Style | The Aesthete

Matthew Carey-Williams talks personal style: Part Two

The director of Haunch of Venison gallery concludes his litany of tasteful revelations.

September 30 2011
Emma Crichton-Miller

My style icon is Sean Connery. I like to come to work dressed in quite sharp suits; I like that very English tailored look. I mean, every boy wants to look like James Bond at some point, and it’s hard to better Mr Connery. He epitomises that sort of louche, cool look.

The site that inspires me is The Benesse Foundation on the Japanese island of Naoshima. I have visited the site twice, and was lucky enough to stay at the actual Foundation in 2003. The buildings are designed by Tadao Ando and house the art collection of Soichiro Fukutake. The marriage of contemporary art, architecture and the natural beauty of the island is sublime. I stayed in a very simple but perfect bedroom, designed by Ando, which had a wonderful view of the Sea of Japan. I deliberately woke up to see the sun rise and it was an experience I shall never forget.

The last thing I bought and loved was my wedding ring, which I quite genuinely and emotionally and unadulteratedly love. I have not taken it off since April 2, the day after April Fool’s Day, a very nice day to get married. It’s a simple platinum band, from Tiffany, and my husband has exactly the same.

The last music I bought was The Dance by Faithless. I listen to a lot of electronic and pop and dance music – I have done for 20 years – and I’ve got quite a big collection. I relive my misspent youth, now that I am 40, through my iTunes account.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of 19th-century leather tub armchairs. I have a room in my house in Wiltshire which has about 70 per cent of my art books. It’s a very cool room, but there is nowhere to sit. I have spent the best part of a year looking in pretty much every major market town in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset trying to find these chairs.

The best gift I have received recently is a drawing by one of our artists, Jamie Shovlin. He has taken episodes or scenes from many American slasher movies and cut and pasted them all together. And he had friends of his pose as characters – one of them was the pretty girl who gets killed, and another was the fat guy who gets killed. He asked me to be the evil guy, so I agreed to have my photograph taken, and my character’s name is Octavian. He has made probably 30 or 40 drawings of me. And when I look at them they really are me. I thought long and hard: should you have a drawing of yourself as a serial killer in your home? Maybe that’s not such a good idea. But actually the execution is so good, and so I asked kindly if I could.

My favourite room is my kitchen in Wiltshire. I live in a small mews house in London, where the kitchen is in my living room. You can’t really cook. My kitchen in the country has a big table and chairs. It’s got lots of nice art, it’s got an Aga; it’s got all the things I wanted the big kitchen in my mind to have. And I like to put on my music and have a glass of wine, cook, entertain and chat here, which is where all my friends congregate. But I don’t love it when there is lots and lots of washing-up to do.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Marylebone. It has the best cheese shop in London, La Fromagerie on Moxon Street, which is also a very cool little restaurant and perfect for a light lunch. There is Loft Design By, on Marylebone High Street, which has casual and comfortable clothes for men; I have bought a lot of summer clothes from them. I really like Divertimenti and, finally, there’s my old favourite, Daunt, the bookshop, also on Marylebone High Street. I could spend hours in there. Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7224 2295; Divertimenti, 33-34 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7935 0689; La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 0341; Loft Design By, 36 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7935 0127;

The last meal that truly impressed me was the tasting menu at Hélène Darroze in Paris, in April this year. The food, the place, the service were sublime – seven or eight courses paired with wine. There was, of course, pigeon, which they are renowned for, and which I particularly love; they had Coquille St Jacques, which were absolutely divine, and then they had various other bits and pieces. What I love is that it’s a very rustic approach to French cooking. Restaurant Hélène Darroze, 4 rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris (+331-4222 0011;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Jasper Johns. I love painting and the way artists approach a subject vis à vis the constraints of the surface. And, for me, the great painting of the 20th century is White Flag by Jasper Johns because it takes everything out of the subject and chucks it all into the meaning. I would give a very small digit to own a painting by Jasper Johns.

The people I rely on for grooming and style are my friends Andrew and Kevin at Richard James. And I do love to have a massage or a facial at Nickel spa. It is a spa just for men, where you can buy an enormous amount of product. I continue to look for a product that will work for me in my vainglorious attempt to recapture my youth, which is why I am still dancing to Faithless in my kitchen at three in the morning.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York. It is my second home. I have many friends there. It’s where the art market is. So it’s easy for me to live there. But I would love to go and live for a while in Hong Kong. I love Asia; I travel to Asia often with my job. Hong Kong seems just a vibrant city right now. In the art world it has exploded, with lots of galleries opening up and other projects going on. But I would have to be very sorely tempted to leave London.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be writing, for sure. I’d like to think I’d be writing these wonderful novels and winning prizes, but I probably wouldn’t. But I think it might be 100 episodes of Coronation Street or EastEnders. I’d like to be a soap-opera scriptwriter.