Haymarket Hotel is a stone’s throw away from the National Gallery and together with our Firmdale Art Ambassador, Olivia Paterson, we organised an event for the National Gallery’s Young Ambassadors. The National Gallery has a history of 197 years and last year, launched a programme to engage young patrons for people aged 25-40. It was such a treat to enjoy the gallery and to be surrounded by masterpieces for hours with likeminded people who are passionate about art.
The working day drew to a close and we arrived at Trafalgar Square. The atmosphere was one of excitement and expectation, whilst lights lit up Nelson’s Column and the Fourth Plinth with Heather Phillipson’s ‘The End’ sculpture.
As we ventured into the National Gallery, we were greeted by Boris Anrep’s mosaic that adorns the landing and its beauty astounds us every time. Anrep was an associate of the Bloomsbury Group and was commissioned between 1928 and 1933 by the National Gallery to lay the mosaic pavements. The resulting works are a celebration of everyday life.
During a tour of the Impressionist Gallery, we focussed on Georges Seurat’s ‘Bathers at Asnières’ painting. Unbelievably Seurat painted this at the age of 24 years old, with the intentions of making a bold statement at the official ‘Salon’ in the spring of 1884, but it was rejected. Our attention was drawn to how the painting’s figures are as immobile as sculptures and how Seurat had reworked their features such as the wrinkled nose of the boy in the red hat. I found myself absorbed in its details: The characters seem relaxed and content with their own thoughts, as they rest on the Seine riverbanks of Asnières and Courbevoie. It is as if time has been suspended and all movement temporarily frozen.
Our group then positioned ourselves in front of Seurat’s painting for a performance called ‘Bathers’ by the artist, Tom Lovelace. Tom Lovelace is a London based artist whose practices include exhibition encounters and fluid environments, positioning the body at the centre of abstract languages and legacies. Central themes to his research encompass the collaborative histories of art, theatre and the role of Minimalism within contemporary culture. Lovelace works as a Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, University for the Creative Arts and the Glasgow School of Art.
Ready to mingle and reflect on our gallery visit, we headed to Haymarket Hotel for drinks in the Library and Shooting Gallery. We told stories behind our art collection, which includes artists who have exhibited work at the National Gallery, including Tony Cragg and John Virtue.
If we have sparked your interest in Tom Lovelace’s work, you can see his new site-specific performance work ‘A Japanese Dream’. In response to ‘Van Gogh’s stay in Arles, France 1888-1889’, the performance will focus on Van Gogh’s studies of Irises. The performance takes place on 26th February at 5pm, outside Van Gogh House (87 Hackford Road, London, SW9 0RE).