If you had been strolling in the sun around Mayfair and St James’s this weekend you would have seen hundreds of BLAW green balloons outside galleries and dozens of green t-shirted volunteers marking the second year of Brown’s London Art Weekend.
BLAW 2015 kicked off with the Gallery Safari – an evening of champagne and talks for the sponsors and their guests, hosted by experts at Bonhams, the Fine Art Society and Mallett Antiques. Boodle Hatfield received special thanks in the welcoming speech for their support of the event. At the Fine Art Society, the sculptor Emily Young spoke about her magnificent stone carvings, many of which can be seen in public spaces throughout London. We were then invited to snoop around the treasures in Ely House where Mallett is based, receiving a talk on the house and on the incredibly skilled and precise method by which the Venetian glass artist Lino Tagliapietra makes his delicate colourful pieces. Dinner at Hix Mayfair followed, with dishes created by in association with various artists, such as and Tracey Emin’s Unmade Eton Mess.
Day 2 was heralded by beautiful weather. The Royal Academy closed off Burlington Gardens to launch the inaugural Burlington Gardens Festival, a village fete in the heart of Mayfair. It was a hive of activity. There was life drawing of performing acrobats, an art parade put on by the artist Bob and Roberta Smith, silk-screen printing that children (and adults) could then take home or stay an colour-in, make-your-own ceramic tiling, piles of Lego, bean bags and plenty of food and drink. The mysterious, private corridor between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens was opened to the public too, revealing an interactive art exhibition complete with a mini golf course.
There were ample free talks and tours throughout the day. Amongst the highlights were a Q&A between the artist Neil Stokoe and the young gallerist Megan Piper at The Redfern Gallery, an introduction to Bonhams’ beautiful new building given by the architect Alex Lifschutz, a tour of Atkis Gallery, which focuses on Russian émigré art of the 20th century. The day finished with drinks at a completely packed Art Bar at David Zwirner Gallery on Grafton Street. These free talks were supplemented by talks at Brown’s Hotel all of which were attended by members of Boodle Hatfield and their guests. Among the speakers was Kate Bryan, Fair Director of Art16 and presenter on the BBC’s Culture Show, whose talk ‘Understanding Contemporary Art’, was brilliant for those who previously had little art knowledge, and who later hosted a panel discussion on the history, development and future of the Mayfair Gallery community.
On Day 3 we entered Sotheby’s flower covered entrance halls, listening to the historian Andrew Roberts talking about Napoleon and Wellington, Dan Cruickshank on English Country Houses and Jonquil O’Reilly on the male silhouette in art. There was a chance to get out into the sun too with a talk on the wonderful Helaine Blumenfeld sculpture in Berkeley Square, given by the Bowman Gallery. The Battle of Waterloo theme continued at Robilant + Voena who ended the day with drinks and a tour of their Napoleon exhibition.
For more highlights and discussion of this art-packed weekend, visit our twitter page or search using the hashtag #BLAW2015. We hope to see you there next year!