As Brown’s London Art Weekend is less than a month away, we are delighted to announce that over the coming weeks we will be unveiling a series of walks around galleries in Mayfair and St James’s, recommended by some of the area’s most knowledgeable insiders. 

First up: fashion design and sculptor Nicole Farhi guides you round the wonderful sculpture galleries that have been most meaningful to her over the years….

“Mayfair has always had a very important place in my heart. It was in Bond Street that I first opened my flagship store and my first restaurant over 25 years ago. Round the corner from Cork Street, and appropriately surrounded by art Galleries, I chose Clifford Street to have my Home Store. Now, so many years later, having changed career from fashion designer to sculptor, it was Bowman Sculpture in Duke Street St James’s who offered me my first show.

For any lover of sculpture, Mayfair and St. James’s offer a wonderful selection of galleries, from ancient to modern. Recently I took a walk round the galleries and was particularly impressed by how different they were in their approach to display.

My first stop was at Waddington Custot Galleries at 11 Cork Street. Under Leslie Waddington’s direction, it has been one of the oldest and most admired galleries in Mayfair. Over the years, going there, I have never stopped admiring the insouciant sometimes-melancholic hares of Barry Flanagan, the jagged edges and curved surfaces in vibrant colours of compressed steel by John Chamberlain, and the humanist sensibility expressed in the most simple form by Turnbull and so many more artists.

At the moment Waddington Custot is showing ‘Rodin, Brancusi, Moore Through the Sculptor’s Lens.” It is a photographic show with small sculptures included. It focuses on the importance of photography in the creative process of the sculptor. Whether these three artists took the photographs themselves – as did Brancusi and Moore – or, like Rodin, employed professional photographers, these photographs are an important record of the way they understood their own work through various images. Equally important, they show us some of their sculptures which have been lost, destroyed or were never cast.

This June, Stephen Friedman Gallery is celebrating twenty years at the Old Burlington Street spaces with a landmark anniversary exhibition featuring new works by a wide range of international gallery artists. Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Balloon Man’ is captured in a moment of exuberance, a bunch of balloons tied around his waist as if about to lift off.  Huma Bhabha’s futuristic ‘Carriage’ features alongside Melvin Edwards thought provoking Lynch Fragments and a new conceptual installation by Scottish artist Claire Barclay.

At Osborne Samuel, there is a show well worth seeing. It is quite rare to see such an expansive show of Henry Moore’s small works, some of them never seen before. The sculptures are completely charming and endearing with a touching quality, which is often harder to find in Moore’s monumental work. In the small sculptures you feel Moore’s modeling, his hands working out the shape in clay. His family groups are amongst my favourites. There are some very early carvings in walnut boxwood and beech wood, rarely seen. On the gallery walls are some of Moore’s very early drawings and throughout the gallery, great  photographs of Moore at work.

Across Berkeley Square, at 11 Hill Street I stopped at Daniel Katz Gallery. Here, the gallery is set in a beautiful Edwardian town house, the rooms well proportioned, and the light gentle. Every piece of art is shown at its best. The show is called “From The Salon: An exhibition”. Some of the sculptures on show were exhibited at “Paris Salon” in 1876. Emmanuel Fremier “Gorilla abducting a gladiator“ a remarkable terracotta sculpture, from “The Paris Salon” in 1904. “Corinth” by Jean Louis Gerome is one of the most achieved pieces of work from a sculptor who could  turn marble into flesh. The precision and accuracy in the rendition of the flesh is simply mesmerising. My favourite work in the show is by Eduardo Paolozzi who was my friend and mentor during the last 20 years of his life. Eduardo was one of the most prolific artists of his generation. He was an artistic omnivore. Everything interested him. Every object had the potential to lead him into creating a piece of work. “Standing Figure” in Katz Show is certainly one of Paolozzi’s finest representations of “Man versus Machine“. It is an incredibly moving sculpture, where the disfigured human body still stands alive in the face of a possible destruction of the modern world.

At The Sladmore Gallery in Jermyn Street the exhibition is entitled  “Bugatti: father and son.” On view are Art Nouveau furniture and silver from Carlo Bugatti, and animal sculptures by his son Rembrandt Bugatti. The sculptures are particularly timeless, the modeling extremely modern and the animals are sculpted as if still alive. This is an important show not only for the rarity of the pieces on loan to the gallery but because very few sculptors like Bugatti have been interested in capturing the art of the instant.

Last but perhaps most important of my choice of Galleries is Bowman Sculpture in Duke Street. The show is called “Rodin and Beyond”. Bowman, being the foremost gallery in the world for sculptures by Rodin, his sculptures are the focus of the show. Alongside Rodin, there are sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. But what I found particularly exciting is seeing the work of contemporary artists shown next to these great masters. There are the very emotional sculptures by Helen Blumenfeld, the fine carvings of Yves Dana which seems to have existed for hundred of years. Hanneke Beaumont’s fragile and strong figures who have found an inner peace in the world we live in. The vigorous figures of Maurice Blik and Johannes Von Stumm masterful techniques to combine, glass blowing, carving stone and cutting steel, in one single piece of art. I will be showing “Homage to Eduardo Paolozzi“, the bust of the artist I made while Eduardo was still alive. I believe it contains all the power, strength and anger of the indomitable qualities of his character.”

For more information about Brown’s London Art Weekend and the Recommended Walks, visit brownslondonartweekend.com