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L’École, School of Jewelry Arts’ new home on one of Paris’ Grands Boulevards

On 6th October, after 10 years in Place Vendôme, the Van Cleef & Arpels-sponsored L’École School of Jewelry Arts is relocating to a beautifully restored 18th-century mansion on Boulevard Montmartre. The historic building – Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau – will be open to the public for the first time and will be home not only to the school but also to a large exhibition space and a one-of-a-kind bookstore dedicated to the world of jewellery.

The ethos of L’École has always been to share an appreciation of fine jewellery with the world; thus, all temporary exhibitions are free to the public. “Our world shouldn’t intimidate, or turn anyone away,” says Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. “And this new Boulevard Montmartre address feels more accessible than our Place Vendôme location.”

The building has a rather gilded history: built-in 1778 by architect Firmin Perlin, the mansion was not named after its first occupant, the greatly influential Florimond Claude, Count of Mercy-Argenteau. As an ambassador under Maria Theresa of Austria, Claude arranged the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who considered…

A horological entente cordiale across The Channel

In the 18th century, there was an acknowledged entente cordiale between the small clock and watchmaking firms that populated London and Paris. In this business, the French artisans were Anglophiles and in return, the English were Francophiles. National naval interests aside, the aim was the refinement and pursuit of horology. Ferdinand Berthould, then appointed to […]

Vacheron Constantin joins the Leeds Street Art Trail

Usually associated with its University (Keir Stammer, Mark Knoffler, Chris Pine and Princess Kako of Akishino are all among their notable alumni), its summer festival and Emmerdale, Leeds is also a bastion of culture, with both a resident opera and a ballet company, inspiring museums and a remarkable street art scene, which has become one […]

Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability 2023

Launched last year, the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability has earned a solid reputation in the photography and art world not just for the benefits it brings to artists, but more importantly, for raising awareness around key issues affecting the health of our planet.

Launched last year, the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability has earned a solid reputation in the photography and art world not just for the benefits it brings to artists, but more importantly, for raising awareness around key issues affecting the health of our planet.

Audrey Bazin, Artistic Director of the Louis Roederer Foundation explained, “The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability currently supports both creation and ethical consideration by rewarding a photographer who has tackled an environmental issue. The Louis Roederer Foundation, convinced that no development can be sustainable without a strong cultural component ,is proud to support this Prize for Sustainability to foster a better understanding of the world and a mutual respect.”

The theme of this year’s prize is “Flow”. If we look the word up in the dictionary, Flow is defined as the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream. By its own definition, Flow is a concept that represents circulation, balance and exchange, and in the context of this competition, the constant dynamic between nature and people. This reciprocal motion highlights the need to receive according to our needs and give to the extent of our capacities. Both actions have to be in equilibrium if we are to safeguard the viability of Earth as a nest of life for centuries to come. By theming the competition Flow, Louis Roederer also wanted artists to illustrate the tension existing between people and nature: immersed yet separated from it, its master yet completely dependent on it.

This year, twenty-six photographers competed for the prize, chosen by thirteen nominators, who were selected by Roederer’s panel of judges. The panel consists of seven respected international collectors and arbiters of the art scene.

The winner, M’hammed Kilito, a documentary photographer and National Geographic explorer based in Casablanca, Morocco, was chosen by the judges for his captivating series, Before It’s Gone.Kilito started this project years ago, as a way to document life in oases, the degradation they suffer and the impact on their inhabitants. The people he met during these visits helped him understand this rich ecosystem that revolves about the precious resource of water, and become aware of the glaring realities that threaten their future: desertification, recurrent droughts and fires, changes in agricultural practices, overexploitation of natural resources, rural exodus, and the sharp drop in water reserves.

Before It’s Gone is an on-going long germ project that document life in oases and raises awareness about the imminent threats that compromise their future.

Historically, the oases have been privileged landmarks at the crossroads of major trade routes, places of passage and rest, centres of prosperity and influence. Over millenia, the oasis inhabitants developed an irrigation system called khettaras. They consist of underground tunnels that conduct water from its source to where is needed, accessed through a series of vertical wells. The effective management of water has enabled the prosperity of people living under one of the most extreme arid climates that exists on earth.

The oasis is a model of virtuous interaction between the desert populations and their environment.”


            – M’hammed Kilito

The recipient of multiple accolades during his career, Kilito’s work has been shown at festivals and venues including Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), 1:54 Art Fair (Paris), Tate Modern (London), National Museum of Photography (Rabat), Beirut Image Festival, Photo Vogue Festival (Milan), Helsinki Photo Festival and Breda Photo Festival amidst others. His photographs have been featured in magazines and newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Vogue Italia, L’Express, VICE Arabia, and El Pais.

www.kilito.com     @mhammed_kilito

The two runners-up were Hengki Koentjoro and Yaushiro Ogawa. Hengki Koentjoro is Indonesian artist who first fell in love with photography at the age of 11, when he was given a camera as a birthday present. He cemented his education at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California—an expedition that plunged him into the professional arena of video production and fine art photography. He specialised in capturing the spectral domain that lies amidst the shades of black and white, as a form to represent yin and yang. He feels seduced by the elaborate choreography that is the dance between composition, texture, shapes and lines.

Kentjoro’s work explores the concepts of yin and yang along the borderlines or light and shadow, finding the spiritual in the physical.

About his obsession with water, the artist said, “Water is an essential part of life, and its beauty and sustainability are found in many forms. From the freshwater springs of mountain ranges to roaring waterfalls, from meandering rivers to distant estuaries, from the vastness of the seas to the sound of raindrops, water powers life, nurturing everything it touches and replenishing us with its life-giving sustenance. It is through water that we are able to sustain ourselves, no matter the source. The beauty and wonder of water is a gift of Mother Nature and something that all of us should strive to protect and preserve for future generations.”

www.hengki-koentjoro.com  @hengki_koentjoro_images

Award-winning photographer Yasuhiro Ogawa started photography in his early 20s and began his professional career in the year 2000. The Dreaming is a visual travelogue which spans 27 years in the life of the artists, during which he travelled around the world without any specific destination, simply following his instinct. Settled in Tokyo, when he turned 50, he decided to go through all the B&W negatives he had taken during his travels. “Every moment of the journeys might have been vision of dreams – that’s why I titled this photo story, The Dreaming,” Ogawa explains.  “I believe those photos show my deepest emotions when I clicked the shutter. Deepest emotions flow inside me like a river, and that flow is my life itself.”

The Dreaming is a series that documents 27 years in the life of Ogawa, reflecting how his experiences travelling influenced the evolution of his photography.

