As the tourists flood into the ground floor of Fortnum and Mason to buy their tea, biscuits or other delicacies as souvenirs of Britain, they should spend a moment and look at the brightly coloured paintings behind the main tilrl, contrasting with the rest of the décor: Scottish artist John Bellamy has invaded Fortnum and Mason.
Paintings and drawings by Bellamy (1942-2013), one of Scotland’s best-known modern painters, said to have been admired by Damien Hirst and David Bowie (who appears in one of his paintings), are scattered across the entire store of Fortnum and Mason – in the main street windows, behind tills, on staircases, in the Wine Bar and the 3’6 Bar, and behind tills, fragrances, clothes, accessories and gifts. The second year of the collaboration between Fortnum’s and Collector Frank Cohen, with the support this year of the Bellamy Estate, this year’s exhibition is dedicated to one artist and Bellamy’s colourful, atmospheric and haunting paintings and drawings, many of them self-portraits or referring back to places he loved in Scotland, bring colour, life and occasionally humour to the most unexpected corners of the store and it is an expedition to hunt them all out. In doing so, you find parts of Fortnum’s that you wouldn’t otherwise explore (did you know that Fortnum’s staircases all have names including the Beauty Staircase and the Speaking Staircase?). It creates some interesting juxtapositions between paintings on the wall and clothes, accessories and other items in front of them, which itself adds a touch of humour that Bellamy would probably have enjoyed.
An excellent initiative, and I look forward to next year’s….