Visit www.theofennell.com for more information, and to view the full range of jewellery.

Fireworks And Music With Serena Foyle By Antonia Peck

The Foyle name is celebrated globally for its association with literature through the eponymous London book shop. However, it would seem that future generations following in William Foyle’s footsteps have inherited a zeal for showcasing and sharing their passion for the experiential.

Serena Foyle

Serena Foyle is William’s great grand-daughter. She studied music at Edinburgh University and then at the prestigious London School of Sound. Serena now uses this grounding to conjure a bespoke mix of music to enhance audiences’ enjoyment of firework displays.

Her creations aim to take participants on a journey playing to each audience type and the surroundings that they find themselves in – seamlessly and ingeniously moving between musical genres.

The Luxury Channel speaks to her about her unique offering and the planning process that each event entails.

Tell us about your work…

My work is about creating music and firework displays where both elements are treated with equal importance. I design the music for the displays and collaborate with a fireworks designer, to create a high impact result that captivates the audience. I like to work with a pyrotechnician that shares my vision and understands how to interpret music in a sensitive way. This I have found with Andrew Wiggins, head designer of Jubilee Fireworks, who I work with on most projects.

When planning your concept, what comes first – the sound or the visual?

The sound always comes first with any Pyromusical design and the fireworks choreographed to that soundtrack. The process is very similar to that of ballet, with the music being the inspiration for its choreography.

What music inspires you?

I find inspiration can come from almost any style of music!

Who are your clients?

Clients all tend to be on a private basis, having any sort of event from private parties to weddings to charity events.

What is the role of your audience?

I don’t believe the audience has a role. They are there to view the display but it is my job to grab their attention and hold it for the entire display.

Do you think that the ceremonial use of fireworks and music was used to full effect during the 2012 Olympics?

A stadium does not lend itself to being a perfect location for designing a fireworks display, as it is very limiting with its shape! This limits your firework design and material choices. There were, however, some clever moments, where the firework designer had used the round stadium to its best advantage for enhancing the music.

What and where would be your dream project?

I would love to create a live music concert with some of the most exciting music in the world, all set to fireworks. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as the location has the right atmosphere!

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I recently designed the music for a large budget display at an estate outside London. The music choices were carefully selected for the client to suit the intimate nature of the event. I am now designing music for a display taking place in the Philippines in early March.

Congratulations on your engagement! Will you be planning a display for your own wedding?

I’d like to leave that as a surprise!

What is luxury to you?

Anything that is at the top of its field and that is created exclusively for the person wishing to pay for it. Every music track and every display I create is different each time and most importantly, tailor-made to the desires of that client.

For more information about Serena’s work, go to www.serenafoyle.com

Silvia Gallini’s Presences By Hannah Norman

Presences

They say a picture tells a thousand tales, and that’s certainly true of Italy-born artist Silvia Gallini. Her latest collection, Presences, is a series of portraits capturing each muse at its most pensive. Using both paint and pencil to subtly bring each emotion to the fore, Gallini plays a clever game with viewers of her work. So deep is the concentration etched onto the faces of her subjects that you find yourself pondering along with them, as you ascertain what it is they could be thinking – much like admirers of the great Leonardo Da Vinci have done with the Mona Lisa.

Despite this latest exhibition, Gallini hasn’t stopped working. Her next venture is a film documentary, titled The Dog And The Duck, a personal tribute to artist and art teacher Joe Blaustein. Gallini moved from to LA from Italy to study for an MA in Film Direction, and began working with Blaustein, who took her under his wing.

“The film is about how an artistic outlet gives meaning to one’s life,” Gallini explains, referring to the death of Blaustein’s wife from cancer, which prompted him to take up painting. “It serves as therapy to help people work through their personal problems.” For more information about the film, go to www.dog-duck.com.

Gallini’s collection is currently on display at the Michael Reeves Associates showroom in Pimlico, London, until 31st December 2012.
www.michaelreevesassociates.co.uk/showroom
Tel – 020 7730 3009

Crystal Gazing By Charlotte Abrahams

Charlotte Abrahams pays a visit to glass-maker Cumbria Crystal….

Downton Abbey table set with Grasmere Cumbria Crystal. (Image courtesy of Cumbria Crystal)

An unprepossessing warehouse in a Cumbrian market town may sound an unlikely location for a crystal factory – after all, Stourbridge in the West Midlands is the traditional English home of its manufacture – but this outsized shed on the edge of Ulverston is in fact home to Cumbria Crystal, the UK’s last remaining producer of the hand-made, full lead, English variety.

‘Full lead crystal must contain 30 per cent lead,’ explains the company’s managing and creative director Katy Holford. ‘It does have its problems – it’s more likely to develop small faults, for example, which is why so many companies have now switched to the more forgiving “lead crystal,” but full lead crystal cuts very well, has real weight and sparkles like nothing else.’ (Cutting was originally developed as a way of removing the faults and imperfections; ‘lead crystal’ contains just 24 per cent lead.)

These qualities have not been lost on the people responsible for equipping the glass cabinets of Britain’s embassies around the world or the prop buyers for ITV’s hit costume drama Downton Abbey (the embassies use the Jacobean-inspired Helvellyn collection, while the dining tables of Downton were set with Grasmere). But despite such impressive contracts, when Holford – creative director since 2009 – became Managing Director on 1st December 2010, she found herself at the head of a company that was struggling for survival. ‘Every aspect of the company had been cut to the bone,’ she says. ‘Technical breakdowns were affecting the quality of the glass, there had been no new designs for 20 years and the business model was totally outdated.’

Holford was understandably nervous about accepting the top job at a company with such a bleak CV, but she is passionate about both the importance of making British goods in Britain and the need to keep traditional crafts skills alive. ‘I have been out to the Far East and seen how terrible the working conditions are,’ she says, ‘and I didn’t want to be part of that cycle – but more than anything, I took job because I want to keep this community working and keep the skills of these craftspeople in this country.’

The last couple of years have been tough. As Holford says, ‘Making handcrafted production profitable is a very difficult thing to do,’ but things are now looking much rosier. Turnover was up 40 per cent in 2011 and 80 per cent in the first six months of this year. New contracts include one for producing cut crystal light bulbs for young British designer Lee Broom, while Holford’s Six Stemware collection, a set of glasses each sporting a different cut pattern and designed to be mixed and mis-matched, is selling like hot cakes at London department store Liberty (from £76 a tumbler).

Cumbria Crystal Six Collection. (Image courtesy of Cumbria Crystal)

The work force – a small team of 16 full-timers, including four glassmakers, two cutters and an engraver – seem happy. The day I visited, there was a tangible pride on the factory floor, not simply because Cumbria Crystal is still here, but because it is still producing top quality full lead crystal.

Making crystal glassware of this quality is a highly skilled business. Protected from the glare of the furnaces by a pair of safety goggles, I watched as Andrew Round and Nick Brine made a simple water jug. First, Round gathered molten glass from the furnace on a four foot long pole, then mouth-blew it into shape using a cast iron mould. The jug formed, Brine gathered more molten glass for the handle, precisely pinpointing the correct position, then moulding the handle into shape using an implement resembling a pair of giant tweezers. They worked swiftly and in a matter of minutes the raw jug was ready for its overnight stay in the Lehr (a temperature-controlled kiln designed to take the stress out of newly-formed crystal as it cools down very slowly through the night).

It was all very impressive and hot (the glass is heated to a temperature of 1150° Celsius), but the real magic of Cumbria Crystal happens in the cutting area. The two cutters, Robert Thomson and Jitka Wilcox, do use the newer, faster diamond cutters loved by most manufacturers of cut glass, but most of the crystal made here is still cut using the traditional two-stage process of roughing and smoothing. ‘The first cut is done on a carborundum wheel and then smoothed on a sandstone wheel,’ explains Holford. ‘Not many people use this technique anymore, because it’s so time-consuming, but you just can’t get the same precision, sharpness and quality with a machine.’

Cumbria Crystal Bulb Collection. (Image courtesy of Cumbria Crystal)

Quality is what Cumbria Crystal is all about. As the company discovered to its cost, it simply cannot compete in the price-driven mid-market, so it must concentrate on the luxury end, where perfection and provenance are more important than price. And the strategy is working. As well as that high-status contract with Broom, in the last couple of years, Cumbria Crystal has also secured valuable commissions to make perfume bottles for the Royal Wedding and the Diamond Jubilee, and is currently in discussions with a leading florist and a whisky company. ‘There does seem to be more of a demand for high quality, more decorative glass,’ Holford says, ‘and we need to exploit that. So I am trying to combine our traditional heritage with designs that suit 21st century lifestyles.’ These include the new Six Gift collection, a range of six vases (from £48, for the smallest, 8 centimetres high): each is patterned with a different cut, to complement last year’s best-selling Six Stemware collection.

The upturn in business is of course very welcome, but it has brought its own problems. More orders have meant more demand on the furnaces, and the two old ones currently in use are simply not up to the job. ‘The last two years have been a step-by-step process of renewal,’ explains Holford, ‘but now we need new furnaces so that we can build capacity. We’re currently trying to raise the necessary finance.’

So far, this has proved a rather frustrating experience, and the company has had to turn down a lucrative commercial order because Holford couldn’t guarantee that it would be completed in time, but everyone is optimistic that they will find the funds. Meanwhile, Holford continues to make plans (there is talk of an English wine range, of the brand moving into the US, and of potential projects with the Middle East), pushing forward with her other mission, which is to educate consumers about the joys of hand-made, contemporary cut crystal.

‘Using good quality, full lead, cut crystal glass really does enhance the pleasure of drinking and makes wine taste better,’ she says. ‘You can’t put our glasses in the dishwasher, but that’s a small price to pay for something that sparkles in the light and makes such a beautiful sound when you clink it.’

I finished my trip to Cumbria Crystal in the factory shop (a must-stop destination next time you’re in the Lake District), and I have to say that, dazzled by the reflections bouncing off the glassware and amazed by the weight of these pieces, I returned home suddenly dissatisfied with my shelves of non-glinting, lightweight glass.

Cumbria Crystal, Oubas Hill, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 7LB
www.cumbriacrystal.com
Tel: (01229) 584400

Charlotte Abrahams’ work originally published in Crafts Magazine, www.craftscouncil.org.uk.
For more of Charlotte’s work, go to www.charlotteabrahams.com.

Luanda – An African Heart Pumping To A Latin Beat By John Thompson

Arriving in Luanda for the first time, a visitor may be forgiven for harbouring negative preconceptions of the city stemming from the real dearth of information available. Luanda is often written off as the dusty capital city of a sub-Saharan African country, irreparably ravaged by a brutal civil war, rife with malaria, yellow fever, crime, slums and until recently topping the most expensive city in the world table. These preconceptions are real. However, the city is as varied, interesting and complex as any and cannot be defined by its negative attributes. Luanda is the adolescent capital city of an extremely young (10 years post-conflict) Angola. It is a unique city with a Latin and African heritage that is still rediscovering how its infrastructure and people work.

First impressions

The first thing to strike visitors about Luanda is the sheer volume of traffic. Hours are spent in the car as powerful SUVs try to out-muscle public transport minibuses. This seems to be an accepted part of Luandan life and locals and expats have been forced to adapt to the flexible working hours necessitated by the jams and pot holed roads. Wider, faster roads are being built as part of huge investment in Luanda and Angola’s infrastructure (www.angola-today.com/angola/transport-and-infrastructure)  and they work well- the ring road and the highway to the new international airport are fine examples of what has already been achieved.

Building the future

If the city is dusty, it is because the dust has never been given the chance to settle in the wake of Angola’s stratospheric ascent. Luanda, much like Dubai in the noughties, is a building site. It is without doubt one of Africa’s leading business centres and the face of the city is ever changing; sky scrapers seem to spring up on an almost monthly basis – to accommodate international companies upgrading their permanent bases in Angola and domestic firms making their mark.  There are familiar names of international professional and financial services firms festooning sparkling new edifices erected by Chinese companies who themselves take up their fair share of premium real estate.

Luanda’s population is racing toward the six million mark whilst the city was only ever intended for fewer than one million. The investment in infrastructure is much needed – this kind of growth spurt puts a huge demand on the beleaguered energy grid and waste management systems. Industrial parks like the Special Economic Zone in Viana (www.angola-today.com/2012/07/special-economic-zone-in-viana-angola) are part of the self-sustainability solution equipping projects with products like plastic tubing, paints, fencing and fibre optics.

Fuelling the economy

The petrochemical (www.angola-today.com/key-industries/oil-gas) giants and associated oil services firms have been in Angola for over thirty years. It is hard to take a step in Luanda without seeing the distinctive livery of state oil company Sonangol, and BP has recently taken a prime spot downtown looking out over the Atlantic and the sea front development affectionately dubbed “Miami Beach.” The SONILS (http://sonils.co.ao) complex next to the port of Luanda is one of the most sophisticated OSCs – Oil Srevice Centres (http://sonils.co.ao) in Africa and includes unrivalled logistics and laboratory facilities.

Although recent years have seen large scale investment from big ticket brands like Coca-Cola, which has now invested over $300m USD (www.allafrica.com/stories), until the economy diversifies out, the petro-dollar is really the factor drawing in international businesses and their expat workforce. Flights from Houston, Rio and Aberdeen (via London) bring in the riggers, scientists, engineers, analysts, and lawyers on a daily basis. This international mix is a double edged sword – on the one hand, it lends Luanda a cosmopolitan feeling and exposure to the requisite professional mores that big business expects – on the other, the expats and their subsidised existence artificially drive up rental and consumer prices for native Angolans.

Latin legacy

Even 37 years after declaring its independence from Portugal, Angola still retains a Latino sensibility meshed seamlessly with an African personality. This identity is enchanting and extends into the gastronomy, beach culture and night life.  Luanda’s Ilha, a spit of sand that juts out into the Atlantic from the down town area, has developed into a hedonistic haven replete with stunning beach bars, high end restaurants and night clubs hosting a multinational crowd of locals, expats and travelers. The food on offer is incredibly varied – from Asian to Brazilian and fusions of anything in between – the local preference is for grills, in particular fresh seafood or meat. The nightclubs like Chill-Out and Look Al spill out onto the beaches and have a unique vibe.

Most expensive city in the world

Whilst prices remain eye-wateringly expensive, Luanda is making its way down the “Most Expensive City” league tables, having been knocked off the top spot this year by Tokyo. As the economy recovers from dependence on imports and agriculture and infrastructure improves, food prices are noticeably dropping. By the same token, supply is beginning to meet demand in the hotel market as international operators move in and compete; it is now possible to secure a rate of c.$300 per night for a four star hotel, whilst five star outfits like the Epic Sana (www.luanda.epic.sanahotels.com/en) offer international standards in luxury including roof top swimming pools and world renowned chefs at top end rates.

Poverty gap

The juxtaposition of the swanky hotels serving $50 burgers and the road side vendors scratching a living selling knock-off designer jeans, mobile phone credit and trinkets serves to highlight the well-documented polarisation of the country. Angola has focused in recent years on bridging the gap between the mega rich and the cripplingly impoverished. There is still a long way to go towards meeting the millennium goals – however, a visit to Angola’s first shopping mall at Belas does indicate a nascent middle class and mid-level retail and food outlets sit comfortably between designer boutiques and glitzy technology stores – the development of further more central retail centres is also testament to this. A walk around the musseques of Luanda, where the shanty houses are undergoing a process of census, revealed evidence that the long-awaited relocation from the slums to modern developments is underway, albeit slowly and amidst enormous controversy over timings and the breaking up of communities.

An African heart pumping to a Latin beat

Luanda is a fascinating and undeniably frustrating place to be in 2012. However, there is a palpable sense that, having passed the ten years of peace mark, Angola is on the brink of achieving something great. The locals are steadfast in their resolve to look forward and to realise this potential. With stable leadership, the chocks holding Luanda’s human capital back (poor education, health, housing problems) can gradually be released. When that happens, everyone in Luanda from the musseques to the Miramar has the ambition to realise this potential.

Crowning Glory: Harrods Crown Exhibition By The Luxury Channel

There would have been no Jubilee without a coronation and Harrods is celebrating the Queen’s sixty year reign by looking back at its beginning.

Harrods Crowns

On 2 June 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey, London, almost a year after the death of her father. The spectacular crown was the St Edward’s crown, the official coronation crown. Harrods are marking its iconic status this Jubilee with an exhibition of fashion-forward and free-thinking crowns created by 32 hot designers.