Ogawa has had many solo and group exhibitions including By the Sea at Fuji Film Photo Salon, Tokyo (2018); Contes des îles et Paysages de la Mer du Japon, at Inbetween Gallery, Paris, France (2018); and The Dreaming at Blue Lotus Gallery, Hong Kong (2020) among many others. He has published six photo books so far, the latest of which is Tokyo Silence, T&M Projects, (2022).

www.ogawayasuhiro.com     @yasuhiropics

Shortlisted Anastasia Samoylova is an American artist born in the USSR. Over the last 12 years, she has been focusing her work on the notions of place and landscape. Moving between observational photography and studio practice, she explains how, through her work, she “wanted to address how places we inhabit and landscapes we look at, in both real and mediated form, shape our understanding of the world and our position to affect change in it,” she explains. As such, her photographs explore the concepts of environmentalism, consumerism and the picturesque.

“My work investigates how humans impact the world around them and how that human-intervened world, in turn, manifests our values, aspirations, and deficiencies.”


          –  Anastasia Samoylova




Recent shows featuring Anastasia’s work include the Eastman Museum; Chrysler Museum of Art; The Photographer’s Gallery, London; Kunst Haus Wien; and Museum of Fine Arts, Le Locle. Her photographs can be seen in the collections at the Perez Art Museum, Miami; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Solo exhibitions include the recent Floridas at C/O Berlin and her project Cities, which will be exhibited this summer in Madrid (Fundación MAPFRE).

www.anasamoylova.com       @anasamoylova

Also shortlisted was the Iran-born artist Azadeh Ghotbi. Azadeh had to leave her country very young and spent many years moving from one place to another. Although she never returned “home”, the feeling of kinship to Iran remains strong.  and the scars borne from her young years spent moving from one place to another. Now living in London, Azadeh uses her painting and photography to give a voice to her thoughts.

Images from The Nature of Light series, by Azadeh Ghotbi. The leaves featured represent the essence of natural cycles.

Her work reflects adaptability, empathy, and a heightened sense of observation. Here are images that capture how the cyclical forces of nature and human interaction could flow sustainably and be harnessed in a circular harmonious manner.

In The Nature of Light series, rather than using the camera and editing programmes to control or manipulate the raw images, the artist chose to respectfully highlight the energy and power of nature at different times of day, through patient observation, trial and error, and manual camera movement. Similarly, the leaves showcased were carefully plucked like precious grapes to spotlight the exquisite quintessence of natural cycles.

Azadeh’s work has been exhibited in Europe (Basel, London, Frankfurt, Paris), the Middle East (Amman, Cairo, Dubai) and the United States (Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC). 

www.AzadehGhotbi.com     @AzadehGhotbi

The last shortlisted was the artist and lecturer Dafna Talmor, an Honorary Fellow by The Royal Photographic Society , Dafna is an artist and lecturer whose practice encompasses photography, spatial interventions, curation and collaborations. Her talent is widely recognised, and her photographs included in public collections such as the National Trust, Victoria & Albert Museum, Deutsche Bank, Hiscox and private collections internationally.

By disrupting composition and distorting perspective, Constructed Landscapes points to the constructed nature of landscape as a more complex version of reality.

Constructed Landscapes is an ongoing project produced by repurposing and collaging negatives from a personal archive of “failed” images. The London-based artist has chosen the river Thames as the border that shapes and alters the flow of the city, physically and metaphorically. In these reconfigured and abstracted images, manmade elements interrupting the so-called purity of the landscape have been removed, while human presence is reasserted through manual intervention; voids, overlaps and marks mimic elements of the landscape.

Recent solo exhibitions include Constructed Landscapes at Carmen Araujo Arte, Caracas, Venezuela, (2022) and Constructed Landscapes (vol. III) at the TOBE Gallery, Budapest, (2022). Group exhibitions in 2022 include Occupying Photography: To the Milky Way via the Sea, NŌUA (Bodø); Stories We Live With – Selection from the Somlói–Spengler Collection, QContemporary (Budapest); No Place is an Island, Photo50, London Art Fair; and Filling the Cracks, Unseen Unbound, Unseen Amsterdam, (2021).

www.dafnatalmor.co.uk      @dafnatalmor

A selection of the shortlisted works are on exhibition and free to the public at the White Box Gallery, Nobu Hotel, Portman Square, London, until the 31st of May.

Learn more about the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability HERE.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening picture: from the series Before Its Gone, by M’hammed Kilito (image cropped from the original due to formatting limitations).

Take a T. rex home

Fancy an entire T. Rex skeleton in your living room, or a unique timepiece from Urwerk with encapsulated fragments from a said dinosaur? Is your summer wardrobe in need of a space suit flown at ISS? On 18th April you have the chance.

“This is a highlight of my career,” said world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Hans Jakob Siber, head of the Aathal Dinosaur Museum in Switzerland, while eyeing the 11.6-meter-long and 3.9-meter high TRX 293-TRINITY, which is currently on display at the Tonhalle, downtown Zurich next to the lake.

Trinity, a female T. rex judging from her build, is the highlight of the Out of This World II auction by Switzerland’s largest auction house Koller, where she will be the last of 75 lots going under the hammer on 18th April. This is the third time ever an entire T. rex is sold in an auction, and the first time it is happening in Europe. One of the largest Mars meteorites on Earth, a space suit flown on international space missions, original movie props from Batman, The Exorcist, and Alien, and a huge gold nugget are among other highlights from the auction catalog.

A space suit worn on international space missions and a Batmobile are among the extraordinary items in this auction.

With close to 51 percent original bone material and mounted in a dynamic, scientifically accurate and modern pose, the 67-million-year-old TRX-293 TRINITY is among the finest known unearthed specimens of one of the largest terrestrial predators that ever ruled our planet. Interestingly, the bone material consists of three exceptional Tyrannosaurus specimens that were unearthed between 2008 and 2013 in Wyoming and Indiana; a composite modus operandi is common in paleontology. “The TRX-293 TRINITY is one of the most impressive mounts I’ve seen. The quality of the restoration plus the quality of the mount sort of breathes life again into the predator, which lived millions and millions of years ago” said Dr Siber.

TRX-293 TRINITY is among the finest known unearthed specimens of T. rex ever found.

The pending arrival of a Tyrannosaurus rex to Switzerland for the first time ever, reached the ears of Martin Frei just before Christmas 2022, which led to an unexpected collaboration and a unique timepiece: The UR-105M TRINITY, a unique piece with a textured, ribbed and “scaly skin” made of hand-patinated bronze and PVD-coated titanium. “This dinosaur is almost a legendary beast, and I immediately made the connection with our watchmaking creation,” explains Martin Frei, artistic director, and co-founder of Urwerk, about the timepiece which contains integrated fragments of Trinity, viewable through the case back sapphire crystal.

Besides the bone material from the T. rex, the large dimensions of this watch – 39.5mm across, 53mm lug-to-lug, and 16.8mm thick – make it a real show-stopper.

