two men standing at the end of a table giving a talk
two men standing at the end of a table giving a talk

London Technology Club lunch with Alexandre Mars at The Arts Club

Konstantin Sidorov founded the London Technology Club to create a space for investors and tech professionals to network and exchange ideas within the industry. Here he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the benefits of bringing like-minded individuals together to establish trusted relationships.
grey suit and pink shirt sitting in front of a sign that says 'London Technology Club'

Konstantin Sidorov

LUX: What is your opinion on the valuation of tech companies right now?
KS: It is useless to discuss the overall tech market valuation in general – many people have different opinions. Some companies look too expensive, some fairly reasonable. It is worth looking at the valuation of a particular company. And our task as a club is to provide our expertise and opinion to our members regarding the company valuation and potential value growth.

We have always reinforced the need to exercise discipline as a tech investor. At LTC, we examine both the prospects and tech moat of a company – but also the deal terms of an investment opportunity. We source our opportunities from world-class VCs that are often lead investors in a round, and therefore there is conviction from them in terms of the company and its technology.

LUX: Why did you create the London Technology Club?
Konstantin Sidorov: Venture capital is an access class not an asset class, and, when I first moved to London, I found that getting access to the best tech investment deals was all about trusted relationships. I saw that London was the capital of the world for clubs – for wine, automobiles and art – but there was no club to bring together like-minded people passionate about tech investing. So, I turned an initial idea into a sophisticated community of tech investors to have access to the best tech deals. By working with our VC partners, we are able to provide curated, high-quality level of deal flow for our members.

men standing in suits on a terrace

London Technology Club event in Dubai

LUX: Can you tell us about your preferred fund structure and your approach to diversification?
KS: Our trademark fund is the LTC Pledge Fund: a segregated portfolio fund that raises once a year. We diversify through a mix of directs (80%) and funds (20%), and in terms of verticals – from AI to mobility, and impact to fintech. We are also diversified in terms of geography; while a slight majority of our investments go to US, we are also spread across Europe, Asia and MENA. Given the sort of ticket size required for the best growth stage opportunities, by creating our fund we provide access that the limited partnerss would be less able to access on their own.

LUX: You started Pledge Fund I in 2020 and Pledge Fund II in 2021. What have your case studies shown to be your sweet spot – and how are you achieving those internal rates of return (IRR)?
KS: Since the start of Pledge Fund I we have had five exits and they were built off the back of my personal investment exits – such as Airbnb and Spotify. We were able to return 30% of capital of Pledge Fund I back to investors within 20 months with IRR above 86%.

Our sweet spot is companies with a valuation of $100m – $1bn, with proven revenues and growth. Our five exits to date reinforce our strategic approach where we balance risk and reward.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How have you seen ESG emerge during your career, and how do you see it developing from here?
KS: We are incredibly proud of our Future Technology Series reports; we’ve published over 13 in three years. They explore how technology will impact areas that our members are passionate about – from space to art, F1 to longevity, and finance to property.

ESG was one of our recent reports. For me, what has changed is people’s realisation that companies can’t just be focused on shareholder returns. We are part of an interconnected system and have a duty to both people and the planet.

People sitting around a long table with breakfast food on it

London Technology Club breakfast with UBS Chief Economist Paul Donovan at the Royal Automobile Club

While everyone should be looking at ESG as business hygiene for their own companies, it is also important to consider how ESG is integrated into investments. There is some way to go, especially within venture capital. Many companies are early on in their ESG journey which we see as a good opportunity to ensure they instill ESG into their business processes. We firmly believe there is a strong correlation between companies that have strong ESG fundamentals in place and investment success.

LUX: Where do you see the role for tech in ‘slow’ industries where rarity, heritage and craftsmanship are the inherent values?
KS: We have written reports about the impact of tech on fine wine, art and fashion. From our research, we have seen a move towards the ‘creator economy’ where a craftsman or woman creates and ‘mints’ their product (i.e creates a digital asset as part of the process).

Read more: Volta’s Kamiar Maleki On Supporting New Artistic Talent

NFTs are an example of that currently. Fine wine makers could, for example, by creating digital tokens to accompany their bottles, ensure that they can track the onward sales, opening, value and storage.

This tracking ability means that the creator benefits from smart contracts that dictate that every time that bottle is sold on, the creator receives a percentage commission. It means that the creator, rightly so, reaps more reward from their creation. Tech is at the centre of progress for luxury and collectibles and I would recommend our reports to readers.

a wine bottle in a wooden case

London Technology Club Super Tuscan Wine Tasting

LUX: How are you personally leading the deployment of tech to explore solutions to problems in the real world?
KS: For tech to be effective and generate returns it must solve real world problems. We are very interested in climate-first technology and have invested in numerous foodtech companies that are looking to solve challenges on food security, waste, cultivated meats and reduce environmental impacts. We have invested in companies that seek to reduce the cost of transport and improve mobility. We are big believers in tech as a force for good and so hope that our club creates the right environment for investors to be able to deploy their capital for returns that also have a positive impact on societies. As LTC’s General Partner I lead from the front to create such environments.

LUX: At LUX, we share your love of Ornellaia and Sassicaia .. please tell us about how this passion came about?
KS: We are a club known for our regular live events in Mayfair, so when lockdown came we moved quickly to gather the community online. Being based above 67 Pall Mall, the amazing wine club in London, we were able to arrange distribution for wine to be sent out to members. We would do group Zoom calls where we tasted Super Tuscans while discussing tech investments. Both Simon, our COO, and I have a love for Italian wine so it was an easy one to agree internally to do, and it reiterates our mission as a club to provide the best technology investment opportunities, discussion and experiences.

Find out more:

Reading time: 6 min
A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone
A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

Kamiar Maleki entered the art world at a young age and quickly became a leading curator and collector. Now Director of Volta Art Fairs, he speaks to Contributing Editor, Samantha Welsh, about the opportunities Volta is creating for new galleries and artists, ahead of the opening of the fair in New York on 18 May
A man wearing a suit, white shirt and green tie

Kamiar Maleki. Photo by Kenneth Nars

LUX: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you spent your formative years?
Kamiar Maleki: I was born in Iran in 1978 to a family of politicians, military generals, and diplomats. We escaped Iran in early 1979 before the revolution. My formative years came thereafter, spent between France, USA, Germany, and the UK.

LUX: How did your appreciation for art become a compulsion to discover and collect?
KM: My appreciation for art started in Germany. I remember seeing sculptures by Niki De Saint Phalle in the squares of Germany and was mesmerised by them. We also spent much time in Vienna, where my parents exposed us to galleries, museums, and the theatre. My love of art transitioned from a love of sculpture to painting and then well beyond.

The compulsion to collect came after college. As a gift, my father gave my brother and I funds with which to begin our collections. These funds came with a condition. We were advised to extensively research and pitch to him the merit of works we wanted to acquire. If we wanted to sell anything, we had to follow the same philosophy and were required to reinvest the proceeds back into art. This activity functioned as our own personal art fund in a way. I was lucky to discover some gems early on during this period, from Ged Quinn to Oscar Murillo. The discovery of new talent became a compulsion — I truly loved meeting, supporting, and cultivating fresh talent.

two people looking at abstract art on the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: Over time have you evolved personal guiding principles?
KM: Absolutely. The more art you see, the more you read, the broader the mindset becomes. Your ideas change as well as your tastes. You learn to hone your eye.

LUX: Is there a conversation to be had about how we buy and show art?
KM: Yes, I believe progress is always centered on continuing to question existing models. Whether through my curatorial work or my involvement in the market, I have a practical understanding of how connoisseurs and collectors discover new artists:

The art world is a social market and it operates cyclically, like a traveling nexus. If you’re setting out to expose seasoned collectors to new talent, you need proximity, both geographically and ideologically, to the key players of the art market.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Six years ago, I curated my first show on how one buys, sells and researches art on platforms like Instagram, having bought my first piece on Instagram over seven years ago. Just last summer, I curated the very first art-in-residency program to create NFTs by collaborating with different industries, across the music industry, digital art and traditional art.

It is the responsibility of the curator or director to vet quality and content, to ensure that what you present resonates across audiences. Through exposure and education, there exists the possibility to reinvigorate how we transact.

A woman staring at a black piece of art of coming out of the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: What was the pull for you to work for Will Ramsay of Ramsay Fairs to lead Volta Art Fair?
KM: I identified in Volta — and by extension Ramsay Fairs — a fair model that mirrored my approach to the art market. I gravitate towards discovery and towards support of galleries, artists, and platforms that posit new and fresh ideas. I see profound opportunity in the role Volta plays as a complement to the entrenched fairs in the art market’s capitals.

LUX: ‘From adversity comes opportunity!’  During the two years of the pandemic you have rebuilt and reset your pillars to ‘Discover. Connect. Collect’.  What does this entail?
KM: I am confident that after the statewide pause in New York and several challenging years globally, VOLTA can reestablish its foothold as a strong emerging- to mid-market platform at the heart of New York’s fair season.

With the May art fair calendar in New York undergoing significant transitions in the past few years, we’re energised by the chance to align Volta with Frieze Art Fair. We have the opportunity to expose new and established collectors to a distinct roster of new and returning galleries unique to Volta. Despite the challenges we faced these past years, those galleries that have emerged have done so with a newfound commitment to their program — and we have as well.

LUX: At a personal level, you mentor artists and gallerists; how do you manage this day to day?
KM: In all honesty, it has become a bit more difficult, as I am committed to fulfilling my role as director of Volta which requires a lot of travel and long hours. I’ve reframed my responsibilities to strengthen the fair’s program and to create a platform that supports our gallery network. In focusing my attention on supporting the galleries, the artists are supported by extension.

A woman showing people an art work of flowers painted on a canvas

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How is Volta positioned for multi-media presentation, viewing rooms and so on?
KM: We leverage our website, the Volta Voices blog, and social media as a tool to communicate the highlights of our fair program, but we remain committed now more than ever to the in-person experience. When you navigate a fair comprised of legacy, blue-chip galleries, you’re often confronted by artworks and artists with whom you are already familiar. Our gallery roster is more experimental and less universally recognised — and that for us is very exciting! The experience of seeing the work in person and dialoguing with the gallery or artist directly at Volta is what marks that critical point of discovery and therefore distinguishes us.