Each crown is based on the St Edward’s crown, but all of them are incredibly different. British chocolatier William Curley has fashioned his from chocolate – perhaps to provide a snack through a long coronation ceremony. Paul Smith’s calls to mind the London tradition of the pearly king: buttons and badges with a Royalist theme. Others are more traditional, jewellers such as Tiffany, Boucheron and Bulgari have all contributed to the exhibition with their take on head gear fit for a Queen. One of the most spectacular is the De Beers crown: 974 diamonds, including the ‘crowning glory’, a 73-carat diamond on top.

Of course, British style, and that of our reigning monarch, has always bucked the trend and designers such as Mulberry and Wedgewood are on hand with a whimsical twist on regal splendour.

www.harrods.com

Rule Britannia: Selfridges Britannica 1951-1953 Exhibition By The Luxury Channel

2012 is Britain’s year and Selfridges wants to celebrate it with a bang…

Bompar & Parr

2012 is Britain’s year and Selfridges wants to celebrate it with a bang – a Big British Bang to be exact, the title of store’s all encompassing creative homage to the Jubilee and the Olympics.

Spend sunny days sipping tea on the roof of the department store beside a fantastical crazy golf course created by foodie architects Bompas and Parr. The 9-hole, cake-based course is open from 12 noon until 7pm every day (6pm on Sundays), and promises to be the best game of golf you’ll see this summer.

Bompas and Parr are famous for their experimental culinary creations which merge fine ingredients with a serious dose of fun. From an Adventure Hamper complete with bioluminescent lollies and medicinal pickles to presenting Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in ‘Taste-o-rama’they are at the cutting edge of gastronomy gaming.

Of course, after all of that exercise, you’ll need refreshment. The course has an on-site Daylesford Cafe serving up lunch, afternoon tea, drinks and dinner six storeys above the streets of London.

The roof is open until 2 September. As part of the Big British Bang, Selfridge’s are hosting the Big British Shop, filled to bursting with exclusives from iconic British brands.

www.selfridges.com

www.jellymongers.co.uk

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration By The Luxury Channel

The Queen’s jewellery is the focus of the summer opening of Buckingham Palace.

Diamonds -  A Jubilee Celebration

An unprecedented display of the royal family’s personal jewels will form the centrepiece. Last summer, the display of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress drew a record 600,000 visitors to the palace. This year, jewels including the “South Africa” diamond necklace presented to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday in 1947, the miniature crown worn by Queen Victoria for her 1897 jubilee portrait, and the Williamson brooch – which features the finest pink diamond ever discovered – will be displayed in an attempt to lure London’s Olympic and jubilee visitors to the palace.

The exhibition is on display from Saturday 30th June to Sunday 7th October 2012.

www.royalcollection.org.uk

Guide to Switzerland By Denise Howell

Denise Howell stayed with Swiss Deluxe Hotels and sampled some of the best restaurants in town.

If you thought that Switzerland was all about skiing, winter sports and cuckoo clocks then think again! A flight to Geneva and a mere hour’s train journey will transport you through a countryside of wonderful autumn colours interspersed with pine trees to a delightful town called Neuchatel. My friend and I arrived at the five-star Hotel Beau-Rivage situated on the popular Esplanade du Mont-Blanc promenade overlooking the Lake Neuchatel. In addition to a prime location, the hotel has 66 rooms and four spectacular suites and is within a five-minute walk of the city centre and a bustling market.

Dinner on the first night was at The Brasserie de Cardinal. This bistro with original decorative hand painted tiles from around the 1930’s was rustic and lively, without being loud. The food was delicious and the ample portions were more than generous leaving us needing a stroll after dinner.  Neuchatel is very picturesque and steeped in history; many of the buildings in the town are made of yellow stone, which gives an eerie but romantic glow at dusk.

Starting the next day early, we visited the Corum Watch Museum where complex timepieces and exceptional works of art are displayed. We had the privilege of watching some of the components being created and completed. Bespoke matching watches are popular with couples around Valentines and Christmas. I longingly admired the feminine, delicate and very beautiful Golden Gate Bridge watch priced at £42,000!

We then had lunch at Ferme des Bradt in La Chaux de-Fonds, a renovated 17th century farmhouse where you can choose to dine in the old kitchen under the huge chimney, or in a beautiful wood-panelled dining room.  After a substantial lunch we decided to do an Absinthe tasting at the distillery Artemisia with the humorous proprietor, Claude-Alain Bugnon. Although the Absinthe was not to my taste we were informed that drinking it everyday is very good for a healthy digestion!

That night we had a relaxing dinner at O’terroirs restaurant at Beau Rivage. We both had five courses, consisting of Cannellonie de cerf marine, Foie gras , Tournedo de chevreuil aux champignon, cheeses, followed by the most amazing chocolate confection. As an alternative to Absinthe we enjoyed several wines, including a delicious 2008 Gewurztraminer, Caves du Prieure, Cormondreche and Metissage Reserve due beau-Rivage 2009

The next day it was off to Lausanne but we took a detour and had lunch at the gourmet restaurant Le Berceau des Sens atEcole Hotelier de Lausanne. This is the school where they train the staff for Five Star Hotels from around the world.  The school’s students are all rigorously trained and served our fantastic lunch with aplomb.

After lunch we arrived at our next destination the Lausanne Palace & Spa, a palace built in 1915 and only 40 minutes from Geneva. The hotel’s rooms and suites are beautifully decorated with breath-taking views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.  The view was so inviting that I was nearly persuaded to attempt skiing, but instead decided to prepare for dinner, which transpired to be yet another fantastic gastronomic experience.   We blissfully munched on Chef’s own recipe olive tapas and then enthused over the main course. The night closed with dancing and cocktails at Lausanne Palace’s bar, to the music of their singer and pianist.

After a relaxing day dipping in the vast swimming pool and jacuzzi and soaking in the warmth of the hamman, we reserved a table for dinner at the Beau Rivage at Ouchy.  Located in 10 acres of gardens, the hotel commands breathtaking views across the lake to the majestic Alps beyond, and internally boasts some magnificent artwork both antique and modern, which gives the venue a distinct style.

The next day and it was time for our departure home. It was an extraordinary trip – filled with exceptional views, culinary treats and relaxing moments. However, next time perhaps we will muster up the courage to try the skiing! A sure fire way to make all those memories even more deserved!

Swiss Deluxe Hotels,Zurich

Tel. +41 (0)43 243 71 40

E-Mail    info@swissdeluxehotels.com

Web www.swissdeluxehotels.com

The Hesperia Isla de la Toja By The Luxury Channel

The Hesperia Isla de la Toja Spa Hotel – I was feeling a little off colour and had been invited to go to a health Spa in North West Spain to a place called “The Hesperia Isla de la Toja.” I didn’t need to be asked twice.

The Hesperia Isla de la Toja

What a discovery the area of Galicia is – definitely Spain’s best kept secret. It is very green and lush, not the parched landscape I had expected, and I was amazed at how many uninhabited beaches there were at every turn – no English pubs, no discos, no England V Germany for the best spot by the pool – in fact I don’t think I heard any language other than Spanish being spoken whilst I was there.

Galicia is off the normal tourist track, and where the Spanish take their holidays. The Isla de La Toja (pronounced “tocka”) or to the locals A Toxa (“tosha”) lies at the far end of Galicia. After a drive of about one and a half hours from the airport we arrived at O Grove, the town on the mainland that links to the Isle de la Toja. It is a thriving family resort and fishing village. O Grove itself was once an island before the wild grasses bound together the sands and created dunes and a peninsula. Further afield lie a wealth of fishing villages in the fiord-like rias which punctuate the coast line. Several larger towns such as Pontevedra, A Guarda and Ourense offer shopping and fine restaurants – mainly specialising in fish, as you might expect.

As we crossed the 19th century road bridge from O Grove to Isla de la Toja I was surprised to see how far the tide went out, revealing acres of sand bank, which were being raked and dug by the local women and fishermen. It looked very hard, back breaking work, but this way of harvesting the bounty from the sea has been going on for time immemorial and isn’t about to change. It is very eco-friendly and I am told the locals have never been let down. Every time the tide goes out there are always mussels, clams, lobsters, and crabs galore. They use some of the smaller catch as bait for line fishing, which is done from the road bridge when the tide is high. I had learned something new. This was the heart of the Spanish Seafood paradise, and a festival is held to celebrate this bounty every year in O Grove.

The island is also known throughout Spain for its healthy climate and spas have been created here for centuries – but the finest is probably at “The Hesperia Isla de la Toja”

In the Spa and Thermal club at the hotel for rest relaxation and recuperation there are indoor and outdoor pools in the Spa and Thermal Club and a long menu of spa treatments. The extensive (4,000 sq metres) facility offers breathtaking sea views and an ultra-luxurious experience. Guests can choose from mineral baths, massages, mud treatments, algae wraps, pressotherapy (lymphatic draining) and aromatherapy, and enjoy complete tranquility and renewal. I tried the mineral bath, followed by the mineral rub, a massage – the famous island spring water is used in the mineral baths that I sat in. It is also used in the bubble beds that I lay on, under the Vichy showers and the numerous pools and Jacuzzis. For the more energetic there is also a state-of-the-art gymnasium. Needless to say I didn’t partake in the more energetic activities on offer – after all I was there to relax and rejuvenate.

After all that pampering, time for a bite to eat. The hotel combines gourmet dining on the finest local produce with its fantastic spa and wellness centre. This is four start luxury but with amazing prices. There are world-class restaurants to suit every whim. El Acueducto offers a gastronomic tour of Galician cuisine – much of it based on combinations of rice and seafood. La Lanzada (which translates as “a thrust with a spear”, or “in the mood for love”) offers a simpler menu while still retaining the themes of local produce and seafood, with a fixed price buffet-style. Cafes and bars offer a wide range of snacks and faster food.

The most famous symbol of the island is an amazing tiny church covered entirely with seashells. I am told that the seashells act as a very good defence against the elements. Many people come to see this church and names are written on the seashells, not as an act of vandalism but as an act of prayer. Opposite this is a soap museum, which harnesses the mineral-rich waters of the island – it’s been a spa centre for centuries – to produce a unique range of grooming products for men and women. In the week visitors can play on the nine-hole golf course, or tennis and there is also a marina for sailors – everything seems to be catered for.
Even to the Spanish, Galicia is something different. The Galicians held out against the Romans, hid in the hills to avoid the Moors and largely ignored Franco. They have their own take on the language and culture, which shows in their food and drink – Spanish but with a twist.

The regular rainfall, which is a feature of the winter months, ensures that the mountains and valleys further inland are lush and green.
Galicia may not be an obvious place for your holiday – but those who prefer the subtle to the obvious, who do not expect every request to be understood and catered for, who are prepared to do more than lie on a sun-lounger, it offers a tantalising counterpoint to the national stereotype.

Prices from 75 Euros per night.

www.hesperia.com/hesperia/en/hotels/spain/isla-de-la-toja/

The Luxury Channel’s Guide to Marrakech By The Luxury Channel

Where to stay, eat and shop in Marrakech.

Marrakech

Nothing prepares you for your first experience of Marrakech. As soon as you step out of the airport you are hit by the heat, the sights, the colours, the smells – and the characters. The roads into the city are a carefully choreographed traffic nightmare of cars, buses, bicycles and donkeys. The world inside the walls of the Medina seems impossibly vibrant – and impossible to navigate. But that is all part of the city’s charm. Once tasted, you always long to go back – to pick up another lamp, try another tagine, learn how exactly they brew that deliciously sweet mint tea…

With over 300 days of sun every year it the perfect winter escape. Stay in or near to the Medina to get the most out of your trip – the modern city can be good for wide walkways and clearly-labelled shops but it lacks the completely unique character that lies within the old walls.

Where to Stay

Riad Noire d’Ivorie: In the north Media an unassuming wooden door gives little clue to the treasure that lies inside. Set around a large-ish central pool is a stunning selection of sitting rooms and bedrooms all impeccably decorated with Moroccan and African antiques and objets. Our favourite is Elephant with a romantic beaten silver alloy bath for two and a four-poster carved cedar bed. This is the place to get tips for home ware shopping.

www.noire-d-ivorie.com

Riad Farnatchi: Modern Moroccan chic is the name of the game at this nine-suite boutique. Modern art adorns the walls and sleek black marble bathrooms come complete with Philippe Starck fittings and under-floor heating. Hit the hamman for a serious scrub, lounge by the pool or on the roof terrace or tuck into manager Lyn’s delicious cuisine. Suite nine has a private courtyard for mid-afternoon snoozing.

www.riadfarnatchi.com

Riad Madani: A favourite of Vogue and Mario Testino, this is one seriously stylish spot decorated with original art works that vary from Warhol to traditional Berber. The palace was once the home of a Grand Vizier and amongst the modern comforts there is genuine history: ancient mosaics and tapestries, antiques and roman sculpture. There is a large pool in the lush gardens and a beautiful vaulted dining room where the chef serves up authentic Berber feasts.

www.riad-madani.com

La Mamounia: Marrakech’s original grande dame has been brought back to her former glory with a refurb from design darling Jacques Garcia. The Mamounia was a favourite of Churchill (who called it ‘the most beautiful place in the world’) and the sense of elegance and exceptional service remains, polished up with touches such as flat screen TVs, free wifi and a good gym and hammam, Eight hectares of gardens are planted with 700-year-old olive trees, fruit trees and flowers. In their midst is a wonderful palm-fringed pool – perfect for cooling off after the stress of the souks.

www.mamounia.com

For something a little larger, you need to head out of the Medina to the leafy Palmeraie district where the new Mandarin Oriental and the very rock-star-cool Murano Resort are situated and where Taj Marrakech is scheduled to open this November.

www.mandarinoriental.com

www.tajhotels.com

www.muranoresort.com

Marrakech

Where to Eat

Dja El Fna: The Medina’ main square comes to life at night with food stands. Although eating at one is a bit of a lottery, it is also an experience. If you don’t want to risk it, be sure to take a walk around the square, past the storytellers chanting in Arabic, the snake charmers and the musicians – there is nothing else quite like it.

Cafe Arabe: The perfect pitstop while shopping in the Medina. Sit under the shade of the orange trees in the pretty courtyard and tuck into excellent Italian food as well as a good selection of Moroccan classics. 184 rue Mouassine.

www.cafearabe.com

Terrasse des Epices: Another souk stop. Take in the Marrakech rooftops from the breezy, shaded terrace of this excellent restaurant. An all-day Franco-Moroccan menu features highlights such as traditional salads and tagines, enjoyed by a young expat crowd. 15 Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz.

www.terassedesepices.com

Le Comptoir: Worth the trip out of the Medina to this lounge/bar/restaurant for French, Moroccan and Asian meals accompanied by fire and belly dancing. Avenue Echouhada, Hivernage.

www.comptoirdarna.com

Le Francais: The Michelin-starred restaurant of the legendary Mamounia is just as glam as its parent hotel, serving French classics with a twist. Avenue Bab Jdid.

www.mamounia.com

Le Fondouk: Marrakech isn’t all about tourist-pleasing traditional dishes. Le Fondouk serves modern interpretations of classics alongside European and Italian inspirations. 55 Souk Hal Fassi, Kat Bennahïd.

www.fondouk.com

Where to Shop

There is no point giving street addresses for stalls in the souks as the names often aren’t clear and the best way to experience this other-worldly place is simply to head in, take a deep breath and get a bit lost. You’ll soon find yourself recognising landmarks – an arch here, a hidden door there, that man who tried to sell you a tea pot… There’s a lot of tat, but there are also a lot of gems (Mustapha Blaoui at 142-144 Bab Doukkala is easy to find and sells great furniture and antiques; Kulchi is a fab Moroccan-inspired fashion boutique near the Bab El Ksour gate at 1 Rue Ksour, off Rue Sidi El Yamani). Stock up on pretty homewares for a fraction of the price you would pay at home and if you find a seller you trust, ask him to recommend others. Haggling is expected so decide what you want to pay and be prepared to walk away.

Tip: Don’t accept directions from strangers. It’s not dangerous, but they (even – especially – children) will expect payment. And they might just lead you a merry way around some of their relatives/friends shops first.

A Masterpiece of Malt By The Luxury Channel

Glenmorangie Pride.

Visiting Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, is always a real pleasure. But when it’s combined with the opportunity to taste a new and sublime single malt whisky that will only be available to a few people around the world, it is doubly so.

On a chilly late winter evening I was invited with a select few to sample Glenmorangie Pride 1981, a 28-year-old whisky that is available in an extremely limited edition. But it would be wrong to simply refer to the containers as decanters. They are literally works of art, specially designed and presented in a striking bespoke crystal decanter and wooden case which only serves to highlight the joys to be found inside.