Watchmaker and co-founder Felix Baumgartner adds: “We created this unique timepiece by respecting the characteristics of the TRX-293 TRINITY. Our UR-105M TRINITY has been worked to match the dinosaur, both in relief and color. The bezel has undergone a special oxidation that gives it an earthy and ageless look.”

Out of This World catalog with 75 objects from natural science, space exploration, and movie memorabilia from Batman, Alien, and the Exorcist available HERE.

Words: Anders Modig

The album cover that changed it all

As I was crossing the bridge on my way to the press preview of Aladdin Sane: 50 years, I was finding it hard to accept that it has been five decades since the young ambitious musician David Bowie, with the support of his manager Tony Defries and the genius of photographer Brian Duffy, created one of the most influential pop culture images of our history. The legacy of this cover keeps being a source of inspiration for contemporary artists, resonating with the global queer culture thanks to the fluidity of its images.

Until a few years early, when the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band shook the establishment, the images used in albums were, frankly, quite dull, normally involving a very standard picture of the artist and little more. However as the 1970s progressed, covers become more daring and creative, embracing everything from science fiction to comic strips and everything in between.

Bowie’s star was in the ascendant. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars had sold 100,000 copies just in the UK. For his new album Aladdin Sane, Bowie needed a cover that will reflect his shifting androgynous image. Tony Defries turned to Brian Duffy, who, together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan were possibly the most successful photographers at the time.

There is a lot of speculation about where the inspiration for the lightning bolt came from but it seems the decision was taken by makeup artist Pierre LaRoche, based on the earlier Ziggy Stardust costumes, and Duffy insisted it went across Bowie’s face. “He has the perfect face for makeup,” LaRoche said about Bowie at the time.

Aladdin Sane, 1973. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie ArchiveTM

In this show, the Southbank Centre explores the creation of the album’s iconic artwork, including the legendary lightning flash portrait. On the weekend of April 21st and 22nd, there will be a series of live music events and talks inspired by the album, such as:

● Anna Calvi, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Roxanne Tataei, Tawiah, and Lynks join the Nu Civilisation Orchestra performing Aladdin Sane; and two club nights – Queer House Party and Queer Bruk – celebrate Bowie’s legacy with parties and music

● Talks exploring Aladdin Sane, Bowie and his cultural significance from Paul Burston, Geoffrey Marsh, Victoria Broackes and Chris Duffy

● National Poetry Library presents a new collection of work inspired by the album, Aladdin Sound, from Luke Kennard, Keith Jarrett, Golnoosh Nour and Mark Waldron

Curated by Chris Duffy, the son of Duffy, and Geoff Marsh, the exhibition starts introducing the visitor into the context of the early 1970s, from a political, social and cultural point of view. From there, the show moves on to the relationship between Bowie and Duffy, explaining in detail the photoshoot in January 1973 from which the iconic Aladdin Sane image was born. Here we can appreciate the gestation of the cover picture, as well as of those in the iconic gatefold. Contact sheets, colour proofs, negatives… an exceptional opportunity to follow Duffy’s creative process step by step. Defries wanted the cover to be very expensive to produce, so the label would invest as much money promoting the album as necessary to recover the cost and make a profit. Duffy took on the challenge with open arms. The dye transfer method used was very pricey and to make it even more so, they go the plate made in Switzerland.  

“To me, it [the cover] was competent, very competent, but I wouldn’t take it much beyond that.”


       –  Brian Duffy

Of his father’s work, Chris Duffy, said: “My father’s image of Bowie is often called the Mona Lisa of Pop. It’s important to remember it was the result of a short studio shoot using film, which then had to be sent out for commercial processing. There were no instant digital images or photoshop then. It’s extraordinary how it’s lasted and been endlessly reworked. Wherever I go in the world, it’s always somewhere on a t-shirt.”

The Southbank Centre Archive is also presenting a separate free display exploring David Bowie’s history with the Centre, stretching over 50 years, and his ongoing legacy. From his performance in the recently opened Purcell Room in 1969, to later appearances alongside Lou Reed and his curation of Southbank Centre’s annual contemporary music festival, Meltdown, never before seen archival material is available for public view.

The exhibition is completed with a stunning book by Chris Duffy, published by Welbeck, Aladdin Sane: 50 Years, with hundreds of photographs never seen before.


Chris Duffy’s Aladin Sane: 50 years is available at many retailers, such as AbeBooks, Amazon and WHSmith among others.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Aladdin Sane: 50 years. Southbank Centre, 6th April – 28th May.

Get your tickets for the exhibition, live music and talks HERE:

Raising Grace

Beautiful, alluring and with blue eyes that sparkle like crystals, Sian Brooke exudes star quality. And a star she certainly is. Since graduating from drama school RADA in 2002, she has been in constant demand, bringing to life the most diverse array of characters, from Sherlock Holmes’s evil little sister Eurus (opposite Benedict Cumberbatch) in BBC series Sherlock, to the queen consort of the Seven Kingdoms in HBO’s House of Dragons, to Ophelia in Hamlet at The Barbican Hall.

Her latest project is Blue Lights, a six-part BBC One police drama that sees Sian take the lead role as Grace, a rookie officer serving with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Created and written by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson (The Salisbury Poisonings), Blue Lights is expected to garner the plaudits enjoyed by successful police dramas Line of Duty and Bodyguard.

Grace, a mother of a teenage boy who leaves the comfort of her steady job as a social worker to join the police, is immediately thrust into the frontline, and finds facing the many pressures and dangers that this brings anything but easy. Sian is joined in the cast by Katherine Devlin (The Dig) and newcomer Nathan Braniff. “The moment I read the script, I felt I knew Grace,” Sian shares, “because the script is simply brilliant.” Patterson and Lawn, who both hail from Belfast, have written Blue Lights with humour and compassion, making its characters profoundly human and immediately recognisable.

“As a kid, I’d sit in front of the telly with my sister watching black and white movies… I was hooked, absolutely mesmerised by this other world…”

 –  Sian Brooke

But it wasn’t police dramas or fantasy sagas that inspired Sian to become an actor. She was drawn in by the divas from Hollywood’s golden age. “I was always mesmerised by film,” she recalls. “As a kid, I’d sit in front of the telly with my sister watching black and white movies. They were all that was shown on Saturday afternoons and I was hooked, absolutely mesmerised by this other world. The total escapism of that glitz and glam.” At the age of 10, Sian watched a friend perform in a local amateur musical and from that moment she was hooked. “I thought, ‘Oh my God! I love this,’ and realised that this was what I wanted to do when I grew up; it made me feel so alive.”

Nowadays it is not just actresses from Hollywood’s golden age era that inspire Sian, but also those working now. She is particularly fond – as I am – of American actresses Susan Sarandon and Frances McDormand. “These are very strong women who have influenced other actresses and built a legacy that passes woman to woman.”

