Mollie Dent - Brocklehurst talks personal taste: Part One

The director of London’s Pace Gallery is also co-owner of Sudeley Castle, where she has curated cutting-edge art and sculpture exhibitions

Image: Richard Grassie

My personal style signifier is a gold seahorse necklace that I bought from Browns Focus years ago. It’s quite big, with a long chain, and people always notice it and come up and tell me how much they love seahorses – or how they saw people eating them in a harbour somewhere. It’s one or the other.

The last thing I bought and loved was a pink fedora from a hat shop called Laird, near Piccadilly Circus, to keep the rain off my head. I’ve started wearing hats instead of using umbrellas, because I lose them. From £50; Laird, 23 New Row, London WC2 (020-7240 4240; www.lairdlondon.co.uk).

Suede fedora, £325, by Laird
Suede fedora, £325, by Laird

And the thing I’m eyeing next is something from the Balenciaga autumn/winter collection. I haven’t been into the store yet but I always find something there. www.balenciaga.co.uk.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the island of Ponza, off the coast of Italy. I’ve been several times as I have a friend there who lives in a cave – it’s part-cave, part-house – overlooking the island of Palmarola. Ponza is just beautiful – there are no big hotels, shops or restaurants, and everybody goes out on boats. It’s all about the water. Once, we rented a house called Turistcasa, which went up in flames. I had to run through a wall of fire with a child under each arm. We’ve just been again recently and stayed at the Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna. Turistcasa, Via Roma 2, 04027 Ponza  (+3907-7180 9886; www.turistcasa.it). Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna, Via Panoramica, 04027 Ponza (+3907-7180 1134; www.hotelchiaiadiluna.com).

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And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is silk pyjamas for the family, which I found in Beijing Capital International airport.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at 5 Hertford Street, Robin Birley’s new club. The food was incredible – and the service. I don’t eat meat, so I had a tuna dish to start with and seabass for the main course. 2-5 Hertford Street, London W1 (020-7408 2100; www.5hertfordstreet.co.uk).

The dining room at 5 Hertford Street, Mayfair
The dining room at 5 Hertford Street, Mayfair | Image: Scott Collier

A recent “find” is Creative Beadcraft in Soho, which sells hundreds of different kinds of beads and all the equipment to make your own jewellery. My children and their cousins have started their own line. 1 Marshall Street, London W1 (020-7734 1982; www.creativebeadcraft.co.uk).

The beauty staple I’m never without is Chanel’s dark brown eyeliner. £17; www.chanel.com.

El Narco by Ioan Grillo
El Narco by Ioan Grillo

The books on my bedside table are currently three. The first is Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, which is a biography of the artist Robert Irwin, by Lawrence Weschler. Anybody who wants to be an artist should read it. And he’s the most incredible artist as well. The second is The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – it’s about Brown [University]’s semiotics department, which was the one I was in when I was there, so it’s a real trip down Memory Lane. And then the third one is El Narco, which is a book about the Mexican drug war by a guy called Ioan Grillo.

In my fridge you’ll always find smelly cheese, the smellier the better. At the moment I have some Reblochon. Otherwise, it’s full of kids’ stuff.

Model rocket, from $9.79, by Estes
Model rocket, from $9.79, by Estes

The last music I bought was every one of Adele’s records for my daughter, Violet, who wants to be a singer. She has an amazing voice, though I don’t know where she gets it from because I’m completely tone deaf. www.adele.tv.

The best gift I gave recently was a set of build-your-own rockets to my son Lucien for his 11th birthday. They were from a company called Estes. The box arrived with a big label on it saying “explosives”  – I was very nervous about putting it in my car and driving through London. Lucien managed to blow one of the rockets up, land another in a patch of stinging nettles and somehow break a third. So we’ve got to order some more. From $9.79; www.estesrockets.com.

Trolley case, £590, by Globe-Trotter
Trolley case, £590, by Globe-Trotter

And the best one I received recently was a trolley case by Globe-Trotter from my mum. It’s incredibly useful. From £530; www.globetrotter1897.com.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d be a croupier – I love card games and I’m good at maths.

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