Let there be light… A certain kind of light at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne until 7 May 2017

 

– We Stand Behind the Sky by Richard Heys –

England’s South Coast is the sunniest place in the UK with Eastbourne frequently topping the sunshine league, therefore it seems a fitting location for this conceptual homage to the theme of light. Drawn from the Arts Council’s huge national collection it is also one of the best exhibitions I have seen at Towner for some years.

Given its function as the basis for vision, light has long fascinated artists both as a material and as a subject and the vast majority of art concerned with making the world visible in some sense speaks of light. A Certain Kind of Light however explores how artists have responded to light, its materiality, transience and effect.  The exhibition brings together artworks that reflect the relationship between light and a wide range of themes from brightness, colour and perception to transformation, energy and the passage of time. Encompassing paintings, sculpture, video, photography, drawing and immersive installations, it features artworks created from the 1960s to the present day by almost thirty leading artists including David Batchelor, Ceal Floyer, Raphael Hefti, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, L S Lowry, Katie Paterson, Peter Sedgley, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans.

The exhibition considers the different ways artists have explored the various aspects of light, from its importance as a source of illumination, as a pure sculptural material, as a mysterious force and as a source of energy that can be conceptually converted into other forms.

Outstanding exhibits for me include Katie Paterson’s vast glitter ball revolving between two projectors creating an ever-turning cosmos of stars gliding across the gallery walls; Mark Garry’s exquisite thread rainbow which appears at first to be a beam of light passing at ceiling height between two galleries and then transforms into a light-splitting prism as you pass below. In fact in actuality it is simply a sheaf of coloured threads stretched between two walls, affected by ambient air and the gallery spotlights; David Batchelor’s marvellous cascade of coloured plastic bottles and Seascape by L.S. Lowry.

A Certain Kind of Light is the second in a series of exhibitions at Towner curated as part of The Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme. Towner is an Arts Council Collection National Partner 2016-19. Founded in 1946, The Arts Council Collection is the largest national loan collection of British modern and contemporary art and is managed on their behalf by the Hayward Gallery. As part of the Collection’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, the National Partners Programme will see four major galleries; Birmingham Museum Trust, Liverpool’s Walker Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner, working together over a three year period, hosting a series of new exhibitions.

Towner Art Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays

10.00am-5.00pm. Free Admission

http://www.townereastbourne.org.uk

An Afterwards Again, 2017; site-specific installation by Mark Garry

Plastic Bottle Installation by David Batchelor

Artist in Focus

Contemporary Sussex based artist whose work resonates with the theme of light and would not have been out of place in the Towner exhibition is Richard Heys.

Richard’s work is primarily non-figurative, exploring pure colour and form and the substance of paint and ground. He creates work with presence and countenance.

Richard works in a light-filled studio in Forest Row exploring techniques and processes, which disguise the hand. This limitation enables a greater freedom and means of expression. He explores light and darkness and pure lyrical colour journeys, working with transparency and multiple glazing creating vibrant surfaces. He is engaged in a passionate personal journey to rediscover beauty.

Richard is committed to colour and forgetting. He says, “I attempt a self-forgetting, a side- stepping of rational processes to allow moments of creative innocence… This side stepping, deflecting quick answers and slick resolve, leads me on a passionate journey through the worlds of colour, both outer and inner. In the realisation of a finished work I recover mystery in this world of the known and work standing before the unknown.”

www.richardianheys.co.uk

E: richard@richardianheys.co.uk

Arrival by Richard Heys

www.pureartsgroup.co.uk for further information and to download the 2016-2017 artist directory

Published in Aspect County March 2017 edition/ Articulate

Good Seasons Start with Good Beginnings…

As the days draw in and our thoughts turn to Christmas, we talk to a few gallery owners about why they do what they do and what has inspired and motivated them.

Artichoke Gallery Ticehurst

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On the eastern edge of Sussex, surrounded by beautiful countryside, Artichoke Gallery is in the heart of Ticehurst, a Wealden village with an eclectic selection of small creative businesses. In addition to featuring the work of artist/owners Vicki Atkinson, Liz Moys and Louisa Crispin, there are quarterly exhibitions of painting, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery from some of the leading artists and makers in the country.

Opening just over 2 years ago in October 2014, Artichoke drew on the experience of Sculptor Vicki Atkinson who ran a Gallery from her home for several years. “It was important to be able to continue to develop my own artist practice so when the old post office premises became available in Ticehurst I looked for a partnership to help in the day to day activities and we haven’t looked back. There is an enormous amount of work involved in selecting new artists every three months to provide an exciting and cohesive exhibition, but what I hadn’t expected was the benefits this would bring to my own work.”

Whilst the Gallery is keen to support local artists, they like to bring new ideas to the area and considerable time is spent sourcing from across the country by visiting Art Fairs and Craft Shows, talking to artists and makers, developing an understanding of their dreams and more particularly their humour. Artists and makers are very generous with their knowledge and these connections have developed into firm friendships. The ladies are continually amazed at how far their reputation has spread already with visitors making special trips from London and throughout the South East. “We are on a tourist route, which brings visitors from all over the world but we especially value the locals, who pop their heads around the door on a quiet rainy day just to make us smile. Our busy opening parties are a thank you for their continued support.”

The Gallery has a spacious, relaxed atmosphere to show off the contemporary delights on offer, ideal for sourcing that extra special present or simply a chance to share in the ladies’ rather quirky sense of humour. Check out the website for a taster but better still, pop in for a sensory treat.

