You can find the map for today’s 6.63-mile walk here. 32 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Today was a lot like Day 46. There were really fancy stores, cars and people around. To set the scene, two things I heard people on the street say as I walked around today:
“Yes, we’ll be moving the Picassos tomorrow.”
“What shall we do now? Oh yes, we were going to pop into Chanel, weren’t we?”
But just like Day 46, the area was very accessible and the streets were rammed with great art galleries.
art, Art, ART!
Who knew Mayfair could be so much fun?
Sotheby’s combines these two aspects of Mayfair, making it an extraordinarily posh gallery. I was peeking in as I walked by and the doorman saw me looking curious. After Day 47, where everyone felt snooty again, I thought he was trying to get me to move on to make room for the real people. But I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since I had had some good experiences around here a couple of days before.
I asked if the gallery was something anyone could just pop in and and he said, “Absolutely!”. He told me what was on, where it could be found and that there was a Banksy exhibit in a separate gallery out the back door, so I wouldn’t miss it if I was interested. He was a really nice guy.
I had no idea you could just walk in and look around. It really surprised me. I always thought they only held big auctions where you had to prove your net worth to attend, not a gallery you could casually stroll through as some average Joe.
That being said, the Sotheby’s building is a little intimidating. There is obviously a lot of money there. You can tell by the fact that the café has a tiered platter of free cookies out all the time. I guess if you are going to drop £13 million on a Mondrian, the least they can do is throw in a biscuit.
I didn’t have a lot of time to wander around here. I knew from Day 46 that once I got into galleries I would slow down a lot, and I still have a lot of ground to cover before July 26th (why then, you ask? Check out the party page here!). I swept through pretty quickly, savouring a few pieces by Dali and Moore. Then I scooted over to the Banksy for a quick peek.
I’ve read before that there is a lot of controversy when street artists sell their pieces at all, let alone through huge money spinners like Sotheby’s. Banksy made a piece about this, in fact, but it seems a little self-indulgent that the piece, mocking an auction of his art, starts at auction for tens of thousands of pounds itself.
Nevertheless, I do like his work. It makes me smile and that is what I go for in art.
Down the street at yet another gallery, this artist made me laugh too. I walk around London a lot and, particularly on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the streets are a Jackson Pollock work of art from all the people puking in the street. Ok maybe it’s not that bad, but it gets pretty gross sometimes. The World Cup matches don’t seem to be helping things either. So when I saw this I thought that maybe I would enjoy seeing the upturned contents of people’s stomachs more if they looked like this.
More violent bursts of colour were around the corner at the Hauser & Wirth gallery on Saville Row. There were some interesting pieces in there. This one with the shower heads was actually a little disturbing for some reason (maybe the red paint in a white shower looked a little too similar to Psycho) but the process behind it was great.
Each shower head was linked to a high pressure tank that was filled with a different colour of paint. Then a dude stood in the middle and the colours were fired off, out of the shower heads.
Can you imagine standing in a literal shower of colour? Being sprayed by the primary colours from head to toe? It would be amazing. I’d totally do that. Weird? Yeah probably. But I dont’ really care. It would be so much fun.
The rest of the exhibition here wasn’t really my thing. A series of guys spraying colour in explosive diarrhoea onto a wall, and a big box of colour with the same pressure sprays inside of it (prettier than the shower but less fun to make).
After all these stops, I had to make a rule not to go into any more galleries. There are just too many.
Cork Street is one big gallery stroll. I immediately broke my rule for one last place, but then I stayed strong. I just find it really hard to not spend time with colours if they are there. They draw me in.
The hardest part of the decision not to look into any more gallery windows or go inside and check them out was that the Royal Academy of Arts is next to all of this. I knew if I went in that I would be there the rest of the day. So I made a deal I would go back later and give it the time it deserves.
Speaking of royal things…
Every time I left the galleries I was reminded that I was in a super posh part of London. Old Bond Street is probably the epitome, with Chanel, Cartier, Chaumet and so on.
This is also, appropriately, the territory of the royals. They don’t cut corners when it comes to their suppliers.
You can tell their stores by the Royal Warrant hung outside. This designation is given to tradesmen (not service providers) who make products for the royal family for at least five years. As is befitting for the Royal Family, after those five years, the companies then have to go through a long process of gaining the warrant, which includes an application, an approval from the buyer and then a special committee, chaired by the Lord Chamberlain, who approves or denies the request.
Finally, the grantor (either the Queen, Prince Phillip or Prince Charles) still has the final say after all of that and can overturn everyone else’s opinions, making it actually a totally personal decision.
So why don’t they just decide the matter straight away then?
Oh the joys of needless bureaucracy. It makes everyone along the way feel so needed.
I get why the companies struggle through to go through this process though. It is a nice piece of cred to have pasted to your front door.
Having walked Day 49 already, I can tell you I found a couple great warrants for things I never really thought about the Royal Family needing. So I guess you’ll have to come back to see those soon!
See you next time!
32 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!