Producing a unique malt takes years of careful planning and creativity. No-one knows more about this than Dr. Bill Lumsden, who heads up Glenmorangie’s Whisky Creation Team, and is the acknowledged Guru of Malt. His enthusiasm for his work is infectious – spend an hour in his engaging company and you will quickly discover that there is a whole world of complexities, tastes, colours, and secrets attached to producing a bottle of good malt. Dr. Bill literally has spent years with his colleagues perfecting this latest example of craftsmanship. Three decades ago, the original whisky of Pride 1981 was distilled and selected to mature in Glenmorangie’s finest oak casks. As the years of maturation progressed, this whisky was marked out as being very special. By 1999, the liquid had transformed into an exquisite vintage 18 Year Old, a single malt Scotch whisky of serious distinction. Inspired by the very quality of this whisky Dr. Bill decided to push himself further to craft an even more outstanding liquid. The first step was acquiring an extremely limited number of Sauternes ‘Barriques’ from the vineyard of Château d’Yquem – and thus conceived the plan to create this masterpiece.

The Château d’Yquem Sauternes is celebrated for its exceptional taste and renowned for its complexity, concentration and sweetness. Château d’Yquem is the only wine from the Sauternes region to be awarded the Premier Cru Supérieur rating, a classification for Bordeaux wines, and is deemed to be a class above the rest.

Glenmorangie Pride 1981 was extra-matured in these Sauternes casks for a further ten years – the longest period any Glenmorangie whisky has ever undergone extra-maturation. The resulting liquid is a rich, opulent deep gold colour.

For those not yet au fait with malt whisky, the secret lies in four areas – nose, taste, finish, and balance. Like a fine wine, all these key aspects have to interplay to make a malt something special. According to Dr. Bill the resulting malt Glenmorangie Pride 1981 is the “ pinnacle of their efforts.”

Without doubt Glenmorangie have pulled off something special with this fine whisky. Pride 1981 stands head and shoulders amongst the others, with its aromas and flavours and subtleties. The influence of the Sauternes casks produces the delectable scent and full texture of desserts such as apple tart, with sprinklings of Demerara sugar, nutmeg and aniseed, all underpinned by rich oak tones. Importantly it also has a long, lingering finish, succulent and sweet with sultanas, toasted almonds and the memory of lemon and coconut desserts.

To celebrate the release of this exceptional whisky The Glenmorangie Company has commissioned two design talents to create a unique objet d’art as packaging. Just as the liquid of Pride 1981 fuses the traditions of whisky creation with viniculture, the packaging unites the contrasting crafts of glass crystal and wood design.

The curvaceous Baccarat crystal decanter is the work of talented French designer Laurence Brabant. It is encased in a wooden box conceived by the Dutch designer, Wouter Scheublin, a rising star of furniture design. The whisky is impressive but the case itself has a classic beauty that fuses form with function and glides open, revealing a sensual crystal decanter which holds the deep gold liquid.

With only one thousand decanters available from July only a fortunate few will have the unique experience of acquiring a truly great single malt. And for those who are true aficionados of the water of life, the price of 2750 Euros per decanter will probably not be a barrier.

www.glenmorangie.com

I left my heart in Venice By Lauren Steventon

Explore the romance hidden along the tiny streets and secret canals of the Serene Republic.

Venice

For some, the most romantic city in the world is Paris. For others it is the baroque masterpieces of the Eastern European greats. But for me, it has to be Venice. Around every corner is a scene stolen from a romantic film. Every alleyway is a path to another quiet corner, and every bridge just perfect for a picturesque embrace. True, the tourist throngs overtake the city every May – September, but skip the well-trodden path between the Rialto and San Marco, and you find yourself in almost deserted streets, tiny passageways leading to humpback bridges crossing palazzo-lined canals. Step into a run-down cichetti bar and you might just discover the best meal you’ll eat all trip, washed down with a bitter spritz or a glass of dry, bubbling prosecco. Turn another corner and you’ll bump into a mascherari (mask-maker) creating authentic carnivalle creations, or a gondolieri rowing along a narrow waterway. Peaceful, beautiful and romantic to the core – the perfect honeymoon city spot…

District Guide

If you really want to avoid the hoards, make a break for one of the less central areas of the island. Everywhere is walkable, and one of the joys of this city, handily enclosed as it is by the lagoon, is getting lost along its winding streets. The Grand Canal is never too far away, and once you’re there, you can get anywhere.

Guidecca:
Five minutes across the lagoon, yet a world away in pace and personality. Here, the days a longer and lazier, with never a traveller in sight. Wander along the water front towards the Fortuny lamp factory, where stunning silk and glass lamps are still hand-painted, and stop off in one of the cute little restaurants with amazing views across the lagoon to San Marco or the basilica.

Dorsoduro:
Venice’s arts district with a laid-back, less frenetic vibe than that across the Grand Canal. Jump off the vaparetto at Salute and head along the streets towards the Peggy Guggenheim collection, an exceptional selection of modern art collected by the late great Guggenheim. You can continue to wander through the streets, past small galleries, crafts and jewellery shops towards the Academia Bridge, and then onwards through winding streets to the Rialto, or head to the other side of the strip and walk towards the port along the massive waterfront promenade.

Castello:
Make a break from the San Marco masses and head east towards the Giardini Pubblici. Tiny cafés line the waterfront…

San Polo:
A lovely place for an evening walk when the crowds have dissipated somewhat. Although proximity to the Rialto means you won’t always find yourself alone, simply step off the tourist trail and you’ll enter into some much-welcomed peace and quiet. Few cities can offer such serenity alongside their consumerist areas, but Venice not like any other city – and for those willing to look, she isn’t shy of divulging her secrets.

Stay

DD724:
Completely convenient for any part of the city, DD724 is a (very) upmarket B&B style boutique. Filled with funky art pieces and modern décor, it perfectly fits its creative location in Dursoduoro, literally around the corner from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and a very short walk from Academia and the Dorsoduro (head to Vizio Virtu just off Calle de Campaniel for incredible chocolates). Rooms are chicly, but simply, furnished, with thoughtful touches such as a natural mosquito repellent kit (the one downside of a canal view!)

Tel: +39 04 12770262

www.thecharminghouse.com

Cipriani:
One of Venice’s, indeed, one of Italy’s, most famous hotels, the Cipriani certainly lives up to its reputation. Nestled in lush gardens on Guidecca it is just a five minute private speedboat transfer (which runs 24 hours a day) from San Marco. Rooms are as luxurious as you might expect, in pastel colours with massive marble bathrooms, Fortuny lamps and original oil paintings. This is a truly spoiling romantic retreat – complete privacy is the name of the day, with many rooms boasting private terraces (overlooking the massive pool – the only one in Venice!) and the entire hotel hidden away from prying eyes. Maybe that’s why the Hollywood elite keep coming back – or maybe it’s the friendly service, or the romantic dinner’s at Fortuny, in the gardens, or Cip’s Club, overlooking the lagoon and San Marco.

Tel: +39 04 1520 7744

www.hotelcipriani.com

The Luxury Channels Top 10 anti-tourist tips:

  1. Vizio Virtu do the best chocolates in town, sold in a tiny store in the Dorsoduro.
  2. Linger over cichetti at Dai Zemei , just off the Rugga Vechia di S. Giovanni by the Rialto but popular with Venetians.
  3. Join the locals in drinking a spritz rather than an over-priced Bellini – try the version with artichoke liqueur instead of Campari. Honestly!
  4. If you want one tourist experience book WAY ahead for the Secret passageways tour of the Doge’s Palace. Only 30 people at time, twice a day in English…
  5. If you want to take a gondola, make sure you insist on sticking to the small canals.
  6. Murano is pretty, but Burano is prettier… Forget the glass and the hoards it attracts and head out to the multi-coloured fishing villages instead.
  7. Masks are on sale EVERYWHERE, but if you want the genuine article, find a proper mascherari. At Atelier Marega (www.marega.it) Carlo and his assistant make and paint them in the shop.
  8. Ignore champagne and celebrate in a truly Venetian way with prosecco. There are some lovely local varieties.
  9. Get lost. As soon as you see a crowd, head in the opposite direction. You’ll always be able to find your way, and the quieter, local streets are far more interesting.
  10. See the Guggenheim. It’s not just another art museum.
  11. 10. Hire Enrico Isacchi to guide you through the city. His network of insider contacts means that he can get exclusive access to many sights and museums, as well as private residences. Tel: +39 335 530 4125, email: eisacchi@me.com.

The Grape Question By Lauren Steventon

The Luxury Channel meets Eminent Wines’ Hans Vandeputte.

Hans Vandeputte, Viticulturist and consultant at Eminent Wines, shares his secrets for selecting the perfect wines for your wedding.

Eminent Wines

If you want to have the perfect wedding, the secret is to find a wine professional that will help and guide you. I have done events where I have chosen the wine and people did mention it, they remember it, and they enjoy themselves. For me, that’s a job done. So, if you really want to get it right, then it is good to have a professional. But, if not, it is always a sensible idea to play safe bets – meaning France, Italy, maybe Spain. I wouldn’t go adventuring. Generally the safest bet is France, because most people know the wines. So for your reds, think Bordeaux; for white, the Loire Valley. If you are a new world person, then New Zealand is good for whites, and Argentina or Chile for red.

It’s always difficult to pair the wine with the menu as it all depends on the people and the choices. If you have a simple menu with starter, main course and dessert, then you can accompany the starter with white, maybe the main will be a red – but you want to have a choice of a different white, because certain people don’t drink red – and then for dessert usually ladies will stay with white. So generally you want a starter white, then a white and a red for main course. Even if the main course is meat, some people want to stay on white. Similarly, if you have fish as a main course, you don’t necessarily have to stay white, I would offer also a red wine. Lots of people, me including, will drink a red wine with fish.

The old rules do not apply so much any more. We have such a diverse choice of different styles of cuisine, including marriages of different world cuisines that it becomes complicated to actually nail down cemented pairings. Lots of wines now are also made just to drink, not necessarily to have with a big meal, maybe instead to drink with small nibbles, or sort of tapas style food. The culture of dining has changed and has opened itself up. So, when it comes to weddings, there is a bit more attention needed to be paid to choosing wines to accompany the menu, and, as we now have the whole new world making pretty good wines, the choice is immense. Generally, it’s always good to give people choices, maybe two whites and two reds.

Champagne is another big part of a wedding, and choosing the right champagne is just as important. You have the big commercial champagnes: Moet et Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, Mercier, Mumm, Laurent Perrier. They are the big powerhouses of champagne. Each try to create a different style. In general, there are a few houses that base their champagnes on a kind of more aperitif champagnes, other brands will more have a party champagne to just pop and drink and enjoy – for example Moet et Chandon. Then you have the craftsmen, which really have create the champagne, which is also designed to go with food.

I would say, for a safe bet, go for the big brands. The best champagne house, where you cannot go wrong across the hole spectrum is Bollinger. For good craftsmanship, I would say Jacques Selosse and Egly-Ouriet. If you are a connoisseur in champagne you should know them, and if not you should try them, they absolutely make it out of the hearts. They are small production, but they are beautiful.

Also – don’t forget sweet wine. It is an interesting one, because generally people go for champagne, white red, and then when it comes to the end they say, “oh no, we are not doing sweet wines”. It all depends. I think it is always good to end with a sweet wine, or a fortified wine for your dessert. There is a beautiful Rivesaltes from the Rousillon region. It is a dessert wine, but it is a bit more towards your leather, your plums, really soaked in alcohol for a while, much more dense and almost just between Port and wine. It goes wonderfully with black forest style or really chocolaty desserts. From Bordeaux you will get your sweet Sauternes. They are very popular with fruit tart or meringue. Then you have also your German ice wines. They are beautifully crafted wines which you can have with more sorbet-like ice cream-like dishes. Then, for something different, you have your dessert wines from America, based on herbs and fruit. They let indigenous herbs from the terroir, such as rosemary or thyme, marinate into the wine. It is very nice, but hard to find in Europe as it is a very small production. New Zealand and Australia also do their dessert wines. Some will be more based on Bordeaux, Sauterne style, others will try and find a more individual style. But I would say yes, go for dessert it helps with digesting. Maybe at the end even have an Armagnac or a cognac with a big cigar – why not!

The Grape Question

The two things that make a good wine are the terroir and the winemaker. How he studies the wine, how he wants to create a wine. It’s pretty much one person, the winemaker, and the soil you’re standing on. If you work that one well, that will make you an excellent wine.

It’s difficult to choose my favourite wine. Pomerol or Saint Emmillion from Bordeaux, they are amazing wines, then you have the super Tuscans, some in Piedmont in Italy – mind-blowing. You have a few in Spain that will blow your head off. Portugal – people forget about it, but these guys are making beautiful wines, they are beginning to be known and export more. Of course, a few Australians, or even America, regardless of what people think, have some of the most absolutely astonishing wines – but they are staying in the country. Some big domains from Bordeaux settled themselves in Chile and Argentina, but it will take some time. Old world still rules, and probably will for a long time. I am not pro-French or pro-Italian, I like the product.

If people want to learn more about wine they should contact Eminent Wines. We do private tastings, with or without food, we have private sommeliers, maintain wine cellars – even organise wine tourism or investment.

www.eminentwines.com

Booth Nation By Antonia Peck

Renowned photographer and founder of Boothnation, Seamus Ryan tells us what makes a powerful photograph and how you can look good in your wedding day photos.

Boothnation

How did the Boothnation concept come about?

My Sunday Shoots projects, an ongoing public portrait project held each week in my Columbia Road Flower Market studio, led to an advertising commission which involved faking up a photobooth. I was asked to photograph 300 laughing ladies in a week. The shoot was a great success. In the end we captured over 500 genuinely hysterical women. The secret to this was simple: no photographer and the privacy a curtain afforded.

I became obsessed with creating the ultimate photobooth, so I designed one using my own signature beauty lighting and even incorporated a wind machine for added glamour. I tested the booth on Sundays with visitors to my studio and before long got my first booking, a fashion event at the National Portrait Gallery. The business, called Boothnation, has really taken off since then. We work for a number of leading brands such as Chanel and do a host of wonderful events like Glastonbury and the Baftas. We are also delighted to be a part of many very glamorous weddings.

What is it that makes photo booths so appealing to partygoers?

Without a doubt our beauty lighting is what makes our booths so popular. Most people go through life without ever really having a nicely lit photograph and the revelation that they really are gorgeous is a joy. It is very rare for one of our booths not to be swamped all night as a result.

Though it pains me to say it, not having a photographer taking the shots seems to make all the difference. People are free to be themselves and have fun. The curtain adds the all important element of privacy. We all have warm memories of using photobooths in our youth. If you weren’t having your passport picture taken the chances are you were squashed in a booth with your friends taking hilarious photographs.

Do the results of booth photos surprise you?

Yes, very often. There is no way of predicting what magic might happen in the booth. It’s all down to the people who use it and I am constantly surprised by the infinite variety of images produced. As an evening progresses people do tend to get more and more liberated and perhaps surprise themselves a little.

Why is Boothnation a good choice for my wedding?

Firstly, we have designed our booths to look stunning in any setting. They are hand crafted to impress and have graced venues like The Ritz, Claridges and Blenheim Palace to name just a few. We work closely with you to personalise the booth especially for your day, creating a bespoke poster which can match your wedding theme and by adding your name and/or personal message to the pictures.

Secondly, and very importantly, our beauty lighting will flatter both you and your guests creating a lasting and very glamorous reminder of your special day.
Thirdly, people really enjoy themselves in one of our booths. It encourages everyone to interact and have fun together. The show offs get to show off and the more reticent find new ways to express themselves.

What are the secrets to looking your best in a wedding day photograph?

My top tip would be to banish all notions of rigidly posing for photographs. The formality of the traditional wedding photograph rarely reflects the remarkable event that is taking place and can become boring for everyone. Choose the very best photographer you can and just relax and enjoy yourself. It’s his or her job to capture the spirit of the day. If the bride and groom are having a great time then the photographs will reflect this.

Do you feel a conflict between commercial and artistic photography?

None whatsoever. I’m very passionate about good photography and always bring the same enthusiasm and expertise to every project. A great shot can come from the least promising situation. It’s all art in my eyes.

What, for you, makes a powerful photograph?

Photography plays an increasingly important role in all our lives and can become a part of family or cultural heritage. Photographs are visual reminders that we really did live life. As a photographer I look for a combination of graphic composition, great lighting and a strong sense of the human spirit.

Has there been one celebrity subject in particular who had the most fun with or most embraced the booth concept?

