Alan Cristea’s London

The Cork Street gallerist represents Howard Hodgkin, Gillian Ayres and Edmund de Waal and is Europe’s largest publisher of original prints and editions by contemporary artists

Alan Cristea at The Courtauld, London
Alan Cristea at The Courtauld, London | Image: Michael Leckie

“Chances are, on a Saturday morning I will be working at the gallery. It is actually very nice – there’s a different atmosphere and I can talk to the public about the art on display instead of dealing with all the other nonsense in the back.

If Chelsea is playing, I will lock up at 2pm and make a mad dash for the ground. I always go with a friend and his son or daughter – as season-ticket holders we can pop along to the members’ suite where there’s a large lunch. Of course, a perfect weekend includes Chelsea winning.

Otherwise, I might visit some galleries. The one I like the most is The Courtauld – it does shows I can take in, in a few rooms – and I’ll visit the permanent collections and find the perfect Modigliani or Cézanne. I’ll have lunch in the courtyard café, which is always lively.

Or I’ll meet my friends on the South Bank. I can’t stand the South Bank Centre itself – it’s almost threatening in its soullessness – but I love the activity that surrounds it and the view of the river. We’ll take a stroll along the water and go to the Hayward or Tate Modern. I was very impressed by the latter’s recent Marlene Dumas show; I’d never seen a lot of her work in one venue and I was struck by the clarity of her vision and quite individual painting style.

We’ll stroll on to Borough Market. I especially like stopping off at Une Normande à Londres, which has spectacular wheels of Comté cheese. It also sells wonderful Brie and a great selection of regional cheeses. Then I’ll seek out some artisanal bread from one of the many bakery stands.


If there’s time, I’ll go for a browse in a bookshop. Now most of the independent ones have closed I cherish Waterstones – at least there I can have a conversation about books with knowledgeable staff who seem to genuinely enjoy talking about them. Daunt Books is good too. I still love the feel of books and have yet to be tempted into a Kindle.

Afterwards I’ll go home. We live in Clapham in the house I grew up in, overlooking the common; I like putting the river between myself and work. In the late afternoon I love to read; after a week of talking to people I can’t wait to get back to my book. I have just finished In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman; it was recommended to me by one of the gallery’s artists, Edmund de Waal.

For dinner I’d be quite happy with a boiled egg, but we often go out. I like to tell people there were no good restaurants in Clapham when I was growing up – how times have changed. Recently, I took my wife to the charming La Bonne Heure on her birthday. Growing up we spent all our holidays in France, so I am used to French cooking. I’ll probably go for the terrine de champagne and red-onion marmalade, followed by pan-fried fillet of sea bass with ratatouille and olive tapenade. If I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll finish with lemon tart. Otherwise we might go to Trinity in Clapham Old Town, which is a bit posher - white tablecloths and tasting menus – and serves great seasonal food.

I play tennis every Sunday morning with a coach in Battersea Park. I play in all weathers – summer heat, thunderstorms and snow flurries – and I’m determined to keep doing it until they carry me off. If I can win a couple of games, I’m happy.

But the focal point of the weekend is family brunch with my stepdaughter and her daughter. It’s a fixed moment, with a sensational fry-up, cooked by my wife. Then I might go for a walk. I love Richmond Park – I recently walked seven miles around its perimeter. I also love Clapham Common; it’s so cosmopolitan, with several nationalities playing football or cooking lunch on the side of the pitch.


In the evening I often enjoy a meal with friends. It’s the perfect way to round off the weekend – either that, or secreted away with a good book.”

See also