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Posts from the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

What it’s like inside Buckingham Palace – you can visit the 19 State Rooms over the Summer, including a special Platinum Jubilee exhibition

Buckingham Palace. Credit: Andrew Holt. Copyright The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

[FURTHER UPDATE The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace will reopen to visitors on Thursday, 22 September. The Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews will not reopen to the public in 2022. The special displays at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse marking the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II will not reopen.]

[UPDATE The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are closed until further notice following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th. The Queen’s coffin is being brought to Buckingham Palace from Scotland on the evening of September 13th and will rest in the Bow Room and then the Throne Room for family and staff respectively to pay their respects. The Queen’s coffin will leave Buckingham Palace at 2.22pm on September 14th to lie in in state at Westminster Hall. Rest in Peace your Majesty]

Walking up the red carpeted, gold leafed, double pronged Grand Staircase, it’s hard not to channel “You shall go to the ball!” I’m at Buckingham Palace to visit the State Rooms which are open to the public this summer, until October 2nd, for the first time since 2019. Chopstix had a preview of the self guided tour – a week later Jeff Bezos apparently booked on the Exclusive Evening Tour.

The State Rooms, where the British royal family meet and entertain official visitors, lie deep beyond the famous façade, in the West Wing of the Palace. Entry for the paying public (tickets for adults are £30 with concessions available) is not through the front gates but at the side on Buckingham Palace Road. Though once through “airport-style security” (where they are much more polite than at any airport I’ve been to) we access the same grand rooms as the dignitaries.

But first we’re given a few rules – no chewing of gum (“you can’t imagine where we find it”), no photographs of the State Rooms and no loos until the end of the tour. 

Buckingham Palace Grand Staircase. Photographer: Derry Moore. The Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Elizabeth II

First taste of the splendour is the aptly named Grand Staircase. The theatrical look is not accidental – the staircase was designed, like all The State Rooms, by John Nash who had a background in theatre set design. George 1V commissioned Nash to transform the then Buckingham House into a palace. Even the most jaded person couldn’t fail to be awed by the sheer magnificence and exquisite craftsmanship.

The self-guided tour (the free audio guide gives interesting insight into the history, art and design details) loops through the 19 State Rooms. Each room flows on to the next and the dramatic Throne Room comes so early on it can take you by surprise. Through the glorious in its own right Green Drawing Room my eye is drawn to two prominently placed thrones in the next room. 

Buckingham Palace Green Drawing Room. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The theatrics are dialled up to maximum in the Throne Room: wall to wall crimson red with several crystal chandeliers and of course, thrones. One is embroidered “ER II” and the other, poignantly, “P” for the late Prince Philip. Fans of Prince William and Kate Middleton will recognise the room as the setting for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding portraits.

Buckingham Palace Throne Room. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022

We are gently guided one way through the Palace by a subtly roped off areas. Uniformed staffers are positioned along the route, probably to check we don’t touch or photograph anything but all unfailingly friendly. 

The Picture Gallery has recently been renovated as part of a massive repair plan for the Palace. The long, glass roofed room is lined with works by the world’s most famous painters including Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer. 

Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022

The presence of Queen Victoria looms large in the next room, the East Gallery, which is packed with portraits of the monarch and her family. Each year the Summer Opening includes a special display in the Ball Supper Room, commissioned by Victoria and based between the East Gallery and the Ballroom. 

For 2022 in celebration of the Queen’s seventy year reign the exhibition is Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession featuring portraits taken by official Royal photographer, the late Dorothy Wilding. 

Wildings’ photographs were the basis for Queen’s image on British stamps, bank notes and coins. The portraits were also distributed to British embassies around the world.

Dorothy Wilding portrait of the Queen. Royal Collection Trust/All Rights Reserved

Past the exhibition the tour resumes in the enormous Ballroom, commissioned by Queen Victoria as she was running out of space for guests in the Blue Drawing Room. Today the lavish space is used for state banquets and investitures.

Following on from here the rest of the State Rooms overlook the Palace’s vast grounds. While there’s an initial urge to gawp at the Queen’s back garden, the sheer magnificence of the interiors ultimately keeps your interest inside. This run of rooms is the grandest including the Music Room, originally known as the Bow Drawing Room, with its striking blue columns and where Prince Charles was christened, and culminating in the ravishing White Drawing Room which includes a secret door used by the royals.

