LUX checks in to Borgo Santandrea, a sweet spot on the Amalfi coast which feels far from the madding tourist crowds

‘Everybody should have one talent, what’s yours?’ Or so says Dickie Greenleaf in the thriller – most recently a Netflix hit – TheTalented Mr Ripley. If it was Italy, rather than criminal Tom Ripley, responding, the answer would not be ‘forging signatures, telling lies, impersonating practically anybody’, but, perhaps, ‘Venezia, Roma, Toscana… Amalfi’. But how could one pick just one? Across its various shooting locations Ripley’s Amalfi shone out in staggering blue. I couldn’t resist.

A private beach, a pool, and ancient buildings look out onto the Amalfi Coast

A private beach, a pool, and ancient buildings look out onto the Amalfi Coast

It’s hard not to reach for clichés when, checking into the room, one is faced with a vast abstract painting of two blues – that is, sea and sky – contained like a Rothko in their window frame. The room seems to lead one towards this, across bespoke furniture and their signature tiles of blue and white.

Read More: Mandarin Oriental, Zurich, Review

Tucked away, 52 metres above sea level, one sleeps cocooned in something which is clean, refreshingly modern. And yet, at the beach bar, Marinella Beach Club, one still feels that one might just hear the fisherman, raising a glass of limoncello up with a clinking ‘salute!’ after a long day of hauling nets into its ancient building.

a table, a moon, and the sea

Alici, for fine dining at Borgo Santandrea, is a 1 Michelin star restaurant

Holding onto both old and new is the Marinella Restaurant. A Cardinale Twist to begin, for me. Its bitter freshness is what I want in the salt air, while I browse the menu. It seems wrong to bypass fish while sitting by the setting sun over the sea. Borgo Santandrea do it as they should – tender, fresh, not overdone or too spiced up; the ingredients are as fresh as they can be, so I begin with a platter of shellfish sprinkled with Amalfi lemon zest.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Next comes a confession. I’m afraid I have a weakness for ‘Zucchini alla Scapece’. It’s that type that has its natural sweetness balanced by the acid of its vinegar marinade and freshened by mint. It brings me back to a Neapolitan chef in Tuscany, who – unable to comprehend how one of his customers didn’t like garlic – would stamp about the kitchen, thumb to fingers shaking his hand in the air, muttering histrionically, ‘è aglio, dio mio’. But fear not, here – garlic brings out the juices of a tender, grillet fillet of fish, paired with potato.

a pool, the sea, and a floor

Each room at Borgo Santandrea is styled in a different way, looking at various shades Meditteranean styles

Not that a need a ‘pick-me-up’, or ‘Tiramisu’, following this, but it did the trick. And my swim provided a salty digestivo, and, under its soporific gauze, I fell into a deep slumber, back in the bedroom of signature artisan chic, just 50 metres above the sea.

boats on the sea

Bespoke boat trips are offered for guests across the hotel

I have no doubt that The Talented Mr Ripley will be sending lots more people Amalfi’s sun-warmed way, and I’m lucky I had got there before. Lucky, too, that – contrary to ‘telling lies… impersonating practically anybody’, Borgo Santandrea provides a rare pocket of honesty along an increasingly tourist-ridden place. It seems to pare itself back to the essence of Italy’s talent – if there is just one, that is – that laidback elegance and spirit that can’t help but leak into one, and see the utter necessity of shaking one’s fist at garlic.

Find out More:

borgosantandrea.it

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
two woman
two woman

Nina Hoas of LGT (right) and Silvia Bastante de Unverhau (left) of LGT Philanthropy Advisory in Kenya, tree planting

Global annual philanthropy giving today is estimated at over $1tr. The world will see the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history by 2045, some $84tr being passed down in US alone. Next gen inheritors are finding purpose in their wealth, responding to urgent causes, and driving change ‘in my lifetime’. LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh speaks with Head of LGT Philanthropy Advisory, Nina Hoas, on strategies for enhancing impact through collaboration, leadership, innovation and doing good, well.

LUX: What made you decide on a career centred on addressing inequalities and social justice?

NINA HOAS: I am Swedish,  but when I was growing up my family moved and travelled around a lot, from Latin America to Asia, and I had the opportunity to live in places like Bangkok in Thailand where my family was for seven years. So I grew up in a family that was not afraid of being in different communities or sharing their experiences and being with different cultures. Every year from when I was one year old we would go to Kenya to stay with my godparents who lived in Nairobi and had a holiday home outside Mombasa. We would go to the Swedish school for a few weeks where my aunt was a teacher, and visit the nature conservation areas. Those experiences in Kenya really shaped my awareness of the socio-economic contrasts to my own home in Sweden as well as of course nature and biodiversity.

nature

Preserving and replanting mangroves, which store carbon, preserve coastlines and act as biodiversity incubators, is important to many next generation philanthropists

LUX: What did that perspective teach you about privilege and shape your ambition?

NH: That holiday home outside of Mombasa was a different world to Sweden, with the housekeepers Kasongo and Yomo living a long bike ride away, in a mud hut, in a tiny village with no running water or electricity. Every year our family would visit and see their kids growing up. Back in the day we only thought in terms of charitable giving, not the empowerment approach we promote today. Donating clothes and food to their extended family was my first real experience of doing good. Schooling and education was not taken for granted for these children either, and all those experiences formed my career path. My godparents lived in Nairobi and were part of the United Nations (UN) community there, so I knew quite a bit about the UN and decided that was what I wanted to do. I therefore studied political science, and received a scholarship by SIDA, Sweden’s development agency, to make a MinorField Study in a refugee camp in West Africa for my Master’s degree. But already before University, I had interned in Kenya with an NGO and UNICEF which coupled with my studies set me on the path to a UN career.

LUX: What for you is ‘doing good, well’?

NS: Strategic philanthropy advisory at LGT is about encouraging more and better philanthropy. We share our network of experts and change-makers, provide platforms where philanthropists can come together, connect and learn from each other with the aim to help them embark on the philanthropy journey in a more strategic way. Strategic philanthropy is about the long term impact your wealth can have.

LUX: What is the approach to wealth in strategic philanthropy?

NH: The relationship managers in our office, together with family advisors, have conversations with clients around the elements of wealth as the starting point. How their wealth was created, how it is invested, how it is spent, how it is given and how wealth is governed and passed on. Every time there is a financial transaction there is an opportunity to have a positive impact. It is about how family values are passed on with the wealth and how these values are reflected in the philanthropic activities.

mangroves

Rainforests are a carbon sink and produce life-giving oxygen; they are also essential for the maintenance of the earth’s biodiversity, which is inextricably linked to the planet’s habitability and sustainability as outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX: Has your network been affected by the women social investment entrepreneurs’ (SIE) phenomenal growth globally, also why are they so successful in scaling?

NH: We usually talk about seven trends and right now next generation funders and specifically women funders is a significant one within those. Looking at our philanthropy network, we have a lot of women philanthropists we are working with and we noticed that for them it is not only about giving. They are keen to have a strategic approach to their philanthropy and ensure impact. Women drive a lot of the development and community. As a woman, I hence see it as not only the right thing to do, but also economically efficient to focus on the women in communities.

LUX: How far is technology influencing next gen investing strategies?

NH: Technology is very important, especially in scaling various invtiatives, which our Guide to Strategic Philanthropy we co-wrote with Pi covers this in one chapter. Though we increasingly see foundations start asking for technology and even AI and they want it because they understand they can grow and deliver faster services. On the approaches towards social good, the giving is one part, but it does not matter what the methodologies are that you are using, whether through impact bonds, mezzanine funding or partly impact investing or pure giving, whichever, you have a social goal and there are many approaches. We notice some entrepreneurs are very successful in using technology and are very often the ones that also want to adopt or adapt their skills and their experience to do good and they’re using that space.

LUX: Has ‘giving while living’ and philanthropy within a limited time frame created volatility and been disruptive?

NH: With next generation wealth holders in particular, they may have created a structure but want to show they are putting a time frame on it to clarify to donors, to family members and peers that if, for example, it is an endowment then they would spend down within 20 to 30 years. They are still relatively young, in the middle of their careers, and embarking on their philanthropic journey, and they want to act right now on the urgent issues, well before those issues worsen. They also feel strongly and passionately that they want to enjoy doing it in their lifetime and not leave the responsibility to another after their death.

Read more: Terre Blanche: The luxury resort pioneering sustainability

forest

Recent research shows that forests are not just collections of distinct flora and fauna; they vast interlinked collective ecosystems which communicate with each other, and underpin sustainable development

LUX: What does inherited wealth mean to next gen U/HNWIs?

NH: LGT’s newest study is about wealth and about what wealth can do. We are asking only next generation wealth holders, the inheritors not the wealth creators (though some are both). Wealth needs to come with purpose. It is very hard for some of them inheriting and by being rich they do not want to feel poor. They want to separate themselves from their net worth and to have self worth. They want to use their wealth in a catalytic way to do good. They bring purpose to their own life if they can use their wealth through investment for a purpose to empower others. For example, one of our women philanthropists is working in communities in a few developing countries to empower women. In one community, she is reaching around 10,000 women and while they know the funds are coming from a specific foundation, they do not know that the founder is out there in person in the field alongside them as technical support; she remains anonymous to avoid the donor dynamic as she wants to be out there, able to hear if something is not right. She is caring for there to be a good systemic change on the ground and is concerned she will not get truthful feedback because the community will fear the funds will dry up if the project is not going right. She really wants to know what is going wrong so she can learn from mistakes, improve it and change it.

LUX: How does peer-to-peer collaboration help your clients?

NH: This is where strategic advisory comes in as well the connection to other philanthropic leaders. Our clients want to meet others who are focused on similar issues because they want to maximise impact and to collaborate to achieve that. Philanthropists can feel isolated so our purpose is also to connect philanthropists with one another, introduce them to others working in the same area, in order to learn and potentially to partner and to add value. This works well for example in the area of biodiversity and nature. We advise around 50 individuals that are focusing specifically on scaling conservation and nature-based solutions. In this context we took a group to the Massai Mara, which is one of the key initiatives of LGT Venture Philanthropy – the independent charitable foundation established by LGT Group Foundation and founded in line with the vision and values of the Liechtenstein Princely Family. The Princely Family’s long-term vision and commitment to sustainability are deeply rooted in LGT’s corporate culture, and they are very happy to collaborate with others also in philanthropy and impact investments.

www.lgt.com

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Ancient, historical building made out of stone
Ancient, historical building made out of stone

Sunrise in Persepolis, capital of the ancient Achaemenid kingdom. From this particular Persian empire, Greece would have been the Near West, China the Near East, and current-day Cambodia the Middle East

History and its related language are written by the victors; but as history changes sometimes redundant terminology remains in use. One such term is the phrase Middle East, which is outdated, colonialist, increasingly pejorative, and should be consigned to the same dustbin as “Near East” and “Darkest Africa”, writes Darius Sanai

Are you a Far Easterner? Or maybe a Near Easterner? Do you know anyone who still describes themselves in this way? I don’t. Conversely, I know people from East Asia and people from South Asia.

