London is a good place to call home,” says art advisor and curator Alistair Hicks. And just by looking at the numbers, it is also a great place to visit: according to one report, 18.8 million people are expected to travel to London in 2015, making it the top global destination. If you are wondering why they are going, the forthcoming autumn season offers more than a few reasons.

There is theatre: Mark Rylance in Farinelli and the King, which has transferred from Shakespeare’s Globe for a limited run at the Duke of York’s Theatre or Nicole Kidman in Anna Ziegler’s play Photograph 51 at the Noël Coward Theatre. There are also astounding culinary options: Paris’s double Michelin-star Le Taillevent is crossing the channel with Les 110 de Taillevent, an all-day brasserie on Cavendish Square. Meanwhile, the popular Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos is crossing the Atlantic from New York City with an offshoot on Regent Street. Caprice Holdings is expanding its net further with Sexy Fish on Berkeley Square, and chef Bruno Loubet and mixologist Tony Conigliaro team up in Marylebone at the Zetter Townhouse, a new 24-room boutique hotel.


OUTSIDE CLARIDGE’S HOTEL, LONDON’S INFAMOUS PAPARAZZI SURROUND ACTRESS AMBER HEARD, WHO WAS IN TOWN TO PROMOTE A NEW FILM. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

Then there are the abundant parks. “It is a very green city, which makes walking a pleasure,” says Hicks. Those who take an October stroll to vibrant King’s Cross will see garden designer Dan Pearson’s new planting for Gasholder Park, with anemone, all gold, purple stem, daffodil and dogwood, among other flora. For Pearson, who won a gold medal at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, walking through London is the perfect way to reconnect to nature. “On foot you see the way that green space links so much of the city,” notes Pearson. “You see the forgotten corners.”

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BRITISH SCULPTOR CONRAD SHAWCROSS' THE DAPPLED LIGHT OF THE SUN IN THE COURTYARD OF THE
ROYAL ACADEMY IN LONDON. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

As it happens, the art fairs that anchor the season take place in green settings: Frieze London and Frieze Masters, at Regents Park, and the smaller Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD), in Berkeley Square. “I love the opportunity to be in one place for both Frieze and PAD and see so many different things,” says Justine Picardie, the editor in chief ofHarper’s Bazaar UK. “It’s the equivalent for me of going to the prêt-à-porter or the couture shows in fashion.”

More than 160 contemporary galleries from 27 countries will be represented at Frieze London (14–17 October), and more than 120 galleries will be exhibiting at the smaller Frieze Masters (14–18 October), which includes art from antiquity to 2000. The latter fair was masterminded four years ago by Victoria Siddall, the 37-year-old dynamo who now directs both shows. This year, Siddall is particularly excited about the inaugural Collections section at Frieze Masters, featuring eight exhibitions focused on art created before the 20th century, curated by the esteemed Sir Norman Rosenthal. “People can come and see something from a period that they might not normally look at,” Siddall explains. “This is about discovery.”

She is also looking forward to Focus at Frieze London, which showcases emerging artists. “The feedback we have is that this is one of the strongest art fair sections for young galleries anywhere in the world,” she explains, citing the curatorial involvement from the likes of Raphael Gygax of the Migros Museum in Zurich.



THE MILLENNIUM BRIDGE, OPPOSITE TATE MODERN, OFFERS A PICTURESQUE VIEW OF ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

In addition to Focus, there is Live, a roster of performances happening throughout the fair, and the site-specific Frieze Projects. It is a marathon, even for the most intrepid fairgoer. Siddall recommends a solid day of viewing with a break for lunch; book ahead at one of the many high-end pop-ups hosted by Frieze, such as Locanda Locatelli, Umu, Petersham Nurseries and The Arts Club. And don’t forget the basics. “Pick up the map,” Siddall advises. “Without it, even I am lost.”