Boothnation has been popular with celebrities right from the start. We attend all sorts of glitzy events and parties. A number of celebrities regularly use one of our booths for all their family events, including Christmas dinner.

Supermodel Erin O’Conner has perhaps embraced the booth concept best of all and in doing so paid us a huge compliment. As someone who has been photographed throughout her career by many of the world’s best photographers she chose to use Boothnation to provide all the photography for her new fashion venture ‘She Died of Beauty.’ She visits the studio with top stylist Kate Halfpenny and just has fun in the booth. The resulting images are stunning and really capture her quirky take on life.

www.boothnation.com

She Walked in Beauty By The Luxury Channel

Brides in the know use the Alexander Technique to walk down the aisle with poise – how the Alexander Technique can help Kate Middleton look poised and elegant on her big day.

She Walked in Beauty

Kate Middleton may have the dress, the venue, and the wedding of the year, but even Royal brides-to-be need help to make sure they remain calm and elegant.

So what can Kate do to make sure she has mastered her regal poise and wear her dress well? Brita Forsstrom and Veronica Peck, both experienced teachers of the Alexander Technique have walked the Westminster Abbey bridal walk to offer their recommendations:

Flash forward: “On arrival at the Abbey, Kate will have to walk a short distance to the West door through what can be a windy spot with cameras likely to be flashing in all directions – both of which could be a challenge to her balance and composure. Taking her time and staying aware of her back and how she carries her head will help overcome this challenge to present herself beautifully to the media.”

Head first: “Good posture and use of the body is dependant on having a freely poised head. Wearing a wedding head dress ensures the bride is aware of her head movements and this can help with posture, length and poise overall.”

Get a good grip: “A bride usually carries a posy and its important that Kate doesn’t grip her flowers too tightly as this could cause tension in her whole body. She should also avoid fidgeting with them for this reason.”

Through the nave: “On entering the Abbey, Kate will have to adjust to more than a thousand guests and cameras watching her every step as her father guides her round the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which is never walked on. Here she will go into the body of the nave which has an uneven floor so care must be taken with each step. Kate must be focused on her direction towards the altar which is still 600 feet away and not let herself get distracted. Many actors learn the Alexander Technique to help with stage fright and for any bride her wedding is a once in a lifetime performance.”

Out into the quire: “The last section of the bridal walk is through the quire and up to the altar where all the close family members will be sitting on either side. Here Kate will be joining William ready for the ceremony which will bring more challenges especially having to speak calmly and clearly when saying her wedding vows.

Walk tall: “Kate may start feeling tired but if she needs to stand in one position for a long time she should remember to not lock her knees or drop down onto one hip which would ruin her poise.”

Reverse moves: “The newly wedded couple will be walking back together through the length of the Abbey so Kate needs to maintain her composure and be ready to face hundreds of cameras and well wishers.”

The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique is the original worldwide, professional society for teachers of the Technique. It was established in 1958 to maintain standards and promote the Technique. Members adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct and Competence and complete a three-year training course. There are currently 2,500 teaching members of STAT and its Affiliated Societies.

About the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique re-tunes your Primary Control (that is the subtle relationship between your head, neck and back) to help you look, feel and function better. It teaches you how to make better use of your body so the way you move, stand, breathe and react to any situation can be improved. You can restore poise and grace and become more relaxed, confident and alert, as well as reducing aches, pains and levels of stress.

The Technique was developed over 100 years ago by FM Alexander, an actor who kept losing his voice. He realised that the problem was caused by excessive muscular tension in his neck which interfered with the way he used his body as a whole. Learning to control the tension not only solved his voice problem but also led to an improvement in posture and general wellbeing so Alexander realised that his methods could benefit many aspects of life.

Alexander’s discoveries have been verified by research, including a large NHS-funded study published in the British Medical Journal in August 2008 which concluded “Alexander Technique lessons from qualified teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain.” (BMJ 2008)

For more information, visit the website of STAT, the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique.

www.stat.org.uk

The Bride vs. The Groom By Antonia and James Peck

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus – and no more so than on their wedding day. Our Editor Antonia and her fiancé James share their opinions on their bridal preparations.

Bride vs Groom

On the Engagement

The Bride
I had my blackberry strapped to my ear for most of our holiday in South Africa and it was our last day. Make-up-less and hair un-brushed I did not expect James to propose. My mother had joined us on holiday and James had made it quite clear that he would not be popping the question. So whilst being marched on a hot and sticky walk along the Robberg Peninsula, a ring and the magical question were the last things on my mind. In fact, I behaved appallingly! Skipping and throwing tantrums in equal measure, I was nervous about returning to reality in London.

The beauty of the walk was beyond question and eventually it dawned on me that my love was preparing for something. In response, I tried to distract him by refusing to sit on the bench at the beauty spot he had obviously earmarked. I protested that it was dangerous (a sign warned of freak waves) and we were surrounded by mad sea gulls, but sit I did! One big wave, an ‘Oh my gosh’, the swoop of a kamikaze sea-gull and there was James, on one knee with a ring pulled out of his sock. ‘Will you do me the honour of being my wife?”’ he asked. It was a ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’ as he slipped the beautiful Victorian ring onto my finger – sealed with a kiss. It was perfectly romantic until my playful mood got the better of me and I began to run along the cliff edge shouting back ‘All I wanted was the ring!!!’

The Groom
I had been together with my beautiful bride-to-be for six years when I realised that the next step on the ladder of life was to make her my bride. For me, this had never been a big deal as I whole-heartedly love and adore her but the big question I faced was when and where? I had at least five ideas jostling for space in my head. However, after she had guessed four of them, I informed her that if she continued down that path there would be no proposal at all! After this, she got the hint and the pressure was back on to be inventive, creative and romantic.

Eventually a simple stroll in the park yielded the ideal proposal scenario.

We would go on holiday to South Africa. Jackpot! There were a plethora of beauty spots, priceless backdrops and remote locations to choose from. And so it was just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. When it did, in one of the most spectacular locations on earth, I pulled the ring from my sock and dropped to one knee. Although it was somewhat expected, her eyes grew teary and never left mine as she said ‘yes.’ Admittedly, I had been expecting this answer, but the timing, the place and the emotion of the event still takes your breath away as you realise this one person wants to spend the rest of their life with you. A magical but overwhelming moment was over, and the relief of having surpassed all expectations left me so drained that I slept for two days straight – very contentedly, I might add!

On the Venue

The Bride
Rousham Park was always my venue of choice. My grandfather has a tree in the gardens, planted in his honour and the beauty of both the church and grounds is breathtaking. The gardens are designed by William Kent – so temples and Cotswold stone abound. The bliss of having the church and a reception in one location was a major advantage, but it has meant that we have to rent a marquee and bring in caterers. This can be more expensive and logistically testing than going for a hotel option, but at this stage of the preparations we were excited by the challenge.

The Groom
Tradition dictates that your venue be somewhere your bride-to-be has a connection with. Don’t stray from this! Let her choose as it keeps a personal element to the occasion. All that matters is that your bride is comfortable and happy in her surroundings.

On the Royal Wedding

The Bride
Lots of people have asked me what it feels like to be getting married in the year of the royal wedding and I can only say that it fills me with even more excitement. A ridiculous romantic at the best of times, I take a fairytale princess wedding in 2011 as a good omen for my own nuptials. In fact, there are even some parallels – Kate and William got engaged in Africa (and so did we), their courtship runs for the same number of years (eight) and our beaus went to the same school. But mine is not a prince, damn it! This small fact aside, it will be a year remembered for weddings and I am just very relieved that Kate will be an April, and not a June, bride.

The Groom
Now don’t get me wrong – I think its great Will is marrying Kate (or Catherine, to be officious) but I’ve got my own wedding to organise and I don’t find all the media coverage of ‘the Royal wedding day’ details particularly helpful. Purely because I am expecting my own bride to suddenly want a couture dress, fourteen bridesmaids and a venue to rival Westminster Abbey. Oh wait, she already does…

On the Debrett’s Wedding Guide

The Bride
The Debrett’s Wedding Guide has been an essential guide through the minefield that is wedding planning. With glee I had delighted in buying all the wedding magazines in publication, preparing scrapbooks and searching for ideas. However, I was left wanting by the endless reams of ‘cupcakes and butterfly’ ideas that left a lot to be desired. So it was back to Debretts and their guide to wedding etiquette and proper form.

From the excellent introduction by Lucia Van de Post to their practical timelines and sophisticated guidelines, it has become my wedding rulebook! I read it in the bath scribbling in pencil over things I have or have not done yet. Showing parents and quelling fears by stating ‘well Debretts agrees with me so…’. In fact it has been a fabulous smokescreen behind which I can disguise my inner Bridezilla – as my requirements for the day escalate into the realms of fairytale fantasy!

The Groom
Wedding guides – a wonderful way to plan your big day with helpful tips from traditions to logistics. However, be warned that this will become your bride’s bible and if ‘Debretts says’ then it must be followed! I won’t lie, I have thought about burning it on several occasions but just as it’s become synonymous for something I haven’t booked, organized or thought of yet – it does have its practical uses. Sorry Debretts… I love you really.

On Bridesmaids and Ushers

The Bride
I originally asked four of my old school friends to take on the role of bridesmaid with one given the title of maid of honour. However, a girlie dinner and a few bottles of wine later and I could not resist asking five more of my treasured friends to support me in this way! I am the first of my friends to get married and having been very close at school (going through everything from braces and hormones to exam stress together) it felt wrong to exclude anyone. I now have thirteen beautiful bridesmaids – an amount so excessive that James refers to them as my harem!

Due to this rather controversial number of bridesmaids – I have had to come up with some new ‘bridesmaid guidelines’:

  1. The girls can wear a dress of their choosing in either seal grey or nude/antique pink. It can be long or short, chiffon or lace, Grecian or modern. No white!
  2. A harmonizing feature will be a beautiful headdress made of crystal beads and ivy (made by my very talented bridesmaid Jennifer, who works for Eva Menz chandeliers).
  3. They will wear a rose on a ribbon tied to their wrists. Bouquets can be awkward and restrictive and I want them to have the freedom to dance!
  4. They will not walk down the aisle with me (it is a tiny church) but I will have three little flower girls and a pageboy to walk with me.
  5. James had to employ a few extra ushers to balance the bridesmaids out…

The Groom
When choosing ushers and a best man, take into account one thing – when you announce your engagement your normal, want-for-nothing mates suddenly turn into ambitious, tactical spymasters capable of doing what you would not think possible of a human with a Y chromosome – they start playing mind games.

You’d think there would be one or two who you would need to choose between for best man duties, but three or four will come out of the woodwork and like silent ninjas they will strike when you least expect. They will remind you of all the good times you’ve shared and then quite blatantly state that this is their only chance to be a best-man, as you’re their closest mate. Suddenly, you’re in a world that isn’t black and white anymore and it’s a decision that could test friendships to the limit if you don’t understand its gravity. It’s a strange and unyielding path so beware the political vipers nest of selecting your ‘chosen ones’, as it’s not just your big day but theirs too.

On the dress

The Bride
I have Bruce’s sketch of my dress. I can imagine it in detail but ultimately it’s still just a pencil drawing waiting to be brought to life. Bruce Oldfield is the perfect designer for a tall girl like me. He knew instinctively that I did not want a meringue, but something youthful, romantic and just a little bit sexy. I sent Bruce photos and mood boards galore and was presented with the most beautiful interpretation imaginable.

Dress Requirements:

  1. Romantic and feminine (a chance to wear chiffon, tulle and lace)
  2. Corseted (to ‘re-structure my physique’ – to quote Bruce!)
  3. ‘Strong’ with a serious train (two meters from my bottom)

I am walking myself down the aisle so I need the dress to have an element of armor to it! It should say ‘I am a modern bride capable of walking down the aisle towards my husband-to-be, with a full belief in my decision and dedication’.

The Groom
If it’s bad luck to see the dress before, don’t tempt fate by trying to find out more. Keep it for the wedding day. Plus you will save yourself the hassle of having to comment on it! In my view, that’s a bullet dodged…

Nigel Milne By Antonia Pearce

The British jeweller Nigel Milne talks to Antonia Pearce about the four ‘C’s and a mutual love of a Roman aesthetic.

Nigel Milne

Who is the Nigel Milne client?

The very name is oh so English and the variety of pronunciations by foreign nationals is witty in the extreme! Whilst we have a wide international clientele, the typical Nigel Milne customer profile for both men and women is British, aged between 25 and 75, well established, independent with traditional values but with the courage to be adventurous. Once we have made a customer we do our utmost to keep them. I am proud to say that many of our clients, who first came to us for their engagement rings, are successfully recommending us to their children for their engagement rings. So in the space of a generation we have established ourselves as a “family jeweller” in more ways than one.

Do you have a signature style/piece?

We have had several but; arguably, our most successful is “CARNIVAL” from our JIGGY JEWELS collection. I love this one because it reflects my continuing love affair with Edwardian jewellery infused with a shot of contemporary colour and flair.

How do you source and pick out pieces for the vintage collection?

We are offered pieces from private collections and also by international jewellery dealers. However, whereas the temptation of buying a piece for its intrinsic academic attributes and which should really belong in a museum, can be very tempting. We do have to adopt a more commercial practice and remember that the very raison d’etre of a piece of jewellery is that it must be wearable and it is to that tenet that we adhere to most rigorously.

What is the process behind buying a bespoke engagement ring?

The engagement ring is, more than likely, the first really serious piece of jewellery that someone buys and it can be a massively daunting prospect. We are only too aware of how confusing the whole project can be and so it is our way to make the prospective client as comfortable and as much at ease as is possible. To help continue the celebratory process we like to make a fuss with some champagne to help make the choosing process a more relaxed and memorable experience. We then take the clients through the mysteries of “Carat, cut, colour and clarity”, the variations in the appearance of coloured stones and the suitability or not of various design and gemstone combinations and, most importantly, establish what the budget is to be. Once the style has been discussed we then submit a selection of designs for the client’s approval, after which a selection of stones set up on a “wax” layout will be submitted. Once the final decision has been made then the ring is usually completed within two weeks.

What is the most extravagant commission you have ever taken on?

Probably the bracelet which we designed with six panels depicting the client’s house in the South of France, and a little anthropomorphic lizard getting up to seriously non lizardy things like playing tennis, playing bridge, driving a car riding a motor bike and playing golf – all of his wife’s pastimes. These panels were all edged in rubies, pave set with diamonds and linked together with dark green tourmaline claret bottles.

Nigel Milne

What is the most exquisite piece of jewellery that you have ever seen/had in your collection?

Probably a most superb Edwardian tiara made by CARTIER. This was a “real find” as it was extremely rare, exquisitely made and eye-wateringly beautiful. Needless to say it was not in our possession for very long before being added to the collection of one of England’s most noble families.

Edwardian jewellery has been an inspiration to you in the past. What elements of this era’s jewellery catch your eye?

Prior to about 1880 the only white metal available to jewellers was silver. Now silver is very soft and, even when backed with 18ct gold, had to be used in quite a heavy gauge in order to hold gemstone safely in their settings. Now, at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries jewelers had developed techniques by which platinum could be worked for the purposes of setting stones. Platinum is incredibly hard and consequently very difficult to work with, that is up until this point. Now jewellers, with these new found talents, were able to work the metal to their will and cut it to a very fine gauge and it still remained rock solid. This meant that new designs using delicate tracery and pierced out ribbons could be set with diamonds and remain totally rigid, whereas the same designs made in silver and gold would have bent under the slightest pressure.

What else inspires you both?

Being asked to design a totally original piece of jewellery with no constraints. On a personal level Rome. Whenever I come back from Rome I am always buzzing with ideas. The whole aura of the place fires me up. During one visit our son, Toby, pointed out a really unusual roof line – on our return I based a whole series of necklace designs on it!

I adore Rome! You work with a lot of modern Italian designers also. Tell me about them…

Initially it may seem curious that someone, who prides himself on being the quintessentially British jeweler, should be promoting so many Italian brands. Now this is not as curious as it seems in that, traditionally, there has long been an affinity between British and Italian culture. We are very sympathetic in our tastes and styles. Although the intrinsic reserve of the British woman has traditionally been overshadowed by the Italian, who wears her jewellery con brio, the British have caught up fast. Also, it has to be said that, whether it is architecture, clothes, shoes motor cars or jewellery, the Italian designers take a lot of beating.

MARCO BICEGO – hugely and internationally popular, his range is chic, timeless, and elegant. Bicego uses a range of techniques to achieve delicious textures and gem cuts.

VHERNIER – Unique in style and technique. This jewellery with its simple lines and bold contours exudes elegance and confidence. Vhernier customers are passionate about their jewellery as it epitomizes the very zenith of Italian design.

