Cindy Lawford takes me on an eye-opening Pall Mall art tour
Do you ever look in the windows of expensive London shops and wonder who shops there? And how much things cost, since of course there are no price tags!
I do, and I never really expected to enter one of these places and find out, but now I’ve been on Cindy Lawford’s Pall Mall art tour and got a glimpse of another world.
Cindy offers walking tours of a number of famous streets in Mayfair and St James’s. A Texan, she came to London to do research at the British Library and has been here ever since. Cindy bubbles over with contagious enthusiasm for the streets, their history and the shops that line them.
I met her in an Italian cafe in Pall Mall where she gave me a history of art in the area, illustrated by pictures on her iPad.
Then we walked the short distance to Christie’s (below), which happened to be in the midst of an auction of Indian art.
As we left, in a display case in the foyer I spotted a white crocodile skin Hermes bag, which was due to be auctioned in June. I’ve just checked the auction results and in fact two were sold, one for £75,000 and the other £100,000.
Contemporary art and furniture
On we went to the David Gill Gallery, which shows contemporary art and furniture. Here the assistant manager described to us the work of several artists, including the Barnaby Barford ceramic pieces below, and furniture by Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned architect.
Round the corner in the Thomas Dane Gallery we were an audience of two watching A Movie by Bruce Conner, made in 1958. I was expecting an art film to be impenetrable, but in fact it was quite compelling.
Sculpture from Rodin to the present day
The unexpected highlight of my Pall Mall art tour was discovering that the Bowman Gallery, the world’s foremost gallery for Rodin sculptures, also represents my favourite contemporary sculptor, Emily Young.
I discovered her a few years ago when A and I strolled through St Paul’s Churchyard and I saw the stone angel heads mounted on tall columns. I’ve used this photo as my screensaver ever since and never tire of seeing it every day:
To buy an Emily Young head would cost many thousands of pounds, but you can see them absolutely free (summer 2017) in the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent’s Park, till January 2018 at St James’ Church in Piccadilly, and till June 2020 at the Neo Bankside Sculpture Walk.
Porcelain too precious to hold
Further along Duke Street we examined this display of porcelain in the window at the Brian Haughton Gallery:
We were then given an introduction to early porcelain by Paul Crane, whose family had a porcelain works in the 1700s. He had just received two pieces from that time that were sitting on his desk – just incredible to think that something so delicate has survived this long. At one point he held a piece out to me to hold, but I hastily declined!
My tour ended at Peter Finer, specialists in antique arms and armour, with my head whirling from all the beautiful objects and nuggets of information. It wasn’t till much later that I realised I’d been so absorbed I’d forgotten to take any photos at all!
Who would enjoy Cindy’s Pall Mall art tour?
I’d highly recommend this tour for anyone who has an interest in art or history, and it would be great for members of a class, bearing in mind Cindy restricts group numbers so the tour doesn’t overwhelm small spaces or get in the way of customers.
And it will be immensely enjoyable for anyone wants to get to know London better, who loves beautiful objects, or is just plain curious, like me. This isn’t a sponsored post, by the way, I just love to find and share people doing something unique really well!
And I hope to be in London on a Friday afternoon soon, to join her on the Jermyn Street Experience, which takes in hat and shirt makers, and perfume, cheese and cigar shops.
(Emily Young angel head by Andy Britnell, all other photos by Cindy Lawford)