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THE ARCH, A SIX-METRE-HIGH SCULPTURE BY HENRY MOORE IN KENSINGTON GARDENS. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

More intimate is PAD (14–18 October), with international dealers showing 20th-century art, design and decorative arts in a boutique setting. “PAD is full of beautiful things for the home. You find the odd surprise, from jewellery to sculpture to furniture,” says London-based interior designer and PAD judge Francis Sultana. Thirteen new participants join the roster of international galleries, bringing this year’s total to 62. New arrivals include Michael Goedhuis (Asian art), Tomasso Brothers Fine Art (British antiquities), Siegelson (vintage jewellery) and Pinto (French contemporary design). “It’s like being in the 7th in Paris, strolling down the street, looking in the windows,” says Sultana.

Coinciding with Frieze and PAD is the opening of megadealer Larry Gagosian’s new gallery in Mayfair, with an exhibition of works by Cy Twombly. Like the dealer’s two other London branches, this one is designed by Caruso St John (the architects behind Damien Hirst’s new museum in Vauxhall, which opens in October). The 18,000-square-foot structure is vast, but it will have a domestic feel – a departure from the grey concrete floor, exposed beams and semi-industrial look of Gagosian’s other London locations. “The space is more in keeping with its Mayfair setting,” explains Gary Waterston, the gallery’s managing director. Complete with warm oak floors, the generous private viewing rooms will be sky lit with tall ceilings, “but not overly tall” assures Waterston, enabling clients to imagine the works in their own homes.

“Mayfair is a draw,” Waterston adds. “You have activity at street level and people walking around, which you don’t get in other areas of London.” The area is attractive for its abundance of luxury boutiques and galleries; it is also home to Sotheby’s London, on New Bond Street, where the autumn sales of contemporary and Italian art are held during Frieze week, 15–16 October.



INSIDE THE 2015 SERPENTINE PAVILION, DESIGNED BY THE SPANISH ARCHITECTURE STUDIO SELGASCANO. THE INSTALLATION IS ON VIEW
THROUGH 18 OCTOBER. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

“To me, there’s a real romance about Mayfair,” says Picardie. The Bazaar editor has a soft spot for the neighbourhood, from the Art Deco design of the Beaumont and Claridge’s hotels to charming South Audley Street, where Coco Chanel had a house. “Mount Street is filled with some wonderful new shops, like Christopher Kane and Roksanda Ilincic,” says Picardie.

For her part, Ilincic finds London a constant source of creativity: “You always feel one step ahead because it’s a place that nurtures the experimental while also having a strong sense of tradition.”



THE ROKSANDA ILINCIC BOUTIQUE ON MAYFAIR’S FASHIONABLE MOUNT STREET. PHOTOGRAPH BY ED REEVE.

Another addition to Mayfair is the Bourdon Street boutique of Hussein Chalayan, the British/Turkish-Cypriot designer known for his precisely tailored conceptual clothes. Chalayan channels his theatrical side with Gravity Fatigue, his first dance production, debuting at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 28 October.

“Normally a designer does costumes,” explains Chalayan, but in this project, “I am the author.” He devised the costumes, which will influence the dancers’ movements, and also the title, set and concept, which is brought to life by choreographer Damien Jalet. Gravity Fatigue “is really about my world,” he says. “I’m interested in things having to do with displacement, identity, urban life.”



FASHION DESIGNER AND ARTIST HUSSEIN CHALAYAN, WHOSE DEBUT DANCE PRODUCTION,
GRAVITY FATIGUE, OPENS IN OCTOBER AT SADLER’S WELLS THEATRE. PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN TEH.

The cultural calendar might be getting crowded, but leave room for some must-see museum shows, including Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the Victoria and Albert; Goya: The Portraits at the National Gallery; Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy; and the Berlin-born, London-based painter Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain.

Auerbach, Ilincic, Chalayan. These creative powerhouses are all synonymous with London, yet all are from elsewhere. “One becomes a Londoner very quickly,” says Alistair Hicks. “I was born in London, but that is an unnecessary requirement.” Part of the city’s specialness stems from how international it is. London has long been a magnet for inventive, driven people. Those waves of new arrivals are the very heartbeat of London.


Elena Bowes is a London-based art and travel writer | elenabowes.com.


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