FEATURE

Creating a dialogue

Grosvenor, in partnership with Stow and art consultancy firm Art Acumen, are bringing fresh, thought-provoking artwork to the estate. We learn about their latest programme at 33 Davies Street, Mayfair
Lucy Unwin is the artist of the moment at 33 Davies Street. Her piece, Merriment, sits in a space at the foot of the building’s staircase, visible to anyone who enters the lobby as well as passers by on the street outside. Merriment is a galvanised steel sculpture of three people holding hands in a circle. It’s jovial, interesting and has a sense of movement to it, despite the hard material it’s made from.

It’s been put there by Lucy and Art Acumen’s Catherine Thomas, who has been working in partnership with Grosvenor for around a decade. “Art Acumen is about offering bespoke projects to a wide range of individual clients, whether that’s a private individual, a developer or corporate occupier or a public space; each one will have different requirements. Art Acumen aims to align a piece of art to a client’s values,” Catherine explains.

The art on display is there to engage people and inspire them to communicate and take part in debate, as Catherine elaborates: “Art is an emotive subject. Art Acumen is driven to create spaces, whether they’re work environments or public spaces, that inspire and engage with people in a meaningful way.”
Community engagement
However, it’s not just a piece of art displayed forever and eternity; what’s happening at 33 Davies Street is a programme designed to create communication in the immediate environment. This is all part of Grosvenor’s keen commitment to encouraging a wide variety of cultural activity in Mayfair. “From now on, each company in the building will get to choose what goes on display for six months at a time,” Catherine says. “Together with Grosvenor and Stow, we’ve established an art programme that will try to engage a decision-making process in a multi-tenanted building. It has allowed an opportunity for companies in this building to communicate with each other.”

This rotating programme allows them to showcase a variety of artwork, to ensure the display retains interest. “If we always featured a stone sculpture, it would be noticed less,” Catherine explains. “I think the pieces stand out more if they are different and display different techniques and artistic language.”

Merriment is certainly an interesting piece, and was even catching the eyes of passers-by while it was being installed. “When we were setting up, four or five different people came over within the space of an hour to ask about the piece,” remembers Lucy. Perhaps it’s because the piece holds such a universal appeal. “The sculpture shows a group of people holding hands in a circle,” she explains. “Holding hands is such a basic human action. When you meet someone new you shake their hand and holding hands can be an intimate gesture so I think it works really well in a sculpture.”
Figuratively speaking
Lucy works mostly in figurative work, in both stone and metal, but frequently relies on nature to inspire her. “My studio is in the middle of nowhere, so when things aren’t going well on a piece, it’s nice to be able to step outside and look out over the fields for a bit,” she says. “I think my interest in sculpting human figures comes from the fact I trained as an athlete when I was younger. That definitely made me more aware of the human form and anatomy.”

Inspired by the likes of Michaelangelo and Bernini, Lucy also admires Barbara Hepworth, Bridget McCrum and Dominic Welch. “I loved McCrum and Welch’s stone work when I was at art school – and now I’ve even had the opportunity to exhibit with them!” she says.

For both Catherine and Lucy, what really drives this programme is giving people something to stop and look at – whether tenants of the building or people walking by on the street. The artwork, all of which is for sale, has already started a dialogue with people in the area, and 33 Davies Street is a perfect place for art of such quality. “The finish of this building is beautiful,” Catherine says, “and having art on display here shows that Grosvenor and Stow are also thoughtful about content.”

For now, the three steel individuals at the foot of the stairs are attracting comments from passers by and whatever replaces Merriment is yet to be known – it’s all down to the tenants of 33 Davies Street. The best thing about it is that whatever is chosen is there for enjoying and commenting upon – so don’t miss out on the opportunity to next time you walk past.

For information on all the previous exhibitions at 33 Davies Street click here.

For more information on Lucy Unwin's work, please contact Art Acumen

For more information on pop-up retail opportunities in Mayfair and Belgravia, please contact Jack Haining