Read more: 6 Questions: Bettina Korek, Serpentine Galleries

LUX: At the same time, Volta has upscaled experiential engagement, leasing a 40,000 flagship for Frieze NY.  What are you showcasing this year?
KM: At the heart of Volta New York’s program, and taking up the majority of our real estate, is a dynamic roster of over 50 galleries, some of which join us for the first time, others who previously exhibited with Volta in 2014, or 2019, and have since returned to us. Having these galleries join us on our journey has been critical to our success and therefore they are the focal point of this year’s program.

Beyond our exciting roster of exhibitors, we are welcoming several new programming partners to activate the space. For instance, we will be co-presenting the Volta Spotlight Prize with an exciting NFT platform with whom we’ve partnered. Given that we are able to congregate in person again, we’re also quite looking forward to the return of our full-service café and lounge.

A mother and child standing in front of a wall installation

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How are you finding young artists are reacting to new realities, disruption and distortion?
KM: Beyond the logistical challenges, I see a renewed fervour to create and a strengthen commitment to their practice. So many artists were unable to visit their studios, to source materials, and to exhibit their work. It led to a need to innovate and adapt, hence the proliferation of digital media and new modes of creation. Now I think this digital sensibility or lens has infiltrated the market. Yet, there is still a deep desire to return to experiences, to in-person connection, to tactility.

LUX: Through ‘Volta Voices’ how are you championing emerging talent?
KM: VOLTA Voices is our online editorial platform that features a series of interviews with vanguards of the contemporary art world and friends of Volta , past, present and future. We pride ourselves on welcoming cutting edge, pioneering galleries to Volta. By extension, we see Volta Voices as yet another platform for our exhibitors to communicate their unique vision and that of their artists.

LUX: What advice will you give your children when they embark on their collecting journey?
KM: Stay curious. Don’t let the market dictate where you seek out new artists. Follow what speaks to you, ask lots of questions, and be willing to discover.

Find out more:

Reading time: 7 min
people sitting on an orange floor in front of a mural of a village
people sitting on an orange floor in front of a mural of a village

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Martial Galfione and Mike Gaughan, Metapanorama, 2022. Installation view, Alienarium 5 (Serpentine South, 14 April – 4 September 2022). Photo by Hugo Glendinning

Ahead of the opening of Radio Ballads, the new, social-minded exhibition featuring works by Sonia Boyce, Helen Cammock, Rory Pilgrim and Ilona Sagar, we spoke to the Serpentine’s Bettina Korek about how the gallery is working to build meaningful connections between artists and communities

1. What is your vision for the Serpentine with regards to its focus on environmental art?

My vision for Serpentine’s focus on environmental art is first and foremost about ensuring that ecology is embedded across all strands of our programme, business planning and culture. Serpentine works as a conduit between artists and society, exploring “Art and Ideas for a Changing World”. We strive to be a platform that amplifies environmental art, and arms these ideas with access to top collaborators, advanced technologies and other resources that produce new models of reality.

These ideas manifest through Back to Earth, a multi-year programme where we invite leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers and designers to devise campaigns, protocols and initiatives prompting responses to environmental crises, with the support of partner organisations and networks.

2. How does Radio Ballads respond to the urgent issues of today?

The exhibition, developed by Serpentine’s Civic team, led by Amal Khalaf, centres the voices of those receiving and giving care in both formal and informal settings, sharing complex and intimate stories of living and working in the care sector today. We feel that it is important to make sustained contributions to communities and for embedded artists to have the time and resources to develop real trust and dialogues with care workers, who, more and more, play such an essential role in society.

A woman standing next to Brad Pitt, in a hat jumper and coat and another man wearing a red tie and pocket handkerchief

Bettina Korek, Brad Pitt and Eli Broad. Image by Michael Underwood, courtesy of Frieze

3. How has the increase in long durational projects in recent years altered how we experience art?

Somehow some walls have come down during the pandemic, and it seems more common that art becomes a permanent part of people’s lives—but it takes a long time to break through this way. Durational projects have the advantage of easing their way into viewer’s lives organically, this is specifically true with the Summer Pavilion designed by Theaster Gates this year, where public engagement is high and passionate.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We’ve even branched into podcasts and considering questions around physicality and virtual worlds. One episode of our Back to Earth podcast I particularly enjoyed is called Queer Currents, guest hosted by Serpentine Assistant Curator, Kostas Stasinopoulos and asking, What is queer ecology? How do queer theory and artistic practice inform environmental activism and climate justice? Queer Ecology will be amplified this year and will solidify Serpentine’s thought leadership.

purple, white, green and pink flowers

Pollinator Pathmaker, Digital rendering of Serpentine Edition Garden 3 (detail), 2022. © Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

4. Which creative technologies are you most excited about?

There is so much happening with Web 3. Some fundraising structures like DAOs can be very empowering to artists and organisations, financially as well as possibly creatively. Beyond the speculative buying and selling of NFTs, I’m especially keen on the more interactive and community building aspects of the technology, such as proof of participation NFTs that gamify and reward engagement in a way that, again, into the everyday lives of people.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in April

Then there are artists like Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster who pose questions around the invention of new technologies of consciousness—just as she does in her upcoming Serpentine exhibition this spring, Alienarium 5. The exhibition features a new VR piece that, following on from her critically-acclaimed Endodrome presented at the 2019 Venice Biennale, marks the artist’s second VR work produced by VIVE Arts, and developed by Lucid Realities, and a Holorama produced by Vega Foundation. We’re so excited to see visitors’ reactions.

A woman in a balck top standing next to Pharrell Williams in a big kaki puffer coat and cap

Bettina Korek and Pharrell Williams. Image by Billy Farrell/, courtesy of Frieze

5. What role does the metaverse play in the Serpentine’s future?

We are still very much in an experimenting phase with regard to the metaverse. Our recent project with KAWS, Acute and Fortnite demonstrates our approach to thinking about layers and reaching audiences we wouldn’t necessarily have access to through physical activations. We tend to think of our physical presence in Serpentine gardens, the park, and communities in London as our core, and from here, about how we can branch out to reach other “worlds”. Physicality now exists in parallel with the metaverse.

A tv screen in front of a brick wall with bin bags on the floor and people on the screen

Radio Ballads, Installation view, 31 March – 29 May 2022, Serpentine North Rory Pilgrim, RAFTS, 2022. Photo by George Darrell

6. How does the gallery aim to sustain relevance among diverse audiences?

Serpentine convenes creators, thought leaders and entrepreneurial partners from a plurality of disciplines and fields to make the conversation around art more relevant and inclusive, and in doing so, to expand the diversity and depth of engagement of museum audiences. Serpentine’s goal of building connections between artists and society appeals to a full spectrum of audiences who engage with us at the museum, in their communities and online. Serpentine has always been an artist-led institution and continues to be; we are now equally focused on being audience-centric.

Bettina Korek is CEO of Serpentine Galleries

Find out more:

Reading time: 4 min
An elephant standing face on with large tusks
An elephant walking in a field with Kilimanjaro in the background

‘Tolstoy’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

Michel Ghatan works with the most difficult type of models. Animals.  Here he speaks to LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, about the importance of trust in wildlife photography and his most memorable moments on the job.

LUX: When did your passion for the animal kingdom and for photography come together?
Michel Ghatan: I think they grew at the same time. I was always fascinated by animals when I was growing up. I was fascinated by everything that is extinct. As a child, I was very curious. I had an encyclopedia and I used to read about these extinct species. My father who was an engineer based in Geneva would take my siblings and I on Sunday afternoons to the park or the tennis club, always camera in hand. Now that he is no longer with us, I realise what a great catalogue of pictures I have of our history and our youth. I even found films from the 60’s when he went with my mother to Jerusalem after the Six Day War and Jerusalem was completely empty! The majority of his images were terrible, out of focus, with bad compositions – but the memories remain. I now have all his cameras at home with me.

LUX: How important is technicality in your work, given the precision that is required when dealing with animals, especially when you cannot get close to them?
MG: I used to think that the quality of the gear was extremely important. When I started, I had the fastest Canon, the best and very big lenses, and then I realised I’m working the wrong way. That for what I do, I don’t need to have the most sophisticated gear, and that what serves my purpose is really the communication between me and the animal, not to mention the time I devote to it. I also hire the best guide. It’s now eight years that we work together. He not only understands the behaviour of animals but he is also very good at understanding photographers. He knows what I’m looking for and he always makes sure that everything remains safe.

A skull on the ground

‘Skull On The Dry Lake’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: Agility, mobility and keeping the equipment light are probably important parameters in your work, especially in that kind of lush and sometimes harsh nature.
MG: Exactly. The weight of gear is an issue. I also discovered that with gorillas and elephants, both of whom are dominant animals, if they don’t wish to be photographed, you simply will not be able to, even with lightest gear. They are extremely clever. They feel you. They challenge you and they see if you’re patient or not.

LUX: Talk to me about the thrill of the moment when you click and you know you have the shot?
MG: It’s incredible. There is a lot of intimate dating between the moment you arrive and the moment you take the shot. Nothing is staged. You’re dealing with wild animals, so everything is on their terms, not mine.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is the process of building the relationship between you and the animal?
MG: It’s a process where you try to measure each other out. Then you have to build a trust and a connection and try to move smoothly whilst keeping your distance, especially with elephants. When an elephant starts moving, they cannot stop. Everything is in slow motion and you have a lot of kilos moving towards you; you need to anticipate that. Measuring the distance between you and the animal whilst predicting his behaviour as well as what he is allowing you to do is a big part of what I do.