TAMARA COMOLLI – A very distinctive style in Boho chic. Instantly recognisable and is equally happy being worn for the grand occasion or informally with jeans.

VILLA (Milano) – A delightful fourth generation jeweller owned by the two Villa brothers whose exquisite designs and micro set diamond jewellery is quite breathtaking in its creativity. They have only one shop (in Milan) and we find ourselves in the very honoured position of having been chosen by them to be the sole representative world wide of their wonderful jewellery. Except for their cuff links which we do sell but which are also available elsewhere.

SCHOEFFEL PEARLS – During thirty years of selling pearls I have found Schoeffel to have the finest quality, widest range and the most competitive prices of any importers of pearls that I have come across.

Nigel Milne

We started Nigel Milne Ltd in 1979 when we opened our first shop on Mount Street. Both Cherry and I had several years experience within the jewellery business but focusing on different aspects. Cherry on more the administrative side and I on the creative, dealing and marketing side. Our initial principle was to sell original pieces from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, very shortly having made a name for ourselves as specialists in classic Edwardian jewellery, we were continually being asked if we could make jewellery in the same manner but larger. We then had to decide whether we were antique dealers or jewelers and very quickly chose the latter. So, whilst continuing to indulge my passion for antique and vintage jewellery without making direct copies of original pieces, we had very soon, built up a reputation for creating jewels in the style of the Edwardians and using the same techniques by which to achieve this look.

After two years we re-located to a new shop on the corner of Grafton Street and Albemarle Street. At this point we decided to expand our stock range by including silver objects and jewellery and also our first range of contemporary designs. Seventeen years later we moved to Jermyn Street and eleven years on from that, on the expiry of our lease, we moved to our current residency here at 12 a Piccadilly Arcade.

What is luxury?

To board an aeroplane and turn left, to be served with an eye- poppingly volatile dry martini, then to land in the Maldives to hear the siren sounds of Heidi Klum, Sienna Miller and Diane Kruger whispering in harmony, “ Nigel, is there anything we can do for you ?” as I recline on my chaise longue. – Or is that a description of Heaven?

Join Nigel Milne for an exhibition of Tamara Comolli’s spectacular colourful jewels…

Wednesday 18th – Thursday 19th April 2011 – Piccadilly Arcade

Tamara Comolli’s style can be described as casual, playful and luxurious – qualities which are reflected time and again in her inspirational collection of fine jewels.

Using only the highest quality gemstones and materials she sets exacting standards in the craftsmanship and originality of her designs. Among her signature pieces are superbly cut cabochon gemstone pendants in a spectrum of bright colours set in 18ct gold to be layered together on leather or 18ct gold chains, giving a thoroughly fresh and contemporary look to any outfit and occasion.

The Exhibition will run on Wednesday from 12am and finish at 4.30pm, and on Thursday from 11am – 6.30pm. All the jewellery will be available for purchase.


12a Piccadilly Arcade
London SW1Y 6NH

Tel: 020 7491 9201
Email: nigel@nigelmilne.co.uk

www.nigelmilne.co.uk

Indian Bridal Beauty By Reena Patel

Our beauty contributor and very own Indian bride-to-be, Reena Patel, shares insights into the world of Asian bridal beauty couture.

Indian Bridal Beauty

Make-Up

Some Asian beauties mask their warm natural tones with a dull, ashy, pale base. This would be a mistake on your wedding day. Go to Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier to steal the limelight and achieve a natural, flawless base. To camouflage dark circles try cover-ups such as Bobbi Brown Correctors in peachy and biscuit tones before applying concealer to neautralise the area. Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturisers also work to achieve a fresh dewy glow. Bobbi Brown advises brides to ‘go for a makeup look that enhances your features so you look like yourself at your most radiant…stay away from anything trendy or complicated and stick to classic shades.’

www.bobbibrown.co.uk

www.lauramercier.com

Hair

A hot commodity in the world of hair and with such charm, it’s no wonder the industry and his clientele call him ‘Dar the Darling’. Some have even named him ‘Mr Big’, as Dar effortlessly transforms flat, lifeless locks into high volume, glamorous Bollywood hair. This hair guru has graced the locks of A-listers in both London and Mumbai including Jemima Khan, Goldie Hawn and Aishwarya Rai. His signature couture quiffs, knots, up do’s and catwalk ready blow dries seriously stand him apart from the styling set. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Dar at Chelsea’s Hari’s Salon, tirelessly working to give locals and A-Listers the star treatment with the utmost humility. True to his word, my hair got its bounce back and now has a new lease on life. Hari’s also offer a fantastic Wedding Planning Service, which sends reminders on hair appointments in the run up to the day, a healthy hair boot camp regime for glossy, thicker hair and style consultancy trials.

Tel: 020 7581 5211

www.harissalon.com

www.hairbydar.co.uk

Mehndi

No Asian wedding prep would be the same without a mehndi party; the brides night of bridal preparation and celebration. At just 26 years old, Pavan Ahluwahlia features as the World’s Fastest Mehndi (Henna) Artist in the Guinness Book of Records (in just one hour she painted a staggering 314 individually designed armbands). Pavan adorns body art not only with speed but innate precision. Intricate, detailed patterns are applied to the bride’s hands and feet in flowing swirls and pretty shapes using a strong dark dye that dries to a deep intense orange/red and lasts up to two weeks. Legend has it that the darker the dye turns, the more your mother-in-law will love you!

As well as the classic Rajasthani bridal option, Pavan uses temporary dyes and coloured glitters, gemstones and crystals to create more contemporary designs. She also creatively matches her patterns to suit the style and colours of your bridal dress.

Prices upon consultation.


www.pavanonline.com

Jewellery

The regal look of Mughal majesty seems effortless when bedecked with exquisite creations by Kyle’s Collection. Since it was established 20 years ago, this treasure trove in London’s East End continues to maintain a high level bespoke service for royalty and brides alike. During your personal appointment, Kyle’s works closely with you to understand what will work best for your special occasion and goes to impressive lengths to get every bride looking her very best. Kyle’s ask brides to bring in their dress, or a fabric sample to be able to complement and balance the overall look without overpowering it. Understanding a client’s makeup and hairstyles for the event, skin tone and physique (if you’re petite or broad shouldered, then heavier, elaborate designs may not be recommended) and personality are also considered. Once the design has been chosen (there are various vintage, contemporary and cross-cultural fusion styles.

Each ornate piece is handcrafted on site using one of six different set finishing’s (gold, bronze, antique gold, antique bronze, rhodium and jet) and a brilliant spectrum of Swarovski crystals. Busy brides can sigh in relief; a bespoke creation can take just two weeks to complete.

Bespoke creations from £65.

www.kylescollection.com

New York Cultural Guide By Alanna Lynott

The Luxury Channel delves into the glamorous underbelly of New York to bring you some of its secret cultural offerings.

Cultural Guide

KGB Bar

Once a social club for Ukrainian socialists, the KGB Bar is now something of a New York literary institution. The cold-war chic, strong whiskey and impromptu readings all serve to attract the glittering stars of the literary scene, including New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Harrison and controversial novelist A.M. Homes.

www.kgbbar.com

Secret Science Club at The Bell House, Brooklyn

For self-professed science geeks, nature freaks and rogue geniuses, this club is a cerebral paradise, providing everything from astrophysical talks followed by cocktails, to taxidermy contests. Groove to celestial tunes and rub shoulders with ichthyologists, explorers and molecular primatologists on the dance floor.

www.secretscienceclub.blogspot.com

Cultural Guide

The Cloisters

Labeled the “crowning achievement of American museology”, The Cloisters is a branch of the Met Museum devoted to European medieval art. A peaceful paradise for those who like to contemplate art in a spiritual setting, the building incorporates elements from five separate medieval French monasteries. The gardens were planted according to information found in medieval poetry and tapestries, and offer an inviting place for contemplation, conversation and intrigue.

www.metmuseum.org

The Underbelly Project

There’s a huge art gallery beneath the teeming pavements of Manhattan, exhibiting works by several well-know graffiti artists. The only problem? No one is saying exactly where it is. But grab your subway pass, do some serious googleing and you’ll find it – a 100 year old, unfinished, unused subway station.

www.theunderbellyproject.com

Cultural Guide

Secret Sips

After a hard day of secret-culture scouting, where better to relax than at a secret bar? With Boardwalk Empire doing for the 1920s what Mad Men did for the 1960s, speakeasies are all the rage. Slip down a shadowy staircase and push the doorbell of an unmarked door. A doorman appears, takes your number and tells you to wait for his call. Once you’re in, Raines Law Room whisks you straight back to the prohibition era with candle light, velvet curtains and, of course, fabulous cocktails.

www.raineslawroom.com

Carteles

Or for a little Latin flair, head to Carteles, an unassuming Cuban sandwich shop on East 6th Street. Make your way past the counter and up the back stairs and you’ll step straight into the dimly-lit, candy-coloured parlour that is Cienfuegos, where you can indulge in rum cocktails and revolutionary talk.

www.cienfuegosny.com

Movers And Shakers By The Luxury Channel

Meet the men and women creating sparks in all areas of the New York luxury scene….

Movers & Shakers

Art

Glenn D. Lowry

As the director of the largest (and many say the best) collection of modern art in the world, Glenn D. Lowry is one of the most influential men in art today. He oversees a collection that includes some of history’s most famous works, including those by Picasso, Kandinsky and Chagall, and as the man who decides what the museum will present next, he has the power to influence hundreds of thousands of domestic and international art lovers every year.

www.moma.org

Fashion

Scott Schuman (a.k.a. The Sartorialist)

Now the most influential blogger in the fashion world, Schuman was a fashion marketing high-flyer when he began to feel that something was missing: “When I worked in the fashion industry, I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was selling in the showroom and what I was seeing real people (really cool people) wearing in real life.” So Schuman set about presenting us with the gorgeous sweet-shop assortment of models, celebrities and real people with style that is the The Sartorialist. Imitated a thousand-fold but never bettered, The Sartorialist is a New York institution.

thesartorialist.blogspot.com

Mind

Peter Godwin

One half of a New York power couple along with wife Joanna Coles (Editor of Marie Claire Magazine), Peter Godwin is the author of five non-fiction books including The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe, for which he secretly returned to the country that was once his home. He witnessed the torture bases, the burning villages, the death squads, the opposition leaders in hiding, the last white farmers, and the churchmen and diplomats putting their own lives on the line to stop the carnage. Described by The Economist as “the most powerful indictment of Robert Mugabe’s regime yet written,” Godwin has been marked out as one of the sharpest observers of modern Africa.

www.petergodwin.com

Body

Joanna Coles

While her husband’s literary creations provide something to really get our teeth into, English editor-in-chief of the US edition of Marie Claire (the thinking girl’s fashion magazine) Joanna Coles aims to provide every woman with a luxurious moment of indulgence. She says that leafing through the pages of her magazine “should be the equivalent of an exhale.” Now that’s luxury!

www.marieclaire.com

Soul

Lauren Bush

Ex-model and niece of George W, Lauren Bush has gone from gracing the covers of Vogue, Glamour and W magazines to co-founding FEED Projects LLC. As the CEO, Lauren, along with her team, helps feed the world through the sale of environmentally-friendly and artisan-made bags, bears, T-shirts and other accessories. In partnership with the United Nations World Food Program’s School Feeding operations, FEED has provided 58,304,828 meals to date.

www.feedprojects.com

Online

Arianna Huffington

As the CEO of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington was the queen of online media – and since merging with AOL, her crown is shinier than ever. With a $315 million price tag, the Huffington Post didn’t come cheap and many of its fans accused Arianna of selling out. However, after being put in charge of all AOL’s content and as a pioneer in the delivery of online news, she was the best person to turn around AOL’s flagging fortunes.

www.huffingtonpost.com

Art In The City By Jonathan Velardi

Armory 2011

New York City is for all seasons and its culture clock never stops ticking. With the letters A, R, T as synonymous with the city as it’s very own N, Y, C acronym, the best of the world’s art and design can be found on every block. Here is artist Jonathan Velardi’s pick of the best….

Guggenheim, MoMa, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art are only a handful of world-famous institutions that provide the city with a calendar of exhibitions and events for all tastes and styles throughout the year.

The European Masters – Constable, Gainsborough and Holbein – all take residence at The Frick Collection on the Upper East Side. Alternatively, you can master the imaginative world of American painter George Condo and his current exhibition, ‘‘Mental States,’’ at New Museum in the East Village.

For design aficionados, innovative arts and crafts from past and present are documented at the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle, and if you like to be on the pulse of emerging talent, head East to MoMA’s sister space, PS1, in Queens.

For a shift in focus, head to The Studio Museum Harlem located in the heart of Harlem’s energetic neighbourhood on East 125th Street. The museum promotes artists from African descent as well as works that have been inspired by black culture, providing a diverse representation of art and society within a contemporary context.

To experience the art markets at work, join the conoscenti crusade and follow the art pack to The Armory Show in March. The show is one of the largest contemporary art fairs in the world, with its heritage dating back to 1913 as the first display of modern art presented in America. Thousands of visitors descend on New York City’s West side at Piers 92 and 94 for a week of eyeing up and buying up.

Art in the City

There are several other fairs and events taking place throughout the city that coincide with The Armory Show. The Big Apple celebrates the arts in a big way and this period is a great time to experience all the must-see neighbourhoods.

Diary favourites are Volta’s Artprojx Cinema that will be screening over 80 artists’ films and videos at The SVA Theatre in Chelsea, as well as the series of outdoor commissions from artists Eva Rothschild and Rob Pruitt by the Public Art Fund, around central Manhattan.

www.frick.org

www.madmuseum.org

www.studiomuseum.org

www.ps1.org

www.thearmoryshow.com

www.voltashow.com

www.publicartfund.org


www.jonathanvelardi.blogspot.co.uk

Grant Thomas By The Luxury Channel

Seventeen year old Welsh photographer Grant Thomas specialises in fashion photography and is one of the rising stars of that challenging world.

Grant Thomas

Born and bred in the remote countryside of Wales, miles away from civilization, Grant spent his time exploring self-portraiture and evolved rapidly, which saw him travelling throughout the United Kingdom, Paris and Europe, working alongside young and evolving individuals of similar calibre. At sixteen, Grant relocated to central London and continued doing what he loves at a higher level.

“Photography isn’t just what I do; it’s what I love to do,” he told us. “The part that leaves me in awe is creating something beautiful that could last forever; in digital and print format but more especially, I aim to leave the image in the viewers’ mind. Sometimes I think it’s too fun to be a job, then I realise you can never have too much fun!”

Now London-based, Grant’s interest in the more elaborate and intricate detail of fashion photography has inspired the myriad of evocative images he creates, full of texture and vibrant detailing. In a short period of time, Grant has produced extensive fashion editorials for esteemed publications and has collaborated with a number of prestigious creative agencies, models and reputable industry professionals.

Grant Thomas

www.grant-thomas.blogspot.co.uk

Morgan Freeman By Antonia Pearce

Morgan Freeman’s Southern charm was out in spades in Dubrovnik – just don’t call him a legend….

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman greeted the press on the sunlit terrace of The Excelsior Hotel, with Dubrovnik’s Old Town appearing majestic behind him. Surrounded by white roses and Croatia’s premier television crews eager to capture him – Freeman arrived very much the super-star (aviator sunglasses and all).

Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular tourism destinations and its ability to draw such a high profile celebrity is a powerful indication of its rising status. Both Kevin Spacey and Mickey Rourke have been guests of honour at the Adriatic Luxury Hotels’ Film Festival, all of whom stayed in the hotel’s private residence – the elegant Villa Agave.

For his part, Freeman was glad to be on the Adriatic coast where he could indulge in his passion for sailing. Prior to this trip ‘‘the closest I have got to these waters is the English Channel.’’ Freeman planned to go out on a boat whilst in town and joined the managing director and founder of Adriatic Luxury Hotels, Goran Strok, on his yacht for a day-trip excursion.

In fact, when asked by The Luxury Channel what his aspirations both professionally and personally were for the future, he announced that sailing is his big passion. ‘‘I love sailing. One year in Grenada, I took a forty-four foot boat from there to Puerto Rico – that’s the level of my confidence. The Caribbean is my stomping ground,’’ he told us, his eyes beaming in delight. His other passion is producing and, of course, acting. The latter he finds easy and fun, the former, time-consuming yet worthwhile.

Freeman was also keen to emphasize that he is just a ‘‘common guy from Mississippi.’’ The rest is down to ‘‘luck.’’ He said: ‘‘I am a sailor – I like to sail by myself. I do not want to accept that this is my due. You have to keep a firm grip on who you really are.’’ The word ‘‘legend is not conducive to a stable life.’’

