London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

Amazing Art in Mayfair

Mayfair is an area I am quite attached to. It is the area where I based my project walk whilst studying to become a guide and as luck would have it our exam walk was also based there.
Last Friday afternoon I was travelling between Trafalgar Square and Marble Arch. Spotting the traffic was snarled up in Regent Street I jumped off the bus at Hamleys and decided to cut through Mayfair to my destination rather than brave the crowds of Oxford Street.
I turned off Regent Street into Maddox Street, past some massive holes in the road outside St George’s Hanover Square (noting in passing that this would affect my Creative Mayfair walk) and carried on towards New Bond Street. I was going to turn right but then remembered Sotheby’s was nearby and it is one place in London that I can’t pass during the day without going in. I commented on a previous visit to Sotheby’s on a blog post in 2010.
On my afternoon tea themed walk I talk about Sotheby’s bargain small cream tea which is a snip at £8.25 (although it may have gone up since I last did this walk). I also mention on my walks that you can just pop in and see whatever they are exhibiting at the time. I always wonder if people on my walks take my advice.
Yes, the doorman will ask if he can help you but I always ask if they have any exhibitions on (of lots that are shortly to be auctioned) and they are happy to tell you.
There were two exhibitions on on Friday. One for a sale of musical instruments and one of contemporary art prints. I felt completely out of my depth in the music room with experts picking up and examining the violins and others playing the larger stringed instruments but I felt much more at home in the room full of art not that I would be buying any though!
The first picture I encountered was a print of Andy Warhol’s version of Edward Munch’s The Scream (more details and a picture can be found here). The colours in this picture were so vibrant I couldn’t stop looking at it. The price estimate was £150,000 to £200,000. The other artwork that really drew me in was one of butterflies by Damien Hirst which I think was this one. There are also prints by Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso. 
The auction takes place on 29th March at 2pm so I would imagine (although I can’t find details from the website) that the exhibition will continue for another couple of weeks.
It is great to be able to see art like this which is on public display for only a short period of time before being sold and disappearing off again out of the public eye. Over the past few years I have seen some amazing artworks just by dropping in on the offchance.
It’s definitely worth visiting Sotheby’s, for either the cream tea (which is really good) or for the art and the same goes for other auction houses although I have yet to find another restaurant within one. If you know different comment below!
The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified and insured City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End. 
Details of all her walks are listed here and upcoming public walks are here.