Interesting animal Illustration engraved in a stone wall

Bas relief at Persepolis. Nobody referred to its residents as Middle Easterners: each empire believes itself to be at the centre of civilisation, an often hubristic view which becomes more exposed as empires recede

And yet, I am, apparently, a Middle Easterner. The phrase is house style to describe the region in all the world’s leading media, whatever its political viewpoint, from the BBC and the Economist to the New York Times, CNN and Fox News. The term is used to describe the swathe of countries from Iran (where I am from) in the north to Yemen in the south. The Middle East sometimes also refers to places further west, like Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and even Egypt, which is in Africa.

Middle East is a redundant term, as steeped in colonialist “orientalist” perception as the term Far East. “East” refers to a comparative longitude from: London and Paris, one-time colonial hubs; and it’s the Middle because it’s between the Near and the Far East from their perspective.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Yet nobody would describe China or Japan as the Far East now, or Palestine as the Near East, and rightly so. (Although the French, always slower to bend to what they see as political correctness, still use the term “Proche-Orient”, referring to its “Proche”-ness to the Quai d’Orsay, where geopolitical machinations ferment.)

The “Far” East was far to the east from the centres of global power of a couple of a couple of hundred years ago, although not far at all from the centre of the Hang dynasty. Shanghai, technically part of the Far East, is near west when viewed from Japan or Korea.

Construction site with stone building on a desert like ground

Persepolis, in modern-day Iran. Each empire creates a world view and terminology on its own terms. The Persians ruled the ancient world from Persepolis until their defeat by the Greeks. Our own reference to the Middle East is a construct of western European empires which finally disappeared after World War II

Equally the “Near” East (comprising Beirut, Istanbul/Constantinople and so on) is quite far west when observed from Khmer empire in northern Cambodia and north, not east, of the Ethiopian empire, and the term was phased out of polite usage at the end of the 20th century.

“Middle East” has also become a perjorative: we all know what kind of image the words “Middle Eastern man” conjure up.

So why are we still using the term? Just like a Senegalese is from West Africa, a Finn is from North Europe, and a Sri Lankan is from South Asia, an Iranian, Jordanian or Syrian is from West Asia, as much as a Manchurian is from East Asia and a Bangladeshi is from South Asia. This vast continent stretches from the Bosphorous at Istanbul In the west to Japan in the east, from the Siberian Arctic in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south and Indonesia in the south east.. We are all Asians, and nearness, middle-ness and distance are purely relative terms.

Map of Asia

Asia can be and should be sub-divided into it’s geographical sub-regions without any need for the terms middle east, near east and far east

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation

Or perhaps as an Iranian living in London, I am actually living in the Middle West, also known as the UK and Western Europe, and occasionally travelling to the Far West (New York) and the Near East (China). Which would be almost as confusing as all of us Middle Eastern men foregoing our sunglasses, open-topped Lamborghinis and shisha pipes and being journalists or academics. It’s time to ditch the cliche, and the terminology that perpetuates it.

Darius Sanai is Editor-in-Chief and Proprietor of LUX: Responsible Culture, owner of the Oxford Review of Books and an Editor-in-Chief at Condé Nast

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background

The Porsche 911 GTS is a sportier addition to the model lineup

Porsche has a unique place in the automotive canon. Its history, racing and heritage, combined with a stream of some of the most evolving and precisely engineered cars, mean it is beloved by collectors. And in recent years, the company has made approachably-priced sports cars that are still a paragon of excitement for those who cannot or do not want to stretch to the more exotic offerings. It has also branched out into family cars, SUVs and the highly dynamic electric Taycan. In a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches, in this series we review some of the company’s most interesting contemporary offerings

The greatest consumer products are not those which undergo brilliant reinventions, but those which quietly evolve while remaining seemingly the same. A Birkin bag, a bottle of Château Latour, and an iPad are easily recognisable from their predecessors 40, 20 and 10 years ago.

The Porsche 911 stands at the pinnacle of this list when applied to the automotive world. It was a bit of an anomaly when it first emerged in the early 1960s, with is engine in the back, just in front of the bumper, and a bug eyed look. Porsche had plans to replace it with a completely different model, the 928, in the 1970s. Yet 20 years later, it was the 928 that disappeared into the history books, while the 911, continually refreshed every few years.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The 911 itself has spawned many different variants: from race specials that only ever increase in value, to increasingly mainstream standard cars that can be driven by anyone and have no shortage of supply. Somewhere between these categories, of the ubiquitous “standard” 911 and the rare GT models, is the GTS.

The steering wheel and controls inside a Porsche 911 GTS

The Alcantara and cloth interiors of the 911 GTS

To drive, the GTS is traditionally somewhere between the company’s more exotic offerings and its mainstream sports cars. The logic behind the GTS is that you wouldn’t want to drive a collectors car every day on the school run or to go shopping. Though having driven the three first iterations of the GTS since it was first introduced in 2010, we can attest that if these excellent cars were made in limited quantities, rather than as a main manufacturer run, we have no doubt that this car would be bought over by collectors in years to come.

And here is the fourth iteration: the 992 GTS, 992 being the model designation for the latest variant of the 911.

Get into the latest 911 GTS after driving the next model down, the Carrera S, and the subtle, iterative, intriguing, differences, are almost immediately apparent. The interior has touches of Alcantara and cloth, and appears more bespoke, less factory made. As soon as you go round the first corner, the steering, good enough in the standard car, feels a little bit more taut, more sharp.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The GTS is also more responsive around a series of corners, both in its engine response and the way it handles – and the way it sounds. It’s a bit faster and punchier, has more aural sensation, has a more muscular frame, or so it seems, while still being virtually as easy to drive as the standard models. The more specialist “GT” models, in comparison, take commitment and effort, ideal if you are racing around but much less fun in everyday reality for most of us.

Meanwhile the differences with the base cars are subtle, but just like the 911 evolution, many subtle differences add up to a big difference. We think the latest GTS is as compelling as any of its predecessors and its the 911 we would be buying if we were in the market now. You can even get it with manual transmission, unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, if you are a truly committed driver; or as a convertible, unlike its more “collectible” sisters. Enjoy now while we are permitted.

Find out more: porsche.com/uk/models/911

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines
coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines

Polaroids of artworks at home by Hafsa Alkhudairi

Contemporary art lead for AlUla, Hafsa Alkhudairi, delves into the lives of the pieces in her family’s collections. Writing from the artworks’ perspectives,  she gives a voice to the paintings and sculptures in her family home

“When the world is an ugly and cruel place, remember there are spaces of beauty, and I wanted that beauty to live in my house.” Reem Abbas and I (her daughter) were sitting in our family’s living room when she uttered those words. We chose all the artworks in the space, the two women who are currently still residing in the home. However, Iraqi pioneer artists are the majority of the Abbas-Alkhudairi collection, chosen by Abbas and showcasing her attachment to her heritage and history. “I have lived longer in Saudi than I have lived in Iraq. I feel Saudi, but I am always missing a part of me that I left behind in Iraq.”

I grew up with stories of Baghdad, surrounded by artworks that would tell me about their version of Iraq. I would see how my mother’s stories wove themselves into little histories encapsulated in the artworks she chose to acquire and display in our home and specifically our living room. She brought the piece of herself that she left behind back with her in fragments and memories only she can describe. Their existence in Saudi also recontextualised them and told a new story shared by the generations that have passed through the house and interacted directly or indirectly with the art.

This piece isn’t about me or my mother; it is about the artworks we live with and what they want to say about themselves.

Saadi Al-kaabi, 1997
Acquired by Reem Abbas after Saadi Alkaabi’s exhibition in 1998

I am a number of abstract figures shadowing each other like ghosts of past beings, humans, affected by life’s harsh experiences. My colours are bleak browns and clear whites. I am a moment of sadness and immortalisation of grief. Saadi Al-kaabi produced me as a reaction to the Desert Storm and the darkness of war that tore families and people apart. The hardship of war on humanity is within my nature.

Yet, I am living in a space of beauty and family. I have seen the children turn into adults and have their own children. I exist in a space of family, and I am adorned with images of the family experiencing their lives beyond the horrors of my existence.

I am in awe of who I am; the Gulf War shaped me with bitterness, pain, anger, and grief. When I was first created, I felt no need to pander to more positive emotions. And why should I? I am a product of horrors that have unfolded and evolved into a persona that is unforgiving.

A drawing of bodies in beige and white

Untitled (1997), Saadi Alkaabi. Photographs by Mahmoud Essam, Courtesy of Reem Abbas

I should be arrogantly demanding they remove their photos from me and respect my history and my story, but I feel myself soften towards them, towards their existence. I want to see their happiness and to see them grow and unfold as each year passes. I have seen secrets and moments of celebrations and spent countless hours staring at the family as they stared at the television in front of them.

I also love the curious glances I get, the awe I produce in people, and especially the reflective looks I exchange with those who know me or my creator. The people who live in this house don’t always realise I exist, or they spend hours in my company reflecting on my story.

Maybe I should have been in a museum but I am so grateful to have existed in this space of intimacy and love that gives me the opportunity to separate myself from my own harrowing pain and complicated story. I have become forgiving and loving. A shape that looks over and protects those who pass in front of me and live with them. My figures are no longer ghosts of the past but guardians of the future.

Earthly Wonders Celestial Beings 961, 2019 & 902, 2021
Rand Abdul Jabbar
Acquired through Hafsa Alkhudairi directly from the artist in 2023.

Two pieces of glazed stoneware resting on a table is how people would describe us. Some people are unsure what we are meant to be, but they see the value in our existence and the beauty in our formation. The history we recreate is a moment of reflection, loss, and hope. We rebuild lost stories and recreate them through the inherited knowledge seeping into our very being.

A white petal with a bronze stick in the middle of it

Earthly Wonders Celestial Beings (EWCB) 961 (2019), Rand Abduljabbar. Photographs by Ismail Noor. Courtesy of the artist

Moving into the space we now exist in was a return: a way to connect with the stories that created us. The experience or feeling that produced us reverberated in the walls, hands, and artworks with which we share the space. It is an ongoing conversation between us and the artworks around us. Our fellow art that have migrated to this place and have become our closest companions and confidants. Or we hope that they will… We are young compared to some of the work here. We are learning who we are and where we belong. We are learning how to be within our own ceramics.

Yet, here, we are connected to our ancestral past and connected to the people who live here. They look at us as if they are trying to decipher what we represent and think deeply about our existence in their spheres. We remind them of a form of their home lost in Iraq and not as easily accessible other than through memories or books. So, they are producing stories about us that blend into their story of existence. We are now part of the fabric of their reality. We constantly wonder what they think: are we usable objects or recognise us as art? This also brings up the question of how we want to be interacted with: do we want them to touch us and use us or just look at us?

a red and green stones

EWCB 902 (2021) Rand Abduljabbar. Photographs by Ismail Noor. Courtesy of the artist

We are new in this space, so we feel young and naive with so much growth to achieve and exact in this space. We will grow into the environment with the people who exist here. We will grow into the atmosphere with the artworks that surround us. Soon, we’ll break barriers and become more relaxed around each other and those around us. Soon, we’ll start teasing each other and enjoying our existence without pretences or intimidation.

