Museums & Galleries To Visit
28th January 2023
I try not to, but I do find January depressing. I am a big fan of the festive season, so the necessary lull that January brings can make me feel a little despondent. Couple that with the looming shadow of the HMRC delegates collecting their pound of flesh, and it seems only fitting that we can feel a touch blue. I had a day not too long ago when I felt navy. It felt unshiftable, so I got on the trusty 94 bus and sat. I knew I would have to get off at some point, but I didn't have a plan of where. My red wagon took me to Trafalgar Square, where an old faithful friend met me. The National Gallery, I know this sounds a little twee, but I doubt many friends could have done what that Gallery did that day. I spent three hours there. Comforted by the Vermeers' light, hooked by the works of Zurbarán and buoyed by Monticelli's colours.
Moods don't shift instantly, but it was a lesson on how best to lessen it. I left feeling more cornflower than navy. It will be a morning I will try my best to remember.
I fear that Tat is filled with far too much of my chatter. So I asked a handful of trusty spectaculars to share their favourite museums and galleries in the UK and abroad. So let this feature be your 94 and deliver you to old friends and new acquaintances.
Christine Van Der Hurd , Founder of Vanderhurd
It's my favourite of favourites for many reasons, a period in time which I have always been drawn to and inspired by.
The collection circles around Austrian & German art & design from the early twentieth century with the extraordinary combination of the painters and the decorative art movement, which includes some of my most admired textile designers, Dagobert Peche & Joseph Hoffman. Their playful pattern and colour inspired my "Croquis" collection. The walls are layered with a staggering array of Egon Schiele ( Not to everyone's taste) but to mine…. Also, the "Retrieved' portrait of Adele Bloch- Bauer, painted by Gustav Klimt- Is among many other artists and craftsmen.
Now that being easy, the UK I found a little more difficult…
The gallery named after Eric Estorick houses Britain's only collection devoted to modern Italian art.
An outstanding collection dedicated to the Italian artists from the first half of the Twentieth century, located in a beautiful Georgian townhouse in Canonbary Square.
This a period in time which I have also been very much inspired over the years. The permanent exhibition brings to the forefront the exciting works of many Futurist artists, the movement founded by Marinetti with paintings by Francesco Balla & Gino Severini and many other of my favourite 20th-century Italian artists, including Georgio Morandi (An exhibition coming in 2023)and Amedeo Modigliani.
I have visited several exhibitions with a design and textile theme, including Italian Threads: Mita Textile design, Mita was an Italian firm which specialised in rugs, tapestries and other textiles…. And an excellent show, "the making of Modern Italy Art & Design in the Early '60s, the title speaks for itself!
There is a delightful small cafe with open courtyard seating and a great book shop which, again, I always end up with something, particularly the postcards!
Ellie Pithers, Writer, Contributing Editor For British Vogue
I just finally went to the Guggenheim in Venice! Again quite common. In Paris, I have just visited Hotel de la Marine, which is beautifully restored. Also, in Paris, the Oscar Niemeyer building that houses the French communist party headquarters is pretty amazing.
I am a Kettle's Yard loyalist, although perhaps that is a common favourite. Another incredible house in Cambridge is David Parr House. It's sensational, a typical workers' house from the outside, and then you step inside, and it's just a treasure trove of arts & crafts design.
Henry Porter, Writer & Journalist
I like small galleries. The Mauritshuis in the Hague is the perfect size, as well as a beautiful building. It has wonderful Rembrandts and the Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer.
The National Gallery permanent exhibition in Edinburgh is world class with a late-period self-portrait by Rembrandt which is his most moving.
Alex Tieghi-Walker, Founder of TIWA Select
A home and studio preserved to the legacy and practices of famed Japanese ceramicist Kawai Kanjiro, a key figure in driving the Japanese ceramics discourse, folk legacy, and preeminent scholar of the Mingei movement. Guests remove their shoes to tour the warren-like home, filled with Kawai's own work as well as the pieces he collected from other artists, including his contemporary British ceramicist Bernard Leach. But the main event is the garden and the massive wood-fired kiln that Kanjiro used to fire thousands of works right up until the 1960s.
An active shaker community from the late 1700s through 1960, the buildings of Hancock are perhaps the finest example of shaker architecture and craft. The structures are furnished as they were for hundreds of years, showing how shaker craft, design and expertise has permeated modern design through its simplicity and innovation. Moreover, it's the aesthetic is just so on-point, it's wonderful that this legacy has been preserved and can be experienced.
Four dilapidated cottages were saved from demolition by Jim and Helen Ede in the 1950s, and became a home gallery of sorts for them to display their enormous collection of art and design objects (Jim was a curator at the Tate during the 1930s and befriended many artists with whom he worked, whose pieces live on in the home). What I love as much as the objects themselves is the way that the museum-—managed by the University of Cambridge—continues Jim's mission and rituals: allowing guests to wander the home as their own, sitting on furniture; the placing of found pebbles, and the continued tradition of an actual lemon placed on a pewter tray in the dining room, a gesture initiated by Jim to mirror a Miró painting nearby.
Perhaps one of the world's greatest open-air museums, hundreds of historic structures from across Wales have been saved from destruction and rebuilt brick-by-brick in the grounds of a former Elizabethan manor. The museum is specifically dedicated to sharing Welsh folk traditions and heritage. It is an excellently immersive insight into the history of the wider UK and Europe, even if told through a Welsh lens. I specifically love the 19th-century farmhouses, reconstructed so accurately even to omit electricity, allowing the viewer to experience the space by candlelight and firelight.
Terry Ellis, Founder of Mogi Folk Art
The visual library of the Mingei Movement.
Collections of hand-made objects from Japan and around the world. A big influence on my life and work.
For the Africa and Oceania collections.
A visit is always an amazing and frustrating experience.
I try to make a yearly pilgrimage.
A lovely walk.
Oskar Proctor, Photographer
A place in England that means a lot to me is Coleton Fishacre. An Arts and Crafts house in Devon, designed by a former understudy of Lutyens, Oswald Milne, for the iconic hotelier and impresario Rupert D’Oyly Carte in 1923/26 - whose father Richard D’Oyly Carte, among MANY other things, built the Savoy theatre in London.
Another place would have to be the Uganda Museum in Kampala, founded in 1908 by the British protectorate government and then moved to its current location in the north of the city, an Ernst May 1954 designed building. I have worked with the museum and had the privilege of spending some time there with the galleries and collections. If you find yourself in Kampala, you must visit.
Tom Morris, Designer
I'm planning a trip to the West Coast for Spring, and my thoughts are turning to revisiting this place, which I'd highly recommend to anyone. It's perched between a series of roads in a rather offbeat part of East Hollywood and was FLW's first LA commission designed for oil heiress Miss Barnsdall. The early Modernist architectural style clashed against Mayan motifs (and the inspirational use of fitted carpet) is endlessly inspirational. It's also been given a restoration while it closed for two years during the pandemic so well worth checking out.
I went to York for the first time last summer and visited York Art Gallery and its legendary ceramics collection. Built up over the years by Anthony Shaw and now on long-term loan to the museum, the collection of modern British ceramics features Shoji Hamada, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and Michael Cardew in abundance. Make a thing of it and stay at the beautiful Regency No 1 York hotel.