Renowned as a haven for lovers of myriad painting styles, contemporary pieces and beautiful objects from throughout history, Chelsea’s various venues dripping with artistic resonance for those visiting or especially staying in the area – perhaps at the San Domenico House hotel London…
St. Luke’s church
(Sydney Street SW3 6NH)
An undeniably elegant, arguably impressively imposing church, St. Luke’s is an important example of early Victorian Neo-gothic architecture (the venue having opened in 1824). Its design then imitates the churches of the Gothic tradition from the 14th and 15th Centuries, the 20th Century architectural historian John Summerson favourably comparing it to both the iconic masterpiece that’s King’s College Chapel, Cambridge and the tower of Magdalen College, Oxford, both of which were built in the medieval era. Indeed, Summerson wrote that St. Luke’s has “an air of competence and consequence about the design which makes one respect its architect very much. The interior has real dignity and the fittings are carefully detailed”.
The Gilbert Collection/ Jameel Gallery
(Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road SW7 2RL)
The decorative arts-focused V&A in South Kensington, not at all far away from accommodation in Chelsea or hotels near Harrods, offers up two exquisite must-visit sections. First, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection (rooms 70-73) contains a selection of the most beautiful objects ever made; truly. Its selection features items made from precious materials (gold and silver, for instance) and usually to a small-scale, including painted enamels, miniature portraits, mosaics and even automata boxes.
Second, there’s the Jameel Gallery (room 42), which features some of the most exquisite Islamic objects to be found anywhere on earth. Filled with more than 400 artefacts, among them are glass pieces, metalwork, textiles, ceramics, woodwork and carpets dating from the 8th Century AD all the way up to the early 20th and originating from the likes of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Spain. Yet, perhaps its greatest must-see is the Ardabil Carpet, easily one of the world’s most beautiful and significant – it’s also the oldest to have been officially dated.
Chelsea Waterside Artspace/ The Foundry Gallery/ The Chelsea Gallery
(Hepworth Court, Gatliff Road SW1W 8QP/ 39 Old Church Street SW3 5BS/Reference Library, Old Town Hall King’s Road SW3 5EZ)
These three contemporary art galleries together – and, of course, individually – offer an insightful look into the world of modern art. Consistently playing host to stimulating exhibits of work, the Chelsea Waterside Artspace is set this winter to feature ‘Detour’ (24th January-21st March), a show looking at the detours we naturally take in life, while The Foundry Gallery presently offers abstract composition artist Laura Jane Scott’s ‘Take One Shape’ exhibit and the ornate Chelsea Gallery exhibiting space is hosting the expressionist work of Nasrin Moazenchni (29th January-4th February).
Crane Kalman Gallery/ Michael Parkin Gallery/ Mica Gallery
(178 Brompton Road SW3 1HQ/ 4 Sedding Street SW1X 9DE/ Studio 2, First Floor, 259a Pavilion Road SW1X 0BP)
Venturing into the Belgravia and Knightsbridge areas, you’ll come across Crane Kalman Gallery, at which you can presently discover a selection of modern British, European and American painting and sculpture (8th January–3rd March), Michael Parkin Gallery, which is home to both temporary shows and a permanent exhibition of the works of illustrator, printmaker and artist Christopher Brown (all of which are on sale), and Mica Gallery, which features a fascinating combination of modern Islamic and contemporary art.