The current exhibition “In The Landscape”, featuring work by over 60 artists and makers, continues until Christmas, with some fabulous gift ideas and plenty to make you smile.

www.artichokegallery.co.uk

Artichoke Gallery, Church Street, Ticehurst TN5 7AE

Tel: 01580 200905

Email: artichokegallery@gmail.com

Wing Gallery Wadhurst

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WING Gallery located in the Wealden village of Wadhurst is a real hidden gem. Owned by well-known sculptor Gavin Roweth, the gallery took its maiden flight in November 2012. The first exhibition displayed a diverse range of paintings, sculpture and ceramics, created by talented local artists. Since then the gallery has gone from strength to strength, exhibiting many themed, solo and group shows, featuring national and international artists alongside the wealth of fine artists who live in the Weald. ‘I quickly discovered that it was important to provide a diverse range of art that regularly changed to encourage more customers. Busy times at the gallery can be quite a buzz, selling artists work and discussing possibilities with clients is always rewarding’. Quieter times provide Gavin with the opportunity to catch up on his own design work and plan for future shows. This year for example Gavin has added sectional dividing doors to the gallery to enable him to use some of its space as a separate studio and exhibition space.

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Over the past four years WING has become part of the very fabric of the village, with the ever-changing feature window displays eagerly anticipated. Many of the gallery’s visitors comment that a few minutes inside can provide a brief pause in their chaotic lives. ‘This is an unforeseen result of opening a gallery, but hugely rewarding one.

I have found that being approachable is very important; a gallery should not be an awkward or unapproachable place for anyone to walk into. I think it is a great help that WING is an artist run business. Whether I’m working on a design drawing or a sculpture the process of what I’m doing seems to break down any awkwardness and very soon you are discussing the age of stone or the type of chisels I might use to create a piece. The gallery is also a great place for meeting existing clients; we can discuss a commission, have a coffee and at the same time I can introduce them to artists they may not have come across before’.

The current exhibition running 1st – 13th November is a solo show of artwork by ‘Emily Pennock’. This will be followed by the Christmas exhibition running 18th November – 24th December and featuring 25 local artists.

www.wingartgallery.com

High Street, Wadhurst TN5 6AA.

Tel: 01892 783665

Email: wingart_gallery@btconnect.com

West End House Gallery Smarden

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West End House is a contemporary gallery showing a wide range of original artworks, including paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery, glass and textiles by regional and national artists. Open Thursday to Monday, 10am to 5pm, their aim is to make the gallery space a friendly and stimulating environment with inspiring work, at all prices.

When you first enter the gallery you will see among the many exhibits a dog biscuit bowl. No, it’s not a piece of modern art, but an indication that the gallery, nestling alongside a beautiful church and a pub, is very much a part of the village community.

If you spend a bit of time in the gallery you will see a flow of visitors (some with dogs.) One of them summed it up perfectly saying “the gallery makes all the difference to the village. It’s friendly, lively and very much part of our community.”

The two ladies who run West End House, Patricia Hawkins and Karen Papworth, make an effort to ensure that no-one feels intimidated about entering the gallery and when it comes to selling artworks their policy is never to give anyone the hard sell. They make sure the work they show is varied, with prices ranging from £5 up to several thousand.

Their venture came about when Patricia, who exhibited her glassworks in the gallery was told by the women running it that they intended giving it up and did she know anyone who might like to take it on. She mentioned this to fellow artist Karen, who had already started looking into running a gallery. They talked it over and decided to take the risk together and raided their savings accounts in order to take the business over from the founder of the gallery, Joel Arnstein.

They took over in February 2011 and say they have never regretted the decision. After a good first year the business has continued to flourish, although they admit you will never make a fortune running a gallery. They say it’s not about the money, it’s about the inspiration they get from the work, the excitement of selling work for so many artists and the pleasure they get when someone finds the perfect piece for their home. “We believe we’ve found and created something quite special and it’s a lot of fun to do. There has never been a day when we didn’t want to come to work.”

One look at the visitors book sums up their philosophy with comments such as “very pleasant ambience, great artwork, cheerful folk”, “we have just completed a gallery trail and we can highly recommend this fantastic gallery”, “excellent, inspiring, I could go broke”; and one visitor from Shropshire wrote “an excellent break in our journey. We only came in for a look around and found it too tempting.”

www.west-end-house-gallery.co.uk

West End House Gallery, Water Lane, Smarden, Kent, TN27 8QB

Tel : 01233 770261

Email : spike.pia@west-end-house-gallery.co.uk

Published in Aspect County Magazine – November 2016/Articulate

Art is not always about pretty things. It’s about who we are, what happened to us and how our lives are affected… Elizabeth Broun

– Capitalism Works for Me! by Steve Lambert –

With the on going conflict in the Middle East, seismic impact of the recent Brexit vote here in the UK and the bitter and divisive discourse surrounding the recent presidential elections, which ultimately led to billionaire business man Donald Trump being elected 45th President of the United States, we are currently living through a period of intense political and economic turmoil. We thought therefore, for this mid-winter edition, we would make an attempt at grappling with the thorny subject of art and politics.

All art is political in that it engages society in some way, either influencing it or influenced by it. But some artists and artworks speak more directly to concerns relating to human rights, corruption, class and the distribution of wealth and/or power – not every artist is moved by beauty and love! Others do not start out with the preconceived notion of making a political statement but cause a stir none-the-less, due to their chosen genre, medium, location or timing.

If this all sounds confusing, that’s because it is. But that reflects the culturally dynamic times we live in! So where to start…? Banksy’s Dismaland, Damien Hirst’s ‘Natural History’ series depicting animals (various) in formaldehyde or Ai Weiwei’s sublime porcelain Sunflower Seeds…

One work that particularly stands out for me at this moment in time is ” Capitalism Works for Me!,” by Steve Lambert.

