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MASPA Art Tour with John Martin

Milton Abbey Parents’ Association’s (MASPA) art tour with John Martin, owner of John Martin of London, on 23 February was a fantastic opportunity to see and find out about some of the best exhibitions currently on show in London. 

John’s gallery in Albemarle Street is about to celebrate their 25th anniversary and a few years ago he opened a second gallery in Chelsea.   John is at the forefront of a move by London gallery owners to make art shows more accessible to a wider audience.   For the past three years he and a group of other gallery owners have collaborated with Brown’s Hotel on a hugely popular series of gallery tours, giving guests a unique introduction to Mayfair’s 150 private galleries and specialist dealers, meeting the personalities that shape London’s art market and experiencing the rich variety of exhibitions they put on.
We met at the Pace Gallery where we saw the innovative ‘Team-Lab’ exhibition ‘Dissolving Boundaries’ which has been a sell-out, their timed tickets are difficult to get.   The exhibition ‘explores the role of digital technology in transcending the physical and conceptual boundaries that exist between different artworks, with imagery from one work breaking free of the frame and entering the space of another. The installations also dissolve distinctions between artwork and exhibition space, and involve the viewer through interactivity.’   We were all bowled over by the experience and came out with a greater understanding of why it is called an ‘immersive’ exhibition.
We moved on to the Fine Arts Society where gallery manager, Ceska Hill-Wood, gave us a fascinating talk about the British painter, Gluck (1895-1978).  This exhibition is a major retrospective exhibition featuring 32 works including Gluck’s most important painting, Medallion (1937); the exhibition explores the fascinating life, work and legacy of one of the most pioneering artists of her generation.  John then surprised us by taking us into the Christian Dior flagship store in Bond Street which opened last year.   Here we had a tour of the store where art work and sculptures by leading artists are set alongside clothes and jewellery giving it a distinct feel of an art gallery.   Our knowledgeable guide gave us a fascinating insight into each piece, all truly individual and perfectly placed, from porcelain figures of cherubs hanging from a wall to a huge metal sculpture by Rado Kirov which dominates the space by the mirror-clad stairway.
Our last stop was John Martin’s gallery where we had a brilliant talk about their current Richard Cartwright exhibition.  Cartwright is based in Bristol and paints only during the night; his beautiful paintings have a theme of isolation and almost loneliness.   Lunch at HIX Mayfair was the perfect end to a very special morning.