I was asked to describe a walk through Mayfair for Mayfair Art Weekend. Since it’s rather hard to locate on their website, I am reproducing it here (readers of the blog will recognise that I have previously written about most of the places described):-
I dearly love working in the West End. I love the fact that occasionally I can sneak out of the back gate of the Royal Academy in the late afternoon and find myself in Cork Street, enjoying an exhibition at Browse and Darby, the first of the galleries on the right, which represents Anthony Eyton, Flowers Gallery, just beyond, and Sam Fogg, on the corner of Clifford Street, where I am too timid to ring the doorbell. I regard the neighbourhood as my territory and have been pleased to watch it change and transform over recent years.
What follows is one of my standard routes, not just to see the art galleries, but to explore the locality, enjoy its history, and I freely confess that I am a voyeur of some, but not all, of the shops.
From Burlington Gardens, where the Royal Academy’s building site presides, grand and, until recently forlorn, covered in scaffolding, but beginning to emerge in its newly renovated form, I walk up Old Burlington Street, not my favourite street, but with houses in the south west corner next to Cecconi’s which were designed by Colen Campbell as part of the original layout of the third Earl of Burlington’s new urban estate. Past Stephen Friedman, I pause in front of the shop window of Drake’s, one of the best of the gentleman’s outfitters, and, next door, Richard James, where I like to buy socks in the sale. Then, I go up past Ordovas, an admirable gallery with museum quality exhibitions, run by Pilar Ordovas, with the HQ of Hauser & Wirth occupying the ground floor of a building designed by Eric Parry on the other side.
I cross Conduit Street, home of Sketch, and go up Mill Street, looking into the window of Yohji Yamamoto and past an old-fashioned barber’s shop on the left to admire the back of St. George’s, Hanover Square, with its robust detailing designed by John James as one of the Commissioner’s Churches.
Turn right into St. George Street, and on your left is Offer Waterman, one of the nicest of the galleries, beautifully fitted out in William Morris’s old showroom and currently showing work by Alison Wilding. Hanover Square is home of Blain Southern, who moved here from our building in Burlington Gardens when they branched out independently from their previous incarnation as Haunch of Venison, and is where the exit of the Bond Street CrossRail will be. I turn left down Brook Street, home of Ludwig Reiter, the posh Viennese shoe store, and cross New Bond Street, the river which separates the two halves of Mayfair.
I might turn right into Haunch Of Venison Yard to see what’s on in Bonhams, but more often turn right up South Molton Lane which leads you past the Music Room, where Margaret Howell holds her annual sale, up to the corner of Davies Street where there is the building where John Bolding & Sons made and sold their sanitary ware. Across into Weighhouse Street and through into Brown Hart Gardens, you can admire Antony Gormley’s bedroom on the roof of the Beaumont Hotel and may by now deserve a drink. But before you do so, I would urge you to keep going through to North Row, just south of Oxford Street, where you will find The New Craftsmen, my current favourite of the Mayfair galleries, where Mark Henderson has established a space where the best of crafts — mainly British, but also some international — can be seen and enjoyed as objects of the utmost affordable delectation and, if possible, bought.