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Created in 2011, the title of the work, Capitalism Works for Me!, isn’t cryptic at first glance. In fact it seems quite direct. The piece is constructed of a huge LED sign blaring the words of its title flanked by scoreboards that register “True” or “False” responses from audience members. The power of the artwork however does not lie in the physical piece itself but in the audience responses. It is a conversation starter: The audience are asked to describe “what capitalism means for them”. This can prove highly provocative; “it’s a bit like walking up to a complete stranger and asking them “Can I talk to you about Jesus?” The word “capitalism” is a red flag. And for good reason—pretty soon either some dude is talking your ear off about “The System” or aggressively confronting you about taxes.”

First launched on Kickstarter, Lambert has toured Capitalism Works for Me! to over 20 cities in Europe and North America since 2011, including a spot in Times Square, NYC in 2013. It debuted in London in 2015 and its most recent outing has been in Texas, USA.

To can watch a selection of people’s responses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spR8q4iY9xc&feature=youtu.be

To read more about this project:

http://visitsteve.com/made/capitalism-works-for-me-truefalse/

Another stand out political work of our time has to be the Royal Moscow Cathedral Performance by Pussy Riot. The Russian feminist protest group formed in 2011, made headlines around the world in 2012 after their 40 second performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral explicitly exposed their derision towards the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Russian Orthodox Church. The group’s actions were stopped by church security officials and on March 3, 2012, two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and charged with hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich was arrested on March 16. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and each was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, however, on October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation and her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld.

Ðîññèÿ. Ìîñêâà. 21 ôåâðàëÿ. Ó÷àñòíèöû ôåìèíèñòñêîé ïàíê-ãðóïïû Pussy Riot âî âðåìÿ íåëåãàëüíîãî âûñòóïëåíèÿ â Õðàìå Õðèñòà Ñïàñèòåëÿ. Ôîòî ÈÒÀÐ-ÒÀÑÑ/ Ìèòÿ Àëåøêîâñêèé

The trial and sentence attracted considerable criticism especially from the West and human rights groups including Amnesty International, which designated the women as prisoners of conscience, subsequently adopted the case. Having served 21 months, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released on December 23, 2013. In February 2014, a statement was made anonymously on behalf of some Pussy Riot members stating that both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were no longer members. However, both were among the group that performed as Pussy Riot during the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Tolokonnikova played the role of Chaika in their 2016 protest song/video “Prison is a weapon”.

Dismaland “Bemusement Park!” – Weston-super-Mare by Banksy

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Dismaland was a temporary art project, organised by street artist Banksy in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Prepared in secret, the disused lido ‘Tropicana’ was turned into “a theme park not suitable for children!” Dismaland opened during the weekend of 21 August 2015 and closed permanently on 27 September 2015, 36 days later.

Dismaland bore all the hallmarks of a Banksy, from its themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and pointed social critiques on celebrity culture, immigration, and law enforcement to the secrecy surrounding its installation, opening and subsequent abrupt closure.

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The exhibit had a mixed reception from critics. Jonathan Jones of the Guardian found it depressing: “brings together a lot of bad art by the seaside.” Where as Dan Brooks in The New York Times was critical of the easy sarcasm. The public however loved it, with many prepared to queue for hours each day for one of the 500 daily walk-in tickets. It also brought in 150,000 visitors from around the world, boosting the local economy of Weston-super-Mare by some £20m.

To view the trailer for this project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2NG-MgHqEk

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 by Damien Hirst

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‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ has become embedded in popular culture as one of the most iconic images of contemporary art. Conceived by Hirst in 1989 whilst at studying at Goldsmiths, the ‘Natural History’ series work consists of a thirteen-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde, weighing a total of 23 tons. The shark is contained within a steel and glass vitrine three times longer than high and divided into three cubes.

According to the artist, the title was, “just a statement that I had used to describe the idea of death to myself”. Thought of prior to the sculpture, it was taken from Hirst’s student thesis on Hyper reality and the work of Robert Longo and Umberto Eco. Hirst recalls liking the title’s poetic clumsiness because of the way it expressed, “something that wasn’t there, or was there”.

Subsequent ‘Natural History’ works have included; Mother and Child (Divided), depicting a cow and calf bisected and preserved in four tanks of formaldehyde and Philip (The Twelve Disciples), a bulls head in formaldehyde. Mother and Child (Divided) is a key early work, first exhibited as part of the ‘Aperto 93’ Venice Biennale exhibition. It subsequently formed the focal piece for the 1995 Turner Prize won by Hirst.

Damien Hirst will return to Venice in 2017 with his latest project, which has been 10 years in the making. It will be exhibited across both Pinault collection Venice museums; Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, highlighting the longstanding relationship shared by the artist and the Pinault Collection.

To read more about Damien Hirst:

http://www.damienhirst.com

 Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei

ai-weiwei

Exhibited in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern 2010-2011, Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds installation was made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may have seemed, the life-sized sunflower seed husks were in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.

Each seed had been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they were the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds formed a seemingly infinite landscape.

Sunflower Seeds invited us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today, posing challenging questions such as: What does it mean to be an individual in today’s society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future…? Questions which have proved a recurring theme through out his work; reflecting Ai Weiwei’s own lived experience as a child refugee, family in exile and political detainment.

Ai Weiwei’s latest work is currently showing simultaneously across four gallery spaces in New York: “Roots and Branches” can be viewed at Mary Boone and Lisson Gallery; “The Laundromat” displaying clothing left behind after the forced evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp, on the border of Greece and Macedonia is on show at the Deitch Projects in SoHo.

To read more about Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seed project and see images:

http://www.aiweiweiseeds.com/about-ai-weiweis-sunflower-seeds

Closer to home a contemporary artist with a strong political message running throughout her art practice is Russian-born Svetlana K-Lie. From photography to sculpture she juxtaposes memories of her childhood growing up in the former Soviet Union in stark contrast to contemporary western culture. Significant works include The Last Supper, Sleeping Beauty and Pigs.