Suad AlAttar, 1978
Gifted to Reem Abbas by her mother, Asmaa Algailani, who acquired it directly from the artist, Year Unknown.

I moved around between multiple homes in Baghdad, Iraq and then to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I feel my story and meaning have changed with every exchange of places. I am the manifestation of memory. I am a reminder for the woman, the matriarch, who sat with me most, of her life in Baghdad and the stories we have witnessed or experienced together. Yet, I am no longer the artwork that existed in that city, I am now recontextualised, placed into a position of nostalgia instead of reality.

In front of me is Saadi Alkaabi, and we look like we are a pair, but we truly aren’t. But we keep having conversations because we see the chaos and childhoods around us differently. I am older, so instead of just feeling softness towards the family. I feel like I am part of their family: I have seen all the children grow from babies to strong adults with their own babies. I remember them running around screaming and laughing and now I see the next generation doing the same. They pass by me whenever they want, pretending to be in a jungle instead of a living room.

A drawing a tree with a dark hole in the trunk

Untitled (1978), Suad AlAttar, photographs by Mahmoud Essam. Courtesy of Reem Abbas

However, my relationship with them isn’t as strong as it is with the matriarch. We look at each other and understand. She sees in me the fogginess of the mind and I see in her the struggle to be at peace. We are both survivors. We have fought hard to be where we are, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand the nuances of our existence. We may not have had to struggle continuously like some of our peers who stayed behind in Baghdad but there is a pain in the diaspora and there is peace. Peace isn’t just the lack of war but it is a state of mind once acceptance fully sets in. We have accepted our new circumstances.

I represent a mind produced through leaves and tree trunks, complicated and nuanced but simple in existence. I am a reminder of a land and a time that will never be. Stories told in love and pain. I am humble enough to realise I am only part of the story, and it will continue past me into the next generation. Yet I am immortalised in my frame, holding vigil, protecting the memories I hold and will hold as the women of this family continuously confide in me. We had to leave Baghdad but Baghdad never left us. Yet we live and continue to thrive despite the hardship of leaving behind our histories.

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Thibaut Hontanx is the seventh Chief Blender of the historic Maison Courvoisier. Here, he speaks to LUX about the brand’s famous past, and the importance of celebrating the present

LUX: Can you start by telling us a bit about Maison Courvoisier’s history and why the heritage of the brand is so important to its identity?
Thibaut Hontanx: Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828. The brand was officially registered in 1843, and Félix then built the Maison in 1857, which still operates on the banks of the Charente River. He ultimately created the brand because he believed in celebrating the joy in the everyday, and this is something which still holds true for us.

When Félix passed away in 1866, he left Courvoisier to his two nephews, the Curlier brothers, who had lived in Jarnac their entire lives. They expanded the business internationally to London, and Courvoisier was awarded a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World Fair and its cognacs were then served at the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.

LUX: Indeed, and Courvoisier has been served at many historical celebrations – it was also served at the opening of Moulin Rouge. Are there any upcoming landmark occasions in which you are planning to cement the presence of the brand?
TH: Next year will be a landmark year for Maison Courvoisier; we are thrilled to reopen our home in Jarnac in 2024 after more than a year of renovation work. Beyond our exciting Maison reopening, we will have more updates to share soon…

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you speak to the Maison’s Foundation 1828 project and your vision to support small business owners and entrepreneurs?
TH: Foundation 1828 is Courvoisier’s philanthropic platform. It provides meaningful financial and educational support to empower small business owners and entrepreneurs in underserved populations across the world.

In the US, we have established a multi-year partnership with the National Urban League, which is a historic civil rights organisation dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice. Since 2020, Foundation 1828 has also contributed to a $1 million financial commitment over five years to assisting Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. This year and beyond, our Maison is aiming to expand its support globally.

LUX: What would you say to someone who has an appreciation for luxury drinks and spirits, but who does not usually drink cognac?
TH: I would say that our Collection of cognacs have something to offer for every taste preference. For spirits drinkers who are looking for a sessionable, refreshing cocktail, I would recommend that they try the Courvoisier Gala cocktail. This drink is very festive and gives people from all backgrounds and taste preferences an opportunity to explore the rich world of cognac through an approachable experience.

If you prefer a neat or on the rocks style pour, I would suggest trying Courvoisier XO Royal from our prestige portfolio collection of cognacs. Courvoisier XO Royal really embodies the roots of Maison Courvoisier through the vision of our charismatic founder, as well as its rich history of revered cognacs that graced the royal tables of Europe. Our ultimate expression, L’Essence de Courvoisier, is also great to enjoy neat.

LUX: Could you describe the significance of terroir in the production of Courvoisier cognac, and how it influences the flavour profiles of your Cognac/Blends?
TH: The significance of terroir is paramount, as it has a huge influence on the flavour profiles of our cognacs and blends. The fruity and floral style of our Maison has been defined by the successive generations of Chief Blenders as Cognac in Blossom. We deeply respect the Cognac region, where our art of making is rooted in harnessing, liberating, and revealing the spirit found in our terroir, crus, and oaks. This philosophy results in an exuberant cognac infused with the vibrancy of the Cognac region.

LUX: In the world of luxury spirits, what are some of the key trends you anticipate in the near future?
TH: I think there will be a continued focus on premiumization and heightened enthusiasm within the cognac category. At our Maison, I expect more experimentation with blends of older, rarer eaux-de-vie to develop our prestige and ultra-prestige segments of the business.

Read more: Entering Veuve Clicquot’s Garden of Gastronomy

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. How will you ensure that you continue to appeal to younger generations in today’s market?
TH: We will continue to innovate offerings, introducing new and exciting blends and cognacs that align with evolving preferences, emphasising inclusivity and approachability. Our goal is to continue to offer a cognac experience that is welcoming and accessible to all.

LUX: Why was British artist and designer, Yinka Ilori, the right person to be the Maison’s ‘Ambassador for Joy’?
TH: Yinka is committed to making art playful and community-driven. Likewise, we believe in making the cognac experience a joyful one that can be enjoyed by anyone. We are continuing to redefine the cognac category by placing Courvoisier in consumption moments that are vibrant and vivid. Our work with Yinka continues to bring to life our brand world that is about savouring life’s pleasures.

Find out more: www.courvoisier.com

Share:
Reading time: 4 min

Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

Share:
Reading time: 10 min
A talk being hosted with an audience in a room with a marble fireplace and yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

A white stone palace

One of the hottest tickets in Rome this month was ‘The Art of Conversation’ arranged by Deutsche Bank and Frieze with renowned artist, Karin Kneffel

The event was hosted amid the baroque opulence of Palazzo Barberini. Archrivals of the Medici family, the Barberini produced generations of wanton spendthrifts, nepotist popes and, consequently, bequeathed Italy a legacy of extraordinary art and heritage.

The discussion around art played-out in the Salone Pietro da Cortona, beneath the aptly-named fresco, “Triumph of Divine Providence”

people standing in a room with yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Hosts were Federico Scrocco [Vice Chairman International Private Bank Italy, Deutsche Bank] and Nathan Clemens-Gillespie [Director of Frieze Masters] who introduced the evening. Skilled probing from moderator Nicholas Cullinan, Director of London’s National Portrait Gallery, drew insights from artist Karin Kneffel about her use of perspective, scale and layering in her work.

5 people sitting in front of marble structure and yellow patterned walls giving a talk and a host standing beside them with a microphone

A favoured student of Gerhard Richter, Karin Kneffel has a fascination with the super-real. The effects she produces with distanciation techniques were vividly shared through a curation of images that produced animated questions from the audience.

A talk being hosted with an audience in a room with a marble fireplace and yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

International guests drawn from art cognoscenti, government ministers, and leading entrepreneurs adjourned to the terrace to continue thoughtful conversation around the alignment of wealth with responsibility and the purposes of art in the 21st century.

Find out more: art.db.com

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
four women hosting a panel discussion

four women hosting a panel discussionEntrepreneurs, historians, politicians and cultural leaders came together at the annual Cliveden Literary Festival, a weekend event that nourishes and inspires the mind, and the importance of informed perspectives

Literary festivals are proliferating: in the UK alone, there are more than 350 annually, one for each day of the year. But quantity does not mean quality; serious writers need to spend time on their books, not attending endless panel discussions. Last weekend our sister publication, the Oxford Review of Books, took part (courtesy of the hosts) in the Cliveden Literary Festival, the most bijou and sophisticated of British book events.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Set in an imposing country house which historically played host to some of the world’s leading literary and society figures, Cliveden is as much a thought-leadership event as a literary one. Panellists and speakers included Michael Gove, the peripatetic British politician who is demonised by many opposed to Brexit, but who is also one of the most effective and thoughtful government figures of the past decades.

Michael Gove wearing a suit giving a talk

Michael Gove

The historian Andrew Roberts, now Lord Roberts, spoke about his new biography of Lord Northcliffe, the man who gave us the Daily Mail; visionary Oxford history professor Peter Frankopan was as compelling as ever; Brian Cox spoke about Succession (did we detect a little respect for his character, media tycoon Logan Roy, from the masterly leftwing Shakespearean actor?); entrepreneur Luke Johnson was scathing about governments and business; and Yana Peel, former Serpentine gallery director and now Chanel art suprema, extrapolated on contemporary art. Other topics included Ukraine, China and India (together), and the continuing significance of ancient Rome, on which author Robert Harris was compelling.

Merve Emre, Sebastian Barry, Ben Okri and Susie Boyt having a discussion by a fireplace

Merve Emre, Sebastian Barry, Ben Okri and Susie Boyt

Thought leaders should not all think alike, and the sessions were enlivened by disagreement: Johnson challenging Gove over government policy (a clear win for Johnson in terms of commercial logic, but Gove has been a world-class debater for four decades, so we will call it a draw); and an unidentified audience member challenging the always-erudite Frankopan on a point he made about Elon Musk.

Edward Enniful wearing glasses, a grey blazer, black t-shirt and jeans giving a talk to an audience sitting on a chair

Edward Enniful

The audience at Cliveden is as high-powered as the panellists, and while we can’t identify the questioner, he looked as though he ran numerous corporations through his private equity fund, and enjoyed a good yacht in the summer. For those amazed at the temerity of a mortal challenging the Oxford University Professor of Global History, it turns out both of them were right: Frankopan had correctly quoted a decision announced the previous day by Musk, but the audience member was more up to date, as Musk had reversed his decision that morning.

A man and woman having a talk by a fireplace

Brian Cox

At the end of each day, rows of chauffeur-driven cars lined up at the grand driveway of Cliveden to whisk audience members home, while panellists and some guests stayed at the grand country house, amid its parkland. There is no filler at the Cliveden literary festival, no second-raters, no random poetry recitals, no childrens’ entertainers. The founders are graduates from Oxford and Cambridge, an author and a historian, and their intellectual focus is evident.

