With Mayfair Art Weekend (MAW) just around the corner, we spoke with MAW Project Manager, Cherie Silver, to see what’s in store this year. Like many, we were interested to see how planning the weekend in the wake of a pandemic has forced them to rethink how to encourage people to attend face to face events.
Mayfair Art Weekend (MAW) was founded in 2014 at a time when art fairs were drawing visitors away from galleries. John Martin of John Martin Gallery is one of the founding directors and at that time explained it best as a way of raising public awareness about “how fundamental the art market is to Mayfair’s heritage and to its future”. MAW is the perfect opportunity to visit these galleries and experience art in real life.
Keen to find out a little bit more about the weekend, we asked Cherie a few questions. First up;
What can we expect from the weekend this year that is different to previous years?
Galleries will be putting on a fantastic range of talks, tours and events in relation to their exhibitions, but we also have events curated by Mayfair Art Weekend. One of the incredible series of events we are organising is called Access All Areas. I have partnered with Cat Manson at Art Market Mentors and Leo Young at Good Nugget to develop a series of mentoring related events. As the creative industries and broader art world looks to diversify, access remains a challenge. By providing open access events, the Mayfair Art Weekend galleries will provide a welcoming, inviting opportunity to speak to new audiences.
We also introduced two new initiatives in 2020 which were a great success and which we are bringing back this year. The first is the Mayfair Sculpture Trail, a collaboration with Art in Mayfair, which was installed last week! The final day of the trail coincides with the Sunday of Mayfair Art Weekend, 27 June. This trail includes both temporary sculptures installed just for the month as well as permanent sculptures that you can find year-round in Mayfair. We are really excited to present this event for the public to engage with art outdoors and without restrictions.
The second curated event is a “showreel”. This started with a simple concept: to show artist moving image artworks in the comfort of a cinema. I discovered that The May Fair Hotel has an incredible world-class theatre, and we were incredibly lucky that they partnered with us in 2020, and again for the 2021 event. Often with moving image artworks, we catch a few moments of them within a gallery, but audiences rarely sit through an entire artwork. For the May Fair Showreel, visitors will be able to watch a curated reel of artworks. Selected from applications from galleries as well as an open call, the showreel this year is going to be an emotional journey for anyone who sees it!
How has organising the event changed in light of Covid-19?
The beginning of 2021 was very challenging. At the moment we would have normally been interacting with galleries and partners, and developing the programme we were in full lockdown. With many people in the arts industry furloughed and so much uncertainty around re-opening we had to be able to adapt in line with government guidelines. While our focus has always been to support and highlight the incredible art community in Mayfair, now we also needed to ensure audiences could safely and comfortable to re-engage with art.
We have been working to develop year-round engagement with galleries in Mayfair, and the re-opening of galleries provided the perfect opportunity to replicate our Gallery HOP! model across the West End. On 23 April we worked with the galleries in Mayfair, St James’s, Fitzrovia, Soho and Marylebone to present a West End Gallery HOP!, and it was a delight to see so many visitors re-engaging with art after the long winter lockdown. Creating moments like this for people to experience art in real life in a safe way has become central to the way we are planning Mayfair Art Weekend this year.
For galleries looking to hold similar events moving forward, what recommendations can you share?
Over the last 16 months galleries have adapted their programmes to cater for the virtual visitor. There has been digital fatigue, and many people are able and ready to see art in real life, but there are still a lot of people who aren’t able to visit galleries in Mayfair, including international visitors. So my top recommendation would be to continue planning your events in real life but don’t forget about your online audience!
Are there any specific exhibitions that you are particularly looking forward to visiting this year?
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to see all of the exhibitions. Because of my desire for every gallery and the artists they show to get as many visitors as possible, I find it really hard to single any out – as soon as I think of one, then another pops into my mind. To name just a few: Tursic & Mille at Galerie Max Hetzler; the next instalment of the “On Hannah Arendt” series at Richard Saltoun Gallery; the Old Master works of Napolean by Andrea Appiani at Robilant+Voena; vibrant works by Martin Finnin at John Martin Gallery; venetian scenes by Melissa McGill at Mazzoleni; the RA Schools Show; Peter Blake at Waddington Custot; the opening exhibition of LAMB at 32 St. Georges Street. I could honestly go on until I’ve named them all! For the second year, the artists studios at 48 Brook Street will also open their doors to visitors for Mayfair Art Weekend which is also a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look!
Interested to visit some of the participating galleries this weekend? Visit www.mayfairartweekend.com to find out more.