Working in theatre has also helped develop Sian’s ability to build her characters. “I believe theatre is an actor’s medium, whilst TV is more a director’s medium. In theatre, you have the luxury of four weeks of rehearsals so you can mess around with your character, make mistakes and through all that process, find out what is right. In TV, you can’t rehearse so much but on the other hand, you live with your character for nearly 12 hours every day, and you are there as the character develops with every episode.”

Sian as rookie police officer Grace in the BBC One police drama, Blue Lights.

This is how it worked for Grace working on Blue Lights. “For the four months we were filming in Belfast, I spent more time as Grace and dressed in the police uniform than out of it so, over time, you sit with that character and start to feel comfortable in their skin.” Modestly, she gives all the credit to the series’ quality to its writers and the director, Gilles Bannier. “Gilles loves working with actors, appreciates what everybody brings to the table and is a true collaborator.”

What differentiates Blue Lights from other police dramas we’ve seen on TV before is the fact that if follows the everyday life of fledgling officers. As they learn the basics of their profession, they all struggle during the probation period and start wondering about the wisdom of taking such a pressurised job. “We don’t often see them at the very start of their career on TV,” Sian comments. “We don’t realise they are just ordinary people, learning on the job. We don’t think of how nervous they may be when they make their first arrest, or how scary some situations may be, when things get heated and how they fear for their safety.” In other words, this show pulls back the curtain on what it is really like to be a police officer.

“It has become bluntly obvious that we need to do something before the worlds changes irreparably, but the whole issue may be too big for many people to comprehend.”

 –  Sian Brooke

The entire series was filmed in Belfast over a four-month period. Sian describes it as “Declan and Adam’s love letter to their city and its people”. It’s a love that Sian grew to share and she describes the experience of making Blue Lights as simply delightful. “It was such a brilliant and easy project,” she shares, “everybody knew what they had to do, we all appreciated each other’s work and the whole atmosphere was fabulous.”

But with this series completed, Sian is not resting on her laurels. She has just finished filming a superhero series for Netflix. “Unfortunately, I can’t say anymore,” she says of the project with an enigmatic smile.

When she is not working or with her family, Sian lends her time to the Glacier Trust, a charity devoted to working with locals in the Himalayan countryside to limit the damage caused by climate change on the landscape. Monitoring and sharing their research on glaciers helps mitigate the effects of landslides. The charity also supports farmers in this region and provides education and training to empower the population there.

“It has become bluntly obvious that we need to do something before the worlds changes irreparably, but I think that maybe the whole issue is too big for many people to comprehend,” says Sian, “In some parts of the world that damage has already happened, the problem is that these tragedies seem too far away from us. I come from a farming background, so I feel compelled to try to protect the lives of entire communities who are suffering for the abuse we have inflicted on the planet.”

As mother of two kids, she is very aware of the role that education has in ensuring the younger generations don’t repeat the mistakes of her own. “I grew up in the outdoors, appreciating nature, and this is what I try to pass on to my kids. And in school, it is part of their daily education.” Sian is not the only member of her family with an eco-warrior streak. Her brother works at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. “We all love the countryside. I try to go back as often as I can and sometimes, I dream of settling down there at some point in my life, grow a few vegetables, maybe even have some chickens.”

I look forward to speaking to Sian Brooke again soon. I’ve been mesmerised by her charm and her infectious energy. To me, she is as magnetic as those iconic actresses from Hollywood she admired so much as a kid.

Blue Lights is coming soon to BBC One. 

From a staple of diets to a tool of nationalism

This spring, the Wellcome Collection is surprising us with a ground-breaking show devote to our relationship with milk and its place in global politics, society and culture. Featuring over 100 items including historical objects, artworks and new commissions, this is the first museum survey to consider the complexity of this seemingly everyday substance and how it has come to be seen as so central to our perceptions of nutrition and good health. 

As mammals, milk is fundamental to the nutrition of humans, at least as infants. That value has translated on occasion into a tool for the manipulation of masses. For example, the exhibition displays advertising from the 1920s to present day showing how ideas of purity and safety are central to milk’s commercial identity, while a late 19th century print from the temperance movement shows how milk was drawn into the campaigns of social reform. From early 20th century formula milk sample tins supplied to doctors by companies such as Glaxo, to the first dietary guidelines produced by the British Medical Association with illustrated daily menus, visitors will be able to examine how milk has been used to exert power as well as to provide care. It will show how milk drinking was constructed as a modern practice, and why it came to be seen as essential to a healthy diet.

Poster from the advertising campaign by the Ministry of Health in 1937-1938. Wellcome Collection, London.

In fact, milk came to be considered a staple of diets in the United Kingdom. Advertising from the 1920s to present day show how ideas of purity and safety are central to milk’s commercial identity. A selection of colourful printed milk bottle tops from the 1940s show how companies conveyed their brand and messaging with almost religious zeal; Express Dairy’s glossy promotional film The Daily Round reveals how dairies sought consumer trust by emphasising the scientific rigour of their laboratories.

Artworks such as Marcel BroodthaersThe Farm Animals (1974) hints at the ways in which cows have been industrialised for optimum efficiency, supporting the show’s exploration of the consequences of the introduction of scientific reforms into farming and motherhood that prioritized standardisation and regulation. Milk has been used as a tool of empire and nationalism due to its long-standing associations with purity and whiteness. Powerful marketing campaigns used images of white, nuclear families as the face of milk, while the abhorrent theories of well-known eugenicists, such as Herbert Hoover, sought to make connections between the purity of “natural” milk and ideas of social purity. Newly commissioned for this exhibition is Danielle Dean’s White, an animation reflecting on dairy farming as a colonising force that has reshaped indigenous landscapes in New Zealand.

Untitled, Julia Bornefeld, 1995. Courtesy of the artist and ARTantide Gallery, Verona; Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck/ Wien. Photo by Helmut Kunde.

Government pamphlets and propaganda from the 1910s to the early 2000s manifests how milk has played a central role in people’s diets and in national welfare and food programmes. One such example is Ronald Reagan’s “Government Cheese”assistance programme, created following the US government’s purchase of surplus dairy supplies, in which five-pound blocks of processed cheese were distributed to welfare beneficiaries. It became a marker of poverty and class, but also an infamous popular culture icon. Leo Hallam Dawson’s documentary DAIRY examines the connection between contemporary farming, food, government and sustainability, while inviting visitors to reflect on the values on which our food systems are based.

Milk also considers personal experiences of nursing and infant feeding, including Ilana Harris-Babou’s video installation, Let Down Reflex, which uses first-hand testimonies from her mother and sister’s experiences of breastfeeding to consider the complexity and intimacy of black motherhood. Julia Bornefeld’s large-scale hanging sculpture reimagines the maternal body to reflect on the fraught relationship between care and milk extraction. As human milk becomes commercially available, a new commission by Jess Dobkin will explore how we negotiate the regulation, politics and ethics of its sale.

