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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

20 February 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

London Fashion Week is upon us, and the city’s museums have been commandeered as makeshift catwalks – with decidedly mixed results. On Monday an unexpected evacuation took place at Tate Britain several hours before Christopher Kane’s show was scheduled to start. ‘The models were rained on for about 20 minutes before the security alert was lifted,’ the Associated Press reports.


Eyebrows have been raised at the National Portrait Gallery’s decision, reported in the Art Newspaper last week, to close its doors for the whole of yesterday to stage Erdem’s LFW show. Incidentally, Erdem is often cited as a favourite brand of the Duchess of Cambridge, a patron of the National Portrait Gallery. The institution last week revealed that the Duchess has indulged in a spot of curatorial moonlighting, and put together ‘a patron’s trail’ for its upcoming show ‘Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography’. She has also written the foreword to the exhibition catalogue. That undergraduate dissertation on Victorian photography is finally coming into its own.


Excitement is running high as the BBC prepares to air its new Civilisations series, but Simon Schama, who is presenting several episodes, is doing his best to keep calm. Speaking to Bryan Appleyard at BBC headquarters, the art historian rejected the offer of a caffeine boost, explaining that the Corporation’s coffee ‘tastes as though it’s been mixed with tea’. ‘I don’t know what it is, I just want it to go away,’ he said.


Film buffs in the museum world have been left perplexed by Marvel’s new Black Panther, which features a scene set in a fictional ‘Museum of Great Britain’. Without giving away too much, the sequence in question involves the protagonists breaking into the museum to steal a rare African artefact, killing several security guards in the process. The scene was apparently filmed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, leading some to question why the film makers had gone to the length of disguising it as another institution entirely. Though there is no confirmation as yet, Gizmodo speculates that no real museum would play ball, fearing association with colonial-era plundering.


Every other year, the top brass of the Royal Academy is required to visit the Queen to keep her up to date with the institution’s affairs. Visiting Buckingham Palace last week for the biennial engagement, Charles Saumarez Smith was surprised to find himself mistaken for Italy’s new ambassador to the UK (‘even though she is a woman’), but was sadly unable to say anything about Her Majesty. ‘I know that I am not allowed to report on what was said,’ he writes on his blog, ‘only that the Queen has a great number of paperweights on her desk’.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.