Frieze director Victoria Siddall on Michelle Obama, Edgar Degas and the best shopping in Shoreditch
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My personal style signifier is a pair of stylish yet practical shoes, as I spend a lot of time walking around galleries and art fairs. I have a pair of black Céline brogues that I’m wearing a lot at the moment, and a pair of flat pale-pink slip-ons by Rupert Sanderson. celine.com. rupertsanderson.com. bruun-rasmussen.dk
The last thing I bought and loved was a very early George Grosz drawing from 1914 at Frieze Masters. It means a lot to me because I once thought I would never be able to afford anything by him. It’s a drawing of a woman that at first glance is quite classical, but also has a strangeness and darkness to it that is very Grosz. David Nolan Gallery, 527 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001 (+1212-925 6190; davidnolangallery.com). Galerie Daniel Blau, Maximilianstrasse 26, 80539 Munich danielblau.com)
And the things I’m eyeing next are some beautiful lambswool blankets designed by Sanya Kantarovsky and Ella Kruglyanskaya from House of Voltaire, which commissions artists to make products. Both their blankets are bold in design – a similar style to their artworks – and the profits benefit the exhibition and education programmes of Studio Voltaire, a fantastic non-profit gallery in south London. houseofvoltaire.org. studiovoltaire.org
The best book I’ve read in the past year is a short novel called Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki, which is a fascinating glimpse into 1920s Japan, but also a very intimate and moving account of a marriage and a family. I’m also currently midway through Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and finding them increasingly engaging and wonderful. Ferrante’s decision to shroud herself in mystery has made her as fascinating as her books.
A recent “find” is Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch. For Christmas I was given a “ration book” voucher for this incredible grocery store, which sells amazing blood oranges, La Grotta ice cream – made in London by Kitty Travers – and wonderful olive oil in five‑litre tins. It’s the sort of place where you want to buy everything, and there’s a sister café next door. 15-17 Calvert Avenue, London E2 (020-7729 9789)
The last meal that truly impressed me was dinner in the Lotos Room, a private dining area at The Beaumont hotel in London. Not only was the food fantastic – classic dishes done really well – but the place has the best possible atmosphere. Around the walls there are black and white photographs of women who, I was told by co-owner Jeremy King, were all involved in a scandal in some way; I thought this was great. And you can create your own ice-cream sundae from a menu of different flavours, sauces and toppings. Brown Hart Gardens, London W1 (020-7499 1001; thebeaumont.com)
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Hans Wegner dining table to my partner. I bought it from Bruun Rasmussen, a Danish auction house. It’s a very beautiful thing, but also very practical. That’s the best kind of gift – something you can use every single day.
And the best one I’ve received recently was a vintage Cartier ring from my partner on the birth of our daughter. It’s from the 1970s and shaped like two hot-air balloons in gold, turquoise and lapis lazuli. It was sourced from Duro Olowu, an amazing fashion designer with some incredible one-off pieces of vintage jewellery. 14 Masons Yard, London SW1 (020-7839 2387; duroolowu.com)
My favourite websites or apps are Instagram, Spotify for music and the BBC for news. I also use Kiva, which allows you to help crowdfund small businesses in developing countries. It’s a great charitable enterprise. kiva.org
My style icon is Michelle Obama. It must be really hard to get dressed in the morning when you know the world’s cameras are going to be trained on you, but she always looks fantastic – really confident and comfortable in herself, which I admire, and the clothes and designers she chooses are interesting too.
The beauty staple I’m never without is Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum, which helps, I hope, to counteract all the travelling and late nights that are involved in my job. £52 for 30ml; esteelauder.co.uk
An indulgence I would never forgo is dropping into the National Gallery to see a room or two of paintings, even if I have only 15 minutes to spare. Free entry to museums is one of the great things about London and the UK. Trafalgar Square, London WC2 (020-7747 2885; nationalgallery.org.uk)
The last music I downloaded was some extraordinary piano music by an Ethiopian nun called Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guebrù, which I came across while having dinner at a friend’s house.