A gorilla

‘Lord Vader’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: What is your most memorable moment between you and an animal?
MG: I can close my eyes and still feel that moment as if it happened 10 minutes ago, the thrill … It was back in 2020 when I started taking trips to Kenya during Covid. It was a time when nobody would be around. So, I got a filming permit from the authorities where I could even sleep in my jeep if I wanted to and go off road if need be. The whole purpose was to take a picture of a single elephant, Tim; he sadly died a few days after I left. He was the biggest known elephant in Africa, with incredible tusks. My wish was to be right in front of him. I wanted him to stop and pose for me. I wanted to reach a point where he would say “okay take it, here I am”. And this is exactly what happened. It took me five days, and twelve hours a day for me to find him. And when I did, it was raining!

LUX: How did you find him?
MG: We work with Maasai rangers. The region is about 250 square kilometers in length, and it was not easy to find information as to his whereabout. For the first few days, it was really challenging. You have to understand this is a 51-year-old elephant who is extremely dominant and he knows that he has the biggest tusks. So he hides behind the bush for you not to see his tusks. Elephants know what you are interested in. It took about four or five days to build trust between me and the animal. And then one day, I got four or five meters from him. He knew exactly where I was. My guide was right next to me and he said “get on the ground”. It was very wet and I was on my knees for a good 15 minutes waiting for him. When he did come out, he came towards me in a straight line; next thing I know is he is standing smack in front of me! His eyes were gunning at me. He came forward and he stopped for a good 30 seconds, which is very rare for an animal of his size. Totally stable. If you look at the picture, you see that there is a perfect triangle, where his ears are open, his trunk is down and his tusks are also down (a sign of relaxation). I took two or three frames only, but it was really incredible because he made sure I clicked, then I clicked again and again, at which point, he decided to move on. All of this lasted 30 seconds and I didn’t need to have a look at my camera. I knew I had the shot.

An elephant standing face on with large tusks

‘Gentle Giant’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: Do you feel the animal allowed you into his inner space?
MG: Exactly that. It’s something you cannot delete from your memory and it’s something that is more powerful than the artistic consequence of my action. You reach a level where you have incredible connection, and yet, you know that you’re dealing with a wild animal, and a very dangerous one too.

LUX: What has been your most thrill- seeking moment when shooting an animal?
MG: I’m very lucky to say I never experienced a dangerous moment.

a man standing with a camera in a safari wearing a mask

Michel Ghatan photographing wildlife in East Africa during the pandemic

LUX: Talk to me about a moment with a gorilla. They have such human qualities.
MG: With the gorillas I had my heart pounding but I never experienced a dangerous moment. It took me a while to get interested in gorillas. In the 90s, I remember the images of the civil war in Rwanda. They have remained ingrained in my brain. In this region of the Virunga mountains, you had ongoing conflict, so my interest was first and foremost geared towards genocide and war. Then one day, I said “well I need to see the mountain gorillas”, because they are the only ones that are close to us humans. With gorillas you’re looking 98.4% at yourself. We went to Mount Muhavura where there is only one gorilla family. This family is quite interesting because they have three large silver backs, and they are very dominant. It was really not what I expected as we had a very short foreplay. I would say that it’s a hit or miss for photographers… we share so much in terms of DNA that we have to be extremely careful about the amount of time we spend with them.

A cheetah sitting on a hill

‘Cheetah Statue’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: How different are gorillas from elephants behaviourally?
MG: Elephants, usually are alone. With gorillas, there is an element of family unit and its ongoing dynamics. There are a lot of social elements involved with gorillas that you don’t find with other animals. And you have a problem of time. You can’t really spend over an hour with them.

LUX: Why is that?
MG: Gorillas are very sensitive to our illnesses so to protect them we are only allowed one hour . You need to be fast. You need to anticipate the animal’s behaviour, and the vegetation is very problematic, as is the light. The light you have in the Virunga mountains is twofold : either mist which blocks your vision, or you have clear blue sky, with the sun reflecting strong and making it difficult to take a clean shot. And then you are hoping they don’t act against you as well. It’s all very overwhelming.

Read more: Geoffrey Kent: Six safari destinations you need to know about

LUX: Talk to me about the most beautiful landscape you have seen in Africa. The one that has really touched you the most?
MG: If I had to pick one I’ll tell you it was in Kenya. It was also last year, during Covid. I went back to Amboseli. Next to Amboseli there is a conservancy called Kimana which is an extension of the Amboseli eco-system where they have a lot of elephants visiting; there’s a corridor between Kimana and Amboseli, which is a very good place to see elephants. The ‘wow’ moment I experienced was after a very long day. That day we couldn’t see the Kilimanjaro. It was hiding behind the clouds, but around 5:30pm, half an hour before sunset, we saw a family of elephants entering the bush because it was getting dark. The Kilimanjaro suddenly became visible and you still had light and I managed to capture the moment. It’s a picture called The Terrestrial Paradise. I looked at the scene and said “this is the most beautiful canvas I have ever seen!” A family of elephants in slow motion ….two groups of clouds, one low, one high, and the Kilimanjaro in the middle, full of snow, with dusk light shining on it all.

The top of a mountain in clouds and elephants walking in a safari

The Terrestrial Paradise. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: When you describe it to me like that, I see infinity, the absolute, heaven and earth coming together, almost divine. In moments like these, do you ever feel a greater power ruling the universe?
MG: 100%. There are plenty of moments when you feel it but in this particular magnificent moment, I remember thinking to myself, that somebody has created all of this, and that it’s not a myth. When I took the picture, I was intent on showing its grandness so I took three frames and stitched them together, for a full panoramic vista, with all its sublime power.

LUX: You have a show coming up in May at Alon Zakaim Fine Art in London. Is there a theme to it?
MG: The theme to the show is basically a series of trips that I took during Covid times to Uganda and Kenya. It’s called From Kilimanjaro to the Virunga Mountains.

father and son gorilla

‘Father and Son’. Courtesy of Michel Ghatan

LUX: It seems like Covid presented you with a silver lining of some sort?
MG: Absolutely. It’s selfish to say but it was a paradise for photographers, especially if you were seeking remoteness and alone time without being disturbed with extreme closeness to nature.

LUX: When and what is your next adventure?
MG: I’m going back to Kenya in October and I’m going to focus on the dry lake of Amboseli. At the end of the dry season, the lake basically becomes a desert and there are elephant crossings which I always wanted to photograph. It’s also a completely different landscape from the bush.

Find out more: @michel.ghatan

Reading time: 10 min
Tree and house
Tree and house

Keythorpe Hall Private House and Walled Garden, Leicestershire, England

Once a Downton Abbey-style aristocratic home, Keythorpe Hall in Central England has reinvented itself as a sustainable private-hire venue for eco-conscious house parties

The experience

Keythorpe Hall sleeps up to 14 people in seven bedrooms in the main house. We took the corner suite with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the hills of Leicestershire, a couple of hours’ drive north of London. The room was like something from a Brontë novel – with blush-coloured soft furnishings, a rattan bedstead, shutters, and folding screen. In the bathroom, there was escapism of a different kind, with a freestanding shower resembling the Great Glass Elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory set beside a hot pink bathtub.

Sustainable thinking provides superior comfort. Bed linen is made from 100% Oeko Tex certified cotton. Bath products, created using botanicals, are sourced from small businesses 15 minutes down the road. The house is heated using a biomass boiler which runs on local woodchip for its energy source, and so is the Japanese hot tub on the terrace, which invites a kind of eco-therapy in the great outdoors.


One of Keythorpe Hall’s seven guest rooms

The food & drink

Chefs Peter Johansen and Bent Varming create bespoke menus for guests based on what’s in season. Fruit and vegetables are grown in Keythorpe’s 1.8 acre walled garden, where a quality not quantity mindset means they grow for flavour rather than yield. When we took a walk around the garden with head gardener and wild food expert Claudio Bincoletto, we spotted rainbow chard, wild rocket, and daikon – all of which reappeared on our plates later that evening.

Of the seven ultra-fresh courses we sampled, our favourites were the brill with beurre blanc, rapini and golden ball turnip, and the sea bass with beetroot and toothache pepper. After mains, the Baron Bigod brie (the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK) and apple brioche was particularly well accompanied by a glass of Nyetimber Demi-Sec, a sparkling wine produced just a couple of counties away in Kent.

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Responsible for personalising wine pairings at Keythorpe Hall is Bert Blaize, award-winning sommelier and author of Which Wine When. While the wine cellar is available for formal tastings, we opted for something a little less vinous: a vermouth-making class with Blaize, using botanicals foraged from the grounds. (Just don’t make the same mistake as we did, and sign up for a one-on-one session at 10am on a Saturday morning.)

Dining room

Eco-conscious gastronomy at Keythorpe Hall

The design

Few can say that they have taken a shower in front of a 2.5-metre mural of a Tudor aristocrat. But then again, the owners of Keythorpe Hall aren’t ones to pay homage to its heritage through any conservative means.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

Barbara van Teeffelen and husband Giles have spent the past decade at local auctions and Christie’s sales restoring the private collection of the original owning family while beginning a contemporary art collection of their own. Walk into the reception hall and you will be greeted by two austere, seventeenth-century faces framed on opposing walls. Enter the lounge, and you’ll find contemporary works by Polish artist Marcin Dudek and Selma Parlour’s neon, geometric canvases.


One of Keythorpe Hall’s guest bathrooms

Beyond the property

Leicestershire is less famous than the neighbouring Cotswolds, but it is still English countryside at its best. Keythorpe Hall is close to the market towns of Uppingham and Oakham, famed for its antique shops and galleries and shopping respectively. Rutland Water, one of Europe’s biggest man-made lakes, is 10 minutes away.


Old art meets new at Keythorpe Hall

Any areas for improvement?

Keythorpe Hall’s owners are candid about its shortcomings. The huge showerheads are not conducive to reduced water consumption. Fish cannot be sourced locally, but must instead be transported from the coast. But the place is proof that sustainability can be synonymous with superior flavours and comfort, and bravo for the effort.

