An Artful Spirit Fills a Boutique Hotel in “Shoreditch-on-Sea,” and Other News

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Fort Road Hotel. Photography by Ed Reeve

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An Artful Spirit Fills a Boutique Hotel in “Shoreditch-on-Sea”

After getting a taste of the hospitality business while debuting the art-filled Toklas, a restaurant-bakery-grocery concept in London, this past year with fellow Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover has decided to expand his reach with the opening of the Fort Road Hotel. A collaboration between Slotover, painter Tom Gidley, and developer Gabriel Chipperfield, the property in Kent occupies a once-crumbling 1820 boarding house rehabbed back to life by Fleet Architects. Dubbed “Shoreditch-on-Sea,” the coastal town of Margate has been gaining popularity ever since Turner Contemporary, designed by Gabriel’s father David Chipperfield, arrived just over a decade ago. 

Artists priced out of London have followed suit in search of cheaper studio space. In Fort Road, they have a new neighborhood gathering spot. The 14 pared-down rooms are outfitted in period furniture, custom vanities, and 20th-century figurative oil paintings, gouaches, and watercolors curated by Gidley. Downstairs, he chose contemporary works by local talents (Nicolas Deshayes, Lindsey Mendick) for the restaurant, where chef Daisy Cecil serves a seasonal British menu (celeriac soup with walnuts, cheddar soufflé) in a homey space marked by herringbone-pattern floors and an emerald green-tiled bar. A swirling mural by artist Sophie von Hellermann lines the stairwell down to the subterranean drinking den, where a neon piece by Tracey Emin glows. Don’t be surprised if the hometown multimedia artist drops by for a tipple—her studio is a few minutes away. —Nate Storey

“Corona” (2018) by Leo Villareal. Image courtesy of Leo Villareal

Leo Villareal illuminates Stone Nest’s Soho chapel ahead of Frieze Week in London.

“Ahead of Frieze Week in London, digital-art platform Outland and arts organization Stone Nest will host a new, immersive work by Leo Villareal, the American light artist who illustrates function with luminous form. The show will play out at Stone Nest’s Soho chapel, a Grade II-listed Welsh church (and former squat) serving as a temporary performing arts venue for artists and musicians. While they proceed with the building’s restoration, Villareal will take over the space on Oct. 11 with his generative digital artwork, an LED translation of blockchain technology.” [H/T The Spaces]

Billy Al Bengston, a prominent abstract painter in L.A.’s postwar art scene, dies at 88. 

“Billy Al Bengston, a painter whose unclassifiable semi-abstractions made him a core figure of Los Angeles’s postwar art scene, died at 88 of natural causes on Saturday at his home in Venice, California. A representative for his gallery, Various Small Fires, confirmed his passing. Bengston rose to fame in L.A. during the ’60s, when he was painting works that abstracted commercial logos and car parts. His paintings’ spare compositions and their untraditional processes caused some critics to lump Bengston in with the Finish Fetish movement, whose practitioners made a habit of creating sleek, smooth artworks. Some have also claimed Bengston as an artist adjacent to the Pop art movement because certain painting series allude to consumer goods.” [H/T ARTnews]

Arine Aprahamian. Photography by Rolex/Audoin Desforges

Rolex brings Beirut-based designer Arine Aprahamian into its Protégé Arts Initiative.

“Arine Aprahamian has recently witnessed what she describes as a series of life-altering events. First, rapid inflation catalyzed Lebanon’s economic collapse; then COVID hit; and in August 2020 an explosion devastated her hometown. “My entire outlook on life and on architecture changed,” says Aprahamian, who found herself asking: ‘How should we produce space? What does it mean to work locally?’ These are questions she can pose to Pritzker Prize winner Anne Lacaton, who has long championed adaptive reuse and design as tools for social change. The two have been brought together as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, launched in 2002 to foster cultural progress and intergenerational exchange in the fields of literature, dance, architecture, and more.” [H/T Architectural Digest]

The energy crisis is spelling an uncertain future for Venice’s Murano glassmakers.

“A storied art material, synonymous with Venetian craftsmanship, history, and splendor, is facing unprecedented challenges amid the energy crisis in Europe. Venice’s Murano glass production has been deeply affected by the rapidly rising price for gas, which has forced most of the lagoon’s glassmakers to shut down their studios for varying periods. ‘About 80 percent of [Murano glassmakers] have stopped their production, while the rest work with less power … and fewer workers,’ a spokesperson from the glassmaking umbrella group Consorzio Promovetro Murano told Artnet News. They added that gas prices are fluctuating daily as well, making it “impossible” to plan production.” [H/T Artnet News]

Rivian is recalling nearly every vehicle it’s ever produced thanks to a loose fastener.

“Rivian, the Irvine, California-based electric vehicle company, is recalling nearly all the vehicles it has produced to tighten a loose fastener in the vehicles’ front suspension. The recall involves 12,212 electric pickups, vans and SUVs, according to paperwork the company filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Amazon-backed electric vehicle manufacturer sent messages to its customers on Friday to inform them of the recall, according to a statement from the company, which emphasized that it has not yet heard of any injuries as a result of the issue.” [H/T CNN]

The African Leadership University in Kigali, Rwanda, by MASS Design Group. Photography by Iwan Baan

Michael Murphy is stepping down as the president and CEO of MASS Design Group.

“Michael Murphy has said he is stepping down as president and CEO of the MASS Design Group, the non-profit firm he founded in 2008 with Alan Ricks, Marika Shioiri Clark, and Alda Ly. He plans to open his own design studio, which will address ways the ownership of buildings can be extended to disadvantaged groups. Murphy, 42, has also accepted an endowed chair at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he teaches architecture studios (this year’s subject is memorials). He will remain on MASS’s board. MASS, which stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society, is best known for its hospitals in Africa, clinics in Haiti, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice—a tribute to victims of lynchings—in Montgomery, Alabama.” [H/T Architectural Record]

A tablecloth the Beatles and Joen Baez doodled on 56 years ago is up for auction.

“For 55 years, the Vilardi family searched for its lost tablecloth. Not just any piece of linen, but a white tablecloth with elaborate doodles created by all four members of the Beatles plus Joan Baez on Aug. 29, 1966, minutes before the band members took the stage at Candlestick Park in San Francisco for their final live ticketed concert. It was stolen six days later from the window of Joe Vilardi’s catering business headquarters on Clement Street in San Francisco. For more than five decades it remained missing—until March 2021, when grandson Michael Vilardi received a phone call from a stranger. The tablecloth, which was returned to the Vilardis, is going up for auction at Bonhams, where it’s being offered to the public online beginning on Oct. 7 with an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.” [H/T San Francisco Chronicle]

Today’s attractive distractions:

Anime-inspired robot maids wait on customers at this Japanese cafe.

Délice de Bourgogne, a French triple crème cheese, is everywhere.

Mary Fitzgerald’s life drastically changed after being on Selling Sunset.

Fleetwood Mac memorabilia heads to the auction block in December.

All Stories