Spirits are up in the world of art and design

Partytime on the art and design scene

It was a busy week for art and design lovers as studios and galleries went out of their way to inspire, provoke, entertain and sell. Anyone looking to furnish their walls or shelves needed look no further than London’s Mayfair where there were plenty of beautiful objects to choose from. Here we round up the week’s party time in art and design.

These shows were our favourites of the week, the ones people talked about after the event. One show that got plenty of advance PR even, was Gagosian gallery’s celebrity obituaries – of famous people still living.

There was Grace Jones and Dolly Parton – music and acting talents of the 1980s, but the oddest one was Swedish teen and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg. An obit of her starting with the words “Greta Thunberg, who has died aged 19, enjoyed a meteoric career as a climate activist”, sort of chilled the spine.

Greta will no doubt live forever in many people’s minds, but for those of us at the champagne bash to drink to the demise of someone so young and vibrant – and of course still very much alive – was an odd experience. But sometimes, that is what art and design does: yank us out of our comfort zone.

Well, how anyone would want an obit of a living or dead person hanging on their wall is quite the brain teaser – but little doubt many galleries and artists would welcome the advance notice the exhibition got in the newspapers.

party time in art and design: Grace Jones and Dolly Parton

Fashion designer Jasper Conran as special guest at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert’s gallery

The most fun evening of the week, however, was at the Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert gallery in London’s St James’s. Partygoers from the 1980s and 90s were out in force, including one of my favourite designers Jasper Conran. Conran, of course, is the son of the late Sir Terence Conran who made Scandi style home decor popular.

Jasper’s women’s wear collections are famous for their “pure”, streamlined cuts and bold, but beautifully understated colours. And despite decades of design adn creativity he has lost none of his zest for life – greeting well-wishes like long lost friends.

He is currently developing his own hotel in Marrakesh, he said, ever busy and creative.

The exhibition at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert was quite what we at DU seek out – quirky, colourful, yet beautifully tempered pieces that fit perfectly the Nordic palette (a coincidence, of course). The Shaped Canvases were created by the late artist Richard Smith. This was a night for connoisseurs and collectors.

Among the guests was Martin Harrison, who catalogued the exhibition, who also catalogued works by the late Francis Bacon. They’d met on several occasions but Harrison is discretion himself. Suffice to say Bacon was as amusing as he was talented and clever in the way he preserved his own legacy.

“Leave your estate to one person,” said one of Harrison’s colleagues on the Bacon estate. “It makes it much easier when you’re gone for others to sort out. That way you don’t spend years running up legal bills and trying to argue over what belongs to whom.”

Saatchi Yates: party time in art and design
Revellers at Saatchi Yates gallery in St James’s
The Girl with a knife, 1972 – at Christie’s

Christie’s pulls out the stops: it’s party time in art and design as well as antiques

Christies‘ Lates have become incredibly popular in the last few years. I remember when they first started at the South Kensington branch of the auctioneers – they were cosy affairs with locals meeting up. Now, at the King’s Street branch the Lates evenings attract a huge international audience.

There was literally a queue round the block of people waiting to get in. The place was packed. The auction house was celebrating the Year of the Rabbit and had really pulled out the stops with decor and workshops as well as stands showing and selling products, including jewellery.

The main reception hall at Christie’s
One of the workshops at Christie’s Lates

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