Cow creamers, various makers, late 18th and early 19th century. Courtesy of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Historical materials exhibited include a terracotta model of a mule carrying cheese from the third or second century BC; a 19th century feeding bottle and a large selection of novelty cow creamers from the same era; 20th century advice booklets for mothers; and milk-related ephemera and marketing from the 1930s to today, including government nutritional campaigns and commercial advertising from the dairy industry. Artworks include Evelyn Mary Dunbar’s oil painting Milking Practice with Artificial Udders (1940).

Milk, ©Lucy + Jorge Orta / ADAGP Paris, 2022. Reproduced with permission of Lucy + Jorge Orta.

The exhibition showcases many other contemporary objects and artworks such as Lucy + Jorge Orta’s Milk, a series of 16 cast and lacquered aluminium milk containers, will show how people around the world encounter milk as part of their everyday life; and new commissions by Danielle Dean, Jess Dobkin, and Ilana Harris-Babou. It also features a 2023 iteration of Deeper in the Pyramid, Melanie Jackson and Esther Leslie’s major project exploring milk’s seepage into every aspect of our daily lives.

Milk is curated by Marianne Templeton and Honor Beddard, and it is accompanied by a programme of events and online Stories. Find out more HERE.


Wellcome Collection

30th March – 10th September 2023. Free admission.

183 Euston Rd. London NW1 2BE

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening image: The weekly ration of milk for two people, UK, 1943. © IWM (D 14667)

Books to share with mum

Books are the gate to a magical universe. Reading is one of the most enrichening activities we can engage in. Doing it with someone we love is a way to strengthen the relationship by encouraging conversation, increasing the time spent together and even discovering things about the other person that you didn’t know before. So why don’t you surprise mum this year with a good book, curl up on the sofa and flick through it with her? Here we present you with five beautiful suggestions, handpicked by our Editor Julia Pasarón.

By Robert Doisneau
Edited by Annette Doisneau and Francine Deroudille
Published by Flammarion
Hardback – £35

I believe no other photographer has immortalised life in Paris the way Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) did. His images are full of romanticism and longing, inviting the viewer to get into the soul of the moments he captured with his camera and which earned him many awards during his lifetime.

Considered the pioneer of photojournalism together with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau was a champion of humanist photography. He worked at the Rapho agency before and after WWII. During the war, he was drafted into the French army as both a soldier and photographer. He was in the army until 1940 and, from then until the end of the war in 1945, forged passports and identification papers for the French Resistance.

Left: page 14 – Luxembourg Gardens, 1951. Right: page 89 – Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss), 1950

After the war, Doisneau returned to freelance photography and sold photographs to Life and other international magazines. He even worked for Vogue for a bit in 1948 as a fashion photographer, but his heart wasn’t on it; he preferred street photography.

Since his death in 1994, Doisneau’s work experienced a revival, with major retrospectives of his work having taken place in Paris, Chicago and New York. Many of his portraits and photographs of Paris from the end of WWII through the 1950s have been turned into calendars and postcards, becoming icons of French life recognisable across the world.

This seminal volume, produced in close collaboration with his estate – managed by his daughters Annette and Francine – is the official, most comprehensive reference of his photographs of Paris. It contains more than 600 photographs taking the reader on a magic black & white tour of the City of Light. Buy the book HERE.

By Alexander Fury
Foreword by Carly Eck
Published by Assouline
Hardback in slipcase – £150

More than 165 years of innovation, adventure and a unique expression of Britishness come to life in this new book. The richly illustrated volume is filled with material from the Burberry archive and beyond.

Founded in 1856 by the 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, the company quickly established itself by focusing on outdoors attire. In 1879, Burberry introduced gabardine, a hardwearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, that was to change the outerwear industry forever. In 1901, the Burberry Equestrian Knight logo was developed containing the Latin word “Prorsum”, meaning “forwards”, and later registered it as a trademark in 1909.

In 1911, Burberry became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole; and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A Burberry gabardine jacket was worn by George Mallory on his attempt on Mount Everest in 1924. Image courtesy of Burberry.

The term “trench coat” with which the brand became synonymous, came to be because it was the coat worn by British officers in the trenches in WWI. After the war, it became popular with civilians. Its famous check has been in use since at least the 1920s, primarily as a lining in its trench coats.

This and much more is covered in the five chapters of this book, featuring 200 illustrations, which depict Burberry’s evolution from a family-run company to a renowned global luxury brand. Each explores a range of notable events and the emblems for which Burberry is renowned. Think inspiring explorers, signature trench coats and a distinct British identity.

Left: Men’s trench coat, 1939. Right: Courtesy of Burberry. Right: Gabardine trench gown, AW 2022 runway collection. Both images courtesy of Burberry.

“Burberry is a story of creativity, exploration, innovation and community – all of which continue to be at the heart of the brand. In unearthing a dormant treasure trove, countless gold nuggets have been revealed. This book, the only one to be endorsed by the brand in recent times, presents a panorama of the company’s extraordinary heritage, which deserves to be widely celebrated. It’s the stuff of legends.” Carly Eck, Brand Curator, Archive, Burberry. Buy the book HERE.

Phaidon editors
Introduction by Alison M. Gingeras
Published by Phaidon
Hardback – £49.95

Historically, women have been pushed to the backstage of the artworld. Perhaps the most popular struggle is that of Artemisa Gentileschi – trained at the atelier of Caravaggio, who overcame rape and envy to become the first woman member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Despite the success of this exceptional baroque artist, it hasn’t really been until well into the 20th century that women have achieved equal status to men in the world of art.

Hence the importance of a volume like Great Women Painters, a ground-breaking book that reveals a richer and more varied telling of the story of painting. Featuring more than 300 female artists from around the world, it includes both well-known women painters from history and today’s most exciting rising stars. The book spans the 15th century to the present day.

Left spread: Nina Chanel Abney / Tomma Abts (pages 20-21). Right spread: Emily Kame Kngwarreye / Laura Knight (pages 162-163)

Covering nearly 500 years of skill and innovation, this survey continues Phaidon’s celebrated The Art Book series, which reveals and champions a more diverse history of art, showcasing recently discovered and newly appreciated work and artists throughout its more than 300 pages and images.

A must-have volume for art lovers and an essential reference book for artists, collectors, curators, gallerists, students, and all those looking to broaden their knowledge of women artists and their stories.

Alison M. Gingeras is a curator and writer based in New York and Warsaw. She has served as curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Palazzo Grassi, Venice. Gingeras currently serves as an adjunct curator at Dallas Contemporary and a guest curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami as well as the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in addition to working independently. Buy it HERE.

By Margaret Atwood
Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso
Introduced by Margaret Atwood
Published by The Folio Society Hardback – £49.95

Made globally famous by Bruce Miller’s TV show of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is Margaret Atwood’s portray of a chilling dystopian society in a near future, ruled by religion, gender violence, and oppression. The novel features a fundamentalist theocratic regime in what used to be the USA, now called Gilead, prompted by a fertility crisis.

