Helmed by acclaimed graphic artist Frith Kerr, Studio Frith presents an exploration of women in art in the exhibition Ahead of the Curve – Women Artists, open until 2 November. Displayed in the celebrated architecture of 2 Willow Road, the former home of Ernö and Ursula Goldfinger, the show invites a series of women designers to respond to a collection of works by twentieth century female artists.
Kerr told Something Curated: “We were approached by the National Trust with an open brief to highlight the work of the women artists in the Goldfinger’s collection as part of their “Women and Power” National Programme, a nationwide initiative responding to the centenary of women first achieving the vote in a British Parliamentary election. Ernö and Ursula’s collection we discovered really was a product of their intellectual and artistic social circle they entertained at their home, 2 Willow Road. So we decided to make those conversations come alive by inviting six other designers to respond to an artist each. The Willow Road show is about conversations. Conversations across time and space between artists and friends. Art makes conversation live forever.”
The influential former Hampstead home of the Goldfingers is an inspiring space for this commemorative exhibition. Completed in 1939 by Ernö Goldfinger, the terraced house built of concrete and red brick is an example of early Modernist architecture. The architect is most prominently remembered for designing residential tower blocks, including Alexander Fleming House, Balfron Tower and Trellick Tower, in London. Within the terrace of three houses of Willow Road, Goldfinger designed the middle unit as a home for his family. In addition to the Goldfingers’ possessions and inventive furniture pieces, the interior displays a notable collection of modern art.
Included in this significant collection are works by prominent twentieth century artists such as British painters Bridget Riley and Prunella Clough. These artists serve as inspiration for the contemporary female creatives showing their work as part of Ahead of the Curve, which features designers Ilse Crawford, Lyn Harris, Gitta Gschwendtner, Nina Chakrabarti, Roksanda Ilincic and Kitty Travers.
Kerr explained: “The National Trust identified the women artists in the Goldfinger’s collection that were on display but also integral to their lives. I then chose a designer to pair with each of those artists — for example, for Ursula Goldfinger I asked the fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic to explore a conversation in clothes. In textile and design – what you wear communicates outwards. All clothes chat to people as we walk down the street. The house comes alive with these women and their voices. Ilse Crawford’s work always considers human needs and desires at the centre of everything. The black bench she designed sits opposite Bridget Riley’s painting ‘The Fugitive’. A discourse may be silent. As simple as looking at a painting or active like dancing in a living room with friends. And of course the bench invites company and conversation between visitors to the house.”
The exhibit features work from perfumer Lyn Harris, who presents a scent entitled Smoke, in the form of a candle, as well as perfume worn by the exhibition’s invigilators. If there’s a nose to trust in London, Harris is the answer; she trained in the traditional ways of perfume making, first in Paris and then in Grasse at Robertet. In 2000, Harris co-founded the fragrance and candle line Miller Harris, and after selling the business in 2016, she opened a concept store in Marylebone called Perfumer H, offering clients unique methods of selecting fragrances, as well as bespoke services.
Among the exhibitors, Nina Chakrabarti is a London-based illustrator with a decorative, energetic style. Working in both analogue form and digitally, Chakrabarti creates complex, detail-oriented designs, which have been commissioned by brands such as Nike, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Vogue. Also showing pieces, as Kerr mentions, is Roksanda Ilincic, who founded her label, Roksanda, with a focus on women-centred design. Her collections of ready-to-wear and accessories own a sophisticated, feminine style and have garnered international recognition. In one of the 2 Willow Road’s bedrooms, Ilincic presents a meticulously crafted dress, as well as a sculptural earring, leather bag and slippers.
You’ll find an ice-cream cake by entrepreneur Kitty Travers hidden in the apartment’s kitchen. Travers founded La Grotta Ices, a small and delectable ice cream business based in London, specialising in fruit-flavoured ices, irresistible regardless of season. Also featured is creator Gitta Gschwendtner, who provides her diverse clientele with equally diverse “tailor made” designs. For Ahead of the Curve, Gschwendtner presents a sculptural work hanging in the building’s stairwell. By juxtaposing the work of today’s talented women designers with a remarkable collection of work by twentieth century female artists, Ahead of the Curve imaginatively pays tribute to women in art history.
Ahead of the Curve runs 24 July – 2 November 2018 at 2 Willow Road, NW3
Feature image: Frith Kerr, “Long Hand” | Photography by Arianna Lago