The experience: 8.5/10

Responsible culture rating: 8/10

Rates from £6,000 per night for full use of the house and grounds. Packages can be tailored to include all meals, drinks and service. Book your stay:

Reading time: 3 min

Marlene Dumas, ‘Betrayal’ (1994). Private collection, courtesy David Zwirner. Photo by Emma Estwic. © Marlene Dumas

As VIPs swarm to Venice for the pre-opening week of the Biennale, LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf gives her tips for visiting the all-consuming art event, the biggest of the year

Sophie Neuendorf

There is something magical about Venice. No matter what time of the year one travels to the historical city, it’s always a delight. Though, it’s especially lovely during the opening week of Biennale.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Biennale several times already, and always thoroughly enjoyed rushing from one exhibition or event to another.

During my last, pre-pandemic visit to Biennale, a renowned art fair director, who somehow never received a VIP card to the opening (and who shall remain nameless), showed me where I could possibly gain illicit entry by jumping over a fence.

During another visit, a well-known gallerist showed me how he uses the service corridors and stairs to gain secret entry into the parties at the Bauer Hotel.

Art projection

Bruce Nauman, ‘Contrapposto Studies’, installation view at Punta della Dogana, Venice (2021). Jointly owned by Pinault Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Marco Cappelletti. © Palazzo Grassi, Venice. © Bruce Nauman by SIAE, Rome, 2021.

Aside from those shenanigans, there are many sites, exhibitions, museums, and, of course, parties to visit during the opening week.

It is most likely that one won’t be able to see everything on offer during the Biennale, so it’s wise to pick and choose beforehand. As previous Biennale director Massimiliano Gioni said, “The fact that people are still congregating periodically to look at art made in 80+ countries around  the world, there is a kind of madness to it. So, I say, embrace the madness.”

The opening of Biennale di Venezia is on April 23, and the extravaganza is curated by art world veteran, Cecilia Alemani. Alemani is the fifth woman to curate the show in the biennale’s 127 year history. In 2017, she curated the Italian pavilion—the largest national pavilion on site—which she said gave her a “definite advantage.”

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The exhibition is titled The Milk of Dreams, after a book by Surrealist artist and author Leonora Carrington, which Alemani describes as “very simple, very joyful, but also quite macabre.”

The exhibition suggests a fitting bit of symmetry with our own moment: the Surrealist movement emerged in 1924 just after the end of World War I, in part as a reaction against totalitarianism and militarisation.

The 2022 exhibition focuses on the many inquiries that saturate the sciences, arts, and myths of our time – “How is the definition of ‘the human’ changing? What constitutes life, and what differentiates plant and animal, human and non-human? What are our responsibilities towards the planet, other people, and other life forms? And what would life look like without us?”

A building on a river

The Ca’ d’Oro, or Palazzo Santa Sofia, is a palace on the Grand Canal in Venice where a group of significant Renaissance sculptures will be on display during the Venice Biennale

These are some of the guiding queries for this edition of the Biennale Arte, which concentrates on three thematic areas in particular: the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technology; the connection between bodies and the Earth.

Among many highlights, this year’s edition will be showcasing NFT artists, such as Kevin Abosch and Eduardo Kac among several others, for the very first time – courtesy of the Cameroon Pavilion. This year also marks the first time the United Kingdom has chosen a black female artist to represent the country at the Biennale: Sonia Boyce.

In response to the nomination, Boyce commented “I do think part of the question, as it is posed to me, is about [how] I’m black and British, and what does it mean to “carry the flag”? It will be interesting to see how she tackles this immense and multi-facetted question.

Read more: The LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to See in April

Outside the Biennale, worth visiting is the multi-sensory work by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. The fruit of French champagne house Ruinart’s fifth artist residency (previous collaborations included Vik Muniz and David Shrigley). The work is inspired by the maison’s residency’s chalky, sun-dappled terroir.

The renowned Palazzo Grassi is showing work by South African artist Marlene Dumas, curated by Caroline Bourgeois. It will show works from 1984 through today, with many previously unseen masterpieces. Her work focuses on human figures dealing with the most intense emotions and paradoxes.

A man with his finger in his forehead

Irish NFT artist Kevin Abosch

While you’re there, don’t miss the Bruce Nauman show, which is an homage to the influential contemporary artist. Awarded the Golden Lion at the 2009 Biennale di Venezia, the show brings together old and recent works, some of which have never been exhibited in Europe.

One of my favourites is the Palazzo Fortuny, a beautiful palace and museum. It was constructed between 1460 and 1480, commissioned by a Venetian nobleman. Today, it houses a wonderful collection of masterpieces.

This year, Colnaghi Gallery is collaborating with the Direzione regionale Musei Veneto and Venetian Heritage to present a group of significant Renaissance sculptures at Ca’ d’Oro. An exquisite Gothic jewel, the Ca’ d’Oro is the most famous Gothic building in Venice after the Doges Palace. It was hugely admired by Ruskin, who recorded its facade in a beautiful watercolour in 1845. The exhibition will include works by the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, including Donatello, Lombardo, and Rovezzano.

The whole city is a work of art, with many yet-to-be-discovered treasures. After surviving the pandemic, discovering art from 80 different countries is a call to live and let live.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice President at artnet. 

Reading time: 4 min
A man working in a tequila agave field
A tree with orange and green leaves

Beam Suntory has established the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at the University of Kentucky, which supports a curriculum to educate the next generation of distillers

Kim Marotta is head of sustainability at Beam Suntory, the drinks behemoth behind Jim Beam, Courvoisier and Sipsmith with annual revenues of more than $4bn. She speaks to Ella Johnson about what the sector can do to help preserve water and agricultural resources, and why more companies need to be putting their necks on the ESG line
A blonde woman wearing a black top smiling at the camera

Kim Marotta

LUX: Why has the spirits industry been slower to act on ESG than food?
Kim Marotta: The spirits and food industries share several foundational environmental concerns: the sustainability of agriculture, helping fight climate change, looking after water resources and working towards more sustainable packaging.

While the spirits industry may not have been as visible in communicating its work as the food industry, I do think these have been central concerns for a long time. From agave, to corn, wheat to barley, and of course, water, I’m glad to see both industries on the same page in terms of the importance of environmental sustainability.

A man working in a tequila agave field

Tequila from agave fields can take between 8 and 12 years to harvest

LUX: Where do the challenges lie?
Kim Marotta: Water, transport and packaging. It goes without saying that water is one of the two foundational ingredients in the spirits industry, presenting enormous opportunity for positive environmental impact. We have established water sanctuaries in Loretto, Kentucky, at Maker’s Mark and in Clermont, Kentucky, at Jim Beam. We’ve also set out an extensive program of peatlands water sanctuaries in the Highlands of Scotland, not to mention our pioneering work in the tequila industry where our Casa Sauza brand has the lowest carbon footprint and water usage.

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With transport, just looking at the amount of products spirits companies ship all over the world, there is a fantastic opportunity to influence and partner with logistics groups to ensure everyone is working together for more sustainable methods of transport.

Packaging, one of the most crucial parts of the customer relationship to any premium spirit brand, is also a critical area. Brands all around the world are looking at how to make it more sustainable, whether it’s conducting a lifecycle analysis on every piece of packaging, as we do, to prioritising right weighting to minimise materials usage and waste, to total redesign of bottles, which we did this year with Courvoisier.

A waterfall surrounded by red and orange trees

Following Beam Suntory’s establishment of Natural Water Sanctuaries in both Japan and the US, their new initiative focuses on peatlands water sanctuaries in the Highlands of Scotland

LUX: What is the biggest obstacle the industry faces right now?
Kim Marotta: Mobilising the industry, governments, NGOs, communities and customers to all come together and drive real change. This is obviously a huge task and needs to be a global effort. While there has been significant progress in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done.

LUX: Which group is most important?
Kim Marotta: I’m not sure any one of these groups can be singled out as the most important, but what we do often see is that change is accelerated by consumer preferences and activism. That said, corporations and governments play a central role in ensuring the important issues are addressed for the long-term.

Read more: Unilever’s Rebecca Marmot On The Sustainable Everyday

LUX: Beam Suntory saw sales up by 11% in 2021, the same year that it launched its Proof Positive program. Does this imply a correlation between profit and purpose?
Kim Marotta: Proof Positive only launched last year and is a long-term initiative over ten years, so I don’t know that that alone demonstrates a correlation between the two. However, what does show that connection is that the foundation of Proof Positive – what we refer to as ‘Growing for Good’ – has been part of our DNA for generations. That certainly has helped our performance, and, I would argue, has shown itself as a commercial imperative.

LUX: How are you embedding social justice into your sustainability strategy?
Kim Marotta: Our ambitions, by 2030, are to have 45% racially and ethnically diverse employee representation in the US and to achieve an industry-leading sense of belonging among employees. We are also committing to achieve one million volunteer hours to communities and initiatives that promote social justice and to reach 50% women representation in leadership positions.

green fields from a bird's eye view

Maker’s Mark, Loretto, Kentucky

We partner closely with our employee impact groups to ensure that we are guided by our people and values in how we support social justice. We’re committed to financially supporting the important work undertaken by leading social justice organisations.

For example, Courvoisier has partnered with the National Urban League to support Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs facing hardship as a result of the pandemic and committed $1 million to provide support to Black-owned businesses over the span of five years. Hornitos, another of our brands, has also made significant donations to The League of United Latin American Citizens and We Are All Human to support the Fair Shot program, which supports immigrants seeking US citizenship.

Read more: GreenBiz’s Heather Clancy On Corporate Climate Action

LUX: How can companies move their ESG agendas beyond reporting and compliance towards business enablement?
Kim Marotta: Companies should not be afraid to set out the most ambitious targets that they can, even if the specific road map isn’t totally clear. Whether they’re unsure if the technology is there, or what the commitment to R&D might be over the years, the solution is simple: set aggressive targets, make the investments in technology you need to make to hit those targets, and be accountable and transparent, showing evidence of progress along the way. If companies aren’t setting aggressive targets, they aren’t going to make as much as of an impact as they can.

