Where: Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2
When: 24/02/12 (exhibition open till 28th May)
Intrigued by the idea of an event combining art, gin cocktails and 20s music, we went along to the Cat’s Pyjamas night with high hopes. This was a late night opening of the Guildhall Art Gallery , displaying the Age of Elegance exhibition. Unfortunately our expectations were not quite met by the event, and on leaving we were a little disappointed, with a feeling that the evening could have delivered much more.
On entering the gallery we were unsure which way to turn, there was a useful handout on the different activities, but no clue as to where these were located. Unsure, we headed up to the main gallery, which was filled with people dressed in 20s attire, and a small group dancing to the Charleston . Many people had gone to considerable effort to dress up- which did add to the atmosphere. However the bright lights of the gallery, and mix of statues and much older paintings seemed to jar with the exhibition. The combined effect felt like a 20s night by numbers, rather than a transportation back to the jazz age.
In search of the promised cocktails, we eventually located a small pop up drinks area, which had already accumulated a rather large queue. We both tried the Trilby; gin, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and sugar. While delicious, this was not great value at £9 each, especially as it was served pre-prepared in a very small glass.
The exhibition was split across two areas and so we decided to explore, hoping to find more. Whilst the paintings were attractive, they did not capture the essence of the age of elegance that we were expecting and failed to keep us sufficiency interested. Fortunately the evening did improve when we went to the literary section. Mark Oostervan read a short story called ‘The Truth About George’ by P.G. Wodehouse; an intriguing tale of man overcoming his stammer and shyness. The audience were enchanted and this was definitely the highlight of the night. Elsewhere dancing lessons took place, but with our combined lack of coordination we decided to give this a miss.
We felt on balance that given the event was free it was worthwhile going along, and good fun to get dressed up in pearls and braces. What was missing was a certain speakeasy atmosphere of decadence and danger, that the best 20s nights in London deliver. So while it could have been much more, it was still an interesting night, and it was good to explore one of London ‘s lesser known galleries.