Show Case: An interview With Paul Jackson General Manager, Claridge's
Cork Street Correspondent: Being the manager of such a venerable institution must be quite a task, how are you settling in?
Paul Jackson: Having been fortunate to have started my career with The Savoy Hotel Group some 30 years ago at The Connaught, The Lancaster Hotel in Paris and Claridge’s, returning after so many years has felt like coming home, although I still have to pinch myself on occasion.
CC: The striking Art Deco design of the hotel draws direct reference from Cubism and Futurism. How far back are you able to trace Claridge’s close relationship to art and to artists?
PJ: Basil Ionides, the celebrated early 20th century British architect, was invited to oversee the modernist remodelling of Claridge’s in 1929, which transformed the hotel into an Art Deco showcase. He took considerable inspiration for this project from the ‘Expositions des Arts Decoratifs’ in Paris, which he attended with Oswald Mile in 1925.
CC: Can you tell us a little about some of your favourite artworks from the many throughout the hotel?
PJ: My particular favourite is a beautiful painting by Russian artist Boris Pastukhov which currently hangs in the Reading Room. I first fell in love with it at The Lancaster Hotel in Paris where Pastukhov, who was a regular guest, used it to settle an outstanding hotel bill. Needless to say, I was thrilled to rediscover it at Claridge’s.
CC: Would it be fair to say that the art crowd congregates at the hotel because of its proximity to the Cork Street scene and the auction houses of Mayfair? Would it also be fair to say that your marvellous bar is a factor of equal importance?
PJ: One of the joys of Mayfair is that it now boasts some of the biggest and finest art galleries in the world. There has been a recent influx from the art world with the opening of leading auction house Phillips on Berkeley Square, Cork Street Gallery and of course many others such as Timothy Taylor, Delahunty Fine Art and the Pyms Gallery. Claridge’s is really at the centre of them all.
CC: Are you aware of any artists being inspired to create works while at the hotel evidenced by a sketch on a napkin? Using the bathroom as a darkroom? A request for an easel to be brought up to the suite? An impromptu installation in the restaurant?
PJ: During my first tenure at Claridge’s the wedding breakfast for Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel took place in the French Salon and Drawing Room. The wonderful artist Lucian Freud was amongst the many glittering guests in attendance and during the course of the luncheon drew a simple, but stunning portrait of Barbara Amiel on one of Claridge’s white banqueting plates.