The protagonist, Offred, is a Handmaid. Her role is to bear children for her Commander, whose wife is unable to conceive. Refusal would mean the death penalty or a lifetime of hard labour in the Colonies, plagued with radiation from the war that overthrew the former US government. She remembers her previous life, when she had a home, a husband, and – most agonisingly – her own child. Offred makes frequent references to the world she once knew and the freedom she took for granted – having her own bank account, wearing her hair uncovered, even something as simple as using nail varnish.

Sisters Anna and Elena Balbusso’s stunning illustrations skilfully highlight the regimented and hierarchical nature of society in Gilead. © Anna and Elena Balbusso, 2012.

Atwood skilfully dramatises the contrast between the grotesque strangeness of Gilead and ordinary life going on elsewhere. In one instance, Offred and a companion encounter a group of tourists from Japan. Forbidden to take pictures, the tourists ask if the women are happy. Offred replies that they are very happy. “I have to say something. What else can I say?”

Asked whether her book could be classed as science fiction, Atwood replied: “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” First published in 1986, The Handmaid’s Tale was inspired by contemporary Western fears about falling birth-rates, as well as by religious fundamentalism both in the West and East. It was a critical and popular success, launching Atwood on the international stage and wining prizes on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Folio Society edition of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, introduced by the author and illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso, is exclusively available HERE. 

The Art Amusement Park
By André Heller
Published by Phaidon
Hardback – £34.95

First opened in 1987 in Hamburg, Germany, Luna Luna became the first-ever art amusement park, with rides, games, performances, and other unexpected amusements crafted by some of the most renowned artists of the time. From Jean-Michel Basquiat to David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dalí and Keith Haring, a total of 32 artists collaborated with creator André Heller in a project that was described by Life magazine as the “most dizzying, dazzling art show on Earth”.

Now, more than three decades later, Luna Luna is back on a global tour of extravaganza, a carnival that merges avant-garde and popular culture. In addition to a selection of the 1987 attractions, the reimagined Luna Luna features an evolving collection of new rides and amusements from a growing family of contemporary artists spanning art, music, food, and more.

Left: Jean-Michel Basquiat (pages 110-11). Right: the artist’s painted Ferris wheel for Luna Luna. Picture credit: Sabina Sarnitz (pages 118-119). The music for the Ferris wheel was provided by Miles Davis.

The book that was originally published for the launch of the park in 1987, has been translated into English and updated with a fresh preface. Apart from providing unique access to rare artworks that have not been widely viewed in 35 years, the work of each of the artists who have contributed to the new Luna Luna is documented in photographs that show the artist at work, with details of the artworks, and showing the art in the context of the exhibition.

André Heller is an acclaimed international multimedia artist. He is the creator of best-selling books, largescale flying and floating sculptures, and garden artworks, and has had a platinum-selling career as a singer and songwriter. In addition to directing shows, plays, circuses, films, and operas, he has also designed fire spectacles, labyrinths, and museums. He lives and works between Vienna and Marrakech. Get your copy of Luna Luna HERE.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening picture by Cottonbro Studio.


Taking Frieze by Storm

Art is in the DNA of Breguet watches. Its founder Abraham-Louis Breguet wasn’t just an outstanding scientist, technician and designer, but he is also considered by many the “creator” of the neoclassical style. While the fashion in Paris at the end of the 18th century was baroque, he favoured sobriety and imposed a neoclassical style that was trailblazing for its time. He was also instrumental in developing in watchmaking a refined style with the Breuget apple hands and the introduction of guilloché, which exist to this day.

The art value of Breguet pieces has been recognised internationally, with their watches regularly being part of art exhibitions everywhere from Paris to San Francisco over the past century, with museums as prestigious as the Guggenheim purchasing pieces for their own collections. So nobody was terribly surprised that Breguet would partner up with a big global art fair, but maybe Frieze was not what most would have come up as a first guess. When asked about this three-year partnership, Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet answered, “Quite simply because we like the young and avant-garde vision of this event, which stands out by daring to showcase emerging artists alongside established ones. We are therefore delighted with this partnership, which is in line with our vision […] It reflects our values ​​and the boldness that the brand has shown since its inception.” 

To mark the debut of this association, Frieze and Breguet commissioned artist Pablo Bronstein to produce a series of works, representing his response to the Breguet brand. One of the most influential artists of the last 20 years, Bronstein’s work spans prints and drawings to choreography and performance, always with a focus on architecture. His work is held in museum collections including here in London at the British Museum, Tate London and Victoria and Albert Museum; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Brooklyn Museum and Metropolitan Museum of art, both in New York; and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas. 

A Marca said about this decision, “Pablo Bronstein is fascinated with the 18th century, an era which marks the foundations of many inventions. Coincidentally, our brand was founded in 1775 and Abraham-Louis Breguet created many horological innovations that are still used in watchmaking today. It therefore seemed very natural to us to give him carte blanche to express his vision of our brand.”

A Breguet Tradition
Quantième Rétrograde
next to an original
“Souscription” pocket
watch, both exhibited
at Frieze New York,
May 2022.

The first artwork in the series Bronstein created for Breguet was presented at Frieze New York in May 2022, followed by Seoul in September, London last October and just a few weeks ago, the last one in Los Angeles. Looking to traditions of both Breguet’s watchmaking, and aesthetics of the 18th century, Bronstein created a series of bespoke wallpaper designs. Alongside these wallpapers, Breguet displayed their Tradition collection, paying tribute to the innovation central to Breguet’s legacy. In fact, the collection is based on the “souscription watches”, which were launched by the brand through an advertising brochure in 1797. These timepieces were sold by Breguet on a subscription basis, and the firm required customers to make a down payment of a quarter of the price when they placed an order. The name came because they were recorded as “souscription” in the sales ledgers. These were reliable and affordable watches, which proved to be a great success. Around 700 were made, with a choice of either a gold or silver case.

As the artist explained to me, “I played on the company’s history in watchmaking from the time of its founder Abraham-Louis Breguet. I drew inspiration from scenic block-printed wallpapers such as those made by Zuber in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, influenced by the machines represented in the encyclopedia of Diderot … plus the early 18th century compulsion to decorate everything.” 

Scenic Wallpaper with Important Machinery of the 18th Century, by Pablo Bronsteinthe artist’s vision of the time of Abraham-Louis Breguet, exhibited at Frieze New York, 2022.