In my fridge you’ll always find Comté cheese from the Borough Cheese Company. I have recently moved to south London and both Maltby Street and Borough markets are within walking distance, which is a joy for food shopping. I also always have a bottle of fino in there and a constant supply of jam made by my father with fruit from his garden. At the moment it is raspberry and white peach, which is delicious. boroughcheesecompany.co.uk
An object I would never part with is the first artwork I ever bought. It’s a drawing by Hurvin Anderson, a British artist who is now extremely successful. I bought it at his first show in 2003 for an extremely modest price from Thomas Dane, who held the exhibition in his office in Notting Hill as he didn’t yet have a gallery. It’s a beautiful drawing of a woman, but it also has Hurvin’s trademark patterns obscuring the figure a little bit, creating unusual perspectives. thomasdanegallery.com
The last accessory I added to my wardrobe was a big, bright-green tote by Céline. The shop assistant recommended that I buy the black one, but I went for the green anyway. It’s a fantastic colour and can fit everything in it, including a laptop. About £1,100; celine.com
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the area around the Frieze offices in Shoreditch. Things are always changing, so there is usually something new to discover, but I have some long-term favourites here, too, like Labour and Wait for homewares, Mast Brothers for fantastic chocolate and the tiny Santa Maria Novella pharmacy for soap and other beautifully fragranced products. Artwords bookshop is also tiny, but extremely well stocked with great art books and magazines. I often go there to buy gifts and end up buying something for myself as well. And then for lunch there’s Rochelle Canteen; the menu is brief and seasonal and chef Margot Henderson’s food is always fantastic. Plus, in the summer you can sit outside and straw hats are provided. Artwords, 69 Rivington Street, EC2 (020-7729 2000; artwords.co.uk). Labour and Wait, 85 Redchurch Street, E2 (020-7729 6253; labourandwait.co.uk). Mast Brothers, 19-29 Redchurch Street, E2 (020-7739 1236; mastbrothers.co.uk). Rochelle Canteen, Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 (020-7729 5677; arnoldandhenderson.com). Santa Maria Novella, 9 Chance Street, E2 (020-7729 4409; smnovella.com)
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Degas. He’s a real artists’ artist; so many people working today have been influenced by him. He was truly groundbreaking. The National Gallery has some extraordinary Degas paintings, such as Combing the Hair (La Coiffure) in different shades of red – I would happily live with that. And a more contemporary choice would be David Hammons. I’d love one of his body-print paintings. He’s an exceptional artist who has defied convention at every stage of his career, so much so that you rarely see exhibitions of his work, but when you do, it’s just a knockout.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Istanbul. It’s an incredibly vibrant place, a great city to walk around and get lost in, with a melting pot of cultures – people, architecture, design, food. I went for the Biennial, which was spread across lots of different venues, including an island, so it was a great opportunity to explore the city and soak up the atmosphere. A real highlight of the trip was travelling by speedboat up the Bosphorus at night and landing to have dinner at the amazing home of an art collector, which was packed with treasures from different centuries and parts of the world. bienal.iksv.org
And the best souvenirs I’ve brought home are some beautiful ceramic tea cups from the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. They are very simple and elegant – beautifully crafted and wonderfully wrapped too. It was pretty hard to choose just a few; I would have happily brought home hundreds.
My favourite room in my house is the living room, which is flooded with light from both the street side and the garden. It also contains some of my favourite works, by artists including Caragh Thuring, Alice Channer, Walead Beshty, Glenn Ligon, Anne Collier and Gabriel Orozco.
The person I rely on for personal grooming is Premlee at the Daniel Hersheson salon on Conduit Street, who has been cutting my hair for years. I rely on him for good haircuts but also great conversation. 45 Conduit Street, London W1 (020-7434 1747; hershesons.com)
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York, which already feels a bit like a second home because I go there six or seven times a year. It’s such an intense and energetic city; I’m always happy to arrive there and see that skyline. It feels exciting every time. There’s an amazing young gallery scene on the Lower East Side – I’m thinking of small spaces like Simone Subal, Simon Preston and Miguel Abreu that show up-and-coming artists. And I love being able to pop into the Met Museum, especially the medieval rooms. Another favourite is the bar at The Carlyle hotel, which is very old-school New York and great for cocktails. And Marlow & Sons restaurant in Brooklyn does fantastic food – locally sourced, fresh seasonal produce that is cooked extremely well. The Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street (+1212-744 1600; rosewoodhotels.com). Marlow & Sons, 81 Broadway, Brooklyn (+1718-384 1441; marlowandsons.com). Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (+1212-535 7710; metmuseum.org). Miguel Abreu Gallery, 88 Eldridge Street (+1212-995 1774; miguelabreugallery.com). Simon Preston Gallery, 301 Broome Street (+1212-431 1105; simonprestongallery.com). Simone Subai, 2nd floor, 131 Bowery (+1917-409 0612; simonesubal.com)
The site that inspires me is Regent’s Park, which is possibly the most beautiful park in London. I always get a buzz of excitement walking through as it’s where we hold the Frieze London fairs. We are so lucky to have these enormous expanses of green space in central London; it’s quite unusual for a city.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be travelling the world as an ambassador. There is a lot of diplomacy involved in what I do now and I find the world of politics fascinating. I was listening to Matthew Barzun, US ambassador to the UK, on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs recently and thought I’d love to do that job. That or a cabaret singer.
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