Image: © Rory Lindsay
June 24 2013
On Friday the office moves to the fair site in the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
The office is chaotic as we pack and sort, and the phones ring non-stop.
Everyone is keen to move on-site and get organised as quickly as possible as
it’s our vetting co-ordinator Bess’s birthday and we are determined to have a
quick celebration with her. We tuck into cupcakes and champagne organised by
Natalie, Emma and Elizabeth from the Masterpiece team.
In the evening, I pick up Simon and then Anousha from school rehearsals for The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and head to my mother’s for supper. She
has cooked gorme sabzi, a delicious Persian treat, which I love. My
mother is a fantastic cook, a pro at authentic Persian dishes, and a provider
of many amusing cooking lessons for Simon and Anousha. I’m savouring the
home-cooked meal before the treat of fine-dining experiences at Masterpiece’s
“in-house” eateries, which include Le Caprice, The Ivy Bar, Scott’s and The Mount
Saturday and Sunday are both important set-up days for our exhibitors, so I need to be on-site. I am blessed to have Baba, my amazing father, on hand, who promises to help out with chauffeuring Anousha to her own busy schedule of activities over the weekend.
Arriving at the Royal Hospital, I see vehicles of all sizes delivering a plethora of objects. Two champagne towers by Joana Vasconcelos have been installed and look utterly majestic. I walk inside and the fair is a hive of activity. There is so much to see, the old and new juxtaposed perfectly – it’s an ideal destination for cross collecting, which is how I like to collect.
I walk past Hamiltons Gallery and say hello to Tim Jefferies – the effort
that’s gone into its stand is impressive. A neon installation by Leila
Pazooki, brought over by Leila Heller Gallery, is lit up just as a marble
Cycladic head by Goulandris Master from 2500BC is carried past towards the
Ariadne Galleries stand. I take a little time to look at the Hong Kong
Pavilion, a dynamic partnership Masterpiece has formed with the Chinese
Heritage and Arts Festival, featuring the best of both contemporary and
traditional Chinese art. We’ll be curating a pavilion in return at Fine Art
Asia in the autumn.
On Sunday morning I spot Philip Hewat-Jaboor, our fair chairman, and we decide to tour the stands together. I hear someone ask if the astonishing Mary Tudor pearl has arrived. We stop at the Diane de Polignac stand where I admire the Jedd Novatt sculpture table. Just as we arrive at the Geoffrey Diner stand, Maureen Diner uncovers Puzzle Portrait by Roy Lichtenstein, revealing the work to Philip and I for the first time. I have been fortunate enough in my career to have seen and handled many masterpieces and this incredible, vital work from 1978, not seen in public for 30 years, would sit comfortably among them. I am thrilled that this US-based gallery has chosen Masterpiece London to showcase the iconic work.
I am struck by the range of offerings and the effort the exhibitors have
made with their presentation. There is so much to see – a beautiful Joan
Mitchell with Robilant + Voena, a fantastic Frank Auerbach portrait in thick
rich impasto with Offer Waterman, a rich range of impressionist and modern
works with Galerie Boulakia, and so much great sculpture both indoors and
outside. I stop to say hello to the Sladmore Gallery, which has brought a
selection of Bugatti bronzes. Walking on, I feast my eyes on amazing jewels at
Hemmerle, Bogh-Art, SJ Phillips and Fred Leighton. This is theatre for me –
all the months of planning have come to life.
We have an important meeting in the afternoon to prepare for our vetting committee day, which begins in earnest on Monday morning. Masterpiece London has 26 vetting committees and over 130 international experts involved in this process, who vet every single piece offered for sale at the fair, to ensure complete authenticity.
I leave the fair at around 7.30pm for a relaxed family meal before they lose me to the fair for the next 10 days. I say goodnight to Nicola and the team. We can feel that something big is about to happen. And I can’t wait for it to begin.