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Born in Moscow, Svetlana was originally set on a path to become an Olympic gymnast, however, everything changed for her at the age of 10 when a rubber landed on her head! This chance encounter led her to discover an artist’s studio, which so enchanted her it changed the direction of her life forever. Svetlana now lives in Brighton, but, spends much of her time travelling the globe in pursuit of her art.

Talking about her personal motivation, Svetlana says “I do not consider this life the only one. Naturally, there is always a beginning and an end to everything but in the global sense of the word it is an ‘eternal’ process; the experience of reincarnations, of universal births and deaths.”

Svetlana was shortlisted for the prestigious Threadneedle prize in 2011 and in 2012 undertook an art residency at La Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.

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To read more on Svetlana K-Lie please visit her website:

http://www.svetlanarts.com

Top 5 Exhibitions to visit in London in December

Royal Academy, Piccadilly

Abstract Impressionism until 2 January 2017

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk

Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, Bankside

Hyundi Commission: Philippe Parreno: Anywhen until 2 April 2017

http://www.tate.org.uk

The National Portrait Gallery, St. Martins Place

Picasso Portraits until 5 February 2017

http://www.npg.org.uk

Halcyon Gallery, New Bond Street

Bob Dylan 5 Nov – 11 Dec 2016

http://www.halcyongallery.com

Rebecca Hossack, Conway Street

Alasdair Wallace: Ache the Good Ache 1 – 23 December 2016

http://www.rebeccahossack.com

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December 2016/Articulate

Five significant exhibitions to visit in 2017

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Alphonse Mucha – In Quest of Beauty

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8 October 2016 – 19 February 2017

This exhibition explores the work and legacy of Czech painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939), through his stylish and beautiful theatrical and advertising posters. The exhibition examines how ‘le style Mucha’ evolved and became synonymous with the international Art Nouveau style. It also examines the often-hidden, skilled draughtsmanship behind Mucha’s internationally recognisable designs, and explores how his artistic philosophy influenced his later career.

www.glasgowlife.org.uk

National Gallery, London

Australia’s Impressionists

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7 December 2016 – 26 March 2017

Showcasing four innovative Australian Impressionist artists, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell, this exhibition explores Impressionism in an Australian context – closely related to yet entirely distinct from its European counterparts.

www.nationalgallery.org.uk

The Royal Academy of Arts, London

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s

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25 February – 4 June 2017

The art of 1930s America tells the story of a nation in flux. Artists responded to rapid social change and economic anxiety with some of the 20th century’s most powerful art – brought together now for this once-in-a-generation show.

These 45 truly iconic works paint an electrifying portrait of this transformative period. These are works which are rarely seen together, by artists ranging from Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper to Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston and more. Perhaps the most celebrated work of them all, Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic (1930), has never left North American shores before.

www.royalacademy.org.uk

The British Museum, London

The American Dream: Pop to the Present

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9 March – 18 June 2017

The past six decades have been among the most dynamic and turbulent in US history, from JFK’s assassination, Apollo 11 and Vietnam to the AIDS crisis, racism and gender politics, culminating in the recent election of Donald Trump as 45th President.

This exhibition presents the Museum’s outstanding collection of modern and contemporary American prints for the first time. These will be shown with important works from museums and private collections around the world.

The exhibition will include works by the most celebrated American artists. From Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu. Taking inspiration from the world around them – billboard advertising, global politics, Hollywood and household objects – these American artists created highly original prints to rival their paintings and sculptures.

www.britishmseum.org

The V&A, London

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

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27 May 2017 – 18 Feb 2018

Born in the Basque region of Spain, Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895 – 1972) was apprenticed to a tailor from the age of 12. In 1914 he opened the House of Balenciaga in San Sebastian, where most of his clients were aristocrats. After the Spanish monarchy was deposed in the 1930s, Balenciaga moved to Paris. Here he became known for dramatic black coats and dresses, which recalled Spanish fashions of the Elizabethan age.

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This retrospective exhibition will be the first exhibition dedicated to the famed Spanish designer in the UK, marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of his first fashion house and 80 years since he opened the doors of his famous Paris salon. Featuring around 100 garments and 20 hats crafted by the couturier and his followers – alongside sketches, photographs, film and fabric samples – it will examine in detail the craftsmanship and techniques that earned Balenciaga the reputation as one of the most pioneering designers of the 20th century and look at how his work impacted the future of fashion design.

www.vam.ac.uk

Published in Aspect County Magazine – January 2017/Articulate

Keep Calm and Pamper Yourself!

Everyone needs a little pampering from time to time, particularly in the cold winter months following Christmas, when the festivities are but a distant memory and early mornings are starting to take their toll on ones health and sense of well-being. This January edition looks at some of the luxurious spa retreats favoured by the City set!

ESPA Life at Corinthia, London

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Set in a space of iconic beauty, ESPA Life at Corinthia takes the Spa concept to the next level. A pioneering new concept, ESPA Life offers a fully integrated approach to wellbeing, bringing together a team of the world’s top experts to offer an unrivalled choice of spa, complementary alternative therapies, fitness, beauty treatments and Daniel Galvin Hair Salon.

Spread over four floors, the spa features 17 treatment rooms, a private spa suite, nail studio, indoor swimming pool, vitality pool, amphitheatre sauna, ice fountain, marble heated loungers and private sleep pods. The spa café complements the overall offering by serving light, nutritious refreshments.