Kim Marotta is Global Vice President – Environmental Sustainability at Beam Suntory

Find out more:

Reading time: 5 min
A room with gold walls and cushions and blue couches and chairs
A room with gold walls and cushions and blue couches and chairs

The library at L’oscar

Michel Reybier, owner of La Reserve, has just bought L’oscar, a London luxury boutique hotel. Darius Sanai drops by and looks forward to a new star of the scene

I first met Michel Reybier when I interviewed him for a feature in a Hong Kong luxury magazine I had just launched, LE PAN, about his celebrated wine estate, Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux. Much of the interview was about the other businesses he ran, how he had made his first fortune in the food industry (selling high-end packaged charcuterie), the medical clinic group he had bought and was expanding, and his little boutique luxury hotel group, La Reserve.

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Having gotten to know him a little more over the years, I noticed that he is not a man who likes to talk about himself. He lets his businesses do the talking; and now his small hotel group, renamed Michel Reybier Hospitality, has become quite a significant one. In the last few years he has bought the Seiler hotel group in his adopted home of Switzerland (which includes some of the country’s best-known traditional hotels, including the Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt, where my parents went on their honeymoon – very thoughtful of him) and the La Reserve hotels in Geneva, Paris, St Tropez and Zurich have become must-visits for the contemporary-minded high net worth set.

Purple velvet couches in a restuarant

The restaurant at L’oscar. Image by Ben Rice

Any luxury hotel group worth its salt needs a property in London, but great hotels in London are hard to come by: by and large scarce and overpriced. But where there’s a will, and a canny owner, there’s a way, and so last week I dropped by his new acquisition in central London, L’oscar. In Holborn, near Theatreland and surrounded by offices of affluent workers (lawyers, digital, entertainment), L’oscar opened in a blaze of publicity around five years ago, with dramatic, Costes-comes-to-London design, then faded away a bit. In buying it this year, Reybier intends to make it a new star of the London scene. His experienced team are aware of its slightly off-centre location – you don’t have the Mayfair oligarchs and PE titans coming to play here – and will doubtless make a virtue of its local qualities.

A gold and black bedroom

L’oscar’s bright and spacious suites

The hotel will undergo some light refurbishment and what is now the bar, under a dramatic rotunda, will become the restaurant, which will move from its street side location – a logical move.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in April

Reybier naturally owns a champagne house, and I dropped by the bar for a glass or two of Jeeper champagne a couple of days back.

A marble bar with purple seats and a man serving behind the bar

The bar at L’oscar’s restaurant. Image by Gregoire Gardette

The staff seem energised, the room is as glamorous as any in a London hotel – in fact, makes many London luxury hotels look quite ordinary – and as I mentioned to him, it’s a place that could become a hub in an area that needs one. The Jeeper champagne was excellent too, balanced, understated, very nicely put together – rather like its owner. The magic wand wielded by Reybier and his wise CEO, Raouf Finan, turned a fusty old palace, the Eden in Zurich, into the most glam hotel in town, just before lockdown. L’oscar needs much less of a makeover, being pretty glam already, but London will only benefit from the arrival of a Euro star.

Reading time: 3 min
A picture of buildings with words across it in yellow
a blue and yellow painting

Idris Khan, ‘I Thought We Had More Time’, print created to raise funds for Ukraine

Sir Lawrence Freedman is one of the world’s foremost scholars of strategy and war. Here he answers our questions on the geopolitics around the Russian invasion of Ukraine and potential outcomes
A bald man in a black shirt with a red background

Sir Lawrence Freedman

LUX: Was the West culpable of negligence and/or triumphalism in its policies towards the former Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact territories after the fall of the Berlin Wall, during the 90s?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: Within Europe at least, the end of the Cold War was a victory for liberal capitalism. The members of the Warsaw Pact plus the three Baltic states joined Western institutions (NATO/EU) and followed liberal democratic/ rule of law policies. This was also the case with the former Yugoslavia. In a few cases there has been backsliding into more illiberal ways, notably with Hungary and Poland, but by and large this has worked well. These countries are more prosperous and secure than they would have been outside these institutions.

This is the other side of the coin to ‘the NATO was wrong to push for enlargement’ narrative. As someone who was engaged in these issues at the time, and was not a great fan of enlargement, it was hard to avoid the strength of feeling in former Warsaw Pact countries that they wanted to be protected against some future Russian resurgence. They now feel vindicated in this view. Without gathering all these countries together in a single alliance there was also a risk of antagonisms developing among these countries.

For the first decade after the Cold War this was not a big issue with Russia (NATO entered into a special partnership with Russia in 1997 to prevent tensions). In retrospect the biggest failure was to advise a short and unregulated transition to a capitalist system which led to gross inequalities, cronyism and corruption.

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LUX: Vladimir Putin started off wanting to create a mutually respectful and harmonious relationship with the West, but was rebuffed, and swung instead to Russian extreme nationalism. True or false?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: Putin was not rebuffed. There were serious efforts in the early 2000s to work with Putin and consult Russia during this period. It took until 2007 for Putin to start to break with the West, when he made a speech at the Munich Security Conference condemning Western policies. He had two lots of concerns. The first reflected his view that Western countries did not follow their own rules when it suited them. His examples were Kosovo in 1999 and Iraq in 2003. The second was his anxiety about the so-called colour revolutions – Rose in Georgia in 2003 and then Orange in Ukraine in 2004-5, that saw popular movements demonstrate against rigged elections and corrupt regimes. This developed into a fear of a comparable movement in Russia, combined with a conviction that they were being manufactured by Western intelligence agencies.

Putin’s approach to exercising influence within Russia but also his views about how others operated was shaped by his background in the KGB and then his later role in its successor, the FSB. He shared the strong view among the Russian elite that Russia was, and must be treated as, a great power. As he became more antagonistic towards the West after 2005, which was gradual and not sudden, the nationalism increased. But the biggest driver has been his determination to protect his own power, which has also led to the increased oppression of oppositional elements at home.

LUX:At this stage, post-invasion, can you draw any parallels with any other invasions in modern European history?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: Not really. It is not on the scale of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa of 1941 and far more substantial than the Warsaw Pact occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and also the operations against Ukraine in 2014.

black scribble and circles on a white pieces of paper

Tomás Saraceno, ‘Zonal Harmonic 2N 55/11’, part of the ‘Artists for Ukraine’ Exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

LUX: Neither Ukraine nor Russia will suffer an outright defeat, so this war will end with negotiation. How can negotiations succeed if the principal Russian actors know they will be prosecuted for war crimes once they sign any peace deal? And what can be done about this?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: It depends on what you mean by outright defeat. It has been apparent from the first days of the invasion that Russia could not achieve its basic objectives of conquering Ukraine and installing a puppet government. It is however possible that Ukraine will achieve its core objective of getting Russian forces to withdraw from its territory, either through force of arms or diplomacy. Militarily Russia has already suffered one major defeat by being forced to withdraw from Kyiv and has now lost 40 percent of the territory taken in February. Russia is now gearing up to take and hold all of the Donbas which is the battle now just starting.

The war crimes issue is important for the long term but not so relevant to the short term. The key issues in a negotiation between Russia and Ukraine will be security guarantees and, most important, who holds what territory. The big issue for the external actors, including the EU and NATO countries, will be what happens to economic sanctions if Putin stays in power.

It is entirely possible that if either Russia acquires a chunk of land that it believes is defensible or if Ukraine pushes Russian forces back that there will be at best a temporary cease-fire and no proper peace settlement. In which case sanctions will stay and war crimes investigations will continue.

LUX: How likely is leader change in Russia in the short term?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: It is certainly possible but Putin has a firm grip on the levers of power in Moscow and he has put his people in all the key positions. His fear of popular movements has led to the suppression of independent media and free speech, and opposition figures have either been killed or imprisoned or pushed into exile.

A self-evident Russian defeat in Ukraine, reinforced by the numbers of killed and wounded, combined with the economic pressures resulting from sanctions, is likely to produce strain on the structures of power. We have already seen the start of purges as Putin blames others for his setbacks. These may start to produce a reaction amongst members of the elite. It is hard to see how Putin’s position could not be affected. The war was his decision and it has already gone badly wrong. But this is an area in which it is hard to make firm predictions.

A picture of buildings with words across it in yellow

Sabine Hornig, ‘It requires’, part of the artists for Ukraine Exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

There have been rumours of poor health, most recently thyroid cancer. A medical condition could either oblige him to stand down or provide an excuse should he be forced to do so.

One should not assume that a new regime would be more liberal or technocratic. A failure in Ukraine would produce a backlash from the extreme right as well as from remaining moderates.

LUX: There is no world without Russia, says Putin, and Putin believes he is Russia. Does that mean that he will do what Hitler would have dreamed of, and unleash nuclear apocalypse, rather than be removed? And would his orders be obeyed?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: I don’t think so. This is obviously everyone’s nightmare but he would need others to implement the decision and there is still sufficient rationality remaining in the system for this to be allowed to happen. Signs that he was contemplating such a measure might even be a reason for those opposed to him in the elite to mount a coup.

NATO has been very careful not to get directly involved in the fighting, which would provide Putin with most grounds for escalation, even while assisting Ukraine in other ways. Putin is already getting his vengeance on Ukraine for resisting his aggression by attacking its infrastructure, economy and civil society.

LUX: Given how deeply the links between oligarchs and the state run, how can sanctions be lifted, even if there is a negotiated settlement?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: For reasons given above I think it will be difficult to lift sanctions while Putin is in power unless it is absolutely essential to confirming a satisfactory settlement. Moreover the negative effects of conflict on the Russian economy are not only the result of sanctions. There is a now a European policy to reduce energy dependency on Russia and many companies have either abandoned Business interests in Russia or will not now consider new investments.

LUX: It’s 2025. What do relations between Russia, Ukraine and the West look like?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: Relations between West and Ukraine will be closer. Whatever happens now in the conflict, the bulk of Ukraine will not be under occupation. I suspect it will be too early for membership of EU and NATO. These require demanding transitions, and will require Ukraine to deal with corruption. There will need to be a massive reconstruction programme in Ukraine to repair damage and help the economy recover. As for Russia it all depends. I would like to think that Putin will be gone so that there can be a start of a new relationship but lots must now happen for that to be the case. Either way it will take a long time for Russia-Ukrainian relations to recover. It will be very hard for Ukrainians to forgive what has been done to their country.