Downstairs, we walk through the Marble Hall which was created specifically to house marble sculptures. At the bottom of the stairs themselves is a full length sculpture of Mars and Venus carved from a single block.

Buckingham Palace and gardens. The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The tour then leads out through the Bow Room to the garden where, conveniently, there’s a cafe set up on the West Terrace. Overlooking the lawn and lake, it’s a pleasant spot to sit for a coffee in a Buckingham Palace branded paper cup.

For more amusing Buckingham Palace branded merchandise there’s a large shop strategically placed on the way out of the grounds. You may also be tempted to stock up on an (admittedly cute) stuffed toy corgi or a bottle of Her Majesty’s gin. 

As a bonus the way out is a seven minute walk around the edge of the gardens. Exiting on a busy London road which leads to “the Queen’s favourite hotel” The Goring in one direction and Hyde Park Corner in the other, no carriage awaits me. Before I set off on foot though I do feel as if I should check for a pumpkin with six mice.

Krug puts the Fun into Fungi


Krug x mushroom dish at Jaan

[In homage to the Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi exhibition opening at Somerset House in London today, including edible tours and a pop up feast, Chopstix looks back at the Krug Mushroom experience in 2017.]

Krug has launched an exclusive champagne and mushroom tasting trail across top restaurants in Singapore as part of its latest single ingredient showcase. Chefs at five eateries in the city have created mushroom focused dishes designed to pair perfectly with Krug Grand Cuvee, a champagne blended from over 120 wines from more than 10 different years and aged for a further 15.

“We want to show the individual character of the champagne,” Moet Hennessy brand manager Lucie Pugnot says of the collaboration which sees Krug select one ingredient for chefs to work with. “The first year we chose the simple potato, then last year the humble egg. This year we chose the mushroom which is also familiar but multifaceted.”The beauty of this fascinating fungi is that it comes in many varieties, including the luxurious truffle, with some types only available in certain months. So the Krug mushroom dishes may evolve according to what produce is available on the day.

_DSC2890.JPG Chef Kirk Westaway at Jaan

“The mushrooms keep changing throughout the year and we are all about what’s in season in Europe, particularly in France and the UK,” says Kirk Westaway, head chef at Jaan. So while we sampled the very last morels of the season in his exquisite langoustine with Hollandaise sauce course, this month the dish will segue into grey and blue chanterelles. It’s part of a six course menu matched with three types of Krug champagne including the Grand Cuvee.

_DSC3139.JPG Krug x Mushroom dish at the Tippling Club

Similarly at Tippling Club, chef owner Ryan Clift has moved on to girolles sourced from a small farm near Lyon in France along with black truffles as part of a six course menu. “I like to lightly sautee the girolles in butter and add salt at the end,” he says. “Mushrooms should never be seasoned until the last minute – if you add salt at the beginning you draw out the moisture and lose the caramelisation.” A surprisingly delicious component on the plate is a cocks comb which has been confited and pan fried to crispy perfection.

_DSC3090.JPG Chef Ryan Clift at the Tippling Club

At the fine dining Song of India restaurant Manjunath Mural is presenting a platter for two people including a tandoori chargrilled portobello mushroom stuffed with Roquefort cheese and spiced with two types of cardamom, chilli and a tamarind foam, matched with a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee. “The cheese pairs well with the champagne and I think Indian spices also go very well with it,” says Mural and we have to agree.

_DSC3295.JPG Krug x Mushroom dish at Song of India

“We have a lot of very good mushrooms in Japan,” says Hashida Sushi’s Chef Hatch who is originally from Tokyo. “I chose the shitake because it is juicy and has good flavour.” The chef has cleverly transformed the four day fermented mushrooms into an ice cream served with tempura vegetables in a stunning mix of hot and cold on the same plate. The Shitake Ice Cream comes as part of an omasake menu and vegetables featured in the tempura will change according to produce available.

_DSC3262.JPG Krug x Mushroom dish at Hashida Sushi

At Atlas you can enjoy a glass or bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee with a gourmet snack befitting its gorgeous bar area. “As an Italian, when I was growing up mushrooms to me meant porcini,” says executive chef Daniele Sperindio. As such he has used porcinis to make a rice “bark” crisp and as the basis of a “Mont Blanc” paste topping along with blue foot mushrooms from France and Singaporean king oyster mushrooms. The result is a striking and richly flavourful canape.