Although born in Argentina, Pablo Bronstein grew up in Britain, where he came when he was a child and where he still lives. He feels very influenced by Latin culture though, especially Italian architecture and French interiors, things that “are not very English but rather Baroque, very rich and opulent.” Hence his fascination with the 18th century, the decorative arts and the interest in knowledge and technology. In the artwork shown at Frieze New York, Bronstein depicted a parade of mechanical innovations performing for each other, decorated by hand and then digitised. From an antique drill and mechanical guillotine to a watch Breguet sold to British monarch George IV and a three-wheel clock conceived during the French Revolution which displays both traditional and Republican calendars, this wallpaper is a synthesis of invention, avant-garde and tradition, placing timekeeping within a wider historical narrative.

“I want to tell stories
that are not necessarily
pleasant, but to do
it in a way that is beautiful.”

  Pablo Bronstein

Together with his love for the Age of Enlightment, Bronstein feels a special affinity with post modernism, in particular Italian post modernists, from Gio Ponti – the father of Italian modern design to Aldo Rossi, culminating in his love for 1980s, possibly for the abundance of bright colours, asymmetrical shapes, and playful elements such as broken pediments, classical motifs, and historical references. These preferences manifest in his illustrations of buildings. “I am in the realm of aesthetics. I have no real interest in structure or in how a building stays up. I just love the aesthetic of the building staying up; I love the cranes and the scaffolding and how all of it looks together. I don’t really care if they work or not.” He explains with a slightly shy smile. “This kind of replay of history and of historical motifs is extremely important in my work.” 

His interest in timepieces also started from a purely aesthetic point of view. “I’ve always been fond of clocks and have regularly incorporated them into my work,” Bronstein explains. “I like the sculpture around the time device, but now I am quite interested in the inner world of the watch, you know, and that’s what the wallpapers I have created for Breguet are about, imagining being inside one of these constructions where everything is a is a machine, a decorative one, but a machine nonetheless.” 

Pablo Bronstein, Scenic Wallpaper with Important Machinery of the 18th Century: The Golden Age. Presented at Frieze Seoul, 2022.

The advent of the Industrial Revolution meant that measuring time started to have more importance for the working and merchant classes. People had to follow precise schedules and be in places at very specific times. This is how Bronstein connects machines and watches. The connection with wallpaper comes “from the need of people at the time to decorate their houses economically.”  

I wonder though how he sees time as an artist. He takes a couple of seconds before answering. “I can think of two ways to answer that question. Within the context of contemporary art, we are constantly surrounding by a mixture of objects from different times, a table from the 1980s, a silver frame bought in the 1960s, a chest of drawers found in a flea market from the 1930s… That’s what I find amiss in many period films. If they are set in the 1850s for example, everything is from that exact time, while the reality is that in a house from 1852 for example, there would have been furniture and accessories from many decades before.” As I look a bit confused, he adds, “What I mean is that from an artistic point of view, I see no conflict between past and present and how they mix together. Now, from a personal point of view, time is the thing I am constantly fighting against. Like right now, because in art fairs, there is never enough of it.” 

Machines have also been a constant in Bronstein’s development as an artist. “One of my first artistic triumphs as a kid was winning at school the ‘Car of the Future’ competition when I was seven. I had created a weird, blobby yellow car with twisted wires that held a fridge-freezer and a washing machine.” He admits being obsessed with the serpentine form, which appears time and again in his work. “The difference is that now I am more aggressive.” I mention the giant drill spearing a beautiful watch in his London wallpaper, to which he comments, “Exactly, doesn’t that make it more interesting that simply looking at how the watch turns? That is how I feel my work has become more challenging.”

Bronstein’s panoramic wallpaper at the Breguet exhibit in Frieze London 2022, Scenic Wallpaper with Important Machinery of the 18th Century: Civil War, shows the beginning of the fall of the machines.

His understanding of time and machinery extends to the themes of the different artworks he created for the four Frieze locations, which all together represent the rise and fall of the machines over time. “The first of the wallpapers [New York] depicted beautiful machines of classic proportions.” Bronstein explains, “There is a drill, a watch … even a guillotine; and everything is clean, as if preserved in space. The one in Seoul shows the zenith of the machines. They are talking to each other and everything works perfectly.

The wallpaper for Frieze London starts to show the first signs of machine meltdown, mayhem and civil war.  By the time we get to Los Angeles, we are in front of a truly post-apocalyptic scene, that indicates the obliteration of the machine era.”

The last of Bronstein’s works for this Frieze, Scenic Wallpaper with Important Machinery of the 18th Century: Gold Rust, was presented in Los Angeles this last February

This narrative certainly falls in line with Bronstein saying about what he wants to convey with his art, “I want to tell stories that are not necessarily pleasant, but to do it in a way that is beautiful.” 

I personally found the four panoramic wallpapers spellbinding and full of meaning. They tell a complex story, presented with the most beautiful aesthetics. Exactly like a Breguet watch.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Sculpting the Renaissance

Arguably the greatest sculptor of all time, Donatello (1386-1466) was in the vanguard of a revolution in sculptural practice in the early Renaissance. This exhibition gives a unique vision of Donatello’s genius and significant role at this critical time in European culture, highlighting works never seen before in the UK, including his early marble David and bronze Attis-Amorino from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence; the spectacular San Rossore Reliquary bust from the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa; and bronzes from the High Altar of the Basilica of St Anthony in Padua.

For the first time, the V&A’s exquisitely carved shallow relief of The Ascension with Christ giving the keys to St Peter will be displayed alongside the Madonna of the Clouds from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Desiderio da Settignano’s Panciatichi Madonna from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, providing an exclusive opportunity to see these works together.

David Victorious, 1408-9; 1416, marble, courtesy of Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Firenze, and the Ministry of Culture. Photo by Bruno Bruchi.

Focusing primarily on Donatello’s lifetime and immediate followers, the show combines a thematic approach with chronological one, encompassing the inter-relationship between sculpture, paintings, drawings, and goldsmiths’ work. Donatello’s innovative technique and his ability to combine ideas from both classical and medieval sculpture created works that were novel, but with an element of the traditional. Key works by the master himself are complemented by carefully selected pieces by Donatello’s contemporaries and followers that explore and expand on the sculptor’s major place within the development of Renaissance art and its context, as well as inter-relationships across materials.

Comprising around 130 objects, the exhibition also incorporate a considerable number of objects from the V&A’s own collections – including the most extensive holdings of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy – notably from the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. These are accompanied by copies of Italian Renaissance sculptures, including several by Donatello, in the museum’s Weston Cast Court. Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance is the last in a series of exhibitions made possible through collaboration with Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Donatello, Attis-Amorino, bronze, courtesy of Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Firenze and The Ministry of Culture Italy. Photo by Bruno Bruchi.

Visitors have the chance to view works attributed to Donatello and Desiderio da Settignano, St. John the Baptist Martelli marble, courtesy of Museo Nazionale del Bargello Firenze and The Ministry of Culture Italy; David Victorious (1408-9); 1416, marble, courtesy of Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Firenze Su concessione del Ministero della Cultura (photo Bruno Bruchi); Two Adoring Angels marble, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum London and, last but not least, Spiritello with a tambourine, courtesy of Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (photo Antje Voigt).