Read more: Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s Paris Debut

Perhaps a little more consideration could have been given to the hottest topic in thought leadership today, enterprises that are attempting to change the world for good (or “profit with purpose”). And it is all a little friends and family, a little cliquey – in one session, all three panellists, the moderator, the audience member asking a question and this writer observing from the back, were all contemporaries at Oxford. But that is where the power and influence lies, and they come to Cliveden.

A woman in a pink shirt and black suit hosting a talk with a man wearing a brown suit

Wesley Kerr, Tina Brown, Robert Hardman and Camilla Tominey

In a world where this is too much information and too little thought, Cliveden is a thoughtful curation of the right kind of information, from the people who create it. There is nothing else quite like it, and for maximum enlightenment we recommend booking early for this boutique festival in its idyllic setting next year – and we have told the organisers that they need to do more festivals, perhaps in Paris and New York.

Darius Sanai

Find out more: clivedenliteraryfestival.org

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
An old man standing in front of a pink wall with framed photographs on the walls
An old man standing in front of a pink wall with framed photographs on the walls

Sunil Gupta standing amongst his works from Arrival series, 2022

Photographer, writer, curator and activist Sunil Gupta has explored issues of racism, sexuality, migration and inequality in his art. Here, LUX explores our favourite bodies of work by Gupta and the call to action that each series projects

Gupta’s series Delhi: Tales of a City is a play on the old and the new. Gupta has explored and photographed historical sites in Delhi, primarily constructed between the years 1638 and 1739. During these years, the city was rebuilt by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He  imposed his power and influence over the state to control cultural life and the urban economy.

A palace with a palm trees and grass in front of it

Sunil Gupta, Delhi: Tales of a City: Humayun’s Tomb, 2003/2022

Centuries later, Gupta saw these historical sites, such as the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb, and noticed the range of age, religion, caste and sexual orientation of the people visiting these historic sites.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

He realised that, in turn,  people were unknowingly overthrowing the repressive heritage of these monuments and even more he could use them as a decorative backdrop to project their individuality.

A man and woman sitting on a bench looking at a palace

Sunil Gupta, Delhi: Tales of a City. Red Fort – 3, 2003/2022

Christopher Street is possibly Gupta’s most important body of work. The idea of this series first came to Gupta when he moved to New York City in 1976. The aim of these photographs was not only a way for Gupta to focus on his passion for the freedom of expression but also to shed light on the momentous event in the LGBTQ+ community, known as The Stonewall Riots. This was a series of spontaneous protests by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid that occurred on 28th June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.

a black and white photo of a man and women walking in the street in New York

Sunil Gupta, Untitled #42, Christopher Street Series 1976/2022

These demonstrations led to a fundamental switch in the gay liberation movement which led to an increase of openness and unparalleled acceptance within and towards the gay community in New York. These photographs display a community that shaped Gupta as a person and concreted his personal ambition to portray people who have been denied a space to be themselves.

Two men walking onto a pavement

Sunil Gupta, Untitled #43, Christopher Street Series 1976/2022

Arrival, is a body of work Gupta created in collaboration with his partner Charan Singh.

Read more:Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation: Layers of Meaning

In this series Gupta and Singh use elements of Victorian portraits that were known to project Victorian conventions and norms of behavioural identities.

A woman in a neon yellow dress standing in front of a red tapestry with pink and blue flowers on it

Sunil Gupta and Charan Singh, Arrival series, 2022

However, Gupta and Singh change the narrative by creating an anti-colonial legacy through compassionate, poetic gestures to convey their sitters’ range of emotions, who are always anticipating when the process of their arrival will become complete.

A man in tights and a dress standing in front of a purple wall

Sunil Gupta and Charan Singh, Arrival series, 2022

The project also serves as a reminder that homophobia is an anti-humanist cultural affliction, that negatively effects nations beyond the Commonwealth.

‘Sunil Gupta: Cruising’ is on show at Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi Until Friday 16th September 2022

Find out more: vadehra.com/exhibitions

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
A green and pink statue
An orange vase with eyes on the side

Black-Figure Chalcidising Eye-Cup, Greek, Attic, circa 520 BC Pottery Diameter: 29.2 cm

As the second edition of Eye of the Collector opens its doors tomorrow at London’s Two Temple Place, the founder, Nazy Vassegh, tells LUX which pieces to look out for

I am writing this column after a long and busy first day installing the second edition of Eye of the Collector. Free of the normal white tents and gallery booths, we have been working for the past six months with our participating galleries to curate a new type of show that encourages creative new dialogues and collecting pathways.

Over one hundred and fifty works from three thousand years of art history have arrived in the past days, each one to be hung with care and consideration ‘as if in a collector’s home’. The whole event is set against the stunning backdrop of Two Temple Place, a neo-gothic masterpiece built in the late nineteenth century for William Waldorf Astor. Our aim is to make the experience of visiting an art fair an enjoyable journey of discovery.

When you enter the private space of an art collector there are always surprises, works that unexpectedly fall outside of their main collecting categories, ‘cri de coeur’ purchases or inherited pieces passed down through generations. It is this curatorial excitement that we strive to recreate through the juxtaposition of works at the fair, suggesting new ways of collecting.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This year we have a broad cross section of galleries representing the international canon of art history.

Starting at one of the earliest works, I totally adore this Chalcidising eye-cup being brought by Ariadne Gallery. A drinking vessel for toasting the gods, as the wine went down so the head of Medusa would appear inside.

From the Horn of Africa, we welcome Addis Fine Art to the fair this year, representing some of the greatest artists from Ethiopia and the diaspora. I have been so impressed by the quality of painting led by Tadesse Mesfin, and continuing through two of his students also on show Tizta Berhanu and Nigatu Tsehay.

a painting of a black man disfigured in front of a green background

Nigatu Tsehay (b. 1981), Momentary Glimpse XXV, 2021 Acrylic on canvas 79 x 71 cm

After the Second World War, many of Europe’s artists left in pursuit of a socialist ideal in the Americas. Some of the most talented ended up in Brazil where the Modernist movement was growing rapidly. This year we have some of the finest works from this period being brought to the fair by Ana Escarzaga Gallery, a specialist in that period. My personal favourites are a pair of chairs made by the trailblazer Lina Bo Bardi, designed originally for her own home Casa de Vidrio in São Paulo in the early 1950’s.

Read more: The Inspiration Behind The Eye Of The Collector Art Fair

Following this year’s theme concentrating on the importance of female artists throughout history, one work that has really touched me is Leni Dothan’s Sleeping Madonna, 2011. This video work, showing the artist breastfeeding her young son, is a direct reference to the canon of Christian iconography and grand master painting where the female figure of Mary Magdalen is often portrayed as passive and alone.

Two brown leather chairs

Lina Bo Bardi (b. 1914), “Bola” chair, circa early 1950s. Designed for her own house, “Casa de Vidrio” in São Paulo, this is an edition done in 1980 by Nucleon under Lina´s supervision. Saddle leather with a beautiful patina, black painted iron structure, solid & heavy brass balls and bolts.

Emblematic of the spirit of discovery at the fair are the sublime works by Alice Walton. With a forensic eye, Walton produces highly complex and multi-layered objects infused with a rich tonal blending technique. These textured surfaces are intense and yet calm.

A green and pink statue

Alice Walton (b. 1987), The Travelling Portland, 2021 Jasper Clay H34 x W20 x L17 cm

Continuing the theme of female artists, we are delighted to have an important work by Australian female First Nation artist Nyarapayi Giles. Unusual amongst her peers, Nyarapayi embraced vibrant colour to tell the story of her life. The subtle and flowing application of paint shows great originality; the style she has developed is readily recognisable and unique to her works.

Two circles in red and yellow

Nyarapayi Giles, (b.c.1940), Warmurrungu – Two Circles, 2016 Acrylic on canvas 179 x 148 cm (Framed)

The first edition of Eye of the Collector last September was a great success. We had always said we would be happy if we managed to get 3000 people through the door over the four days. We have nearly half that booked now for VIP Day alone tomorrow.

Tickets are available at eyeofthecollector.com for Thursday 12th, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May 2002

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
women looking at art
women looking at art

Masterpiece London, 2019. Photograph by Ben Fisher. Courtesy of Masterpiece

In his first column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor discusses the joys of discovering art and design objects through their materials
portrait of a man in black and white

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photograph by Danny Evans

I’m always intrigued to discover what brings people to works of art, and what sets their collecting in motion. Over the years, one of the most beguiling ways I’ve found to draw people in, is to look at an artwork’s materials and explore how it has been made. What does the texture and surface of the materials tell us? What meaning and significance do those materials hold? What cultural and historical value do they have? Whether it’s precious stones, marble, porcelain, pigment or wood, it’s interesting to think about how the artist has transformed a raw material into something full-formed and to look for the beauty in that process. Materials transcend disciplines, cross continents, and evolve through time and when it comes to beginning your own collection, it’s a brilliant place to start.

Personally, I’m obsessed by coloured ornamental stones, and by that I mean the stones that were first quarried by the Romans in Egypt and other parts of the Roman Empire, which became incredibly prized as both building materials and materials for making works of art. I take great pleasure in looking at how these materials are used and reused over the course of history. For example, you might be looking at a 18th century vase made out of Egyptian porphyry (my favourite material) but whilst it’s an 18th century object, it was probably made out of a 2nd or 3rd century column that had been abandoned in the Renaissance or whenever, dug up from the excavations in Rome and turned into another object. There’s a wonderful sense of continuity, and doing this kind of research is a fantastic way of not only learning more about the object itself, but also history.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

There are then the contemporary artists and designers who are thinking about new ways of using ancient materials such as stone. There are designers and artists at David Gill, for example, who are incorporating these wonderful, ancient, coloured stones into contemporary furniture and in doing so, they are bringing new life to the material. In this sense, I’m quite anti the division between traditional and contemporary art because everything looks backwards and forwards. In my opinion, things are either good or bad, stimulating or indifferent, whether they were made yesterday or 5,000 years ago.

ancient sculpture

Galerie Chenel at Masterpiece London 2019, Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece

It’s also interesting to consider what inspires the rebirth of a particular material. For example, I’ve been thinking about how there’s been a trend for refurbishing kitchens and bathrooms in the last ten years, and incorporating coloured marbles into new designs. There’s also the fact that each slice of marble, not all marbles but many of them, will be totally unique. So if you’re making a limited edition of five coffee tables, each one will be different and I think that’s really appealing to both the creator and the modern consumer.

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

Lately, there has also been a trend, or at least a growing interest in more sustainable craft processes, but the interesting thing is that many of these artists and designers are already using historic materials, which is in itself sustainable, but in my opinion, it also imbues the contemporary object with more of a soul. For example, Sebastian Brajkovic, a fantastic artist at David Gill Gallery, made a wonderful side-table out of white marble combined with some artificial marble and other bits and pieces. It’s a strikingly contemporary object, but it is modelled on a Roman sarcophagus.

