We talk to Kate Gordon, founder of London Art Studies in time for the launch of the new morning and evening events at the Bulgari Hotel
The dream is to be a Wellesley girl in the ’50s sitting before old-fashioned slides and a forward-thinking feminist questioning the meaning of art. The reality is we can’t handle the commitment of a full course and nine times out of ten our social life comes first. The remedy is Kate Gordon’s brainchild, London Art Studies, which offers sociable, noncommittal and easily digestible art lectures from top experts. They are now available in the mornings and evenings, so there’s no excuse for not knowing your Monet from your Manet or your Rubens from your Rembrandt.
Why did you start London Art Studies?
I was Head of Public Programmes at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and CNN Global Arts Producer and studied English and Russian at University in the USA and Moscow.
My inspiration for London Art Studies was the huge increase of interest in the arts over the last ten years and the desire to make education on the subject exciting and tailored to those who haven’t the time to sign up for lengthy courses. Learning keeps us young!
Recently one of my students called the LAS experience ‘a spa for the mind’ – I think she meant that our classes are inspiring and offer an escape from everyday life.
Why do you think it is important to learn about art?
Learning keeps you young, passionate and engaged and connecting through culture is incredibly rewarding. In this fast paced world that we live in, taking time out – even if it’s just for an hour – and doing something educational, entertaining and rewarding simply enriches life.
What is your favourite period of art and who are your favourite artists?
It’s an incredibly difficult question, and I always seem to pick something from the latest lecture I’ve given. I would say that the more I learn about contemporary art, the more I enjoy it – but having said that, Botticelli, Modigliani and Klimt would always be in my top 10!
Do you collect art? Could you explain your favourite pieces?
I started collecting photography many years ago, and have just begun to expand on this. I try to go to as many student shows as possible (the Royal College of Art is a particular favourite) and the last non-photography piece I bought was a very small Gordon Cheung from the gallery Edel Assanti.
From 20 January, morning and evening LAS events will be available at the Bulgari hotel. How will these differ from the usual lunchtime slots?
The classes that we have held for the past three years at Koffmann’s at The Berkeley Hotel include lunch and are held from 10am to 2.30pm for a small group of just 16 students. We will continue to host these but I kept being asked by the students to offer a wider variety of lecture formats, which is where the morning and evening slots come in.
Our new location at with the Bulgari Hotel is designed to offer both more choice and hopefully extend our clientele. We expect LAS ‘In Focus’ morning sessions to draw in a slightly different crowd to those who sign-up for our LAS Evenings which are intended as fun, ‘power hour’ sessions. Learning about the arts over a class of wine lends itself to socialising with friends and also to professional entertaining and networking.
Who would benefit from the lectures?
The courses are designed to appeal to both curious beginners and more knowledgeable art-lovers. Quite simply, they’re for anyone who wants to learn about art.
Anyone who wishes to get more out of hotly-anticipated London exhibitions and galleries through to those who want to understand more about the art markets.
What do you hope your guests will take from the lectures?
We aim to take some of the mystery out of the art world and our lecturers are selected not only for their expertise but also for their accessible and engaging teaching styles. We hope that our students come away feeling inspired but also having had fun.
How do you decide which topics to cover in each session?
Our subject matter always focuses on what’s hot in London’s art scene and create lecture content according to this – from exhibitions and art fairs to auctions and key trends in collecting. Our capital city is a huge source of inspiration.
Who will be speaking in this year’s events?
Our lecturers include and representatives from Tate, National Gallery, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. We’re also incredibly fortunate to have Joanna Hardy of Sotheby’s and the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow as our main jewellery lecturer, as well as Dr Richard Stemp (who also appears on TV) and Ben Street who is one of the most exciting lecturers on contemporary art.