London to Jeddah on the Saudia express…

Well it has certainly been a whirlwind few months, and then a tsunami of a few weeks what with writing for Canvas and Brownbook, contributing to a book on Saudi art, lots of press interviews, the launch of my first exhibition in Jeddah, Art Dubai, Sharjah Biennale and now taking the exhibition to Riyadh in mid-April.

I suppose I should start at the beginning seeing as this is a blog about Madder Red and how we started; and we begin with an ending, which is the incredible paradox of a Beginning.

The saddest thing about leaving Sotheby’s was leaving the people. All the wonderful characters that made up the fabric of my life for almost a decade, their kindnesses and eccentricities, their knowledge and sense of humour. Mostly I miss the laughs and the high drama (I heart drama) and believe me: the drama of working in a high- pressure high profile role really puts fire in the belly. That said, staying up ‘til 3am working on a catalogue is not something I’m going to particularly miss (knock yourselves out Lina and Elif! And by the way your latest catalogue is fantastic, a thousand congratulations both of you).

Moving to a microcosm of the art world and launching a firm without the comforting embrace of a multinational was fairly intense. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved in setting up a business that I shan’t bore you with, but if anyone has read the Twelve Tasks of Asterix and recalls the bit when they go to the government building to get a form and go completely insane… Say no more.

There is an enormous amount of interest within Saudi Arabia for setting up an art business. I have had so many consultations with groups and individuals who are looking to put on exhibitions that was a bit overwhelming at first, I wanted to advise everyone but it simply wasn’t physically possible (not for the first time I wished I could figure out how to get on Platform 9 ¾ make my way to Hogwarts and whip up a few Horcruxes). In the end though I am thrilled with my decision to work with BMG Foundation when they approached me last February. Yes! It has been a whole year in the making!! And we got there in the end.

BMG is a charitable foundation whose latest campaign to raise awareness of safe driving is critical in Saudi Arabia, a country which caps the death toll list from car accidents worldwide. Their programme of art exhibitions called the Diplomacy of Art is intended to stimulate cultural exchange in the kingdom by bringing foreign artists to Saudi soil. They started with the Turkish consulate, but I came on board to bring the Fairy Art-Mother touch to the proceedings for their second exhibition with the Italian embassy.

Thank you Enrico Sospisio for your personal introduction to Teresa Emanuele who has been a complete dream to work with.

And on that note I will leave you hanging, waiting eagerly for the next exciting instalment…