Another discovery for me during Open House was Marlborough House on Pall Mall. Well I say on but pedestrians actually go through a little gateway and down an alley
before coming to this splendid entrance below. No photography was permitted inside as it is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations and the seat of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Built for Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Anne’s confidante, it remained the Dukes of Marlborough’s London residence for over a century. This grand palace backs on to the Mall – I’ve often seen the flags visible over the wall and wondered what they meant.
Now I know. Look at the size of it!
The flagpoles look tiny in this shot which gives you an idea of the scale
St James’s Palace is the next door neighbour seen here in the background, so convenient when Anne needed Sarah, which by all accounts was frequently.
and they even have a pet cemetery in a little glade.
Artist Andy Holden and his father Peter Holden share a fascination with birds. Peter is a bird expert, running the RSPB’s Young Ornithologists’ Club amongst other activities.
Father and son worked on Natural Selection, an exhibition staged by Artangel which was a combination of education and art. There was much more to it than this one room but I wanted to share the seductive beauty of the eggs, so realistic yet all painstakingly made of porcelain and painted by hand.
Olafur Eliasson shows us in the last part of Monochrome, Painting in Black & White at the National Gallery, that monochrome doesn’t automatically mean only black & white.
After a fascinating exhibition of more traditional interpretations, including some staggeringly convincing trompe l’oeil painting, you walk into a bright yellow room and everything becomes tones of that colour.
The ceiling is lined with sodium yellow monofrequency lamps, a colour that suppresses all others.
and even my pillar box red jacket cannot resist the influence of the shadow-free light.
Artists and designers have and always will be, inspired by nature. These two makers, seen at Made London, are a case in point.
Bridget Bailey’s exquisite interpretation of bird eggs made from textiles and feathers caught my eye, quite a change from her earlier insects and moths (see a previous post)
as did the work of another textile artist, Amanda Cobbett, who is completely obsessed with nature. Her highly reflective display boxes didn’t permit decent photos of these fungi so please visit her website for better imagery
And those red dots below are from my camera, not some aberration on the mushroom.
To see more of Bridget’s work, visit Clockwork Studio’s Christmas Open Studios 8th – 10th December
Ah, Claridge’s! I was seduced by this hotel from the moment I stepped in and just had to share the glamour of this room, too grand to be just the loos and reminiscent of those black & white movies where the heroines retreat to powder their nose.
It’s an Art Deco joy with painted walls, plaster jewel-encrusted pillars, bevelled edge mirrors
marquetry toilet doors with glass handles
and the diffused lighting fixtures of Lalique.
Open House London gives us, the public, the opportunity to visit buildings of all kinds not normally open to general view during the rest of the year.
One of the venues I visited this year was the Royal Society of Chemistry where I wasn’t expecting to find these two contemporary stained glass windows within the complex of Burlington House.
Designed by Laurence Lee (who also designed the windows for Coventry Cathedral) they are a memorial to Nobel Prize Laureate Cyril Hinshelwood and represent alchemy and chemistry. The four traditional elements: red for fire, clear for air, blue for water and green for earth are all there along with the many chemical variants and combinations.
I recently toured the newly opened Nobu Shoreditch, with interiors by StudioMica and restaurant & bar by Studio PCH
The guest rooms are obviously a bit less accessible than the public areas so I’ll concentrate on them here.
The rooms share a combination of urban brutalism (concrete ceilings and exposed services such as sprinklers) from the Shoreditch location and Japanese aesthetics of Nobu, giving this place the feel of an oasis in the city centre.
Judicious use of texture and lighting creates jewel-like points of focus. I confess to having a soft spot for the bathrooms; not only are they visually beautiful but really practical (as several guests have apparently pointed out you can tell they’ve been designed by a woman). The mirrors offer proper lighting with decent magnification and there is plenty of shelving for toiletries.
And who doesn’t love that washbasin?
This view of the courtyard garden from one of the suites gives an idea of the architecture concept by Ron Arad, implemented by Ben Adams.