This past year, in particular, has encouraged people to think about how they want to live, and what might bring their lives comfort, which naturally impacts what they are choosing to buy or collect. I personally think being surrounded by beautiful objects is a very important part of life, and can bring people so much joy.

So where to begin with all of this? Visiting museums, galleries, art fairs and even country houses is a fantastic way to discover and pique interest in new eras and disciplines. Exhibitions even have the power to kickstart entire collecting trends. For example, Treasure Houses of Britain was a great show that took place at the National Gallery in Washington in 1985, showcasing paintings, furniture and works of art from British country houses. The exhibition had such an inspirational effect that it launched an Anglo-manic wave in American collecting in the 80s.

When I reflect upon my own collecting journey, I think how fortunate I was that my grandfather was a collector and that he would let me handle his Chinese ceramics collection. This close-up experience with a material is not something you often get at a museum, but with his passion and trust, I had the opportunity to really look at, appreciate and observe the material and craftsmanship.

In the same way, art and design dealers often want to share their passion for their speciality with potential clients. My advice to new collectors is to actively start conversations, ask questions, read, listen, research and build your knowledge. Search for beauty, great craftsmanship, and ultimately, allow yourself to be guided by your instincts.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair.

This year’s edition of Masterpiece London will take place online with smaller-scale live activations in London in June. For updates and online events, visit: masterpiecefair.com

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
masters painting

Triumph of Death (1562), Pietr Bruegl the Elder

In the second edition of her monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Sophie Neuendorf looks back on the emergence of the Renaissance following the Black Plague, and towards a more positive and creative future

We can all agree that this year has been one of the toughest we’ve experienced during our life time. It certainly was for me. The consequences of an unprecedented global pandemic have been, and still are horrifying and in many ways, unbelievable. But, the question is: how will generations to come analyse and learn from this particular moment in time?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Let’s look back at another pandemic, which was arguably much worse: the Black Plague, which struck Asia and Europe during the mid-1300s. It arrived in Europe during October 1347, when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. Most sailors aboard those ships were dead, and those still alive were dangerously ill.

Over the next five years, the Black Death – a terrifyingly efficient disease – would kill more than 20 million people in Europe, about a third of the population. At the time, no-one knew exactly how the disease was transmitted, or how to prevent and treat it. A grim sequence of events unfolded for which, in the middle of the 14th century, there was no rational explanation.

self portrait

Self Portrait after Spanish Influenza (1919), Edvard Munch

Today, however, we know that the Black Death attacks the lymphatic system, causing swelling in the lymph nodes. Left untreated, it can spread to the blood or lungs and is highly contagious.

Following the Black Plague, a preventative method was developed in Italy, which we saw repeated this year: quarantine. In order to slow the spread of the disease, returning sailors were mandated to stay on their ships for 40 days ‘quarantine’, relying on isolation to slow the spread of the disease.

Read more: Life coach Simon Hodges’ tips on breaking free from destructive behaviour

Following the end of the Black Plague, a new era unfolded in Europe, known as the Renaissance (or rebirth). The impact of the Black Death had been profound, resulting in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural, and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, which was one of the greatest epochs for art, architecture, and literature in human history.

venus painting

The Birth of Venus (1484), Sandro Botticelli

After a period of pessimism, introspection and recovery, a time of enlightenment and renewal began. The arts especially flourished, as artists documented this time of change and upheaval. Through their creativity, artists wrestled with questions such as the fragility of life, religion, spiritualism, and the pleasures of living. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, and Albrecht Dürer dominated what’s known now as the humanistic high Renaissance period. The prevailing theme was the seizing of life, driven by positive change, knowledge and nature.

Read more: Richard Mille’s collaboration with Benjamin Millepied & Thomas Roussel

How will we respond to the pandemic we’re facing now? Will the development of a vaccine result in a period of introspection, creativity, and change? Will we – having faced an invisible, deadly enemy – emerge more tolerant, grateful, and accepting of change?

classical painting

La Primavera (1477), Sandro Botticelli

A near-death experience usually results in a renewed zest for life, happiness and gratitude. Within the art world, many of the archaic norms have already been replaced during the course of the year. As artistic expression and culture define us, not only as individual nations, but in terms of humanity, we should ensure that this moment in history is not a missed opportunity.

Covid-19 has forced us to profoundly rethink the way we live, the values we have, and world we’ll leave for our children. Covid-19 has also forced us to trust in digitalisation and to rethink the way we experience and trade art. For context, while the art market declined by 58% in the first half of this year, online art sales increased by nearly 500% during the same period. There has been a flurry of creativity and inspiration, from artists doubling down in their studios to document the zeitgeist, to museum and galleries embracing VR and making their inventory accessible online. Let us embrace these changes and welcome an opportunity for a more transparent, accessible, and tolerant art world.

Browse artnet’s current auctions via artnet.com/auctions

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
protest painting
artist studio

Marc Quinn in his studio with his work Viral Painting. A Man Tapes Himself to the Colorado Soldiers Monument, Artnet (2020)

From his sculpture for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth to his recent guerrilla monument to replace the toppled bronze of a slave trader in Bristol, British artist Marc Quinn has shown a commitment to giving form to political urgency. Maryam Eisler talks to him about his time during lockdown, his engagement with history in the making, and his renewed excitement at creating art

Maryam Eisler: Marc, tell me about your lockdown experience.
Marc Quinn: It’s totally abstract and totally real at the same time. This moment is one of the most real things we’ve lived through. There are people dying. People’s businesses are closing. Horrific things are happening. And then when you go onto the street, until very recently, there’s no-one around. It’s not like a normal war or natural disaster, where there is visible chaos. This experience is quite abstract. In the end, apart from the people who are near me, the only way I know about what is going on in the world is via my phone and the internet.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This time has also been about a completely new way of thinking. We have been forced to learn how to navigate the difference between our virtual selves and our real selves.

In terms of making work, it’s been great. It’s me, alone in the studio making things. It’s like going back to square one again and rediscovering my roots. It’s about making art in a way that I used to do 25 years ago. And I really enjoy it.

It’s a great time for transformation. People are actually engaging with the world. There has been a whole resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the horrific death of George Floyd. That is amazing, and hopefully something lasting will come from it this time around. We’ve had moments of focus on these types of issues before but never to this extent. I think it’s a time when societal tectonic plates are shifting. Our old life is also shifting.

Collage artwork

Viral Painting. If You Are Neutral in Situations of Injustice You Have Chosen the Side of the Oppressor, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: Tell me about your series History Painting and how it has led to the new series Viral Paintings. How are they made?
Marc Quinn: History Painting is a series of paintings that I have been quietly working on for about ten years. The history of art tells you about how art was classified in the 18th and the 19th centuries, with the lowest genres being portraiture or still-life and the highest being history painting. Works in that genre were commissioned by the state or by the aristocracy. When I saw images taken during riots, such as in London following the death of Mark Duggan in 2011, I thought to myself that this is actually quite interesting because the genre is being flipped on its head. History is now being made from the bottom up, coming from the people instead of the other way around. I thought I could take this idea behind the history painting genre and make new history paintings that are about the day, the moment.

sculpture of a head

Hassan Akkad (2020) from the series 100 Heads. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

sculpture of a pregnant woman

Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio. Photograph by Todd-White Art Photography

For the first in the series, I found an incredible press photo of a masked man on the streets of Hackney, which was the most iconic one. I contacted the photographer. I bought the rights to make a painting from it. And then I spent three months making a painting of it. At the end, I took all the paint that was left on the palettes and chucked it on top. It’s called History Painting (London, 8 August 2011) ROYBWN. I had this sense that the paint was disrupting it, in a way. But it was also sort of freezing it. And it was also about looking at matter. You can view it as a sculpture; when you squeeze a tube of paint, you always feel that it has so much potential. It’s about that beautiful moment before you actually crystallise it into something that may or may not be good. The paint that’s thrown on top is paint which exists as potential, as matter, as energy, as the unconscious. In a way, this process creates a screen. That screen is between the image’s dematerialised world of the image and the material world, where the paint exists straight from the tube. That was quite unconscious for me, I think. It also felt like it was about change, about movement, about how things are reconvening.

protest painting

History Painting Ieshia Evans Protesting the Death of Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, 9 July 2016) GPBW (2017). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

I made those types of paintings for about ten years, including a few about the Black Lives Matter movement. One painting focused on the photograph of Ieshia Evans protesting the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, an important, big picture. The large paintings would take six months to paint, so I couldn’t make that many and I had to really focus.

Read more: Gaggenau is bringing global attention to regional artisans

When the events of 2020 started unfolding, starting with Covid-19, I felt like history was in fast forward at high speed. I don’t have time to spend six months painting each picture. I have to make these in the moment. So, I had to let go of all that craft, but also of my idea of what a painting should be. I have a big printer that takes canvas, so I just thought I’d take a screenshot from my phone of events in the news as they take place, I’ll print them up and paint on top of them. This is how the Viral Paintings were born.

collage painting

Viral Painting. Baby Erin Bates (Painted 15 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: So, you had to revisit your own practice from a whole new perspective?
Marc Quinn: Yes. It just felt so good because I went with the situation, and it took me somewhere completely new, which was really exciting.

Maryam Eisler: It’s an exciting time to be making work.
Marc Quinn: Absolutely. I always want to be excited by the work, otherwise I’d just stop. Great work has historically been produced during moments of crisis, I think. Times like these make you focus quickly on what’s important in life. And what, on the other hand, is a load of bullshit. It gets rid of a lot of fluff and noise. You also realise that your relationships with other people are important. How everyone gets along in the world and how people are treated are important. Love is important. It makes it pretty simple. Times like these bring us back to what being human is all about, and it’s an exciting time to make art because of this potential for change that seems to be all around us.

Maryam Eisler: Colonial history means that events in the US relate directly to what’s going on in the UK and in Europe.
Marc Quinn: It’s all connected – enslavement is a part of colonial history. The roots of our systematically racist present stems directly from that, a colonial history that we’re all involved in. Britain, Europe and the USA were all involved.

collage artwork

Viral Painting. Dazed 100, Dazed, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

covid painting

Viral Painting. Bafta-Winning Film-Maker Becomes Hospital Cleaner, The Guardian (Painted 10 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: Tell me about the increasing importance of public art at this particular time.
Marc Quinn: It’s quite interesting to see how public art, which normally no one looks at, has suddenly taken on this urgency and this real symbolic value within society, in a way that it has never had in the past. I think that’s really interesting and it started in Bristol when they tore down the statue of Edward Colston. It’s incredible to experience the power of art in catalysing change, even if it’s iconoclasm.

