Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories
Martinis, Aston Martins, Mark Rothko… what is it about art and espionage? Whether it’s art historians with double lives (Anthony Blunt) or national intelligence services secretly funding painting movements (the CIA and Abstract Expressionism), it seems that for spies the allure of high culture is impossible to resist.
Equally, your rakish correspondent must confess to a fondness for spy-related content: not least the black-comedy thriller Killing Eve, the third season of which has just ended. Over the course of eight blood-spattered episodes, Rakewell has been making careful notes – not in an attempt to solve the murders and mysteries that drive the drama, but on the series’ often divertingly dramatic locations.
The show’s creators have seemingly taken their cue from the historical examples of art-loving spies, with a series of rendezvous taking place in cultural venues across London. In the final episode, the MI5’s Carolyn (played by Fiona Shaw) finally meets Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer), a psychopathic assassin working for an enigmatic international crime organisation called the Twelve. The location? The Royal Albert Hall in London:
For another meeting across the river, Carolyn selected the brutalist environs of the Southbank Centre:
Meanwhile Villanelle’s tastes – whether in clothing, interiors or murder weapons – lean towards the baroque. An aborted wedding reception takes place at the 14th-century Castillo de la Monclova in Andalusia, while for her base in Barcelona she spreads out across a whole floor of the Cases Ramos, a spectacular example of ornate Catalan modernism designed in the early 20th century by Jaume Torres i Grau.
The Armourers’ Hall back in London is an on-the-nose choice from the Twelve for a tense meeting with Villanelle:
And finally – with thanks to an eagle-eyed Twitter user for this discovery – there’s the somewhat more populist venue picked out by the titular Eve (Sandra Oh), the shabbily dressed former intelligence officer with little interest in a life of luxury:
Sandra Oh…in Rowans pic.twitter.com/YmaQwHMlrH
— Micha✊🏾JOIN A UNION (@Micha_Frazer) May 18, 2020
Yes, that’s Rowans, the legendary bowling alley usually found in Finsbury Park – but for the purposes of Killing Eve, now situated somewhere in Barcelona…