On Friday morning I was invited to go on a preview of a new art walk in St James’ London which is not only free but brilliant. Wallpaper* Magazine have collaborated with St James’ to put together a guided art walk which offers free access to contemporary art and design galleries.
On the 19th and 21st October you will be able to join Wallpaper* on one of three, FREE self-guided walks starting at the RA’s Academicians’ Room and concluding at the new ICA bar. You have to register to allocate a specific time slot via the Wallpaper* website here
The walk has been curated by the art and design team at Wallpaper* and includes drawings by Michael Craig-Martin at Alan Cristea, Catherine Opie’s portraits and landscapes at Thomas Dane and a group show exploring the decline of the post-war American Dream at White Cube in Mason’s Yard.
I was taken on a mini version of the walk so will have to catch up on some of the galleries I missed next month ( you’ll still be able to follow the Wallpaper* art walk map on your phone after the tours )
Luckily we got to start the walk at The Academicians’ Room in The Keepers House at The Royal Academy which is not only an incredibly beautiful and atmospheric room, but which is also currently showing El Anatsui RA’s ‘Benchmarks’. It’s a display of limited edition prints as part of the RA’s Art Sales programme. The prints are worked from close up images taken of the wooden benches used for hammering the metal bottle tops for his more sculptural works and have a combined sense of a worked patina and abstract solar eclipse.The Academicians’ Room is a Private Members club, so it’s a real treat to be able to have a chance to visit and see some beautiful work… I would say that the only problem with starting the walk in The Academicians’ Room is that you sort of want to stay there all day!
Next up for us was the Sims Reed Gallery on Duke’s St which specialises in modern, post-war and contemporary original prints and works on paper, and it was great to see a couple of the Declan Jenkins woodcuts still on view…a woodcut where you can actually see the wood and the physical effort of carving feels very special…( below: Bob and Roberta Smith’s Feminist Icons )Loved this Any Warhol print ( above ) of Jean Cocteau and a giant moth by Sarah Graham ( below )The next gallery was literally just down the road at David Gill for the ‘Future Classics’ exhibition. I absolutely love contemporary design…I think that it’s the practical fusion between art and furniture which particularly appeals to me as well as my fascination with object design…I was so excited to be able to see some Zaha Hadid pieces here as I find the fluidity of her supremely satisfying organic forms both calming and just always so inspiring… What I really liked about this exhibition was the combination of pieces by different artists and the placing of them with each other… ( above bowl by Michele Oka Doner and drawing behind by Barnaby Barford )( above: Mirror by Mattia Bonetti and Armchair by Fredrikson Stallard )
( above and below: MicheleOka Doner ) ( above and below: Fredrikson Stallard ) ( below: Mattia Bonetti ) ( above Barnaby Barford, below: Fredrikson Stallard )(above: centrepiece by Zaha Hadid and table by Mattia Bonetti )
Our last gallery visit was to Alan Cristea on Pall Mall who currently have a fantastic exhibition ‘Quotidian’ of work by Michael Craig-Martin which includes prints and one-off originals… I’m really drawn to Michael Craig-Martin’s work as it focuses on both colour and contemporary design; his drawings have become design documents, often of household objects which have either changed massively or even become obsolete over time, and his study of line and colour within them is somehow stimulating and meditative at the same timeThe St James’s Art and Design walk with Wallpaper* is something I would highly recommend to both art lovers and art ‘inquisitors’, particularly those who love art but who often feel intimidated about visiting small commercial London galleries…let’s face it, if there’s a gallery door bell it’s often too frightening to press! But the galleries on this Art Walk couldn’t have been more friendly and genuinely wanting to engage, offer their expertise and knowledge and encourage more people to come and view the art. It wasn’t all about selling the work, there was a definite acknowledgement of art appreciation for those who aren’t in a position to be an art collector.
This is a FREE event too, so it’s a brilliant chance to see some great contemporary art and also have the opportunity of exploring work in a commercial art gallery and you can register for a place on the walks on either the 19th or the 21st October here
If you want to see more of the St James’s Area in London you can have a look at some of my previous posts which incorporate the ICA, Dover Steet Market and Jermyn St: My St James: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3