Read more: Looking back on 125 years of Swarovski and into a new era

Maryam Eisler: Yes, you made a replacement sculpture. Tell me why you did that.
Marc Quinn: Jen Reid [one of the protesters] created the sculpture when she stood on the plinth and put her arm in the air. That incarnation of the artwork lasted just three minutes. When I saw the picture of her on Instagram, I immediately got in touch and asked if she’d like to collaborate and crystallise her original action for a bit longer. We then created the resin piece and put it on the plinth to activate the space. It was always conceived to be a temporary installation, to create debate about the idea of representation in the public realm and to continue the momentum of the BLM movement. We both felt it did exactly that. Its 24 hours on the plinth was enough to have the impact.

public art statue

A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Maryam Eisler: Do you think art has been too politicised?
Marc Quinn: Most art is purely decorative and that’s not the kind of art I want to make. Art should be political. I make art about the world. I want to reflect and affect the time that we live in and the issues that are most pressing today through art.

Maryam Eisler: What effect is social media having on the art world?
Marc Quinn: Social media and the sharing of online images is great for the art world. It’s a way of making art more accessible and visible to new audiences who may not always go to a traditional gallery or museum. Instagram in particular is a brilliant platform for following emerging and established artists. Of course, as with most public forums, there can be a downside and there can be negativity.

bronze statue

Zombie Boy (Rick) (2011). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Maryam Eisler: How do you see the art world changing?
Marc Quinn: I think that there will be, and should be, a greater emergence of black artists, curators, writers, architects, and so on. Can you believe that only one per cent of practicing architects today are black? Another interesting angle is that black people and white people are coming together to talk about issues that involve us all. If you don’t do anything about it, you’re complicit in it happening. So, you’ve got to act and speak up. There is no choice. It resonated with me when [US journalist and teacher] Jelani Cobb said, “I’ve probably gotten this question 50 times from white students who ask me if it’s okay for them to write stories about people of colour and racism. And I was like, you absolutely have to write these stories.”

As a privileged successful white artist, I have access to an audience. If I don’t use that influence to talk about what matters, then what’s the point of it all? That’s what I love about the Viral Paintings – they’re tracking what I’m engaging in, now, every day.

Maryam Eisler: How do you think art history will change now, after these events?
Marc Quinn: What’s exciting is that we don’t know what the future holds, but it’s largely in our hands to open a new future and to consolidate some of the gains that have happened during this period and not just go back to the old ‘normal’.

Maryam Eisler: What about the future of museums and art galleries post-lockdown?
Marc Quinn: I think that will be really interesting to observe. No one’s really talked about it, but all the museum schedules have been completely thrown off. Most museums’ programmes work on a two- to five-year lead time, so, they can never really react to the moment. Perhaps this is a time for museums to rethink their planning and do exciting new shows that offer immediate reactions to what is happening around us. It’s an opportunity for these institutions to take an active role in the dialogue. Better representation of black curators and people in art institutions means the work of black artists can be properly contextualised and celebrated. I hope for a more inclusive art world that mirrors the diversity of the world today and celebrates artistic talent from all backgrounds and perspectives.

Find out more: marcquinn.com

This article features in the Autumn 2020 Issue, hitting newsstands in October.

Share:
Reading time: 11 min
alpine village
alpine village

Andermatt. Image by Peter Wormstetter

In recent years, the tiny Swiss village of Andermatt has been establishing itself as one of the world’s most desirable and forward-thinking alpine resorts, but the region has been intriguing residents and visitors for centuries. A mini-documentary series explores Andermatt’s history through powerful and intimate personal stories

Over a period of seven months, film studio Peach & Cherry and cinematographer Martin Wabel documented the changing seasons of Andermatt, speaking to locals, guests, businesspeople, free-riders, farmers and artists. The result is Mystic Mountains, a series of twelve mini documentaries. Each episode lasts approximately ten minutes and is shaped around the personal narratives of interviewees, touching on themes of nature, community and belonging with staggeringly beautiful shots of the alpine landscapes.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

At a time when climate change is rapidly challenging the survival of ski resorts (by 2050, half of Switzerland’s 4,000 glaciers are forecast to have disappeared), these narratives serve as a poignant reminder of not just the region’s history, but also humanity’s relationship to the natural world.

To watch the series visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

 

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
Artist at work sculpting marble
Artist at work sculpting marble

One of the participating artist’s in the process of sculpting marble at the inaugural edition of Jeddah’s Red Sea Sculpture Symposium

Saudi Arabia is working hard to rediscover its cultural roots, promote contemporary art and establish itself as a cultural destination, with a series of new art events and residencies. Following on from the inaugural edition of Jeddah’s Red Sea Sculpture Symposium, Art & Digital Editor Millie Walton investigates the rise of the coastal city as a new cultural hub

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been creating for itself a cultural renaissance, catalysed by the reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s 32-year-old de facto leader. In 2018, the Kingdom opened the doors to cinemas after a forty-year hiatus, announcing the start of a new vision for the country’s ongoing cultural development, with an aim to support local craft as well as attract international creatives. Led by the Ministry of Culture, the vision seeks to reposition the country it as a dynamic place for business and leisure, responding to the demands of a new, youthful generation who are tech-savvy and plugged into the pulse of global culture.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Jeddah is one of the main hubs in this strategy. Once seen as culturally conservative, the city is now home to hip contemporary art galleries, graffiti murals and public art installations. Later this year, Art Jameel, a nonprofit organisation set up by the wealthy car-dealing family of the same name, is due to open Hayy (derived from the Arabic word from neighbourhood), an ambitious creative complex with studios and exhibition spaces, whilst the Ministry of Culture launched its first arts initiative in the city last year in the form of a cross-cultural live-sculpting event.

Artists sculpting marble sculpture

Artist sculpting marble

The artists could be watched live sculpting at a location in Jeddah’s historic district of Albalad

The inaugural Red Sea International Sculpture Symposium invited twenty international and local artists to hand sculpt free-standing monoliths over a three week period (21 November – 10 December 2019), using blocks of white marble imported from the Sultanate of Oman. Participants were asked to create artworks in response to the city’s geographical location and historical heritage as a trading hub, whilst also drawing on the diversity of its contemporary society.

Abstract marble sculpture on column

Agnessa Petrova, 2019

Marble sculpture on black plinth

Takeshi Kubo, 2019

The sculpting itself took place between 8am and 6pm at a location in Jeddah’s historic district and UNESCO heritage site Albalad, purposefully distanced from the city’s main cultural attractions and tourist hotspots so as to welcome new art audiences whilst also providing artists the opportunity to interact with local residents throughout the day.

Artist free sculpting marble structure

‘This global interaction reflected Arab and international cultural experiences on the artistic and cultural scene in historical Jeddah. This enriches the local scene because it shows positive results and contributes to the recipient’s diverse visual nutrition,’ commented Issam Jamil, one of three participating Saudi sculptors along with Rida Alalawi and Kamal Almualem. European artists included Michael Levchenko (Ukraine), Kamen Tanaev (Bulgaria), Jose Carlos Cabello Millan (Spain), Mario Lopes (Portugal), Jo Klay (Germany), Sylvain Patte (Belgium), Butrint Morina (Kosovo), Aggnessa Petrove (Bulgaria), Anna Maria Negara (Romania) and Anna Rasinska (Poland) with Asian artists Takeshita Kubo, Fan Chilung-Lien and Lin Li Jen, and Arab artists Ali Jabbar (Iraq), Hisham Abdulmuty (Egypt) and Hany Fisal (Egypt).

Read more: Why we love Hublot’s limited edition spring timepieces

Whilst all of the selected artists’ practices incorporated stonework, each participant specialised in different materials and techniques, and for some, it was their first time carving marble, a material chosen for its aesthetic appeal, durability and historic significance.

Abstract marble sculpture

Ali Jabbar, 2019

The finished pieces varied in both scale and style with some reflecting the city’s architectural magnificence and the natural environment of the Red Sea, whilst others evoked modern and abstract minimalist forms.

Still standing in the location in which they were originally sculpted (with plans to relocate around the city in the near future), the works appear haunting and luminous against the vibrant colours and textures of Albalad, providing a striking symbol of the city’s new-found creative energy.

Abstract white marble sculpture

Anna Rasinska, 2019

An introduction to Jeddah’s wider cultural scene

Jeddah’s Art Residency Initiative

This year, the creative momentum is set to continue with Jeddah’s newly launched Art Residency Initiative, which invites artists to attend six-week residency programmes at various points across the year. Alongside the residencies, the city will also feature events, showcasing the Ministry of Culture’s annual theme: the ancient artistic practice of Arabic calligraphy.

21,39 Jeddah Arts

Organised by the Saudi Arts Council, 21,39 Jeddah Arts is a contemporary art festival featuring gallery exhibitions, workshops, and panel discussions with many of the region’s leading creatives. This year’s edition (open until April 19) is entitled I Love You, Urgently and focuses on the global climate emergency with artists presenting a diverse collection of work including everything from Islamic painting techniques and calligraphy installations to ethically-made clothing and digital print collages.

Red Sea Film Festival

Whilst the launch might have been postponed, the inaugural Red Sea Film Festival promises a diverse 10-day program of screenings and talks, supporting emerging and established talent from Arabic and International cinema.

Hayy: Creative Hub

Set to open in the winter of 2020-21, Haay: Creative Hub is a 17,000-square-metre arts complex developed by non-profit organisation Art Jameel. Designed by UAE design studio waiwai, the space will include art and design galleries, performance and comedy clubs, cafes, artist studios and a theatre as well as an independent film cinema designed by Jeddah-based practice Bricklab.

To learn more about the Ministry of Culture’s forthcoming initiatives, visit: moc.gov.sa/en

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
Historic jewelled brooch

Model wearing large jewelled necklace

The creations of quintessentially Parisian jewellery maker Chaumet may have been fit for an empress in the late 18th century when the company was founded. But the jeweller aspires to be equally at home with the modern woman around the world. CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt tells Irene Bellucci how they make the new out of the old
portrait of a man in a suit wearing glasses

Jean-Marc Mansvelt

“For me, luxury is about craftsmanship and excellence. But it’s more than functionality – it’s also about emotion. And luxury transcends fashion, too; it takes time to invent, create and make.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

“Chaumet’s founder Marie-Etienne Nitot trained under the jeweller to Marie Antoinette, and after the Revolution became Napoleon Bonaparte’s official jeweller in 1805. This led to numerous commissions from the great and the good, including jewels for Empress Joséphine, after whom one of our most iconic collections is named. The brand’s tiaras went on to be worn by queens and rulers across the globe.

Vintage diamond tiara

Laurel Leaf Tiara by Joseph Chaumet (1920)

“Yet, our history isn’t enough to sustain us in the 21st century; consumers’ tastes have changed as has the function of jewellery itself. Nowadays, a tiara is not really worn beyond special and rare occasions, so in 2010 we reinvented them by moving them from head to finger for our Joséphine ring collection. Once they were crowns expressing power, but now we have brought them into the modern era in a more delicate and wearable form.

“But not all of our pieces are reinventions. We try to mix tradition and contemporary art; we also like to look to the world of music for ideas. In referring just to the past, the risk is that we will repeat ourselves – we need to inject new elements into the process.”

