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Out and About: Art Explorations in London & New York

With our Firmdale Art Walks and so many incredible exhibitions to visit, we continue to celebrate art on both sides of the Atlantic. We’ve been ‘Out and About’ to explore art in two of our favourite cities, London and New York.

Firmdale Art Walks in London

After a jam-packed week of work, I am usually ready for a change of pace at the weekend. Sometimes hanging-out with the dogs on the south coast is just the ticket, but other times I like to get involved in the cultural events on our doorstep and last weekend I joined the Firmdale Art Walk.

Led by art ambassador Olivia Paterson, our art filled day began at Ham Yard Hotel where we gathered around the striking sculpture by Tony Cragg. We explored the stories behind the hotel’s many commanding pieces, before heading out to explore galleries chosen by Olivia.

Armed with neon yellow tennis balls, our first stop was the Stephen Friedman Gallery and David Shrigley’s Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange. The concept is simple: swap your used tennis ball with a fresh one from the vast array on display. You receive a pin badge for doing so and this represents the joy of trade. Shrigley explains, ‘my dog likes tennis balls.  I throw them and she chases them. The interest is more about exchange than possession’.

The row upon row of fluorescent fluffy balls was an exciting assault on the senses and there is also a serious message about time, ageing, decay and use. We loved the interactivity of this concept, with children outside playing with their tennis balls, it felt like everyone had something to contribute.

Our next stop was Saatchi Yates Gallery, where the gallery space alone is something to experience. We were treated to a tour that included new works by artist Danny Fox. With highly personal paintings inspired by his return to Cornwall, the art depicts unlikely 21st century heroes and made a fascinating contrast to the conceptual pieces we viewed at Ham Yard Hotel.

Danny Fox's painting 'Super Host' depicts the popularity of Cornish holiday lets during the pandemic.

After a spot of lunch at Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant, we made our way to the Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert gallery to see Patrick Heron’s: The Colour of Colour Exhibition. With Heron’s connections to St Ives, Cornwall was certainly a theme! We have some of his prints in the hotels and I wanted to experience these colourful, large scale paintings for myself, where I was drawn in by Heron’s sensitivity to colour, his compositions and brush strokes. We were grateful to Olivia for guiding us through this inspiring exhibition.

With more Firmdale Art Walks planned for 2022 in London and New York, we’d love you to join us on our next art adventure.

Making Knowing: Craft in Art 1950 – 2019 at The Whitney Museum in New York 

Celebrating one of our favourite topics, the art of craft, is this fantastic exhibit depicting how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades.

Comprising of more than 80 works by over 60 artists from the Whitney’s collection, Making Knowing shows in chronological order how craft techniques traditionally associated with mostly ‘feminine’ pastimes have been integrated into contemporary art.

The show’s artworks are roughly half by female artists and half by male, going against the stereotype that ‘craft is a female based art’.

Below, we see Liza Lou’s ‘The Kitchen’, a room fully rendered using multi-coloured beads for all the surfaces, including pots, floors, sink, dishes, as well as germs on those dishes. Lou worked for five years on this piece and for her, it is a contemporary statement about the traditional role of women, sexism, and emancipation rendered in beads. The rainbow of beads reminded me of the importance of texture and colour in design. I immediately thought of the mud bead chandeliers you can find in our hotels. The detail and depth that comes from the layers upon layers of colour is mesmerising.

The array of mediums found throughout the exhibit is so inspiring and it makes you want to go home and start crafting.

If you’re feeling inspired too, you can certainly get ideas for crafts at home from my latest book or get creative at home during the holiday season.

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