Many institutions have drawn on their own collections and curatorial expertise to stage three distinct but complementary exhibitions, offering a celebration of Donatello’s life and work in three parts, the first to be devoted to the artist for 40 years.

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance

The V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Until 11th June 2023

Book your tickets HERE.

Words: Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

Opening image: Donatello and Michelozzo, Museo de L’Opera de Duomo, Two Adoring Angels, marble relief. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

No Malice Intended

Eliza Butterworth is, without a doubt, one of the most gregarious, warm and passionate people I have ever interviewed. Beautiful, animated and vivacious, her enthusiasm is infectious. I found myself thinking, “I want to be her, and if I can’t be her, then I want to be her friend.”

Her parents met in Nebraska, where her mother – who is from an Italian-American family – was training to be a nurse and her father – who hails from Lancashire – was a pilot in the Royal Air Force, so, although she was born and raised in Lincoln, she found herself travelling to the American Midwest during summers to spend time with her mother’s family. Much of her warmth radiates from her Northern roots, and she attributes it to the kindness of her “absolutely gorgeous” father.

Eliza credits her early interest in acting to her parents, in particular her eccentric and larger- than-life mother, Edie. “My mother is a wonderful icon that I’ve always looked up to, and still do,” she shares. Witnessing her glamorous and captivating personality, Eliza equated this to the world of acting, and listening to the varied accents of her family from both sides of the pond further fuelled her passion for mimicry and characterisation. At the age of 15, she told her mother that she wished to pursue an acting career, at which point Edie threw herself on the ground (theatrics obviously run in the family) asking, “Why would you want to do that?”

“My mother is a wonderful icon that I’ve always looked up to, and still do.”

–  Eliza Butterworth

Eliza took part in plays at The Lincoln Minster School and with the support of her teachers there she applied for a place at drama school. Having had no prior exposure to the thespian world, she says she approached auditions like “a deer in headlights, but without expectations”. Her relaxed mentality of “I’ll have a go and if I’m successful then that is an omen, otherwise I will go in a different direction” (in her case, believe it or not, dentistry) paid off though as, at the tender age of 18, she was accepted into The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Being the youngest in her class, she was a “malleable blank canvas” and was open to absorbing all training and instruction on offer. She graduated in 2014. It was during her time at RADA that her parents recognised her passion, talent and commitment to her chosen field, and to this day, they avidly follow not only Eliza’s career and projects, but also those of her fellow cast members. “My mom even has me on Google Alerts. Forget Kris Jenner, Edie Butterworth is the ultimate momager… on a budget.”

The roles she was assigned during her final year at RADA – the year in which industry professionals start taking notice – all seemed to feature Eliza playing an older character – somebody’s mother, grandmother and, it seemed, every battle-axe you could think of, but she wholeheartedly embraced the fun and transformative side. Whether this be tapping into another dimension of her underlying American heritage personality, or the challenge of portraying somebody completely opposite to who she is, it was all regarded by her as a learning curve

Eliza as Queen Aelswith of Wessex, the wife of King Alfred, in the epic medieval Netflix drama, The Last Kingdom.

It clearly stood her in good stead as she was cast to play Queen Aelswith of Wessex, the headstrong wife of the cunning monarch, King Alfred, played by David Dawson, in the epic medieval Netflix drama The Last Kingdom. Having taken the part aged just 21, Eliza, who sees little of the formidable Queen in her own personality, has since aged roughly a decade per season as the series strides through history and the bloody formation of modern England. So by the time they reached season 5, Eliza Butterworth, who is now 28, was portraying a woman at least 35 years her senior, a challenge only exacerbated by the fact that her on-screen daughter, played by Millie Brady, is the same age as her in real-life.

Eliza’s first foray into TV was enlightening. “Working with such a fabulous cast and forming family-type relationships as each season carried on, helped us to flesh out these wonderful characters, who were actually real people,” she explains. “A lot of the characters actually did exist. There’s something really nice about tapping into them as well.”

Eliza’s can-do personality and acting ability became apparent during an incident during the filming of an episode of The Last Kingdom. As with most productions, there were amendments and re-writes of the script. Eliza had just prepared for a huge scene involving a family loss by studiously learning and rehearsing her lines, but as they began filming, the lead actor stopped and asked why her lines didn’t match the script he had prepared for. It was only then that she discovered she had inadvertently been issued the original script, which was seven drafts behind the one being used. Mortified and wondering how she was going to learn the new scene in five minutes, the director came to the rescue and requested a hybrid script encompassing parts of the original, which meant Eliza had to learn only ten new lines. It also required her to break down in tears, and Eliza describes herself as “some sort of sociopath” as she was able to pull it all off.

“When I originally got into acting it was because I loved theatre.”

–   Eliza Butterworth

Eliza’s latest project is called A Town Called Malice, which she describes as a phenomenal crime thriller set in the 1980s. The story is about the criminal Lord family from Bermondsey, who, fleeing from trouble in South London, find themselves on Spain’s Costa del Sol. Filmed in anamorphic style with gorgeous cinematic visuals, she sees the stunning soundtrack as “a driving force for the show, almost creating a character itself”.

Chaos follows the family wherever they go. “They are such a fun, crazy, wacky, wonderful family that you end up falling in love with every single character,” she comments with affection, “However,” she adds, “each of them has their own agenda.”

In A Town Called Malice, Eliza plays Carly, the wife of the eldest of the Lord family sons.

Before A Town Called Malice, viewers can catch Eliza in The North Water, a TV miniseries about a disgraced ex-army surgeon who joins a ship crew as a doctor as they head off on an expedition to the Arctic for a whaling mission. Also starring Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connell, and directed by Andrew Haigh, the show weaves themes of toxic masculinity and morality against the backdrop of the Arctic. “I play ‘a lady of the night’ in a few episodes,” she says laughing. “What I loved the most was observing Colin Farrell work. He’s an absolute legend.”  

Although her TV career is blossoming, Eliza’s main interest is in theatre work. “When I originally got into acting it was because I loved theatre,” she explains. She made her West End debut playing Princess Eugenie in the 2021 satirical comedy The Windsors: End Game at the Prince of Wales theatre.

But, for all her love of stage work, for now Eliza’s main focus is A Town Called Malice – and she is full of enthusiasm for the series. Eliza says it’s “a bit in your face, but with beautiful, subtle moments that pepper the script with emotion”. She describes her character Carly – the wife of the eldest of the Lord family sons – as “warm-hearted, loyal and fabulous but often overlooked by the rest of the Lord family because she comes across as quite ditzy. As the show evolves though, the lioness side of her comes through.”

A Town Called Malice releases on Sky Max with NOW on 16th March.

Words: Shelley Campbell

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