View the collections: chaumet.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
Painting of erupting volcano
Painting of erupting volcano

‘Vesuvius in Eruption’ (1817–20) by JMW Turner

The Watercolour World is an ambitious online project to digitise the world’s watercolours and rescue this all-too-often overlooked but artistically and historically significant medium from being forgotten. It is creating a wealth of riches for all of us, says Michael Brooks

Fred Hohler describes the idea as “blindingly obvious” in hindsight. Having spearheaded the creation of a digital record of the United Kingdom’s oil paintings, the former diplomat soon realised his Public Catalogue Foundation had left an ‘orphan’ collection of watercolours in dark drawers, cabinets and basements across the world.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Now, though, these paintings are emerging, blinking, into the light. The Watercolour World is a rapidly growing website that hosts digital reproductions of watercolours from around the world. Even in these early days – the site’s official launch was in January 2019 – it has become an engrossing collection. Whether you are captivated by an 1840 view of Kings Cross as a rubbish dump – the ‘Great Dustheap’ – or sailors chasing a slave ship near Zanzibar in 1876, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of riches is coming into view. “I have a new favourite about four times a day,” Hohler admits.

Watercolour is often passed over as an unimportant medium, despite the fact that Ruskin, Gainsborough, Turner and Constable all used it at various times. “The lower status of watercolour was owing to the fact that it had been invented relatively recently, had not been used by the Old Masters, and was widely used by amateurs for documentary purposes,” says Sir Charles Saumarez Smith, senior director of Blain Southern gallery, and former chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Watercolour architectural style drawing of a tomb

‘Untitled’ [Section of the tomb of Psammuthis in Thebes, discovered and opened by Belzoni in 1818] (1817–20) by Giovanni Belzoni or Alessandro Ricci

In many ways, this negative view of the medium is what makes the new collection so compelling. In the 17th century, for instance, watercolour was the military medium of choice. Before photography, painting was considered the best way to keep tabs on where the military had been, and how easy its terrain and infrastructures would be to defend. “From the time of George III, the way of making a record for the military, then the civil service overseas, and the navy, was watercolour,” Hohler says.

At Woolwich Military Academy and elsewhere, officers studied drawing and were taught how to survey a landscape and draw coasts and harbours so that the knowledge of newly gained territories could be spread amongst the military. The watercolourist Paul Sandby was among those who did the training, and the courses were clearly popular, with many accomplished amateur painters emerging from the military academies. As a result, military, government and private collections are awash with watercolour landscapes from across the world, all painted with an attention to detail.

watercolour painting of rising dust clouds

‘The Great Dust- Heap, next to Battle Bridge and the Smallpox Hospital’ (1837) by E. H. Dixon

Many of them, however, have not seen the light of day for decades, if not centuries. “Watercolour as a medium is naturally more susceptible to the effects of heat and light,” says the charity’s chief executive Andra Fitzherbert. “As a result, they tend to be hidden away in dark places or kept in albums where they’re rarely pulled out and enjoyed.”

Read more: 6 mountain restaurants to stir your soul this summer

And that’s where The Watercolour World project comes in. Launched with the patronage of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and realised through support from the Marandi Foundation, The Watercolour World aims to collate hundreds of thousands of watercolour paintings, many of which have never been available to the public until now.

Watercolour painting of Mount Vesuvius erupting with plumes of smoke

‘Untitled’ [eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 1760–61] (1776) by Pietro Fabris

It’s a labour of love, but it will also be very useful, Hohler says. For a start, the watercolours facilitate the re-creation of lost historical artefacts. Paintings in the collection show the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which has been extensively destroyed by ISIS. Hohler and Fitzherbert hope that The Watercolour World will one day be useful to its regeneration. Then there are the watercolours depicting the tombs of Pharaoh Sety I. The wall paintings of these tombs were damaged by those keen to profit from exhibiting the contents and recreating the spaces for a London audience in the 19th century. Thanks to watercolours, there is a record of how they once looked, and The Watercolour World will be an invaluable resource for future archaeological research.

Watercolour painting of horse and cart by Thomas Gainsborough

‘Woodland Scene with a Peasant, a Horse, and a Cart’ (c. 1760) by Thomas Gainsborough

Just as exciting is the scientific potential of the project. Many watercolours offer a view of a world that no longer exists and are a means by which conservationists, ocean scientists, coastal engineers and geologists can reach back into the past, make sense of the present, and perhaps safeguard the future.

There is strong precedent for this. In the 1860s, the government moved the Gunditjmara, the Aboriginal people of the area, off Tower Hill, an extinct volcano in Victoria, Australia. They proceeded to clear the land’s thick vegetation for grazing. Only in the 1960s was there a move to restore the area. Fortunately, the watercolourist Eugene von Guérard had made a painting of the virgin land in 1855, a painting so detailed that the authorities could identify more than 20 species of plant to use in the restoration project.

Read more: Geoffrey Kent discusses the influence of top-earning millennials

The vast and growing catalogue of paintings in The Watercolour World means that similar restorations might be possible in other areas. Some of the paintings are already in use in a project to catalogue changes in the British coastline over the past 250 years. Geologist and coastal engineer Robin McInnes is in the closing stages of The State of the British Coast Study, which was commissioned by The Crown Estate, the European Commission and Historic England. Using a range of sources, including paintings in The Watercolour World, McInnes has been able to discern where and when beaches have eroded, cliff lines have changed and engineering projects have made an impact on the shoreline. The results of the study will be used to aid conservation and ecological efforts. “They’ve been feeding me coastal images, many from private collections that have never been seen before. I’ve been able to use some in my study,” McInnes says. Some are from less highbrow sources, too. “Postcard companies employed some prolific watercolour artists to paint the coast.”

Watercolour painting of an old fashioned campsite

‘The Encampment in Hyde Park’ (1781) by Paul Sandby

Another environmental application will be in surveys of glaciers. Watercolours have a strong history here. The first known depiction of a glacier, made in 1601, was Abraham Jäger’s painting of the Rofener Glacier in Austria. By the middle of the 19th century, artists were painting faithful renditions of scenes at the heads of glaciers. John Brett’s Glacier of Rosenlaui, for instance, shows the position of the glacier in 1856, as well as a detailed portrait of the erratics, the boulders at its head that had been carried by the ice. The Watercolour World’s collection includes renditions of glaciers by Horace Bénédict de Saussure, the precision of which give a marker for recent glacier retreat. “Climate change is on almost everybody’s mind right now, but in the 19th century artists and scientists were working together documenting glaciers,” says Barbara Matilsky, who curated last year’s ‘Vanishing Ice’ exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. Many of the show’s 47 artworks, dating from 1860 to 2017, showed evidence of climate change.

watercolour painting of cliffs and the sea

‘Bat’s Hole’ (no date) by Henry Joseph Moule

Using The Watercolour World as a scientific resource is a “fabulous idea”, Matilsky says. She points out that artists and scientists have long worked together to document the natural environment. In the 19th century, for instance, geologists at the Museum of Natural History in Paris commissioned artists to paint glaciers. “They wanted to show students what they look like so they could intuit from these works the processes that formed the glaciers,” Matilsky says. “Scientists were very much aware that artists were important in communicating scientific concepts.”

At the other end of Earth’s temperature scale, The Watercolour World includes dozens of paintings of volcanoes. The 1776 eruption of Vesuvius is particularly well represented, because the British diplomat Sir William Hamilton commissioned the artist Pietro Fabris to paint 54 illustrations of the volcano for his scientific studies of its geology.

Read more: Sir Rocco Forte on building his empire of luxury hotels

Fitzherbert is keen to point out that The Watercolour World will be of relevance to everyone, not just to scientists and culture professionals. All of the images have searchable location and keyword information, allowing people to explore their family history and their local area’s past. “We want to make it personal so that people can navigate through a map and find local places of interest and find family homes or where they were brought up,” she says. “People can use these paintings to reflect on their own lives.”

The Watercolour World operates a small team, equipped with a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, to perform the digitisation. In addition, a group of volunteers tag and categorise the images, adding their locations and all relevant data about the artist’s intentions. Only then are they uploaded onto the site.

The project has yielded unexpected gains. One is that, in some ways, the website offers something even better than a gallery viewing. The scanners provide a depth of colour and an ability to zoom in that just aren’t available in a static display. What’s more, observing the paintings on screens means they are, effectively, backlit. “You see it in an entirely different way,” Hohler says. “It’s given a brilliance to these images that you don’t otherwise get.”

Though the collection is already clocking in at 83,000 images, a queue is forming. “The wonderful thing is, as soon as you launch a project like this, it belongs to everybody,” Hohler says. Many institutions and organisations have offered their digitised collections. The Watercolour World is even receiving offers to scan private collections that have never been made public, let alone digitised. “We’ve been overwhelmed by people’s positivity and encouragement,” Fitzherbert says.

Find out more: watercolourworld.org

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Display of Van Gogh sunflower paintings
Sunflower painting by Vincent van Gogh

‘Sunflowers’, Vincent van Gogh, January 1889

One of the world’s most famous paintings Sunflowers (1889) has been carefully investigated, explored and restored for Van Gogh and the Sunflowers: A Masterpiece Examined at the Van Gogh Museum.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

As one of five sunflower paintings by Van Gogh, it is an iconic image of nineteenth century art and an important marker in still life painting. Yet, this latest exhibition transforms our view of the work by framing the masterpiece within its wide ranging and complex history.

Display of Van Gogh sunflower paintings

Installation image of ‘Van Gogh and the Sunflowers’ at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Photo by Jan-Kees Steenman

On display are Van Gogh’s other flower paintings (not all sunflowers), the afterlife of the painting, its far-reaching influence, but also details of its recent conservation work. Most striking are the reconstructions by Charlotte Caspers, smaller canvases which copy views of the painting, using the same materials. These zoomed in views of the dying flower heads and of Van Gogh’s signature reveal the painting’s original colours, made up of brighter reds, pale lilacs and vivid chrome yellow. Through Casper’s work alongside the museum’s conservation team we are transported back to 1889 and the work’s conception. We are also shown x-ray images of the Sunflowers, revealing an added strip of canvas at the top of the painting, which Van Gogh used to correct the placement of the vase.

Read more: Sir Rocco Forte on building his empire of luxury hotels

Artist at work in the studio

Artist Charlotte Caspers painted reconstructions based on the results of research into the original colours of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in the Van Gogh Museum, 2019

Sketches of sunflowers in a sketch book

Vincent van Gogh, Sketches of vases with sunflowers, in sketchbook from Paris and Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation). Photo by Petra and Erik Hesmerg

 

Standing in front of the painting, you are struck by the subject. Van Gogh’s obsession with the flowers evident in his precision and delicacy, each of his decisive strokes visible in the thickly painted surface. The sunflowers, which were first drawn by the artist in 1886 in the wilds around Arles, have become part of his signature, as he stated in a letter to Paul Gauguin in 1889: ‘I indeed … have taken the sunflower’. His affinity with the flower is portrayed in the masterpiece through the subtle use of varying shades of yellow and ochre, and by the way he captures the plant’s lifecycle as we see heads simultaneously opening in bloom and dying.

