It doesn’t happen very often that I can mix work with pleasure. The day had already started well, with a stock order from a bookshop in Dubai that covered the whole cost of my trip there. Just as I sat down to check my emails and sip my coffee, my boss suggests I join him for a visit at Dr S.’ office. Exhausted, but still full of adrenaline from the trip and the lack of sleep-caffeine combination, I smile and agree. I had vague memories of the location from a visit 5 years ago, something to do with art.
We ring the bell next to an unassuming white door in central London and enter a minimalistic reception, practically empty if it wasn’t for a massive bell hanging in the middle of the room at the end of the hallway: it’s by Fiona Banner.
Our host greets us and takes us upstairs to his office, another big room with white walls, wooden floors and nothing else but a desk, a round table and four chairs. We still have to hear the story behind the bell and I can already feel there is so much more to this office than a bookselling business.
I sit at the table with everyone else, behind me a curious installation consisting of yellow hands sticking out of the wall and holding numbered white balls (I later discover this is a piece by Scottish artist Craig Wood).
Our host produces some laminated sheets detailing the story behind The Bell: it’s Tornado fighter ZE728 that was damaged beyond repair during the war, then melted to produce an (unusual) aluminium bell to represent one of the most basic means of communication. The piece was commissioned by Locus+ and was cast, in Loughborough, by the world renowned John Taylors Bell Foundry. It is now sitting in their reception to entertain guests.
As if this wasn’t enough, we eventually started talking about books only to be entertained once more with a piece of art included in their catalogue. It’s a photographic series by Korean artist Yeondoo Jung, called ‘Bewitched’, it shows several double-portraits of young people in Korea. The idea was to ask each person what their dream was, and then to reproduce the dream in a photograph. The first portrait is made in their usual setting, showing their day-to-day routine, the second portrait shows the subject in the same pose but with their dream setting. My favourite is ‘Bewitched #2’, the one of a girl working in a cafe’, first portrayed holding a mop; in her dream she wants to go to Alaska on a wild adventure, so she is holding a spear in the same way against a snowy background with Husky dogs.
Dr S. has been featuring artists in amongst his book promotions for a long time. His father is very well known for his contribution and support to the arts industry, so he is continuing the tradition developing a very interesting art collection.
I wasn’t fooled by the chairs and table either…they were Swedish vintage design too!