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https://www.espalifeatcorinthia.com

The Dorchester Spa, Park Lane, London

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“Nothing very bad could ever happen in The Dorchester Spa. So acutely drilled are the staff and so invisible are the processes that keep the oasis running like a well-oiled machine, that you can literally relax to the point of regression. Every need will be taken care of (even those you never thought you had, like the absolute requirement for some biscotti biscuits after a massage), and obliging therapists with mollifying tones will hold your hand every step of the way, from showing you where to hang your robe to rustling up a hairband because you were too disorganised to bring one.” Timeout Magazine

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/london/the-dorchester/spa/

Sequoia at the Grove, Hertfordshire

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Sequoia at the Grove is a luxury spa located just 20 minutes from the centre of the capital. The trendy spa hotel has romantic rooms in its luxury 18th century Mansion House and the more contemporary West Wing all with endless views of its beautiful grounds. Inside and out there’s eclectic, and somewhat eccentric, art to absorb and hidden gems to explore, not least the sizeable sandy beach and outdoor heated pool in the Walled Garden. The Sequoia Spa itself is home to a jumbo indoor swimming pool plus self-massaging ‘Vitality Pool’, heat experiences and wet rooms.

https://www.thegrove.co.uk/spa/

Calcot Spa, Calcot Manor Hotel, The Cotswolds

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Calcot Manor is a traditional Cotswolds hotel located in a fourteenth-century farmhouse. “A relaxing countryside retreat, with squashy sofas and roaring fires creating an atmosphere of cosiness.” The Telegraph

Calcot Spa is situated in the grounds of Calcot Manor Hotel. The beautifully designed spa is flooded with natural light and the neutral artwork and furnishings reflect the surrounding countryside. Dip into the outdoor hydrotherapy pool, swim lengths in the 16-metre indoor pool or just relax in the thermal experience area. There are also plenty of fitness options, whether you want to spend a couple of hours in the gym, or walk around the countryside trail track.

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http://www.calcot.co/calcot-spa/

Lucknam Park Spa, Wiltshire 

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Lucknam Park is the hotel that has it all: award-winning spa and wellness centre, Michelin-starred restaurant, 500-acre estate and even stables, which are home to 35 glossy-flanked horses. The grounds are peaceful and private, including tennis courts, croquet lawn, football pitch and a cookery school.

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https://www.lucknampark.co.uk

The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath

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Originally built in the 1800s, The Gainsborough Bath Spa occupies two Grade II Listed buildings with distinguished Georgian and Victorian façades in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Named after the artist, Sir Thomas Gainsborough, the luxury hotel designed by New York based Champalimaud Design is centred around Spa Village Bath and, uniquely in the UK, has the exclusive privilege of having access to the natural thermal, mineral-rich waters.

The Gainsborough Health Club & Spa combine a luxurious day spa with excellent health and fitness facilities.

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www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

 

Published in Aspect County Magazine – January Edition 

When in Doubt, Skate it out…

 

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Ice skating is one of London’s favourite winter pastimes, especially in the run-up to Christmas. There are several permanent indoor ice skating rinks in London, but in winter you’ll find many more indoor and outdoor ice rinks popping up across the capital. You can get your ice skates on this winter at iconic London locations, such as the historic Hampton Court Palace, the beautiful Somerset House and the majestic Natural History Museum. Shopping destinations such WestField London and Canary Wharf also feature seasonal indoor and outdoor rinks, often accompanied by Christmas Markets and seasonal pop up eateries. Outside of London the rink in front of the iconic Brighton Pavilion is definitely worth a look, together with the rink in Calverley Grounds Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Hampton Court Palace

Until 8 January 2017

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This 1,040-square-metre (11,194-square-feet) outdoor ice rink offers spectacular views of the magnificent Tudor palace where Henry VIII once lived.

www.hamptoncourtpalaceicerink.co.uk

Somerset House

Until 15 January 2017

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Set against a stunning neoclassical façade, Skate at Somerset House in partnership with Fortnum & Mason is open all day and well into the evening, when you can skate to live DJs. You can learn to skate or perfect your skills at the weekend skate school and little ones get to enjoy their very own section of the ice where they can practise with specially-designed bear skating aids. After your session, drop by Fortnum & Mason’s pop-up shop brimming with gifts and festive goodies in Somerset House’s West Wing and warm up with wintry food and drinks in Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge. Ice skating sessions generally run between 10am and 10.15pm daily, with shorter opening times on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, as well as extended opening hours on selected dates. The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/skate-somerset-house

National History Museum

Until 8 January 2017

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This spectacular 950-square-metre (10,225-square-feet) rink is nestled in front of the iconic South Kensington museum and surrounded by 76,000 glittering fairy lights. Visit the museum’s Café Bar for winter warmers and watch the skaters glide on the ice from the cafe’s balcony. Opening times vary, but most ice skating sessions run between 10am and 10pm, with extended opening hours on weekends and in the days leading up to Christmas, as well as on New Year’s Eve when the rink opens until 12.30am (late-night New Year’s Eve tickets go on sale in November). The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink.html

Tower of London

Until 3 January 2017

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The Tower of London ice rink returns this winter, offering day and evening ice skating sessions in the setting of the historic London landmark. Catch up with friends and family on the ice or enjoy a romantic skate under the starry sky, as hundreds of snowflakes light up the wall of the fortress after dark. Cool down after your session with a visit to the Eis Haus. Wrapped up in one of the insulated coats provided, step inside the pop-up bar and lounge, made entirely of ice and enjoy a drink in a chilled ice glass surrounded by crystal-clear ice sculptures. For something cosier, the Dip-Dunk Lodge serves up delicious winter food including fondue, baked goods and warming drinks with a view over the ice rink. Ice skating sessions run between 11am and 10pm daily, except Christmas Day.

