Giuseppe Penone – Tree of 12 Metres 1980-1982 (Arte Povera movement)
Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to be part of a very exciting union between TATE and Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts (Starwood Group). Unlock Art is an initiative, developed between both partners, with the aim of demystifying the exciting, complex and extraordinary world of art for ordinary folk like you and me.
Linda Bolton debunking and explaining…
…that in this version of the Tree of 12 Metres the artist Giuseppe Penone has carved a tree from a large beam of wood.. The humour lies in the inversion of the tree: narrow top at the base and thicker base at the top. It’s a nice play on our expectations. The process and the artwork itself makes us consider art in a different way.
When I say ordinary, I don’t mean boring or dull (obviously – we are fabulous), but rather those of us who have never studied art at any level higher than school.. maybe GCSE, or perhaps even at A Level.. To me, the art scene has always seemed to exist on another plane somehow.. slightly out of reach. Walking into a gallery can often be a bit intimidating and I have certainly found myself feeling a bit bewildered when faced with certain masterpieces, which have set the art world alight.. sometimes I just don’t get it. And I don’t think I’m the only one… (Yes, I am thinking about the messy bed…)
So, hats off to TATE, who, in partnership with Le Méridien, have produced an exciting series of eight short films offering an imaginative, witty, and enriching introduction to the world of art.
Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads 2006 – Hirschhorn is known for his sculptures and installations made from everyday materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper, bound together with brown packing tape.
The films put art under the spotlight, with topics ranging from the history of the nude to humour, performance to Pop Art, presenting all the need-to-know facts. Bold in approach and rich in content. The film series was conceived to make the arts more accessible to a wider audience and they have achieved exactly that.
Each of the films in the Unlock Art series were released on a monthly basis and presented by a different celebrity. Not a typical arty high-brow celebrity, which you might expect, but a lovely, friendly, accessible one. You know – the ones we like.
Frank Skinner, Sally Phillips, Dawn O’Porter, Tamsin Greig and Peter Capaldi (among others) presented these dynamic, bite size films, which manage to convey the essence, history and meaning of each complex art genre with ease, expertise, fun and a little bit of silliness.
Don’t think for a second that just because these are joyful, accessible (no clever art lingo) and quirky shorts, that they’re not super smart and on the money. Ho no, for the mighty Jessica Lack (freelance art critic, former arts writer for The Guardian and deputy editor of TATE Magazine) developed all the scripts and they are fabulous.
Here is the final video produced, called ‘What’s So Funny?’ Tamsin Greig presents this film, which gets to grips with humour in art. From conceptual artist Duchamp to Dutch performance artist Bas Jan Ader, she discusses the central role that humour has played in art over the last 100 years…
I, along with a few other bloggers, have been on board this exciting Unlock Art train and we have been having an incredible ride. Each month we have watched the newly launched film at TATE before being whisked off by the fabulous Linda Bolton (art-historian-fashionista-wonder-woman) who has taken us around the TATE on a uniquely curated, hugely interesting and engaging tour devised by herself, which echoes and supports the film we have just watched.
This time Linda showed us some of the more humourous pieces on display, e.g. Lichtenstein’s – Mustard on White, through to Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’…
What’s so funny? Presented by Tamsin Greig
Unlocking surrealism with Peter Capaldi
Browsing the International Market with Sally Phillips
We have then rumbled back to Le Méridien Piccadilly, full of chatter and debate for some kind of extraordinary cocktail and other culinary treats… Here is Franz, working his magic in the Terrace Grill & Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly. This is his very unusual take on the classic Manhattan..
Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists, which I love. They have come up with a fantastic idea to encourage their guests to visit forward thinking cultural institutions around the world, by offering them complimentary access. All they have to do is present their Le Méridien Unlock Art room key and they can explore a local, inspiring and cultural experience. Kaboom. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain – what could be better?!
All the events I have attended have been utterly thrilling. I have learnt so much about the world of art and it has been hugely exciting! I think I can safely speak on behalf of all the other bloggers; The Everyday Man, The Swelle Life and The Luxe Chronicles, when I say that it was a huge privilege and opportunity to be invited to explore this world with such knowledgeable, passionate and wonderful people… and in addition, to have also experienced the true luxuriousness and beauty of Le Méridien…but more on that in my next blog post…
The table is set…
For the final event, we were all invited to a spectacular finale TEN COURSE dinner in the Adams Suite, inspired by the Unlock Art film series and created by Chef Michael Dutnall and mixologist, Franz Zauner.
Before dinner, we all had time to go to relax and shower in our gorgeous rooms at the Méridien Piccadilly, where we were all staying that night. I opened my door and whooped. Audibly. Oops. And not just because my bed was as big as this…
But mostly because the Le Méridien angels had left me a little treat…
I obviously ate them both. Then ran around the room twenty times as I remembered the TEN COURSE meal I was attending later that evening… (I should point out that I wasn’t the only blogger that ate both the eclairs. But I don’t want to ‘out’ her (Denise) as that’s mean. But just so you know. IT WASN’T JUST ME.)
Holy moly. Ten courses… I should have worn my baggy pants.
It was amazing. The menu was divided into ‘acts’, with the wall film projections changing accordingly, with each act having been inspired by one of the Unlock Art films. It all began with cocktails and canapés… and concluded with the most triumphant dessert I have ever had. And that is saying something.
We all love Linda Bolton
Franz whipping up Passion fruit syphon soda mojitos..Act 1…
Jenni Benzaquen, VP Luxury Brands, EMEA
Act 2 – Vine cherry tomato, Bocconcino Mozzarella and basil crouton
The Unexpected: Carrot soup
Role Call: Red onion tartine, rocket salad and Berkswell cheese shavings
Limited Edition: Bitter lemon, mandarin and mint sorbets
Our amazing chef, Michael Dutnall
Divine Comedy: Beef Wellington fillet served with creamed wild mushrooms, potato pave topped with puff pastry (you can’t tell in my photo but the pastry is shaped like a wellington boot!)
What’s in the box?!
Yes, yes, yes… but what’s in the box?!
Whizz Bang! Selection of sweet cakes and treats!
What an amazing dessert! A box of treats! Woot!
Franz preparing our final act – Naked Truth: Undressed Lady
The meal was exquisite and the most perfect end to a fantastic program. So many oohs and aahhs of excitement with every new course presented.. and as the wine flowed, so did the conversation. We had oodles to say about our fabulous Unlock Art experiences… you couldn’t shut us up.
I crawled back to my beautiful room and into my deliciously comfortable bed (SO much tidier than Tracey Emin’s) where I pondered on the day’s and last few month’s Unlock Art events.. before drifting off into a lovely sleep and dreaming that Andy Warhol was trying to nick my eclairs.
Not on your nelly.
All the films are available for you to watch here…