Freeman particularly enjoyed working with Clint Eastwood, who directed Invictus. ‘‘Clint is an actors’ dream;’’ he ‘‘directs movies, not actors, and steps back, not forward, taking two or three takes, no more than is necessary – he’s astute, considerate. I like that.’’ Freeman plays Nelson Mandela in Invictus. When asked if it is difficult to play such a person, he replied: ‘‘It is easy if you can learn their rhythm. What I worried most about was trying to sound like him.’’

Freeman, in his dignified presence, with his freckled face and kind eyes, is something to behold, but it is his voice that is truly masterful. ‘‘I started acting when I was eight years old’’ where ‘‘a voice teacher taught us to relax our vocal chords. Every final consonant had to be emphasised.’’ At this point in the press conference, every journalist seemed to have fallen for his Southern charm and was keen to see the man in action. So it was off to an outdoor screening of Invictus at The Dubrovnik Palace Hotel. At midnight, Freeman received a standing ovation under the Croatian stars.

Nature Red In Tooth And Claw By The Luxury Channel

As I wander through the woodlands of Belsay Hall in Northumberland, I come across a strange scene. Red and grey squirrels are locked in a vicious battle, aided on each side by woodland creatures and insects. A red squirrel is disguised in the coat of a grey, another has a modified tail and all of them have armour and weaponry. But there is no movement. The scene is frozen in time; the animals are dead and stuffed. No, I haven’t walked into a fauna-Frankenstein’s lair, rather this is A Darker Shade of Grey, an installation by the artist Tessa Farmer, which represents the battle between the two species of squirrel in Northumberland, and also recalls the human clan battles of much earlier times.

Nature red

At first glance, Tessa Farmer’s works seem only a little odd: dead insects and stuffed animals locked in bizarre scenes of battle or uneasy peace. Look a little closer, however, and things get even more interesting. Farmer creates tiny sculptural fairies who hover nearby and interact in her animal scenes. Each figure is just 1cm tall, their size dictated by the insect wings on their backs.

These aren’t the fairies of childhood dreams; they are altogether more sinister forms. In her installations, Farmer displays the malicious and manipulative games these fairies play on their unwitting animal ‘friends.’ She describes the pieces as “a tool to realise imaginative possibilities that might otherwise linger unseen, just beneath the surface.” Tinkerbell as written by Tim Burton, if you will. The scenes represent the harsh reality of the imagined natural world through a fantastical and, at times, grotesque re-imagining of the fairy myth.

They are not pretty, but there is something inherently fascinating about the tiny figures and the mischief they enact. It is not only the painstaking detail of each fairy, or the unusual materials with which Farmer works, but also the imaginative narratives that come across so strongly. We feel a macabre fascination for these poor dead creatures, forced to live another life by their tiny evil manipulators. Each work tells a distinct story, and it is far from the fairy stories we thought we all knew.

Essential Literature By Cara Dattani

The Luxury Channel reviews books to change your life!

Books to change your life

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

A book for anyone questioning what they are doing with their life. Eat Pray Love is about throwing caution to the wind and venturing on a quest for physical and mental fulfilment. Oprah Winfrey added to the book’s growing publicity by featuring it in two of her shows. Subsequently, it has spent over 155 weeks on the New York Time’s Bestsellers List and has been made into a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A book crucial to anyone who believes in light at the end of the tunnel. Through good and bad, The Alchemist chronicles a journey of discovery while testing the main character’s faith, determination and resilience. Selling over sixty five million copies worldwide, the pocket-sized book has worked its way into the record books as one of the top-selling books of all time.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Coney

A book exploring the idea that success originates with a sense of independence, self-mastery and clarity. It is critical, according to Coney, to be able to celebrate in another’s success, rather than feel threatened. Since its release in 1989, it has sold over fifteen million copies in thirty-eight languages, making it one of the most popular self-help books in modern times.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

A book for those disillusioned with societal apathy and greed. The award-winning Three Cups of Tea sheds light on humanity as it illustrates the positive affect that one person can have over the lives of many others. Published in 2006, the book has a long way to go before it achieves the cult status of many others in this list, but it consistently appears in The New York Times Bestsellers List and is increasingly attracting attention.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Originally a film, The Secret is now a book for anyone who wants to harness the laws of attraction. It centres on the notion that anything you desire can be achieved through a process of visualisation and belief. The Secret has attracted a lot of media attention, courting the eyes of Larry King, Terence John and Ellen Degeneres.

Bringing Home The Bacon By Alex Larman

As a major new retrospective comes to the Tate, Francis Bacon’s critical and commercial stock has never been higher.

Bringing Home the Bacon

The London art world is preparing for Francis Bacon’s centenary. The Tate Britain has a grand retrospective of his work, the first major exhibition of this kind since his death in 1992, and the James Hyman Gallery in Savile Row is displaying a choice selection of some of his more famous prints. Bacon died Britain’s most expensive contemporary artist, and recent sales of his work have seen prices reach unparalleled heights for a 20th century painter. His ‘‘Triptych 1976,’’ for instance, sold for $86.3 million in a sale at Sothebys, reportedly to Roman Abramovich.

This continued popularity – the Tate expects the exhibition, which travels to the Prado in Madrid and the Met in New York next year, to be one of its most successful ever, despite Bacon’s recurring themes of despair, fear and pain – is a testament to his ability to communicate powerful messages through his work. His subversive ‘‘Head VI,’’ popularly known as the ‘‘Screaming Pope,’’ was drawn from Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X and turns conventional religious portraiture into grotesque caricature. It dominates the first room of the exhibition, ‘‘Animal,’’ and reappears in several guises in the second room, ‘‘Zone.’’ Bacon has had an ongoing effect on the current pop culture. The astonishingly disturbing, but also highly compelling appearance of Heath Ledger’s Joker in the major blockbuster The Dark Knight was closely modelled on Bacon’s paintings, according to director Christopher Nolan.

As the exhibition progresses, the pictures become more explicitly personal. Bacon’s paintings of and about his former lover George Dyer, who committed suicide in Paris in 1971 on the eve of one of Bacon’s first retrospectives, draw from literature and his own earlier work. A stunning series of triptychs simultaneously dehumanise and mythologise Dyer. The works have never been presented together before, and are likely to be one of the exhibition’s major talking points.

Bacon found his powers declining at the end of his career – the final room of his later works is easily the weakest – but overall the Tate has a magnificently conceived and mounted exhibition.

Saatchi Success By The Luxury Channel

Saatchi Gallery

Charles Saatchi, the millionaire art collector, philanthropist and advertising guru, has finally opened his much-anticipated new project in Chelsea, The Saatchi Gallery. The project was beset by many delays, most notoriously a 2004 fire that destroyed many of the works he had collected by the so-called ‘‘BritArt’’ movement, featuring artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers. Saatchi’s influence on the British art market is considerable, and he is a man well known for putting his money where his mouth is. Arguably more than any other figure in the post-war era, he has defined buying trends, moving away from the classical in favour of the (sometimes controversially) modern pieces. He has shown breathtaking audacity in supporting young artists who went on to be household names; Emin, Hirst and Chris Ofill all made some of their first sales to Saatchi.

After the failure of his previous art gallery in County Hall, which closed in 2005, his new gallery takes the bold step of not having a permanent collection, but instead is given over to striking exhibitions of headline-catching art. In the year of the Beijing Olympics, it is unsurprising that Saatchi opens his gallery with an exhibition devoted to modern Chinese art, which has been acclaimed and despised in equal measure. Often unseen outside its native country, there is also the drawback that much of it just doesn’t translate beyond the Far East; as Waldemar Januszczak, the Sunday Times art critic notes in the exhibition’s programme notes, ‘‘most Chinese art is awful.’’

The building itself, housed in an old military HQ just off Chelsea’s Kings Road, is a striking space to highlight a variety of art that ranges from the overtly political to the disturbingly abstract. Saatchi’s taste as a collector has always been eclectic, and so it proves here. Yet, as you walk round the strangely incense-scented ground floor galleries (the artist Zhang Huan uses incense to give texture to his paintings), it’s possible to see method in the madness.

Much of the work revolves around themes of persecution and repression; images of Chairman Mao loom large, in one case incongruously transformed into a cat (Mao is Chinese for cat) and there is a great deal of frighteningly realistic sculptures of the human body made with silicon. Sometimes these are presented to strikingly gruesome effect, as in Zhang Dali’s representation of the hanging underclass, ‘‘Chinese Offspring;’’ at other times, the effect is more droll, such as the much-discussed ‘‘Old Person’s Home’’ by Sun Yuan and Peggy Yu. Half installation, half interactive game, it consists of thirteen life-sized sculptures of aged pensioners, dressed to resemble world leaders, whizzing around in automated wheelchairs, bashing into each other and the spectators. The satirical point is clear.

As the first major new gallery of modern art in Britain since the Tate Modern, the Saatchi Gallery is the object of a great deal of interest. Future exhibitions will include displays of Middle Eastern work, sculpture and abstract painting from America. Saatchi’s track record promises he will be featuring the controversial, attention-grabbing art that is clearly where his interests – and his heart – lie. As probably Britain’s best-known art collector, his willingness to back and promote new and emerging artists is legendary, and his gallery will no doubt expand and continue that lead.

Open: 10am – 6pm, open every day

Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, London

Tel: +44 (0)207 823 2363

www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk

Art On The Beach By Sunshine Flint

The art world puts on a sunny face as Art Basel Miami Beach, gets underway….

Art Basel Miami Beach
Chuck Close. Self-Portrait, 2007.

Art sales may be suffering in the current economic crisis, but Art Basel Miami Beach still remains one of the most important events on the international art calendar, an event that dealers and collectors can’t miss. More than 250 galleries and the world’s top dealers will be exhibiting works from 20th and 21st-century artists at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The fair draws a range of galleries from leading lights like PaceWildenstein to small but important bit players like Alexander Gray Associates. The fair was set to double its space in the convention center, but that was a commitment made before the current credit crunch and a frightening dip in sales at recent auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York.

The fair’s sponsors, including main sponsor UBS, have drawn down many of their parties and events. Even if some, like the Cipriani Ocean Resort, are still hosting VIP lounges and cocktail parties for fair-goers, it’s generally agreed that there will more dealing than wheeling, and even that will be lighter than in years past. Some of the satellite exhibits that popped up in recent years will be smaller or have been cancelled altogether. “The fair will be just as good, but it will be a shrunken scene, and won’t be as glittering,” says Brook S. Mason, US correspondent for The Art Newspaper and a columnist for Artnet. “A percentage of dealers would prefer not to be there, but have to for contractual reasons.”

Aside from the main fair, Mason says Art Positions, where 20 young galleries are set up right on the beach, is worth checking out for the affordable pieces and challenging emerging artists. Design Miami will be held in a large tent in the Miami Design District and has expanded from 14 to 40 dealers. One exhibitor, Banners of Persuasion, is an exciting project from The Rug Company founders, who invited respected international artists who usually work in paint or sculpture or three-dimensions to translate their work into tapestries. “I think tapestries will be the modern trend,” says Mason. “They resonate in that they are traditional and yet contemporary, and have a lot of wall power at a fraction of the price of a painting.” PaceWildenstein will have a Chuck Close tapestry on their stand; he has been earning raves for his jacquard tapestries made from his photographic portraits of Kate Moss and others. Other work that Mason sees as appealing are from artists who “tap into the short side of life” such as Feliz Gonzalez-Torres, or works that are have strong green and environmental messages. “I think you’ll see more use of wood and an uptake in sales with pieces about the way that green works,” she says. Either way, the show must go on. “The plan is to just keep going.”

www.miamibeach.artbasel.com

Uncle Boonmee Wins Palme d’Or At Cannes By T.M. Lali

The film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul was presented with the esteemed Palme d’Or on Sunday night, as the 63rd edition of the festival drew to a close.

Cannes 2010

The screenings are done, the verdict is in and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was the title of the big winner at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival, as the film’s Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul was presented with the esteemed Palme d’Or.

The private affair held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congres in the resort town of Cannes in the South of France, is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. This year’s jury was headed by renowned American film director Tim Burton and featured some of the biggest names in the industry including Shekhar Kapur, Benicio Del Toro and Kate Beckinsale.

Hundreds of celebrity-spotters lined the waterfront around the festival hall as the stars attended Sunday night’s gala ceremony. Italy’s Elio Germano shared the Best Actor award for La Nostra Vita alongside Spanish artist Javier Bardem for his astounding performance as a good-hearted, terminally-ill hustler in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful. Bardem has been awarded an Academy award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award, a BAFTA, two European film awards, two Coppa Volpis awards, and four Goya awards for his previous works.

It proved to be a good year for the French too. Frenchman Mathieu Amalric took home the best director prize for On Tour, a story about a troupe of buxom American strip teasers touring the French seaside, and later, famed French dame Juliette Binoche went on to win the best actress award for her role as an unhappy art dealer in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy.

Binoche hailed her Iranian director Kiarostami, who is regarded as one of the world’s finest film-makers but whose work is rarely screened in his native country due to censorship by its hard-line Islamic leaders. “The camera revealed me in my femininity, my complexity,” said Binoche of Kiarostami’s quiet film about a mysterious love affair in Italy – his first piece shot outside Iran.

She brandished a sign with the name of Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film-maker who was prevented from joining the festival jury. He has been in jail in Tehran since March, accused of planning a film against the Islamic regime. The French government and the festival had demanded Panahi’s release and the film-maker himself spoke out against his jailers in a letter read out by Cannes organisers.

Palme d’Or:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Grand Jury Prize:
Of Gods And Men (Director: Xavier Beauvois)

Jury Prize:
A Screaming Man (Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)

Best Director:
Mathieu Amalric, On Tour

Best Screenplay:
Lee Chang-dong, Poetry

Best Actress:
Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy

Best Actor (tie):
1. Javier Bardem, Biutiful
2. Elio Germano, La Nostra Vita


www.festival-cannes.fr

It’s An Art Life By Lauren Steventon

Outset Contemporary Art Fund is a philanthropic organisation that aims to help national visual art institutions increase their contemporary collections.

Its an Art life

It’s a hard world for young artists. Dedicated to their ideas yet struggling to survive, waiting for the break that will provide them with funding, recognition and the liberty to dedicate themselves to their art. On the other hand, public museums and galleries are strapped for cash, unable to spend the money on emerging art and build their contemporary collections.

That’s where Outset Contemporary Art Fund comes in. Set up in 2003 by Yana Peel and Candida Gertler, it is a philanthropic organisation that aims to support new art by bringing private funding to galleries, museums and the artists themselves. Peel and Gertler are both passionate about contemporary art – so it seems fitting that it was a chance meeting at Charles Saatchi’s house that brought them together. An idea grew into an actuality, and Outset was born, attracting like-minded individuals who wanted to support new art and emerging artists. The Fund uses donations from these individuals to acquire contemporary art and give it to national museums and galleries that may otherwise not be able to afford it. For example, for a number of years they have worked with the Tate acquiring works for the museum at Frieze. Donations from outset patrons are given to Tate curators who, alongside international guests curators, procure international contemporary art from the festival for the museum’s collection. Since 2003, over £900,000 in donations have helped to acquire 78 works by artists such as Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller and Simon Starling, all of whom went on to win the Turner Prize.

Over the years, the Fund has supported almost all of London’s art institutions. But it’s not just the museums that benefit; patrons are invited to the dinners and talks. As well as invitations to events and dinners at the museums and galleries, Outset patrons are given unique opportunities to immerse themselves in the contemporary art world, visiting artists in their studios, attending tours with the artists, guest speaker events and international trips.

www.outset.org.uk

Design Italia By The Luxury Channel

What makes Italian design so special?

Design Italia

The Design Museum and Peroni Nastro Azzuro host a season of Italian-inspired talks, ‘‘Made In Italy’’ – the influence of Italian design. The Luxury Channel interviewed architect Claudio Silvestrin and Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum to find out more….

What are the talks about?

Deyan Sudjic: The Design Museum and PNA have come together to celebrate the best of Italian design and style, and the talks are a series of relaxed conversations about what makes Italy so special.

Claudio Silvestrin: It’s an informal public discussion about design in Italy. The talks will lead to a better understanding of the evolution and impact of design, design movements and design practice. We will discuss style, passion, and craftsmanship: quality versus quantity.

Why is Italian Design so influential?

DS: Italy has a wonderful ability to make things look, feel and taste special. Milan is the world capital of design. The city is a one-stop place to get a sense of what is happening in design every year.

