How I Went Gallery Hopping!

27 December, 2020

winter2020, awita, womeninthearts, galleryhop, mayfair, corkstreet, artgalleries, contemporaryart, artjournalism

Who remembers Tier 3? I know, I can hardly remember it either. I quickly accepted an invitation to join a December gallery hop along Cork and Dover Street in the West end’s main gallery quarter. What a treat! I’ve really missed Mayfair and St James’s this year. And then I remembered why I’d missed it so much. It’s not just the glamour and location, it’s the people, and I bumped into someone I know within moments of arriving at Green Park. I didn’t hesitate in booking them in for an IG live for my 2021 roster. I’m a little bit obsessed with my Instagram calendar.
It was a pretty chilly evening and with the constant Covid hangover ever omnipresent over everything we do now and I wondered whether to bother. But I just couldn’t miss this chance to reconnect with my beloved Mayfair once more, nothing would keep me away. I was determined to see December in with style! It was a chance to leave the house again after nine months of working at home, and also to wear my new sequin top. Okay, it was under my coat and another jacket. But someone did actually notice the sequins popping out around my neck under all those layers, which pleased me no end. Oh, the small things!
Masked up and ready to go, I arrived at our first gallery, Saatchi Yates. It’s a huge space at 10,000 square feet. One would expect the daughter of Saatchi, plus her husband, to have a large and fancy space, but it really is enormous. There were about five people inside, including two gallery staff. Very different to previous previews and festive tours, where hundreds of people usually flock to galleries. I notice some regular faces in the few attendees, who are private view stalwarts and who have attended my own openings in the past. It’s a reminder of a bygone era. The fluorescent lights and vast space take my eyes a while to adjust, after months of staring at my laptop screen in my living room. It feels good to see things in real life again.
Next on the list of galleries that we visit is Stephen Friedman and we got a personal guided tour around the gallery by their gallery manager. In we stepped and we are presented with the work of Sarah Ball. It was a visual feast and all three of us in my group absolutely loved her work, having never seen her before. She’s based in Cornwall, UK and it seems like the light of that location definitely comes across in her work. I’m a big fan of figurative works and painting in any case, and her work is really beautiful to look at. The faces are all unsmiling, like a passport photograph, a welcome respite away from the armies of pouting Instagram influencers. The way Ball has manipulated the paint on the canvas has a really ethereal quality to it and elements of photo realism. The work is large – 100 x 100 cm, but avoids the fashion for gigantic works.
Our third gallery was to pop – up Sarabande, which is the foundation of Lee Alexander McQueen, another discovery for me. The foundation supports graduates of McQueen’s alma mater, St Martin’s. We got a personal service here too, with a lengthy twenty – minute guided tour with Jessica and we were offered a mince pie, gift bag and vodka drink on arrival. Nice! The space is not described as purely a retail premises but an area in which visitors can really engage with the art on view and ideally have a conversation with the artists. It’s a very welcoming shop and the curation has been thought through really carefully and as a result the layout is stunning. Many pieces are suspended from the ceiling which creates a theatrical atmosphere, including pieces by Katie Roberts – Wood and Esna Su. Robert – Woods’s work cascades down near the staircase and is perfectly placed for maximum impact. Her work has been worn by the likes of Lauren Hill.
It really was a wonderful festive bubble tour to be in, in all senses of the word. It was a real treat to have two hours of non – stop art again, something that we have all missed in our long periods of self- isolation. In fact, I was so totally absorbed and then I was roughly awoken from my art stupor which, trust me, I really didn’t want to be woken up from, when we were alerted to the work of Evie O’Connor – a jug with a painting of Boris Johnson on it. Having researched into this artists’ work later on whilst writing this piece, I’m really drawn to her painting and it would have been nice to see more of her work on display at Sarabande Foundation. Her oils on paper on the website are delicious, such as ‘4am, Poolside’ and ‘Leo in St Tropez’. Right up my street.
Onto our final gallery; Gazelli. Gallery staff were again super friendly, and again we were offered (and dutifully accepted) a goodie bag and drink. We shared the gallery with a couple of others. In terms of meeting other guests, this was the only gallery where we met someone else and had a conversation, about Covid! Well, it was bound to happen at some point. Downstairs here the artist on display was Perle Fine’s Cool Series paintings from the 1960’s.
Finally, 2 hours has elapsed and the tour came to its end. I literally had to prize myself off the person I was never going to see again. It’s a rare occurrence these days to meet anyone you’re not related to, sleeping with or live next to, so I can be forgiven for this indiscretion, surely? Gallery staff George said his goodbyes to us, inviting me to pop in again soon. During the evening I’d loved chatting to the two other ladies in my group, who turned out to be alumni of my old workplace, Christie’s Education. We sadly made our way to Green Park tube station and said our goodbyes. Socially distanced, of course.