LUX: How severe will be the economic shock of this war be, beyond Russia and Ukraine?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: The economic shock is going to be severe. The war already risks pushing the West into recession next year. Food and energy costs are going up around the world, with poor countries often the worst hit. It is worth recalling that the Arab Spring of 2011 was triggered by rising food prices. The longer the conflict lasts the worse the economic hit, especially if it continues for more than six months and into next winter.

A light with a rainbow

Olafur Eliasson, ‘Flatland Light’, part of the ‘Artists for Ukraine’ Exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

LUX: Will China, the US or Europe gain or lose more, geopolitically, from the war?
Sir Lawrence Freedman: When this started it was assumed by many that China would gain because it would draw the US back into Europe with less time for Indo-Pacific. In addition, China had forged a virtual alliance with Russia just before the war began. At the same time it has had decent relations with Ukraine. From the start of the war it has talked about the need for peace but has not done much about it – for example offer services as a mediator. It has abstained at UN votes. It has supported some Russian anti-American propaganda points and argued strongly against economic sanctions (which it dislikes for other reasons). It would find an evident Russian defeat an embarrassment as it would undermine a partnership in which it had invested politically (if not economically). Beijing is also aware of lessons being drawn about the threat China poses to Taiwan because of the Russian experience in Ukraine.

The US has largely handled the war effectively. It has pulled NATO together effectively and has worked hard to support Ukraine without taking risks of being drawn into the war itself. It has reminded the world – post-Trump – that the US can be an effective foreign policy actor. It has acquired a lot of intelligence about Russian military capabilities. Assuming that Russia is a diminished power after this war, then US strategic calculations become easier.

Read more: GreenBiz’s Heather Clancy On Corporate Climate Action

The EU has had a less happy time, mainly because the conflict has exposed the way in which a number of member states, but in particular Germany, allowed themselves to become dependent on Russia for energy supplies. Also Germany was risk averse when it came to supporting the Ukrainian militarily and with France offering itself as a mediator. Macron could justify his efforts to keep the conversation going with Putin just in case it was possible to help with peace talks and humanitarian relief but he has so far little to show for the effort.

The UK has had by and large a good war. It has pursued close relations with Ukraine since 2014 and played an important role in training Ukrainian forces, and was the first country to respond to the current crisis (after its intelligence agencies called out the risk of an imminent invasion with the US) with weapons supplies. It has continued to take a lead in either supplying weapons itself or encouraging other donors. Less positively it has struggled to take in Ukrainian refugees and has had the role of the City of London as a home for Russian money highlighted, leading to more restrictive measures.

Sir Lawrence Freedman is Emeritus Professor of War Studies at Kings College London

Reading time: 11 min
blue vases and orange trinkets on the floor
blue vases and orange trinkets on the floor

Shio Kusaka at David Zwirner, New York

In our ongoing online monthly series, LUX’s editors, contributors, and friends pick their must-see exhibitions from around the globe

Bettina Korek, CEO of the Serpentine Galleries in London

This month I’m excited to see my friend Shio Kusaka’s exhibition at David Zwirner in New York. Her ceramics are influenced by her daily life: vessels with designs that highlight their imperfections as if gleaned from lived wisdom, or dinosaur and animal pieces that her kids love. There is a complicated formal world locked away in each of her seemingly playful creations, with sophisticated difference and repetition techniques as well as nuanced tactility that can only existed in a medium such as this.

A woman in a dark room with red lights

Dominique Gonzalez Foerster, Opera QM.15

I’m also looking forward to OPERA (QM.15), an artwork by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster presented at Bourse de Commerce in Paris inspired by the legendary Maria Callas from 6th April. The artist describes the ‘apparitions’ as “an attempt to communicate with certain spirits”—very intriguing proposition. Similarly, Gonzalez-Foerster’s Serpentine takeover this spring considers the questions: what would happen if aliens fell in love with us. She so masterfully creates multifaceted worlds that oscillate between finite and infinite, the empirical and the dramaturgical.

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Lastly, I always recommend visiting a Mayfair hidden gem: the Louis Vuitton flagship on New Bond Street which includes fascinating immersive works by eminent artists such as James Turrell, Alex Katz, Sarah Crowner and furniture by the Campana Brothers. I’ve always admired LV’s innovation in producing collaborations with artists and dedication to bringing art to the public in a way that exceeds expectations for a luxury brand.

Helaine Blumenfeld OBE, sculptor

Given the current state of uncertainty in the world, I recommend two powerful and moving exhibitions (in addition to my own solo show Intimacy and Isolation at the Hignell Gallery, Mayfair, London) to help us remember the sense of healing that Art can provide.

Two pieces of marble on a stand outside

Helaine Bleumnfeld’s Intimacy and Isolation at the Hignell Gallery, Mayfair, London

Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland offers a deep look at Georgia O’Keeffe’s work including rarely seen paintings from public and private collections from 23 January until 22 May. The show explores O’Keeffe’s unique way of looking at her surroundings and translating them into new and hitherto unseen images of reality. Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of flowers have deeply affected and profoundly influenced me from my childhood. Her work suggests transcendence into a realm that lies beyond substance; it is poetic and elusive; it is often joyful. Ultimately, her work is mysterious and visionary. The abstract images reflect O’Keeffe’s desire to capture the ‘essence’ and to reveal a multitude of figurative references that she disguises with transparent layers. She takes serious risks with colour and challenges visual harmony in order to stimulate the viewer to look beyond the parameters, to question what they see. I often find myself revisiting her images in my mind, both on dark days when I feel the need for intense light and renewal and, in celebratory moments when I want to share my optimism and sense of possibility.

a painting of a red black and orange poppy

Georgia O’Keeffe, Oriental Poppies, 1927

Also not to be missed is By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 at the Detroit Institute of Arts from 6 February until 29 May which highlights the largely unexplored role of women artists in Italy from the Renaissance until the Enlightenment. Although many will know the powerful and difficult story of Artemisia Gentileschi and her daring and dynamic work, this show goes further, highlighting the works of a diverse group of Italian women artists, all of whom challenged the conventions and expectations of a male-dominated art world. The variety in their work reveals to the viewer not only their technical skills but their vision, ingenuity and courage as artists.

Phil America, artist and designer

When you travel the world a lot or frequent art fairs, you start to see a lot of the same artists and trends over and over again. It takes something special, something unique to make me feel like I have to go see a particular show if I don’t know the artist personally at this point.

One gallery I am never disappointed by is François Ghebaly gallery in Los Angeles. The current shows, Victoria Gitman‘s Everything Is Surface: Twenty Years of Painting and Em Kettner‘s The Understudies are not to be missed.

A drawing of a man taking off his face on a dark wooden cavas

Em Kettner, Two Guides, 2022

I had a moment to talk about the show itself as well as the artists with the gallery’s director Belen Piñeiro and she told me, “the shows by Victoria Gitman and Em Kettner deal with intimacy but from very different perspectives. Where Victoria’s work is about surface and challenging our idea of representation, Em’s works on tile develop storytelling and character construction. On both shows however, the small scale of the formats brings the viewer to get up close to the works, observe their minute detail which creates a form of introspection. They require physical presence to fully understand them.”

Read more: Philanthropy: Anita Choudhrie on supporting women in parasports and art

A beaded bag hung on a canvas

Victoria Gitman, On Display, 2006. Photograph by Paul Salveson

If you find yourself in Los Angeles before the shows close on May 7th, your physical presence is required at Francois Ghebaly’s gallery.

Emilia Yin, founder, Make Room Gallery, LA

I will have to say my must-visit exhibition is our booth at Art Brussels, where we present the work of Jacopo Pagin and Guimi You in conversation. The practices of Pagin and You are concerned with the crosscultural history of painting as a medium, as well as the investigation of modern existence and mysticism through such historical lenses.

green painting of a a tree and the sky

Guimi You painting. Photo by Josh Schaedel

Guimi You’s practice is informed by her training in both San-su hwa (traditional Korean painting) and Western oil painting. Her works combine the influence of feminists surrealists like Leonora Carrington with the vast plein air landscapes of Korean silk painters like Jeong Seon. Jacopo Pagin’s limpid canvases are rife with nods to Venetian colorito and Mannerist figuration, inspirations gleaned from his training at the Accademia in Venice. His compositions are shot through with a delicate surrealism evocative of Leonor Fini’s dream-like sketched figures or Cocteau’s sensuous line drawings. While You’s female figures comment upon the Sublime vastness of landscapes– often dwarfed by their colorful expanses– Pagin’s characters become part of the landscape, their heads melded into the surf and the rock faces, bringing to mind pagan goddesses of nature. As Guimi’s own technique finds itself at an intersection of Easten and Western technique, so too does Pagin’s leitmotifs evoke a cross cultural dimension: his works often contain within them decorated fans or Chinese patterns, which, combined with his deeply learned techniques, simultaneously evoke and subvert the craze of Orientalism in 18th-century European art.

illusion painting of faces and swans

Jacopo Pagin, ‘We Kiss’

Though deeply indebted to established styles and practices, You and Pagin both confront their subjects from a wholly contemporary perspective. You’s intense color palettes are drawn from the digital, her initial designs taking shape on iPad software. Her practice is intensely intuitive and personal, drawn from real life, which makes her dreamlike interventions– a maw of pitch blackness enveloping a canvas; a colorless figure pasted into a lush landscape like a glitch on the canvas; a curl of steam morphing into a toy snake– all the more surreal; Pagin’s interventions of abstraction into his paintings is accompanied by his use of a mise-en-scéne, composed of sonic art and installation. These installations are approached in a dense, philosophical manner, by which the paintings function as a “time machine” through which the artist can– in his own words– “reuse and reinterpret the gestures and techniques of the past to continually re-identify myself through diverse means.”

They both previously had sold out exhibitions at Make Room, and this is both of their first time participating at Art Brussels.

The fair will be open from April 28- May 2.

