London Gleaming: The Connaught Hotel Lights Up its Artful New Christmas Tree
This time last year, a global populace who mistakenly believed that the worst was behind them, found itself in the midst of a terrible coronavirus resurgence, with dire predictions of significant post-holiday upturns in the numbers of new infections. (By January, those predictions were found to have been tragically accurate.) So the usual festive public displays were accompanied by as much fear as cheer.
A year later, despite the virus doggedly hanging on, we move into the holiday season with a cautious sense of optimism, the vaccine programs seeming to be doing precisely what they were designed to do. Of course, very few cities in the world are as deft at instilling Christmas cheer as is London – especially in some of its storied hotels. One of those is most definitely the Connaught, majestically perched as ever above Mayfair’s elegant Carlos Place (the birthplace of Wedgwood, for all you students of history).
The hotel undertakes a bit of friendly competition with Claridge’s every year to see which can create the most artful Christmas Tree, with past collaborators including Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin and Sean Scully. This time the job went to the highly regarded husband-and-wife Brit duo of Annie Morris and Idris Khan – with the former’s “stack sculptures” having become her recognizable “signature,” and the latter’s large scale works often hauntingly employing the striking technique of superimposition.
Their creation for the Connaught (which also recently opened the stylish new Red Room cocktail bar) arguably exhibits more of Morris’ influence, playing on the themes of her most familiar sculpts, with nine brightly colored spheres, some featuring more than a thousand little lights to make them sparkle. That they’re slightly staggered is meant to represent the uncertainty that still characterizes our lives in the ongoing age of COVID. Khan instead put his focus on the base, which is fitted with an infinity mirror illuminated in his signature blue. The words “Merry Christmas” are translated into more than 100 languages, surely referencing how after so many months of nearly the entire world being bonded by tragedy, we can now hope to come together in universal joy.
Maybourne Hotel Group co-owner Paddy McKillen enthuses, “We are honoured and delighted that our friends Annie and Idris have agreed to add their magical touch to our precious Connaught Christmas Tree 2021. This special tree highlights the importance of the coming together of all faiths and cultures, particularly at Christmas, and we hope will be enjoyed by our guests, Mayfair neighbors and indeed all of London this festive season.”
Good tidings to all…