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Van Gogh and the Sunflowers: A Masterpiece Examined’ runs until 1 September 2019 at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. For more information visit: vangoghmuseum.nl

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
Four Seasons moscow spa
The Four Seasons hotel in Moscow

Russia’s grandest hotel: The Four Seasons Moscow

Why should I go now?

Moscow in summer is vibrant, unexpected. In the warm, dry, continental sun, the city’s streets and parks have a Mediterranean vibe. The Four Seasons has the best location in the city bar none, next to the Kremlin; you can watch Russian tourists wander in and out of Red Square, eating their marozhonye (ice cream) from your balcony.

What’s the lowdown?

The Four Seasons is an edifice and a historical artefact. Those interested in Soviet history will be fascinated to know it was formerly the Hotel Moscow, a pet project of Joseph Stalin, opened in 1935 – the Lubyanka, headquarters of Stalin’s NKVD security police, is a five minute walk. Those interested in cocktails will know its façade from the labels of Stolichnaya vodka. Transformed after many years of work into a luxury hotel, it is now the grandest hotel in Russia.

Four Seasons moscow spa

The 25 metre indoor pool at Amnis Spa

Its 25 metre indoor pool, occupying the internal courtyard, with a glass roof, and surrounding ultra-luxurious spa, are the central symbols of the transformation. We balanced out the yin of exercising and spa purifying with the yang of hanging out in the Moscovsky bar on the ground floor, where immensely strong cocktails are served in an atmosphere more New Orleans than Moscow; the Moscovsky Mule is the hotel’s take on the classic Moscow Mule, and has a moreish kick.

 

Bar at Four Seasons Moscow

The Moscovsky bar

Getting horizontal

Our suite (bedroom, living area by the bedroom, and living/reception room) had balconies facing out onto Red Square, with the Kremlin to the right – you don’t realise exactly how much of a castle the Kremlin is until you have a chance to examine it at night and wonder at what has happened there over the centuries. Furnishings were plush, light and contemporary, while thick carpets and swathes of marble in the bathrooms will ensure that traditional Four Seasons fans (and visiting dignitaries) are not upset. It’s worth upgrading to a room with a view of, and balcony onto, Red Square; one of the most momentuous city views in the world.

Premier Room Four Seasons Moscow

Some of the hotel’s Premier Rooms have balconies onto the Red Square

Nitpicking

This is a Four Seasons, so an element of grandeur and formality go with the deal, from the moment you walk into the immense lobby and stride down the marble corridors. Service is impressive at every touchpoint, as is security; the lobby areas are probably more suited to those with an entourage of bodyguards than a casual cabal.

Rates: From RUB 28,000 excluding breakfast (approx. USD $500/€400/£300)

Darius Sanai 

fourseasons.com/ru/moscow

Share:
Reading time: 2 min

In a few months, Fort Canning in the heart of Singapore will be transformed into the first Asian outpost of the Pinacothèque de Paris. But the heritage site has been a cultural hotspot before, discovers Koh Yuen Lin

Vantage Point - Sir Stamford Raffles saw a safe and strategic location in Fort Canning Hill

Vantage Point – Sir Stamford Raffles saw a safe and strategic location in Fort Canning Hill – Courtesy of the National  Museum of Singapore,National Heritage Board

It can hardly be called majestic, with an elevation of a meagre 60 metres. Yet it has been the favoured seat of power for sultans and governors alike. When prince of Palembang Sang Nila Utama sailed across the stormy seas in the 1300s, he chose the hill – with its freshwater spring and view of the river mouth – as a safe place to house his entourage as he built the new Kingdom of Singapura. And though Bukit Larangan – or the Forbidden Mountain – would be a deserted place covered in dense hardwood jungle and shrouded in myths about ghosts of sultans past, Sir Stamford Raffles arriving in 1819 saw in the hill what previous rulers had recognised: a safe haven, a strategic vantage point, and the nucleus of a city’s growth in more ways than one.

With 11 mature trees on its premises protected under National Park’s Heritage Tree Scheme, and a forest of flora and fauna, Fort Canning is home to a rich ecosystem. Yet few realise that what we see within this city-centre green lung is not just a product of nature, but also human nurturing.

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris - The upcoming museum will be housed within the historic Fort Canning Centre

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris – The upcoming museum will be housed within the historic Fort Canning Centre

Cleared extensively in the 1800s for development, the hill was given back its green coat when Raffles – a passionate botanist and also founder of the London Zoo – set out to create a modern botanic gardens on its ground. This would become a 19-hectare Botanic & Experimental Garden established in 1822. Mimicking styles of Europe’s most important botanic gardens, it was a medicinal plant gardens first, then a showcase for the exotic plants introduced during the age of exploration, and a nursery for potential cash crop – a place where the relationship between nature and culture was explored. Though all that remains of it today is a 2,300 sqm Spice Garden created in 1994 and planted with some of the plant species in the original garden, together with many plants featured prominently in local cuisine, it remains a reflection of Singapore’s blend of East and West cultures.

Another major tree-planting effort the hill witnessed was the development of the southwestern section of the hill, bounded by Clemenceau Avenue and River Valley Road, into King George V Jubilee Park. This would later be expanded and rechristened Central Park in the 1970s, and then enlarged once again and renamed Fort Canning Hill in 1981, officiated with the planting of a fruit tree by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew – whose vision of Singapore as a garden city has shaped not just the country’s landscape, but also contributed to the economy in intrinsic ways.

Indeed, Fort Canning is more than just a green space. It is a historical site that has stood witness to the changing face of Singapore over the course of centuries. Yet it doesn’t stand still in history – it adapts along with it.

Archaeological finds from excavation sites on the hill continue to fascinate historians with artefacts from when the place was palace grounds for Malay royalty. From delicate Jing De Zhen ceramic dating back to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) to 14th century gold jewellery carved with intricate Hindu motifs, each is a clue to the island’s ancient past as a prosperous ancient kingdom.

Fort Canning Gate - Constructed in 1846, the Gothic Gates still stand today as the entrance

Fort Canning Gate – Constructed in 1846, the Gothic Gates still stand today as the entrance – Credit: Liisa Wihman

Historical landmarks oft overlooked by visitors whisper of a time when the site played the role of a strategic communications centre for the port city. On Raffles Terrace stands a replica of the original Time Ball: a device that was raised at exactly 1255hr and dropped at precisely 1300hr as a means for businesses, government offices and the larger community of the downtown area to set their clocks to a common time during the early colonial days. In front of the humble Raffles House, a flagstaff stands where a taller wood flagstaff was erected in the mid 1800s. Different ensigns raised communicated to the township the identity, location and status of the ships entering and leaving the harbour, and even the type of cargo being carried and the ship’s last port of call. This told the people when to post their mail and packages sailing for Australia, China, India and Europe, and also indicated to merchants when to head down to the docks for some early bird bargaining. For this reason, the hill was also known locally as Bukit Bendera (Flag Hill) in the latter part of the 19th century.

The many colonial structures – from the Fort Canning Gothic Gates designed in 1846 by superintendent engineer captain Charles Edward Faber, the three-storey neoclassical style building previously used as a military administration building in 1926 and now repurposed as Fort Canning Hotel, to the British Army Barracks that have been restored as Fort Canning Centre – further speak volumes of its past as a fort and military base during times of uncertainty. In the words of Melissa Diagana and Jyoti Angresh, authors of Fort Canning Hill: Exploring Singapore’s Heritage and Nature: “Fort Canning Hill has always played a central role in all aspects of Singapore’s heritage. Whether one is looking for Singapore’s tangible cultural elements (such as buildings, ruins, art works, or landscape) or its intangible elements (such as folklore, historical knowledge, fleeting biodiversity, or inspirations), one’s path inevitably leads to this hill.”

National Theatre@50 - The Singapore Biennale 2013 artwork sits at the foot of the hill, as an homage to the original site

National Theatre@50 – The Singapore Biennale 2013 artwork sits at the foot of the hill, as an homage to the original site

Today, Fort Canning Hill stands in the heart of the Museum Planning Area. Surrounded by the National Museum Of Singapore, Singapore Philatelic Museum and The Peranakan Museum, it is a city-centre location with a heart – and art – beat of its own.

Its grounds play host to a full calendar of cultural events ranging from WOMAD, which has been bringing world music, arts and dance to Singapore since 1998, perennial favourites such as Shakespeare in the Park and Ballet Under the Stars staged by the Singapore Dance Theatre since the early 1990s as a means of reaching out to families, to the multitude of musical performances ranging from punk to pop.

What most do not realise is that the hill was a venue for the arts as early as the 19th century.

When hotelier, entrepreneur, photographer, treasure hunter, and larger-than-life man about town Gaston Dutronquoy took over George Coleman’s two-storey residence sited at the foot of the hill, he also set up a private dinner theatre of sorts. The dining room was transformed into what was quite ostentatiously named Theatre Royal, and it was the stage for the settlement’s amateur actors, including some very high profile members of society such as Singapore’s first lawyer William Napier, prominent merchant Charles Spottiswoode and businessman and magistrate William Read who was, in certain circles, known for his cross-dressing roles.

In 1845, Theatre Royal, this time complete with an orchestra pit, found a new home in the Assembly Rooms built at the foot of the hill where the Old Hill Street Police Station now stands. The building however fell into a dilapidated state within a decade. Post-demolition after 1856, a temporary theatre was erected at the same spot, where fundraising performances for what would later become the Victoria Theatre continued until 1861.

In more recent history, the hill was home to the Drama Centre on Canning Rise, inaugurated as the Cultural Centre in 1955. It was in this 326-seat theatre that many landmark local stage productions – such as Lao Jiu and Army Daze – made its debut until its demolition in 2002 to make way for the rear extension of the National Museum of Singapore. Then there was the iconic National Theatre with its fivepointed façade, 150-tonne cantilevered steel roof stretching up the slopes of the hill, and no side or rear walls. For the 23 years that it stood, the multi-million structure – opened on 8 August 1963 to commemorate Singapore’s self-government – with its 3420-seat hall complete with a revolving stage, was the venue for international performances ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet to the Bee Gees.

Its lush environment a source of artistic inspiration, Fort Canning Hill has also become a natural venue of choice for exhibiting tangible art. At the inaugural 1981 ASEAN Sculptural Symposium, six art installations were donated by member countries and are now displayed throughout the hill’s green spaces. Today, the park remains a creative space spruced with public art installations, such as site-specific works by The Sculpture Society of Singapore.

And just as its role has changed through the centuries with the country, the evolution of Fort Canning Hill as a venue for the arts continues. In 2015 it will welcome a new crowning jewel in the form of the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris housed within the Fort Canning Centre – the first sign of its metamorphosis into an arts venue of international standards as the Singaporean art scene matures.

So even though it is indeed as Raffles once wrote of Fort Canning Hill, that “nothing can be more interesting and beautiful than the view from this spot,” those who look close enough, and allow the hill to whisper its story, will discover that true wonderment lies right here within this green sanctuary, on the grounds of the living hill itself.

pinacotheque.com.sg

Share:
Reading time: 8 min