toweroflondonicerink.co.uk

LUMINOCITY Canary Wharf Canada Square

Until 25 February 2017

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Located in the centre of Canary Wharf, LUMINOCITY @ Ice Rink Canary Wharf will brighten up Canada Square Park this winter with more than 8km of LED lights laid beneath the ice. LUMINOCITY will showcase more than 16 million different colours every session and swathe skaters in an abundance of magical light to create a truly immersive skating experience. The ice rink is also fully covered by a clear roof to guarantee skating sessions whatever the weather. Canary Wharf also offers an abundance of shopping and eating experiences. A beautiful and modern part of London, Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline is an integral part of the landscape and, with the recent addition of Crossrail Place, has become a premier shopping and leisure destination offering new restaurants, a cinema, plus one of London’s biggest roof gardens. From small boutiques to designer labels, spanning beauty, fashion, fitness and homeware, more than 120 stores span five malls together with eateries to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.

www.icerinkcanarywharf.co.uk   canarywharf.com

Brighton Pavilion

Until 15 January 2017

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion rink, with the ornate Regency pleasure palace as its backdrop, is open every day, and is a great way to round off a day of Christmas shopping in the famous surrounding lanes. This year, the rink side Bar & Kitchen is serving up warming soups, mulled wine and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate.

www.royalpavilionicerink.co.uk

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Until 2 January 2017

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Set in the beautiful splendour of Calverley Grounds’ amphitheatre and bathed in twinkling festive lights, the Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink is back, bigger and better than ever this year! Father Christmas will also be visiting the rink on certain days and meeting children in his cosy, warm log cabin set amongst the trees. Check the website for full details.

http://www.tunbridgewellsatchristmas.com

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December Edition

 

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member!

With much of their allure being built on exclusivity, we take a look inside some of London’s notoriously hard to access private members’ clubs.

The Hospital Club, Covent Garden 

hospital-club

The Hospital Club was founded by Paul Allen and Dave Stewart: The story goes that Paul and Dave were having a drink in Covent Garden one night when they spotted a boarded-up building, the former St Paul’s Hospital. They hatched a plan to revive the building and transform it into a hub of creativity – full of people, ideas, music and life – and in 2004, The Hospital Club was born.

The Hospital Club 24, Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ

www.thehospitalclub.com

CONTACT

020 7170 9100

reception@thehospitalclub.com

George Club, Mayfair

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George, which opened its doors in 2001, is a private members club whose atmosphere and design are quietly contemporary and deliberately understated. An extensive collection of David Hockney prints hang in the brasserie dining room, where the open kitchen provides a sense of theatre for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The large bar downstairs affords Members space to enjoy the imaginative cocktail list and bar menu.

George Club 87-88 Mount Street, London W1K 2SR

www.georgeclub.com

CONTACT

reception@georgeclub.com

+44(0)20 7491 4433

The Groucho Club, Dean Street

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Formed in 1985, The Groucho Club is the original arts & media private members club, frequented by artists, publishers, actors, musicians, advertising exec’s and trendy city types.

Dreamt up by a group of publishers as an alternative to stuffy gentleman’s clubs who wanted somewhere to meet and relax, they approached Anthony Mackintosh owner of ‘The Zanzibar’ – a member’s bar in Covent Garden – and Restaurant 192. Tony and his partners got to work and The Groucho Club was created. With bars, two restaurants, private event rooms and twenty bedrooms, The Groucho Club is the benchmark for a new generation of members clubs both opening in the area and internationally.

The Groucho Club membership now approaches five thousand with members joining from across the globe.  The Club has associations and reciprocals with members clubs from New York to Hong Kong and intends to maintain its position as the most desirable Arts & Media private members club in… well the World.

THE GROUCHO CLUB 45 Dean Street, London W1D 4QB

www.thegrouchoclub.com

CONTACT

+44 (0)20 7439 4685

+44 (0)20 7437 0373

reception@thegrouchoclub.com

Lloyds Club, EC3

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Lloyds Club was founded in 1920 and has occupied various premises, moving as buildings were redeveloped. In 2009 the Club became part of the Hampden Group, which has a strong presence in the Lloyds Market, and moved to 42 Crutched Friars, a grade II* Listed Building nestling in the heart of London’s financial district.

Primarily a luncheon club, it attracts members from a broad range of city disciplines including insurance market underwriters, agents and brokers, financial and banking executives, lawyers, shipbrokers, loss adjusters, accountants, management consultants and ship managers.

Lloyds Club 42 Crutched Friars, London EC3N 2AP

www.lloydsclub.co.uk

CONTACT

Telephone: 020 7863 6680  

Email: info@lloydsclub.co.uk

National Liberal Club, St. James

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Founded in 1882 by William Ewart Gladstone, the National Liberal Club exists to provide the very best club facilities for relaxing and entertaining in the heart of London, for members whose interests vary from liberal politics to the liberal arts.   The club remains completely independent of any party, but as the name implies, continues to be closely identified with the Liberal tradition, and Liberals worldwide. The NLC’s liberal heritage meant that it was conceived as a club that should be able to outshine any of the more established aristocratic clubs of London; but for membership to remain much more accessible than other clubs. It was one of London’s first major gentlemen’s clubs to admit women as full members; and from its launch in the 1880s it was unusual in embracing a diverse range of members of many different ethnic, social and religious backgrounds.   Overlooking the Thames, with “the most splendid terrace in London”, the club is within easy reach of Whitehall, the West End, the City and Theatreland. The club is blessed with an extraordinary building by noted Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse, and is also conveniently situated for underground and mainline stations which are close by.

The National Liberal Club Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HE

www.nlc.org.uk

CONTACT

Tel: 020 7930 9871

Fax: 020 7839 4768

The Arts Club, Dover Street

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arts-club-terrace

The Arts Club was founded in 1863 in order to provide a haven for those people who had professional or amateur relationships with the Arts, Literature or Sciences. The club has become a favoured haunt of both celebrities and city workers since its re-launch in 2011, following a complete renovation.