CS: The number one brand in the world is not Coca-Cola but “Made In Italy,” which suggests style and quality at its best.

Design Italia

How do you differentiate between design that is aimed at the higher-end market and design that is aimed for a broader audience?

DS: I always think that what makes design important is that it is democratic, that it makes the every day just a little bit better.

CS: The myth that beauty is for the few remains absolute – but less and less every day. Good design works in this direction. Design can be of quality but unfortunately also about mere quantity. Ikea is an example of good design aimed for a broader audience.

What is luxury?

DS: Simple things, done really really well.

CS: There is material luxury and spiritual luxury. The perception of silence, quietness, free space, time for contemplation and the feeling of love are more attractive to me, rather than the possession of material toys like boats or expensive cars.

Made In Italy – The Influence of Italian Design

The exhibition talks take place at the Design Museum and will be chaired by director Deyan Sudjic.

www.peroniitaly.com

www.designmuseum.org/talks

The Symbiotic Relationship of Architecture And Art By Antonia Pearce

Architecture and Art in modern urban landscapes – can a building be a work of art?

Architecture as Art

A building is functional. It provides shelter, control and instruction (press here for lift, move this way…). A building is a home, a haven and retreat. A building can demonstrate dominion over a lesser-sized architectural structure. It can house civilizations’ most treasured objects. But in 1964 (when, let’s face it, ‘‘architecture as art’’ hit a bit of a low point) the New York Times declared that “Architecture is the art of how to waste space.” Yet by 2007, modern philosopher Alain de Botton declared that architecture could lead to happiness. How so, and does that make a celebrated building a work of art? Two architects that say ‘‘yes’’ to this age-old question include Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel.

Zaha Hadid believes that ‘‘architectural buildings are all about the creation of pleasant and stimulating settings’’ and as such, they mimic the responses evoked when looking at a painting or sculpture. Art and architecture ‘‘both evolve with the patterns of life.’’ They take the same inspiration and context whether it is in art, architecture or fashion. An art critic praising say, a Picasso painting, may allude to the painter’s bold use of figurative lines and luscious curves whilst employing the same description for Hadid’s (and other) architectural structures. This interplay is fully explored when ‘‘Starchitects’’ are commissioned to create art galleries and museums. These ‘‘contemporary art containers’’ house celebrated historic and contemporary art, jewels and momentums, and commissioned architects will often hope to reflect this. One of Hadid’s projects: the MAXXI, National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, is a case in point.

Likewise, The Serpentine Gallery is a similarly noted commission. In 2010, the ‘‘10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion’’ is being designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. He has chosen to construct his pavilion in vivid red and out of geometric forms. Like a renaissance man of old “a key part of Nouvel’s process is his embrace of other disciplines, including music, literature and the moving image.” For Nouvel, “everything is image; architecture itself is image”. From 2D to 3D, architecture is art in physical form and ought to enforce the view that the material world can indeed be moulded to graceful ends.

www.zaha-hadid.com

www.jeannouvel.com

Valentino Monticello By The Luxury Channel

To do something successfully, and to be recognised as doing so, is the mark of someone who has mastered the art of living….

Valentino Monticello

Opera and wine have long been inseparable bedfellows. It is hard to imagine a night at the Covent Garden Opera House without imbibing a tregnum of the finest Saint-Emillion Grand Cru. There is one man who, more than any other, understands the relationship between libretto and Bacchus’ favourite tipple. The former sommelier, Valentino Monticello, has forged a lucrative career by weaving tapestries of wine labels that portray famous operatic scenes. The levels of thought that go into his work are multifarious; operatic scenes contain references to wine, whilst the labels he employs originate from the same country as the opera.

The scope of his enthusiasm for opera and wine is fully demonstrated in his book, Opera And Wine – Wine In Opera (for which he researched more than 2,000 libretti). It shows the breadth of Monticello’s knowledge of his two principle passions, from Europe to Oceania. One of the most extraordinary collages depicts a scene from the Italian opera La Gioconda – a crowd scene, with people gathering in St. Mark’s Square, Venice, beneath the grandeur of the Doge’s Palace.

The genius of Monticello is not only in the beautiful fruits of his labour – but that he has managed to find a way to marry his three passions; wine, art, and opera. To do something successfully – and to be recognised as doing so – is surely the mark of a man who has mastered the art of living.

www.valentinomonticello.com

Passion, Energy And A Talent To Be Reckoned With By Antonia Pearce

Antonia Pearce meets the Chilean artist Maria Luisa Hernandez….

Maria Luisa Hernandez

Maria Luisa’s painting is, in essence, an atmospheric play of colour and light: the two anchors of her work. Her hallmark is insinuation and evocation rather than description.”
– Pedro Labowitz, Art Critic

Maria Luisa Hernandez has carved out an internationally acclaimed career spanning a variety of countries from her native Chile, to Sweden and the UK. Maria studied for her BA degree at the University of Chile. Soon after, she won a scholarship to exhibit in Stockholm (the European Capital of Culture at the time) with a collection of paintings entitled ‘‘Living in the Light.’’

Maria was initially inspired by her father’s passion for painting the Chilean coastline. Soon, she too developed an extraordinary eye to paint and connect with the natural beauty that surrounded her.

Maria’s current instinctive approach is like that of a latter day Renaissance master, in her attempt to “capture the hidden moment of creation” for all to see. Maria is guided by her spiritual nature and warm heart: so that her paintings resonate with the soul and absorb the hectic pace of every day life.

However, in her portrayal of an evolving weather pattern or the crash of a wave, she brings a contemporary sensibility to her work that abstracts the conventional and celebrates the new.

Today, Maria lives and paints in her studio by the Thames, London. She was recently nominated into the Courvoisier Future 500 Network, sponsored by the Observer (the unique network for rising stars across the UK). It is an accolade that is testament to the brilliance of her artistry and is backed up by the avid support of her illustrious collectors (including international celebrities, ambassadors and multi-national corporations).

www.marialuisahernandez.com

Stateside Buzz For Berlin Artists By Sophia Celeste

New York’s 12th Armory Show pays homage to German Contemporary Art – Sophia Celeste investigates for The Luxury Channel….

The Armory Show 2010

The Armory Show, International Fair of New Art, was started by four New York art dealers at The Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair in 1994. It takes its name from the 1913 Armory Show, which served to introduce European masters, such as Matisse and Seurat, to America.

The annual Armory Show, the largest contemporary art exhibition in the United States, is a chance for up-and-coming artists to make a name for themselves.

This year, the fair is dedicating 22 galleries to Berlin artists, such as painter Wolfgang Betke. For this artist, the Amory Show represents an opportunity for him to make contacts on an international scale. “I’m grateful I can be here. Now I feel that the cards will definitely be shuffled,” said Wolfgang.

Throngs of international collectors and art lovers milled through the busy fairgrounds, eyeing his work as well as eclectic pieces from nearly 300 galleries and 31 countries worldwide.

“Our goal is to cross-pollinate art communities,” says the Armory Show’s Executive Director Katelijne De Backer, noting that Berlin’s artists have the ability to take risks. “We want our Berlin dealers to benefit from the vitality of Armory Arts Week and for New York City to benefit from Berlin’s creativity.”

New exhibitors this year include artists from New York’s Lower East Side like Lisa Cooley Fine Art, Eleven Rivington, James Fuentes, Laurel Gitlen, Simon Preston Gallery, Rental and Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Major galleries are also returning, such as 303 Gallery, Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Hauser & Wirth, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Yvon Lambert, Lisson Gallery, Marlborough Gallery, Victoria Miro, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Galerie Daniel Templon, Galerie Thomas, White Cube, Zeno X Gallery and David Zwirner.

Despite the international presence – with galleries represented from Tel Aviv to Helsinki – the New York artists set the scene at Pier 92 and 94 on the Midwest shore of Manhattan.

www.thearmoryshow.com

Quest For The Best Opera Festivals By The Luxury Channel

We list some of the highlights of the Opera Season so that you can beat the ticket gold rush….

Opera 2010

Opera is the thinking man’s music festival of choice. Unlike its pop counterparts, attendees will not be expected to assemble ramshackle tents, douse themselves in cheap lager, and succumb to an inevitable bout of mud wrestling. Nonetheless, both AC/DC and Puccini fans will encounter an obstacle that is endemic to festival goers regardless of genre; the ticket gold rush. This year, those wishing to mingle with the European gentry should book early. To help you beat the crowds, The Luxury Channel has selected some of the very best opera experiences so that you don’t have to.

Savolinna Opera Festival

Finland
2nd July – 31st July 2010

Guests attending Finland’s premier opera festival could be forgiven for believing that they had taken ‘‘the second star to the right’’ and arrived as voyeurs in a fairytale. Rising elegantly from a beautiful lake are the medieval fortifications and rounded turrets of Olavinlinna Castle. The 15th century Swedish stronghold, which was built to fend off Russian cannon fire rather than dragons, is now besieged every summer by opera enthusiasts. This year, event organisers have announced plans to host the festival’s first international singing competition. This is not elevated karaoke for Nessun Dorma enthusiasts but a platform for gifted singers to showcase their supernatural-like talents.

www.operafestival.com

Glyndebourne Festival

UK
26th May – 29th August 2010

There are few places left in the UK which evoke that nostalgic sense of Englishness as conjured up in the chapters of Evelyn Waugh and E. M. Foster novels. Flawed though such sentiments may be, there is nothing more charming than witnessing men and women clad in evening dress whilst stretched out on picnic rugs beneath the shade of some stately home. This is exactly the kind of anachronistic yet splendid scene that one can expect at Glyndebourne. That the opera is also world-class is a bonus. There is a diverse programme this year that includes performances of Billy Budd, Macbeth and, of course, a Mozart favourite: Don Giovanni.

www.glyndebourne.com

Wexford Opera Festival

Ireland
16th October – 30th October 2010

Ireland was not traditionally counted among the great operatic seats of Western Europe – until now, that is. In 1950, Sir Compton Mackenzie – the esteemed writer and journalist – gave a lecture to the Wexford Opera Theatre Circle in which he remarked upon how their hall’s dimensions were favourable to the staging of opera. He was probably oblivious of the effects that his words would have on his impressionable audience. Nearly sixty years later, Wexford has become a leading light of Europe’s opera season, particularly since it specialises in the production of compositional rarities.

www.wexfordopera.com

Choregies D’Orange

France
15th July – 6th August 2010

This is the oldest festival in France and almost certainly the oldest festival on the present list. Established in 1860, its age almost pales into insignificance when we consider the setting itself. The venue, which lies to the north-west of Marseilles, is located on the exact site of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. Although it has long been stripped of its white marble, the skeleton of the theatre has somehow survived intact. As a result, the acoustics are nothing short of superb. What could be more stirring than taking your pew among the 9000 strong crowd in the knowledge that you are part of an antique tradition?

www.choregies.com

Drottningholm Opera Festival

Drottingholm
30th May – 14th August 2010

It was within the very walls of this illustrious opera house that Gustav III was shot dead while attending a masquerade ball. He was cornered by his assassins and betrayed with the words ‘‘Bonjour, beau masque’’ (Good day, fine mask). It might lack the fame of ‘‘Et tu, Brute’’ but the phrase still holds a certain resonance. Sadly, the act proved to be a curse for the venue, which was all but forgotten after the untimely death of the nation’s sovereign. Thank heavens therefore that in more recent years, patrons have recognised Drottingholm’s place in Europe’s cultural heritage, devoting the site to the performance of 17th and 18th century opera.

www.dtm.com

Les Azuriales

France
17th August – 29th August 2010

Founded in 1997, Les Azuriales is the young upstart of the operatic calendar but overlook it at your peril. With only 200 guests, this family-run festival offers unquestionably the most intimate opera experience. Located in the delightful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, the event has been likened to an 18th century soiree. Singers and musicians are known to join audience members after a performance for an al fresco dinner on the lawn.

www.azuriales-opera.com

Terme Di Caracalla, Teatro dell’Opera

Italy
1st July – 6th July 2010

The nefarious Emperor Caracalla arguably made two great philanthropic acts during his six year tyranny. The first was to grant Roman citizenship to all freemen throughout the empire. The second was to sanction the creation of a cavernous thermae, the remains of which are still standing today. Every summer, the Teatro dell’Opera decamps to these majestic ruins to deliver an operatic experience that can only be described as unforgettable. In July, the Roman baths will host performances of Romeo and Gulietta.

www.operaroma.com

Bregenz Summer Festival

Austria
22nd July – 22nd August 2010

Everyone is aware of Vienna’s and Salzburg’s significance as Austrian paradigms of the operatic ideal but the rest of the country is equally rich with musical treasures. At Bregenz Festival, The Lake Stage – as its name would suggest – is erected on stilts over a lake, delivering productions of such opulence that they run for two years. Ironically, Verdi’s ‘‘desert’’ opera, Aida, will be headlining the floating stage on Lake Constance; no doubt it will be a feast for the eyes.

www.bregenzerfestspiele.com

Santa Fe Opera House

USA
2nd July – 28th August 2010

Visiting Santa Fe’s Opera House is the opera fanatic’s equivalent of embarking on a distant pilgrimage. Located on a former guest ranch, every year thousands flock to this shrine of musical enlightenment. Established by John Crosby in 1956 as a centre for budding singers, Santa Fe now plays host to a diverse repertoire of performances. This year, the event features the world premiere of Spratlan, Life Is A Dream.

www.santafeopera.com

Rossini Opera Festival

Italy
9th August – 22nd August 2010

Often referred to simply as the Persaro Festival owing to its location, this event is dedicated solely to the performance of the operas of Rossini. The Italian composer was so prolific during his creative life that there is little danger of the festival ever growing repetitive. The festival was originally established to promote some of Rossini’s lesser-known works but, as a result, many of these have now entered the standard operatic repertoire.

www.rossinioperafestival.com

8 Asian Artists To Watch By Alanna Lynott

With artists like Takashi Murakami and Anish Kapoor leading the way, the world has its eyes firmly fixed on Asia’s emerging artistic talent. Alanna Lynott explores the trend….

Asian Arts

In celebration of the Saatchi Gallery’s Indian ‘‘Empire Strikes Back’’ exhibition, and Anish Kapoor’s recent critically acclaimed Royal Academy show, we take a closer look at Asia’s top artists.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese sculptor, social commentator and activist. A svengali of the Chinese art world, he’s feted as “China’s equivalent of Andy Warhol,” and his sculptures possess a fascinating grace. He gained attention in the west after his collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron on Beijing’s ‘‘bird nest’’ Olympic stadium, although he is an outspoken critic of Chinese policy: Weiwei’s poet father was exiled to a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution.

Nguyen Thanh Binh

Nguyen Thanh Binh, a Vietnamese painter, finds his inspiration in classical music, Japanese Haiku and Tang dynasty poetry. Beautiful nudes and graceful dancers are rendered in a characteristically limited palate of whites, greys and reds, while his use of space accentuates the figures: “The aim in my work is to condense the narrative,” Thanh Binh says. “There are never a lot of people in my paintings. I like minimal subject and maximum idea.”

Cao Fei

Cao Fei is based in Beijing, where she produces beautifully vibrant photographs, videos and installations. Her influences include avatars, pop music, computer games, Japanese Manga and Hong Kong films. Described as “one of the pre-eminent Chinese artists of her generation,” she is fascinated by virtual media, such as Second Life and the contrast it provides between urban reality and fantasy-perfect utopia.

Lei Zi Ren

Lei Zi Ren is emerging as a hot tip on the international art scene. His paintings explore the invisible bonds between men and women, expressing modern aesthetics in a traditional way. Moving between conventional ink and wash line drawings, and more contemporary oils, Zi Ren manages to retain an intriguing child-like naivety and subtlety in his work that few artists successfully achieve.

Ronald Ventura

Ronald Ventura has just enjoyed his first solo exhibition in the USA, where his work was described as “a compelling and provocative statement about contemporary life”. Ventura combines dark images with brighter styles such as cartoons and graffiti, and the subsequent complex layering acts as a metaphor for the multi-faceted national identity of Ventura’s native Philippines.

Sopheap Pich

Sopheap Pich is a Cambodian sculptor who utilises materials that are easily accessible in his home country, such as rattan, bamboo and metal wire. His art concerns itself with the complex economic and social transitions which Cambodia is now undergoing. Unusually, many of his works depict human organs such as lungs and stomachs, reflecting the health problems suffered by Cambodians after the Pol Pot repression.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is best known for his highly stylised photographic works depicting seascapes, movie theatres, waxworks and Buddhist sculptures. His images show influences of Dadaism and Surrealism, and reflect his lifelong admiration for the works of Marcel Duchamp. Also an accomplished architect, Sugimoto admits he tries “to never be satisfied. This way, I will always be challenging my spirit”.