LUX Editorial Team

This month we’re looking forward to seeing Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear at the V&A in London. Fashioning Masculinities is an exhibition which celebrates the diversity of men’s fashion throughout history. Designs from contemporary fashion designers such as Harris Reed and Raf Simons are featured alongside historical artefacts which include sculptures, painting and photographs.

A blue suit shown at an exhibition through a hole in a blue wall

Alessandro Michele for Gucci look worn by Harry Styles

The exhibition displays the wide range of ideas that surround masculinities, particularly beyond the binary, and how this idea has evolved and changed throughout history from the Renaissance to the modern day.

Reading time: 7 min
red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain
red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain

Our fleet at the foot of the Cervino (Matterhorn) in Cervina, Italy

You might associate Lamborghinis with Dubai, Cannes, Los Angeles and London, shooting down city streets or parked outside expensive restaurants and hotels. Candice Tucker visits Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, the home of the brand, and drives, and is driven in, the company’s latest models to a village high in the Alps

Like many, I find I can be easily distracted by a Lamborghini’s sleek shape, often ostentatious colours (most famously green, yellow and orange) and of course, the sound the engine makes when someone speeds past you.

Visiting the factory, watching the cars being made, altered my perception of the brand.

Making our way up into the Alps in convoy

Take a quick tour around the factory, in central Italy, and you can begin to see why these cars are some of the most expensive in the world. There are rows of stations, and clocks on each row that don’t say the time, but the amount of minutes each worker has left to work on their station. 33 minutes. That’s how long each worker in the main Urus factory has to do their part in the making of each Lamborghini. From the door fitters to the needle workers on the leather seats, everyone is under a timer to move their part onto the next station. The robots are only used to assist rather than replace the human hand. Your green status symbol is indeed hand made.

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The Lamborghini factory has been CO2 neutral since 2015

The future is electric cars, and it’s difficult to imagine what this means for Lamborghini’s distinct sounding engines, but this hasn’t stopped them pursuing a hybrid transition with gusto. They expect by 2023 to create their first hybrid series production car and by the second half of the decade, Lamborghini has committed to creating a fully electric model.

The Lamborghini V12 is the brand’s flagship engine

After the factory came the journey, in various Lamborghinis. I started mine in the ‘beast’, also known as the ‘Urus’. Lamborghini’s SUV (large 4×4) is huge and extremely powerful. Driving it, you feel as if you are in the emperor of SUVs. Very big, very fast, and you can alter driving modes like in a supercar. “Corsa” mode felt wicked – Corsa means race in Italian.

Lamborghinis parked in a semi circle inside a fort

Lamborghini makes a full-on supercar, the Aventador; a more practical two-seater sports car, the Huracán; and a powerful SUV, the Urus. All are available in a variety of specifications – and colours

If you want to take a step further into raciness mode, the Huracán STO or the SVJ Aventador might interest you. The Aventador is futuristic and showy from the outside. Inside, the SVJ is stripped of all its finer comforts, and you sit in unforgiving carbon fibre seats. It’s all about speed, which is no surprise given it is renowned V12 engine, which was deafening particularly when you drive through tunnels, the sound drilling through your ears. The STO is slightly lighter to drive and the exterior of the car is as close as you’ll get to looking like a race car on the road. Both cars offer the same extreme performance, but the STO allows you to remain cocooned in luxury by comparison.

The Urus was the most sold Lamborghini model in 2021, with 5,021 deliveries

Having travelled across the motorway, through the ancient part of the village of Bard in the Aosta valley (where cars are normally prohibited) and up the mountains to Cervinia, Lamborghini demonstrate that their cars are fit for purpose on any terrain. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest driving on icy roads, we put the STO and the Huracán EVO to the test, driving on an ice ring. The STO being a rear wheel drive, made this slightly more difficult to manoeuvre, but the EVO retained its speed and control.

Huracán EVO spinning on the ice track

The ultimate experience for me was the Huracán EVO Spyder. This is a convertible 640 horsepower supercar. Scaling the Italian Alps with the roof down, enjoying the fresh mountain air casting over your face was fun. With no space for a suitcase or even a hand luggage, the EVO wouldn’t be the car for your family ski holiday but it’s perfect for a day trip. The lightness of the car made it very agile up the mountain.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Driving through the streets of the village of Bard, in the Aosta valley, where cars are usually prohibited. You can see why

There were no other Lamborghinis of any colour in Cervinia. It’s not that kind of place. It’s all about cows, mountain air, and the shadow of the Matterhorn. But what an adventure getting there in four of the most exciting and eye-catching cars in the world.

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Reading time: 4 min
plastic bottles compacted in bags
two women sitting on a panel

Heather Clancy and Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact © GreenBiz Group/Louis Bryant III

Is there a one size fits all when it comes to corporate climate action? No matter how big a business is, says Heather Clancy, one thing is for certain: inaction is no longer an option. Clancy is Vice President and Editorial Director of GreenBiz, the media company working to accelerate the just transition to a clean economy. She tells LUX why companies need to work harder to embed environmental justice into their corporate sustainability strategy, and explains how climate fintech may just be key to the green transition
A woman with grey hair wearing a green jacket

Heather Clancy ©GreenBiz Group/Louis Bryant III

LUX: Is there a one size fits all when it comes to corporate climate action?
Heather Clancy: The way a company prioritises is very focused on their individual business. The supply chain of one company could be totally different to that of another. US tech companies, for example, have done a lot on renewable energy, but should be doing more on how they treat and engage with their employees on various issues. Each company must look at what they touch and then make the decisions about which levers to push and pull most directly. The one thing they must do, however, is act. They can’t sit around anymore, no matter how big or small they are.

LUX: How should companies be balancing the ‘E’ and ‘S’ of ESG?
Heather Clancy: Corporations are not spending enough time thinking about how environmental justice is embedded into their corporate sustainability strategies. The pandemic has prompted a lot of soul-searching when it comes to where companies are doing business, but there is still a huge disconnect between the company’s corporate perceptions of what environmental justice means and how they act as a business. There is so much attention being put into making sure workforces reflect the diversity of the community –which is great – but companies need to get a lot more thoughtful about how they engage with the individuals and communities with whom they engage.

For example, one of the biggest blockers to the clean energy transition right now is the supply of materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. The necessity of these materials – which are used for wind turbines, electric vehicles, and batteries – has prompted a large increase in mining activities around the world, but there has not been enough attention paid to where that land is. A lot of it sits on indigenous territories, and these communities are not being consulted or involved in the plans, or economically compensated if that’s what is required.

Now that we have this supply chain rethink happening, it would be incumbent upon corporations to look closely at where they’re siting their new manufacturing city facilities if they’re going to move them. This means actually including communities in those plans –helping them understand what the plan is and asking them what makes sense.

rows of solar panels

Accountability of corporations is crucial for the green transition. Image courtesy of Andreas Gucklhorn

LUX: Are there enough measurable standards for corporations to be measured by?
Heather Clancy: If you ask them, there are too many standards! What is missing is a push for accountability, especially in the United States. The markets are motivated by these earnings reports that we get on a quarterly basis, but there is no equivalent for ESG measures. I do believe that this will be changing, though. Probably the most important prompter for this has been the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), whose recommendations made a tipping point happen as far as how companies talk about what they’re doing and how they are being held accountable for that. But now things are in place, we need to get some agreement and coalescence around certain of these things.

LUX: What role can early-stage climate tech play in decarbonisation?
Heather Clancy: Small, innovative companies have a real opportunity to innovate and become the new suppliers for larger companies – for example by producing alternative materials like mushroom-based packaging to replace plastic or Styrofoam. It is not coincidental that there are so many corporate venture funds now focused on climate technologies, because these corporations are going to benefit from that innovation when the company goes public down the line.

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A great example is the Amazon-Rivian relationship. Rivian was a vaguely unknown electric van maker, which got a hundred-thousand-unit order from Amazon and has now gone on to become public. There is a lot of shakiness in the market right now with some of these suppliers, but that’s fundamental to business. It’s mainly a great innovation opportunity.

LUX: Do you think it’s correct to talk about de-carbonisation and opportunities in climate tech as being ‘opportunities’, or are they still challenges?
Heather Clancy: Look at Allbirds. They had some shakiness with their ESG IPO, but their entire company was created with the idea of using materials in a different way. One of the biggest problems with athletic shoes is the soles, so they worked to create a new type of sole with a new material which has a lower carbon footprint than other sneaker soles. Instead of choosing to make that sole their own proprietary invention, they opened the technology up to other organisations and helped other companies to start using it. As other companies start to use this technology, the costs will come down and it will be cheaper for them to use it as well. That is a company whose entire business model is framed around this.

Two women speaking to each other sitting on chairs next to each other on a panel

Heather Clancy and Hana Kajimura, Head of Sustainability, Allbirds © GreenBiz Group/Louis Bryant III

LUX: What else is exciting you in the climate tech sector at the moment?
Heather Clancy: I am particularly interested in nature-based carbon capture and sequestration technologies. There is an organisation called Project Vesta that’s using nature-based approaches in this way. There’s a big debate about whether we should be investing in those things, because it takes money away from these newer areas, but I think we need to remove the carbon that’s there.

LUX: What role can fintech play in the green transition?
Heather Clancy: The digitisation of sustainability is really important, because it’s becoming part of the financial infrastructure of the companies themselves. Software innovations help companies better understand their climate risks, have a truer accounting of the carbon footprint of their supply chain operations, and to understand whether their carbon offset has the value they think it has. These tools also help people make investments in the other climate technologies.

LUX: What is the biggest barrier to scaling climate tech?
Heather Clancy: Politics. Climate is such a partisan issue in many areas of the world. It has become so easy for one side to weaponise the community and say, ‘look at these renewable energy advocates, they’re making your energy costs go up’. That’s been very damaging in terms of the whole concept.