Krug x mushroom dish at Atlas bar

A version of this article was first published in August 2017

Annie Leibovitz is on point with Women: New Portraits

Misty Copeland copyright Annie Leibovitz

Misty Copeland, New York City, 2015 copyright Annie Leibovitz from Women: New Portraits

[UPDATE: The exhibition opens in Hong Kong this on June 3rd]

Annie Leibovitz’s Women: New Portraits exhibition opens in Singapore tomorrow having shown in London, Tokyo and San Francisco. and before moving on to cities such as Hong Kong and London. The show features Leibovitz’s new photographic portraits of prominent women such as Sheryl Sandberg and Malala Yousafzai as well as highlights of the renowned photographer’s (female) back catalogue relayed on digital screens. Chopstix caught up with her in SG:

*I was working with UBS on a commercial project and they asked me ‘Is there something you’d like to do?’ I thought about adding on to the original Women’s project in 1999 which I did with Susan Sontag. I was really reluctant to do it back then. I thought it was too big.

*But an idea I was interested in at the time was showgirls in Las Vegas. I went out to the casinos and picked out several showgirls to come into the studio the next day for The New Yorker. The first girl came in looking like that [she points to a photo of an ordinary looking woman in plain clothes.] I was taken back. I took photographs of the women before and after and it was an intriguing set of images for me. It made me think about how women dress up to be women.

*One of the women I shot for the first Women’s project was Hillary Clinton who was then the First Lady. The project was choc full of women from all walks. It was very, very diverse.

*What is important to me is that you could read about the women photographed. The biogs are little haikus about these women.

*On the screens [showing a rotation of Leibovitz’s work] I’ve thrown in the kitchen sink. There’s a whole load of photographs I’ve taken of women.

*It’s a work in progress. I’m working on taking more photographs for the exhibition this year. I’m hoping to photograph, don’t laugh, Kim Kardashian. We’re also trying to arrange Venus and Serena Williams together.

*When we did the sitting with Zaha Hadid I remember I didn’t think it was very good. Zaha died and I went hack to my files and I love them. So I put them in the show. They’re not the most flattering pictures of her but they are strong.

*It’s incredible that in the 75 year history of the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland is the first black prima ballerina. She’s more atheletic than ballerinas of the past so she’s breaking lots of boundaries. She has lovely shoulders. I do love this, she’s so beautiful.

*I photographed Elizabeth Warren who said ‘blow up the banks”. I was free to photograph who I wanted [for this UBS exhibition].

*When I photographed Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Fair it was an amazing sitting because we weren’t thinking about the magazine cover. We were helping this person get to the next place in their life. It was overwhelming how she was received, it was a big deal. I had no doubt she would be on this wall. I asked her permission to use an out take and she said yes.

*There is no end to this project. How can it end? I really like it though, I’m really enjoying it.

* It’s a little Hollywood centred at the moment. A particular weakness in the wall is [the lack of] women’s issues. We’ve been trying to get into a refugee camp for a long time and we’re finally going in with Malala [Yousafzai] this summer.

*I would like to photograph Angela Merkel. We’ve had a letter back that says unfortunately she’s very busy.

*When I have photography students in I’m brutal with them. I tell them it’s not about waiting for someone to give you a job.

*If you want to be a photographer, don’t think it’s a dead art because everyone’s taking photographs now. You have to think about what you’re trying to say with your pictures. It’s completely different to taking a picture with your iphone. Which by the way is fantastic.

Annie Leibovitz copyright Annie Leibovitz

*I’m very lucky, I started working for Rolling Stone magazine when I was 19 years old. Then Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. So I’ve always had a vehicle.

*When I was young I thought my subjects were lucky to be in my pictures. Then I grew up and realized the sitter is important.

*That’s why I’m interested in Kim Kardashian. I love pop culture as much as I love Gloria Steinem. I love a mix.

*I’ve never been interested in celebrity. I’m interested in what someone does. I’m not just interested in what they look like, I’m interested in what they do.

*When I was asked to shoot the Pirelli calendar I said no, it’s not going to work. You can’t go from being a girly calendar to one about distinguished women.

*Then my studio asked a couple of women and they said yes. People I would never have expected to. So I drew up a list and I asked some of my friends – Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Amy Schumer… – for favours.

*I told Amy Schumer you have to be the joke, the only one who didn’t get the memo to not take your clothes off.

Women: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz is on at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station from April 29th – May 22nd 2016. Entrance is free.





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