Champagne translates to celebration; the characteristic sound of the cork popping, the white foam rushing to escape its confinement, the swift arm movement linking the glass and the bottle with a flow of gold.
This would explain why Krug, one of the world’s most renowned Champagne and wine makers, decided to to explore the subject of happiness. In partnership with the Royal Academy, Krug gathered objects from the biggest names in art, from artists and art patrons, to represent and recreate their idea of happiness.
Lady Amanda Harlech, known for her work as creative consultant to Chanel and Fendi, collaborated with Edith Devaney to curate the exhibition in the most magnificent way. Startlingly contrasting pieces lived harmoniously in the same rooms, under the roof of the Haunch of Venison gallery at the Royal Academy.
These objects reflect their idea of happiness, from the materialistic (Krug‘s exclusive Champagne experience) to the idealistic (Vivienne Westwood‘s support material of her campaign to save the rainforest); from the professional (Nick Night‘s section of Studio 4) to the personal (Jemimia Khan‘s children’s riding boots); and from the polished (Manolo Blahnik‘s pair of bright purple and gold stilettos) to the raw (Tyrone Lebon‘s pictures from the Nothing Lasts Forever installation).
The exhibition contained some amazing collector’s items, like an original vinyl copy of the Ziggy Stardust album signed by David Bowie (given by Neil Tennant) and the first lenticular piece of 3D piece of art created by Paul Fryer, as well as Sylvie Guillem‘s signed ballet shoes and a family photo of Bellamy Freud‘s family, taken before her birth.
Other exhibits included a picture by David Bailey, an original dress from the 2009 Erdem collection, a chef jacket worn and signed by Ferguson Henderson, a framed shirt by Marc Quinn, an antique book used by Rupert Sanderson to choose the names of each pair of his shoes, a pencil drawing by Tarka Kings, a photograph by Tom Bell, a family portrait of Tony Blair and his son, shot by Mary McCartney, and a water colour painting by Vivienne Haig.
My two favourite pieces were a painting by Lady Amanda Harlech of a naked man lying in a bath tub, entitled Man in A Bath; and a piece in the entrance, which comprised of a collection of etch-a-sketch games, representing the creative, colourful, and innocently materialistic nature of childhood happiness.
All the pieces were sold in a silent auction, and the proceedings went towards the sport of the Royal Academy Schools.
The exhibition is now over, however it is worth thinking of the relationship between objects and happiness. From the very superficial viewpoint of the item being an object of desire (a Channel bag, or an Hermes scarf) for status, aesthetics, or just possessiveness;all the way to the emotional value of items, like your first diary, or a mix tape you heard on a summer trip, or the cinema tickets from your first date. I do not reject that items can hold happiness within them; I just lean a bit more towards the viewpoint that sees them as representations, or facilitations of happiness.
Either way, I genuinely hope that 2011 was a year that gave you things, memories and experiences that made you happy. An hour away to the end of this year, I would urge all of you to take a few seconds to think of all the things, people, and moments that brightened up your year. I wish you all from the bottom of my heart a magnificent 2012.