Beyond that, though, is policy. If there’s one thing that we really are lacking from corporations, it is the voice and end policy support. There are so many policies in place that need to be changed, but there is not enough happening at the federal, state or local levels to help put the policies in place that will make this transition happen more quickly.

plastic bottles compacted in bags

Heather Clancy explains the battle for companies desiring to create and bring in new greener technologies but not wanted to create waste by dumping the old materials. Image courtesy of Nick Fewings

LUX: Should we prioritise de-carbonising existing infrastructure or starting from scratch with new green technologies?
Heather Clancy: I’ve been thinking a lot about net zero buildings and how difficult it is to go in and retrofit a building to become a better performing building. There are incentives that exist which make it much easier to knock the thing down and to build a new one. That’s just a huge waste: why aren’t we reusing those materials? But the policies and the laws make it harder to do it any other way.

The other problem with giving credit for renewal projects is that it caters to the people that have money already. If you are a small organisation and don’t have the revenue, you can’t actually take advantage of some of these incentives currently because you can’t afford to invest in them. This is true of the way some of the clean energy incentives are written in the United States. That doesn’t make economic sense.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

LUX: Are corporations, consumers, or legislation responsible for leading the green transition?
Heather Clancy: Extended producer responsibilities is the buzzword here. It’s important that corporations be more responsible, and they have to be using their voices as well.

LUX: What should the wealthy be doing?
Heather Clancy: They should model better behaviour, and they also need to put their money where it counts. What Bill Gates with his Breakthrough Energy coalition is extraordinary, and seems to me to be an important model. Likewise, Mackenzie Scott and Laurene Powell Jobs have put money in some extraordinarily unusual places by investing in historically black colleges and communities that don’t usually get the money. They’re doing it quietly, and they’re putting their money to work.

It’s also time for the wealthy to help small businesses get on the bandwagon in terms of ESG – to help them with energy efficiency, with their waste and manufacturing processes. Buying from these companies will enable them to make the shift to greener practices.

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Reading time: 8 min
A woman in a white blazer reading an art book at a table
A woman in a white blazer reading an art book at a table

Anita Choudhrie, Founder of Path to Success and Stellar International Art Foundation

Anita Choudhrie is at the forefront of building opportunities for women in both the worlds of art and sports. Here, the founder of Path to Success and Stellar International Art Foundation speaks to Samantha Welsh about where her passion for philanthropy in these particular fields came from.

LUX: What drew you to advocate for the rights and needs of the disabled?
Anita Choudhrie: My mother had a terminal eye problem, so much so, that by the time she was fifty she was completely blind. However, growing up I always admired how she continued to live her life with such endeavour, confidence and purpose. She was rarely dependent on other people and managed to live each day to the full despite this challenge.

Having witnessed her strength and determination, I wanted to empower other individuals, facing unique challenges, with the same resolve. Whilst studying at Delhi University, I became increasingly aware of the hardships that those outside of our vision and environment face, and I decided that I wanted to make a difference. As a result, I became deeply passionate about my own charitable work, and this led me to the path I am on today.

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LUX: You have been leading change in disability services for over 25 years. How did this all start?
Anita Choudhrie: Inspired by my grandfather’s philanthropic work and my own passion for charitable endeavours, in 1985 I became involved with a school for disabled children in India. From being on the board, to championing fundraising efforts and working with the children in the school, this experience was my first real role in championing disability services.

I decided I wanted to take the work we were doing with the children to the next level – both to enhance the support they were receiving and to boost fundraising efforts. As a result, I organised for sixteen children with multiple disabilities to travel to the UK to raise awareness. It took almost eight months to arrange everything, including a performance at the House of Commons, and the trip was a great success. All the funds raised went to the school and enabled them to build an entirely new block, purchase a specially adapted school bus and also to acquire land for a new school altogether.

LUX: What pivoted your attention towards women’s disabled sport?
Anita Choudhrie: Female athletes are just as able to achieve great sporting accolades as their male counterparts, however, women’s sport typically receives far less funding – and this disparity is even more pronounced when it comes to para sports.

Therefore, I wanted to focus my charitable efforts on supporting female para-athletes in sports which receive little to no government funding, to work towards levelling the playing field and creating equal opportunities in society.

Anita Choudhrie with two girls in wheelchairs

Anita started Path to Success to provide more opportunities for women para-athletes

LUX: What is Path to Success and is there a connection between how you are personally invested in giving and the support offered by PTS?
Anita Choudhrie: Founded in 2005, Path to Success is the UK’s leading disability charity that focuses on turning inability into ability for disabled women in sport.

Currently we support 9 female Paralympic athletes as part of our appeal of ‘Empowering Female Athletes in Disability Sport’. These athletes compete across four disciplines; wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, para powerlifting and para badminton. We have also supported the London Titans Wheelchair Basketball Club since 2015 – one of the largest basketball clubs in the UK who have produced over 50 Paralympians.

Our mission is to address the barriers para-athletes face, secure the legacy of disability sport in the UK and inspire a new generation of British female Paralympic stars.

LUX: How successful was Tokyo 2020 for the Paralympians?
Anita Choudhrie: Women’s sport is slowly gaining more recognition, but women’s disability sport still doesn’t attract anywhere near the attention it both needs and deserves. The Paralympics is always a brilliant platform to raise awareness of these individuals and the tremendous capabilities of para-athletes on a whole.

It was therefore brilliant to see the athletes we support achieve the great successes they truly deserve and have worked so hard for in Tokyo.

In total, five of our athletes took part in the Tokyo Paralympics, brining home two silver and three bronze medals.

Read more: 6 Questions: Angela McCarthy, The Earth Foundation

LUX: What can we look forward to in women’s parasport this year?
Anita Choudhrie: The key event to look forward to this year is the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham at the end of July.

Due to the way the sporting calendar is set out, there is usually a two-year gap between the Paralympic and Commonwealth Games. However, as a result of the delays to the Tokyo Games, this marks the first occasion that they will follow directly on from each other. The hope therefore is that much of the momentum and excitement will carry over, making for a spectacular event. To add to this, this year’s event is set to mark the biggest participation from para-athletes ever, which can only be good for the development of women’s parasport.

In addition, this year British Wheelchair Basketball has also launched the first-ever women’s premier league. The inaugural season which will run until the end of May 2022 is the first of its kind for women’s wheelchair basketball in the world and the very first professional para-sport league in the UK. The introduction of this league marks a monumental step forward for women’s parasport and the hope is that it will not only help to make the UK a hub for the world’s best wheelchair basketball players, but that other parasports will soon follow suit creating new opportunities for aspiring female para-athletes.

Anita Choudhrie in a gold sari standing by a painting

Anita Choudhrie and her husband started their collection when they were married and now have over 800 significant 800 artworks © Charles Shearn

LUX: Is there a philosophy shared with PTS behind why you founded STELLAR?
Anita Choudhrie: My underlying philosophy has always been that we are stronger together. For example, every year the Stellar International Art Foundation celebrates International Women’s Day by supporting a female artist who has faced socio, economic or physical challenges.

A desire to empower women, and under-represent diaspora in society, is very much at the heart of what I do through all my philanthropic endeavours. Art and sport are two great passions of mine, yet women are still grossly underrepresented in both. What unites my work in both sectors is a desire to change this and ensure women have the exposure, support and funding that they deserve – to showcase their talent and build their profile.

LUX: Your personal passion is the visual arts and you have collected more than significant 800 artworks since the 1970s.  Are there underlying principles that guide you and what is your approach?
Anita Choudhrie: My husband and I have always shared a passion for art, and we have been collecting pieces since we got married. Founded in 2008, Stellar International Art Foundation began when we decided to comprehensively organise our collection.

colourful art and installations in a plain white room with a window on the ceiling

Stellar International Art Foundation Artist Vasundhara Sellamuthu show, 2021

What started as a family endeavour to collect pieces of art for the pure love of it, has grown into something much more. Now we view our collection as a way to advocate for artists who we believe have an amazing appreciation for culture and can enrich society through their work. To this end, one of our underlying principles is to acquire entire collections, rather than just individual works of art, to help secure the artists legacy.

Moreover, by collecting European, Russian, American and Indian art and distinguishing our selection less on regional concerns and more on artistic talent, we have been able to champion overlooked artists and give them a well-deserved voice.

LUX: What artists are personal signifiers and are part of your family legacy?
Anita Choudhrie: I’d say probably our collection of MF Husain’s works. We have one of the largest artworks outside the estate, making it the most significant home for the artist’s works. With over 250 works spanning from the early 1950s through to his final years, the collection supersedes all the world’s museum, gallery and private collections. A great patron of the artist, we were chosen as the guardians of not only a large volume of work in general, but especially his most famous and, arguably, most important series: Maria. With the same ethos in mind, the Foundation has sought to keep his most significant series intact for future generations.

LUX: How have you shown the collection to date and is there a vision for it?
Anita Choudhrie: Stellar International Art Foundation has staged a number of exhibitions, has produced a seminal publication on a master artist within the Collection and has even been revered by some of the worlds’ most respected curators and critics.

We also hold an annual speaking event in celebration of International Women’s Day, to help champion overlooked artists and give them a well-deserved voice. Ultimately, the real meaning of our foundation lies not in its material possessions, but in the opportunities it provides for artists.

three women standing next to each other

Anita Choudhrie and Vasundhara Sellamuthu

This year we are delighted to be supporting emerging London-based South Asian artist Vasundhara Sellamuthu. Through an exciting range of media, Vasundhara’s work explores a range of binaries such as East/West, architecture/vernacular and foreign/home, playfully engaging with her urban environment and its unnoticed makers. I have long believed in the value of artistic practice as an active force for challenge and change, and I hope that by showcasing Vasundhara’s work, preconceived binaries will be challenged and together we will be able to drive change.

The dream one day is to have a permanent museum to showcase the entire collection. Hopefully this is an aspiration that will become a reality in the not-too-distant future.

LUX: What advice would you offer a young person embarking upon their philanthropy journey?
Anita Choudhrie: I would implore anyone embarking upon their philanthropic journey to first really consider what they are truly passionate about. Throughout my career I have found it is those individuals who have a unique, personal perspective that are able to drive the greatest change.

Education, disability and supporting women are the consistent threads that have run through my philanthropic work. I find that opportunities and causes present themselves to you the deeper you become involved in philanthropy.

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Reading time: 8 min