In Good Company: Lucille Lewin & Nicole Farhi

Friends Lucille Lewin and Nicole Farhi have come together to create an exhibition that showcases their shared passion for sculpture. Peter Gray reports.

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Described as a ‘celebration of the creativity and friendship of Lucille Lewin and Nicole Farhi’ in Good Company  showcases a host of new works by the pair, alongside several pieces from their back catalogues.

The South African and the French woman have much in common. Both enjoyed long term and  lucrative careers in the fashion industry, both left their jobs in fashion to pursue a career in art, and both chose sculpture as their artistic medium of choice.

Lewin is the founder and former Creative Director of Whistles, which she ran for 35 years before selling the business in 2001 to work as Creative Director of Liberty. Farhi, meanwhile, is the French fashion label boss whose designs made such a major impact on the fashion industry in the eighties and nineties.

After working for Stephen Marks at French Connection, Farhi launched her own eponymous label within the French Connection group. The brand soon had an array of shops around the world as well as a burgeoning reputation for its high end designs.

Like Lewin, however, the call of the art world eventually proved too strong, and after being mentored by sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi for several years, Farhi gave up her career in fashion for a full time life as an artist.

Paolozzi encouraged the would be artist to explore other media such as plaster and wax, but Farhi quickly realised that clay was her preferred medium.

Farhi balanced the competing demands of the fashion and art world’s for over thirty years, but in 2012, following the sale of her eponymous label, the fashion designer finally called time on her career in the fashion industry to dedicate herself to art full time.

Several successful solo exhibitions followed, including at The Fine Art Society, Edinburgh and London; Beaux Arts, London; CCA Galleries International, Jersey and her first museum exhibition at Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury in 2019. Unbeknown to her at that time, Lewin was also experiencing the same calling.

Lewin obtained a Diploma in Fine Art and Ceramics from CityLit in 2014 and by 2017, she had augmented it with a Master’s in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art. The former fashion director would go on to exhibit at the V&A (2019), Christies (2017), Connolly’s (2018), Messums Wiltshire (2017) and Collect at the Saatchi Gallery (2018-2020).

In Good Company is the result of a discussion between Farhi and Lewin during the 2020 lockdown. Both agreed that they were desperately missing meeting up with their friends to go to exhibitions. However, with the museum sector then in lockdown, the pair decided to take matters into their own hands, with a bold plan for a joint exhibition. In Good Company is the result.

The new exhibition is notable for several reasons. Not only does it showcase a body of work produced during the lockdown, but it is also hosted in Farhi’s own house in Marylebone. A converted Victorian school house on Chiltern Street, the building has previously featured in the highly respected magazine, World of Interiors.

The exhibition will showcase the very different artistic approaches of the two women with Farhi seeing the clay as a mere starring point for pieces which are then cast in jesmomite, bronze or glass, while Lewin works exclusively in porcelain clay, which is ‘modelled, dipped, slipped, cast, thrown, cut up, pressed and extruded before being broken and reassembled through gestural acts over months of handmaking.

Lewin says of the exhibition: “I am very excited to be exhibiting new work alongside that of Nicole. The past year, though being a very strange, has given me the space and time to concentrate on my sculpture without any other distractions. I took the leap to move into a new studio and acquire a larger kiln which has enabled me to produce work on a larger scale. My pieces are fractured metaphors for human experience through time. They reference both the chaos we have created and the wonder of nature and its ability to regenerate and mutate to survive. ”

Nicola Farhi, meanwhile, was excited by the opportunity to reveal her new work to an IRL audience again, post lockdown. She said “In Good Company gives me an opportunity to show new work alongside some earlier pieces in a very special setting. Throughout the past 35 years my subject matter as a sculptor has been exploring the human form. In a body of work – Folds – I used fragmentation to heighten the expressive power of a breast, a back or a torso, and in the case of my new series Womankind, it is more the feeling, the emotion I wanted to focus on. Over the years  I have sculpted  a multitude of portraits and I enjoy finding ways through the modelling in clay and now by painting them, to reveal the character, the presence of the sitter, their energy, their humanity.”

The exhibition has been curates by Independent Art Advisor and Curator Selina Skipwith in association with  Exhibition Partner Crown Fine Art.Skipwith is the former Director and Keeper of Art of The Fleming Collection. She has a wealth of curating experience having overseen the creation of The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation. She writes and lectures regularly and advises a number of private and corporate clients.

 She says if the exhibition: “A silver lining of the past year and a bit is that is has given artists, curators, advisors and dealers breathing space; a chance to step off the treadmill and rethink the way we work and connect with each other and also appreciate more than ever the value (not in monetary terms) of the art we surround ourselves with.  In Good Company is a very special exhibition as it shows the work of two amazing women who have both forged new successful careers as sculptors following their previous successes in the fashion world and is presented in the unique setting of Lucille’s home. Women of all backgrounds have had to shoulder the burden of the pandemic with home schooling, being carers, juggling or having to give up work and it feels more important than ever to be able to show the sculpture of Lucille and Nicole as inspiration to women of all ages thinking about starting new careers, not necessarily in the arts, whatever stage they are in life.

In Good Company: Lucille Lewin & Nicole Farhi will run from the 5th of October 2021 until the 22nd of October 2021. Entry is free and timed entry can be booked through Eventbrite (booking opens on the 1st of September 2021).

More information about the exhibition can be found here.

For information on other great exhibitions in London, please click here.

 

-London's Best Events-
What: sculpture exhibition
When: 5-22 Oct 21
Where: Chiltern Street, Marylebone
Website: Lucille Lewin