Arik Levy: A Natural Embellishment By Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips explores Arik Levy’s latest aesthetic as part of the HSBC Bank’s Connection Collection….

Arik Levy

International banks are not usually renowned for their liberalism but, at HSBC, Arik Levy has been given ‘‘carte blanche’’ during the creation of The Connection Collection. The principle creations, Rocksplit and Rockshelves, offer insights not only into how the modern world has shaped nature, but also how nature continues to influence mankind.

Such ergonomics are in harmony with the themes that permeate Levy’s work. Reflective steel rocks, which have become the artist’s signature pieces, reveal much about his aesthetic. These metallic boulders do little to physically impose on their surroundings, save to alter how the beholder perceives an environment now mirrored in their oblique planes. The visual trickery is so subtle that one could be forgiven for believing that they are indigenous, yet non-biological, features of an open landscape.

Where other designers seek to embellish or define space, Levy distorts the natural forms that already exist in any given area. His often quoted mantra – “the world is about people, not tables and chairs” – laconically conveys his approach to industrial art structures. By placing people at the centre of his art, Levy’s objects are primarily intended to facilitate a relationship between his audience and their environment.

www.hsbcprivatebank.com/the-connection-collection

Swept Away By Swan Lake By Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips reviews Matthew Bourne’s long-running, dramatic and modern rendering of a Russian classic….

Swan Lake - Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake has returned to the London stage following a tour that has wowed audiences around the world. As the longest running ballet both on Broadway and the West End, it has collected enough awards to overfill most mantelpieces. It is presently showing at Sadler’s Wells theatre before embarking on a UK tour.

Sadler’s Wells may lack the Edwardian facades and dangling chandeliers of its sister theatres in the West End but it is the ideal venue to stage the contemporary dance for which it was intended. Alongside the faded red curtains, Cornish ice-cream and broken binoculars, which sour so many great British theatres, it has an air of dignity and refinement.

Bourne’s reinterpretation of this Russian classic has caused some controversy since its debut in 1995. It pitches homosexual romance centre-stage by presenting the swans as males rather than females. Purists have deemed this to be a gratuitous perversion of the original narrative, but I beg to differ. Anyone who has encountered a real swan will know that they are not the graceful, elegant birds that are so often portrayed in popular literature. On the contrary, they are the hissing, ferocious beasts that have driven the most well-intentioned to flee in terror.

Bourne has succeeded in writing a modern ballet for modern times. Moreover, after 15 years of unbroken routine, it has not become prey to that stale sense of ennui, which has infected some of our most cherished and, quite frankly, interminable productions. Indeed, I do not think that there was anything unusual when, on the evening I attended this ballet, the entire audience, myself included, rose to give a standing ovation.

www.swanlaketour.com

Life In Miniature By The Luxury Channel

Florida-based model-maker Smartt Inc. tops the list when it comes to the world’s most endearing, traditional family pastimes….

SMARTT - Life in miniature

While computers and video games remain the predominant entertainment for today’s children, teenagers and adults alike, there’s something magical about traditional games. Toy stores and retailers across the globe testify to the resurgence of traditional games, with the likes of Lego, Meccano and Hornby train sets all popular. The most magical and traditional form of entertainment has to be “life in miniature” with model railways, towns and doll houses fascinating us all for generations. From small domestic set-ups to magnificent displays in malls and dedicated theme parks around the world; “life in miniature” continues to grow in popularity.

Model railways are by far the ultimate entertainment centre for both the home and public environment – providing thrills, laughter and awe, while serving as a fascinating educational resource. These unique displays are not just entertainment, they also help teach children and grown-ups alike a myriad of skills – from design, architecture and engineering, to urban planning, creative arts and electronics. All while being a one-of-a-kind piece of three dimensional art and lifelong treasures.

Scale Models, Arts, and Technologies, Inc. (SMARTT) based in Florida, is the world’s leading purveyor of custom model railway layouts. SMARTT caters exclusively to the luxury market, focusing on discriminating enthusiasts, private collectors, family entertainment and corporate clients.

Founded in 1995 in Miami, by Michael Hart, SMARTT is the culmination of Mr. Hart’s desire to offer only the highest fine scale museum quality in craftsmanship and realism in producing these unique displays, while ensuring that their operational reliability and durability delivers a product that lasts a lifetime and beyond.

Working with their clients, SMARTT applies its expertise in computer design, planning and analysis; firstly as a free-form creative and conceptual design which is then followed up with advanced specific engineering. The entire process enables the company to convey to its clients a complete three dimensional, animated representation of every feature and detail of their project before manufacture. This is a truly bespoke service that captures the imagination of everyone involved.

The philosophy of always staying ahead of the curve has been instrumental in the company’s ability to produce and maintain the highest quality standards in all its work whether for a collector, family or corporate client seeking that unique form of crowd-pleasing entertainment.

SMARTT - Life in miniature

The “arts” side of the company is equally important. Nurturing only the best and most talented artists and craftsmen, it pays spectacular dividends with respect to the attention to the subtle details that breathe life into these unique and exciting projects. Having created the most amazing lifelike models that grace private houses, malls and museums around the world, SMARTT is at the forefront of the world’s most magical and ultimate entertainment. As Mr. Hart says, this has to be his dream job.

www.smarttinc.com

To learn more about the history of toys and games from around the world, visit Pollock’s Toy Museum in London. This little-known treat occupies two houses, one 18th century and one 19th, joined together in the heart of Fitzrovia; the rooms are small and are connected by narrow, winding staircases. The whole place exudes atmosphere and evocations of those special times of childhood. Every corner is filled with visual delights and no matter which direction you look, new surprises are there to behold.

www.pollockstoymuseum.com

Lift Off By The Luxury Channel

The new books commemorating the 40th anniversary of the moon landings….

Moon landings anniversary books

Monday 20th July 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of when man first set moon boot on our closest cosmic neighbour. The amazing success of the mission was nearly a devastating failure – Lance Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin missed their planned landing spot and managed to touch down on the moon’s surface with only 17 seconds of fuel left.

From 1969 to 1972, the Apollo missions sent 21 astronauts to the moon and a dozen of them to the surface, but it has now been four decades since man left low Earth orbit. Two new books look back at the NASA space programme’s history and the astronauts’ experience, while a third, written by Buzz Aldrin, is a personal memoir of his life-changing trip to the moon and what happened afterwards, as well as a exhortation to return to manned space exploration.

The website www.wechoosethemoon.org recreates the Apollo 11 mission, along with archival images and other information.

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of The First Men on The Moon
by Craig Nelson
Viking, $27.95 / £18.99

Voices From The Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences
by Andrew Chaikin with Victoria Kohl
Viking Studio, $29.95 / £21.99

Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From The Moon
by Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham
Harmony, $27.00 / £16.99

Artisans of London By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel highlights some of London’s best craftspeople who create unique products that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world….

London Artisans

Henry Poole & Co

The company still provides classic, elegant, well-cut bespoke garments, and the work is carried out on their premises at 15 Savile Row in the traditional way. A flexible attitude towards styling, combined with the most luxurious cloth, make every piece made by Henry Poole & Co truly unique. Following the initial cloth selection and measurements, an individual paper pattern is created for the customer and the cloth is cut by hand before the garment is ready for the next step. It is then fitted onto the customer at different stages of construction, which ensures the best level of fit and comfort. The showroom offers an extensive variety of over 2000 cloth swatches, which range from luxury worsted cashmere suitings originating from mills in Huddersfield in Yorkshire, to rich flannels from the West Country and pure cashmere, together with fine tweeds from the Scottish Borders.

www.henrypoole.com

Purdey

The gunmakers were granted their first Royal Warrant in 1868 by The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, an honour that has been bestowed on the Managing Director of James Purdey & Sons Ltd by each succeeding Monarch. Today, Nigel Beaumont holds the Warrants of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales. In 1882, the company moved from Oxford Street to the new premises on the corner of South Audley Street and Mount Street, where it remains to this day. Although James Purdey & Sons Ltd was bought by the Seely family in 1946, it was to remain a family-owned business until 1994. The Hon Richard Beaumont, a Seely nephew and Chairman since 1970, decided to retire and the company was acquired by the Richemont Group.

www.purdey.com

Salix Cricket Bat Makers

In the late 1970s, Andrew Kember cut down a willow tree on his father’s farm, fashioned a handle from cane drain rods and wellington boots, and made his first cricket bat. This initial attempt earned him an apprenticeship with John Newbery, with whom he remained until the latter’s untimely death. In 1990, Kember founded The Salix Cricket Bat Company with cricketer, businessman and friend Hugh Betts. They remain a small, uncompromising, artisan business manufacturing unusually fine English cricket bats which sit on the shelves of the UK’s leading cricket specialists, next to many mass-produced and imported bats. Without major player endorsement or massive advertising campaigns, the bats are in great demand. To achieve this level of design, performance and finish involves skilled hand work, but also fastidious and precise machining, ongoing design of tools and machines, constant development of ideas, shapes and finishes, all underpinned by an unrivalled apprenticeship in all aspects of willow processing. Good bat making is a kind of alchemy: turning basic, natural raw materials into something very special.

www.salixcricketbats.com

H. Forman & Son

H. Forman & Son remains a family concern, the last of the original London smokeries, with Lance Forman, Harry Forman’s great grandson, flying the flag for the famous London Cure. Remaining faithful to principles established in 1905 – the freshest salmon, a little salt, just the right amount of oak smoke – he is upholding traditional values and skills that would otherwise have died out long ago, along with one of gastronomy’s finest foods. H.Forman & Son is, and will always remain, a smoker and wholesaler of salmon. London Cure Smoked Scottish Salmon is the signature product. Wild Scottish salmon arrives at Forman’s temperature-controlled smoke house within 24 hours of being caught and superior farmed Scottish salmon within 48 hours of harvest. After salting, with bones left in to enhance flavour, two different methods are employed – cold-smoking and hot-smoking. H.Forman & Son Smoked Salmon is supplied with the pellicle removed for a far superior taste. Slicing by hand – D-cut or banquet slices, according to customer preference – also enhances taste because the slightly uneven surface of each slice releases more flavour.

www.formans.co.uk

Wig Specialities And Richard Mawbey

Wig Specialities has been in existence for over forty years and is one of the major suppliers to the film, television and theatre business, both in Great Britain and internationally. Richard Mawbey oversees all of the work personally, from the design concept through fittings and knotting plans to the cutting and styling of the finished product. He is surrounded by an enthusiastic team of very experienced knotters, hair colour specialists and extremely talented hairdressers, which enables the company to undertake a whole range of work, large or small, giving great attention to detail and maintaining high standards of workmanship. He considers it a great honour to be personal wig-maker to Sir Sean Connery and Sir Ben Kingsley. In 2000, the company worked on more than fifty wigs and hairpieces for the first Harry Potter film, which included one of the longest wig and beard creations ever for Richard Harris as the Wizard Dumbledore.

www.wigspecialities.com

Ormonde Jayne

Ormonde Jayne is a unique luxury perfume house of uncompromising perfection, creating perfumes, scented candles and a bathing collection. Founded and run by owner Linda Pilkington, it is known for the rarity and purity of ingredients sourced personally from growers from the Amazon to Arabia. The perfumes are alchemised in Ormonde Jayne’s London laboratory, attracting the attention of the perfume cognoscenti and fragrance lovers worldwide. Scents like pink pepper and basmati rice are favourites with those who drop into the flagship boutique on Old Bond Street.

www.ormondejayne.com

View On Venice – The Biennale By Tobias Rehberger

Venice Biennale

For over a century, the Venice Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural events in the art world calendar. Founded in 1895, it promotes new artistic ventures and events in contemporary art with internationally acclaimed film, arts, architecture, music, theatre and dance all being exposed to the public view. This year is no exception, with regard to the new and novel innovative content.

One of the highlights includes the latest project of British film director Peter Greenaway – entitled ‘‘The Wedding At Cana.’’ The art film combines classic paintings, including Renaissance art and Picasso works, with cutting edge image technolog and is showing in Venice at the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore.

Visit Peter Greenaway’s website for more on his fascinating use of different medium in the 50 minute film to tell this Biblical tale.

www.petergreenaway.info

For more information on other events at this wealth of art visit www.labiennale.org

Richard Long – Heaven And Earth By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel reveiws the Richard Long retrospective at Tate Britain….

Richard Long

Inspired by his solitary walks all over the globe from remote areas in Britain to Canada, Mongolia and Bolivia, Richard Long’s Heaven And Earth exhibition at Tate Britain in London, reflects on his meanderings. Heaven And Earth features over 80 ‘‘walks of art;’’ including sculptures, mud wall work, photographic and text, documenting his worldwide walks and exploring time, distance, geography, measurement and movement. Including important works selected across four decades, the exhibition provides an opportunity to understand afresh Long’s radical rethinking of the relationship between art and landscape.

First coming to prominence in the late 1960s, Richard Long is part of a generation of British artists who extended the possibilities of sculpture beyond traditional materials and methods. Long’s work is rooted in his deep affinity with nature, developed during his solitary walks.

Mostly working in the landscape, Long sometimes brings materials into the gallery. Four of Long’s dramatic mud works, which represent the forces of speed, water, chance and gravity will be made directly on to the walls for the show. The large central gallery of the exhibition will be devoted to six major stone sculptures. Norfolk Flint Circle 1990 is an eight metre sculpture consisting of a single layer of flints lying close together on the floor.

In the gallery, as on his walks, Long lays the stones in simple geometric configurations such as circles, lines, and ellipses. The exhibition will also include early examples of remote stone sculptures, such as the first stone circle made while walking in the Andes in 1972.

Running now until the 6th of September 2010.

www.tate.org.uk/britain

Frieze Up By Alex Larman

Alex Larman discovers that contemporary art is still a cool draw in today’s market….

This year’s Frieze Art Fair defied rumours of a meltdown in the global art market with a wider range of exhibitors, artists and visitors than ever. The house champagne was Laurent-Perrier (£12.50 a glass) and the temporary restaurant was an offshoot of Le Caprice. At the opening, Tracey Emin and Patrick Cox could be seen circulating, perhaps sizing up their next purchases. The atmosphere was as good-humoured and frenetic as you’d expect from one of the world’s leading art fairs, and perhaps also due to the comparatively small size of the venue. It is rumoured that it’ll move from Regent’s Park to a bigger site in Hyde Park next year.

Some of the world’s most influential dealers, such as Larry Gagosian and Jay Jopling, showcased their latest acquisitions such as Richard Serra’s Promenade and Robin Rhode’s nine part Who Saw Who. Much of the hype around the event circled on the remarkable and disturbing new work from Jake and Dinos Chapman, called Hell, which is a re-imagining of an earlier piece destroyed in the 2004 blaze in a storage warehouse housing their work, as well as that of many other Young British Artists (YBAs). Hell is a striking work, graphically showing all kind of atrocities and Nazi symbolism using three-dimensional models. It seemed to attract as many sneers as praise – perhaps the Chapman brothers’ status as enfant terribles of the British art scene is starting to wear slightly thin!

Other highlights of the exhibition, which this year seemed as geared towards installations and performance as it was about actual figurative art, included the artist Norma Jean, who made a strange, interactive piece called The Straight Story, which consists of three identical glass booths, each equipped with an ashtray, water cooler and ventilation shaft. Visitors were welcome to go into them and smoke (cigarettes not provided!) and effectively become a living piece of art. While the overall effect was bizarre and somewhat gimmicky, it was typical of the lateral thought that went into this year’s festival, as could also be found in such innovations as the American artist Bert Rodriguez offering foot massages, which proved very popular with the punters. The most alarming feature, for many, might be Tue Greenfort’s piece Condensation, which drains off visitors’ sweat into clinical-looking recycled bottles. The intention might be to make a serious point about the environment and wastefulness, but watching as your sweat drips away is a disturbing experience.

The crowd was, as usual, a mixture of the fantastically well-heeled and the more eccentric; men dressed in full eighteenth century attire jostled casually with trophy wives dripping in Prada and Gucci. While this year’s Frieze was perhaps short on the headline-grabbing controversy that it would dearly like (despite innovations such as a travelling band of gigolos called Los Romeos, a project by the Spanish artist Dora Garcia), it is still London’s most compelling modern art festival.

However, the credit crunch has made some impact. Works from highly collectible artists such as Jeff Koons and Jean-Michel Basquiat went unsold, and Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale garnered only about half of what they expected (£32 million).

For more information about the fair, visit www.frieze.com