The Club’s art collection remains at its very core, highlighting international trends, as well as maintaining a focus on British-based artists. Amelie von Wedel, the Club’s art advisor and curator, has chosen the pieces to include a combination of site-specific installations and carefully selected acquisitions. The permanent collection includes work by Tomas Saraceno, John Baldessari and John Stezaker, which sit alongside both the Club’s historic collection and a series of temporary exhibitions, which change throughout the year.

The Arts Club 40 Dover Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4NP

www.theartsclub.co.uk

CONTACT

020 7499 8581

Cartlon Club, St James

carlton-club-staircase

The Carlton Club was founded in 1832 following the massive reform majority in the 1831 general election. On 10 March 1832, a meeting at the Thatched House tavern appointed a committee to take on and manage new premises in Carlton Terrace. The name ‘Carlton Club’ was adopted a week later.

By 1835 the club’s wealth and standing were such that it moved to specially designed premises on Pall Mall. Membership was a badge of allegiance to the Conservative Party and the Club provided the core of the party’s organisation for many decades, particularly before the foundation of Conservative Central Office.

The present address of 69 St James’s Street only became a clubhouse after the Pall Mall building was destroyed during the Second World War. Thankfully, many of the club’s most valuable portraits survived and now adorn the clubhouse walls. The architect Thomas Hopper (1776-1856) designed the clubhouse in a restrained Palladian style, using Portland Stone. Like many Regency buildings, the interior is dominated by an impressive stone staircase. Hopper used Greek sources as inspiration for the decoration.

Carlton Club 69 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1PJ

www.carltonclub.co.uk

CONTACT

Phone: +44 (0)20 7493 1164

Published in Aspect County Magazine – October Edition

Summer time and the living is easy, fish are jumping and the cotton is high….

provence-alpes-cote-d-azur_sightseeing

For this post we leave the UK, albeit briefly, to take a sneak peak at a couple of the hidden luxury locations favoured by the city crowd en vacances…

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is a treasure trove of unusual villages, some of which belong to the group of ‘best villages in France’, and which are real gems.

Typical examples include;

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, an ancient feudal town protected by ramparts built on the orders of François I, it is renowned not only for its historical heritage but also as a haven for many artists and writers. It is home to numerous art galleries and the Maeght Foundation.

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a magnificent perched village, with a medieval dungeon, at an altitude of 225 m.

Sainte-Agnès, the highest coastal village in Europe at an altitude of 700m.

Tourtour, nicknamed ‘the village in the skies of Provence’, is perched at an altitude of 635 m. With its stone-built houses and the keep of its medieval castle, it is the perfect spot if you want to get away from it all.

Eze Village

Eze village on the French Riviera is a very special place! A little corner of paradise located just 10 minutes from Nice and Monaco, where the scents of jasmine, bougainvillea and rose guide the visitor up the gently sloping, fresh, cool lanes.

You can easily imagine, a century ago, donkeys coming back from the surrounding countryside laden with figs, carob, olives and mandarin oranges from Eze. The bell tower of Sainte-Croix Chapel of the White Penitents stands as a reminder that this village belonged to Provence until the end of the 14th century. The choir of the Church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption boasts Baroque décor and an Egyptian cross evoking for Eze the mysteries of the goddess Isis. The aloe, euphorbia and cactus of the exotic garden, created on the hillsides surrounding the village in 1949 by Jean Gastaud, provide the finishing touch to this heavenly spot.

The Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or

Former home of the Riquier family and later Prince William of Sweden, the Château de la Chèvre d’Or is a heavenly spot, perched on a hillside overlooking the sea. A unique diva, unaffected by the passage of time, La Chèvre d’Or is a jewel glimmering in the heavens above the Mediterranean.

In 1953, Robert Wolf was so captivated by the Château de La Chèvre d’Or he turned it into a restaurant. Legend tells it that, on the advice of Walt Disney, Wolf bought up the village houses and converted them into rooms. The Hotel then became one of the 6 stopping-off points on the ‘Route du Bonheur – Road to Happiness’, from which the Relais & Châteaux Association was created.

Different owners have succeeded each other and increased the number of guest rooms in the medieval village. Today the Château has 39 guest rooms and suites and features four individual restaurants and a bar.

La Chèvre d’Or *****

Rue du Barri – 06 360 Eze Village. France – Côte d’Azur.

Tel : +33 4 92 10 66 66 – www.chevredor.com
Hôtel membre de Phoenix Hotel Collection – www.phoenixhotelcollection.com

Languedoc-Roussillon, popularly known as the Languedoc, is the central region of the south of France; it includes the western Mediterranean coast of France, stretching from the Rhone valley in the east, to the Spanish border in the south west, and comprises five departments, four of which are Mediterranean coastal departments.

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 The regional capital of Languedoc-Roussillon is the city of Montpellier, a thriving modern city in the Hérault, with a historic centre; other major cities in the region include Beziers, Nimes, Narbonne, Sete and Perpignan.

The Languedoc-Roussillon region is dominated by 740,300 acres (2,996 km2) of vineyards, three times that of the combined area in Bordeaux. Grapevines are said to have existed in the South of France since the Pliocene period – before the existence of Homo sapiens. The first vineyards of Gaul developed around two towns: Béziers and Narbonne.

Lonely Planet described the Languedoc as “The Cinderella of the south…. once overshadowed by gorgeous Provence and the brash Côte d’Azur. Now, she stands as their equal, displaying a discreet charm that her more-visited siblings lost long ago

Consequently, many historic Chateau are now being converted into luxury estates to meet the increased tourist need. One such estate is the recently opened Chateau St Pierre de Serjac. A magnificent Château estate with working vineyard, hotel, restaurant, spa and luxury self-catering properties, set in 200 acres of beautiful Mediterranean countryside. The Chateau features 36 luxury self-catering properties carved from the original estate outbuildings, 8 luxurious hotel rooms in quintessential French style and an elegant Mediterranean restaurant and Spa.

serjac

Run by a former doyenne of the LA Spa scene, the spa features an inviting and sensuous 350m² Mediterranean sanctuary with 12m heated indoor pool, hot tub, aromatherapy sauna & hammam. Huge glass sliding walls flood the space with sunlight all year round and there are indoor & outdoor relaxation terraces, with great views over the surrounding vineyards.

serjac-spa-3 serjac-spa

Chateau St Pierre de Serjac | D30 between Pouzolles and Magalas | 34480 Puissalicon

www.serjac.com/luxury-chateau-languedoc/

Reception: reception@serjac.com | 00 33 (0)4 67 80 76 00

Spa: spa@serjac.com | 00 33 (0)4 67 80 75 45

Published in Aspect County Magazine – September Edition

Cool town, evening in the city. Dressing so fine and looking so pretty…

London now boasts an impressive array of rooftop bars and restaurants. From City to West End; Shoreditch to riverside here is a small taste of what London has to offer.

Radio rooftop bar ME London

radio-rooftop-bar

“The rooftop bar at ME London brings lounging and social indulgence to a new height.”

Located on the 10th floor of ME London, accessible via a dedicated express lift, Radio is the only rooftop bar, lounge & terrace in the Strand & Aldwych area to be open throughout the day till 2AM (Thursday – Saturday).

Book ahead to avoid the queues for this hotel bar, which can sometimes match altitude with attitude. Make it up to the 10th floor though and 360-degree views are the payoff, stretching from the Shard and St Paul’s downstream to the London Eye and Big Ben up west.

Daytimes – weekend brunches and Champagne afternoon teas – are less hectic. ME London, 336-337 Strand, London, WC2R 1HA; radiorooftop.com

Selfridges Q on the Roof

Voted the best department store in the world, Selfridges not only has all the latest designer collections, must-have toys & gifts, it also boasts an impressive pop-up rooftop bar and restaurant.

Entry is via an Express Lift located in Fragrance on the Ground Floor. Booking is advised – online or by telephone: 020 7318 3287

http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/content/forest-restaurant

SKY GARDEN | 20 Fenchurch Street [The Walkie-Talkie!]

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Rafael Viñoly, the world-renowned Uruguayan architect based in New York City, designed 20 Fenchurch Street in 2004. Without increasing the building’s footprint, Viñoly turned the idea that buildings having to be smaller at the top on its head. The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is a unique public space that spans three storeys and offers 360 degree uninterrupted views across the City of London. Visitors can wander around the exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open-air terrace of what is London’s highest public garden.

Entry to the Sky Garden is free, but please note space is strictly limited and visits must be booked online in advance. http://skygarden.london/booking

The City Garden Bar is a drinking and dining space, situated amongst the impressive Sky Garden. For access to City Garden, guests need to pre book a public visitors ticket.

RESTAURANTS@SKYGARDEN.LONDON

Open: Mon-Fri: 10am – 6pm
Sat-Sun: 11am – 9pm

Sushisamba

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Located on the 38th and 39th floors at 110 Bishopsgate, SUSHISAMBA delivers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and striking design to the City of London. The location features the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe, offering unparalleled, 360 degree views of the City.

Open: Monday – Friday: 8am – 10pm. Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 10pm

110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY; https://sushisamba.com

Coq d’Argent

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Classic French Cuisine in a spectacular rooftop setting, located in the heart of the city. Extremely popular with city boys and girls – best avoided on Thursday and Friday nights if you are not a fan of queuing!

No.1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ; coqdargent.co.uk

Rumpus Room at the Mondrian London at Sea Containers

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Rumpus Room is the rooftop bar and lounge at Mondrian London, inspired by a moment in time, the Bright Young Things. One of the most extraordinary cults of youth and frivolity in history, the Bright Young Things were a voracious pleasure-seeking band of bohemian party-givers and blue-blooded socialites who romped through the newspaper columns in 1920’s London.

Rumpus Room brings back this era, a time when a party was more than a party, it was a lifestyle, an experience, a flash in time, that was gone before you knew it happened.

With dramatic views of London, Rumpus Room comes alive as the sun goes down; a magical glittering glass box perched atop Mondrian, specialising in bubbly, serving an extensive list of the world’s best champagne offerings, by the glass, bottle, or in specialty cocktails.

For reservations please call +44 (0)20 3747 1063

https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/mondrian/mondrian-london/eat-drink/rumpus-room

 The Roof Gardens | Kensington

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The Roof Gardens were the dream of Trevor Bowen, the vice president of John Barker & Co. In 1936 he employed landscape architect Ralph Hancock to realise his vision. The gardens took two years to build at a cost of £25,000 and opened to the public in May 1938.

The gardens at The Roof Gardens are spectacular and best of all, they’re open to the public to visit free of charge. The gardens are often hired for private events so we strongly recommend you phone ahead (0207 937 7994) to make sure they’re open on your preferred day.

When visiting the gardens you will be asked to add your name to the visitor log and photo ID will be required.

If the gardens are in use you can always book a table in the Babylon Restaurant for a bird’s eye view of the English Woodland Garden, or pop in for a cocktail on the terrace.

http://www.virginlimitededition.com/en/the-roof-gardens/the-gardens

Boundary Rooftop

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Boundary’s architecture is a tribute to Shoreditch and the confluence of old and new. The dilapidated Victorian warehouse was restored and a striking copper, steel and glass extension added. Over fifty artists and designers contributed bespoke commissions for the interior, with everything overseen by Sir Terence Conran.

Boundary rooftop offers a distinct panorama of East London. The heated orangery is filled with a variety of Citrus trees including Lemon, Clementine, and Calamondin, as well as Mimosa trees. When the weather is good, the space is doubled and provides an unrivaled location.

http://boundary.london/rooftop/

Published in Aspect County Magazine Billionaire edition – July 2016