Pencilling in a journey in style at Heathrow as the great Christmas tree competition begins

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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About as good a spend of £15 in an airport as I can remember…

The item in question is a called ‘A Journey in Style’, written by Elizabeth Walker (with an introduction by Yasmin Le Bon). It’s a lovely pictorial book that celebrates some of the most stylish travellers, outfits and luggage to grace Heathrow’s concourses down the years plus some great on location shots from around the world.

There’s a stunning array of archive photography, some from the airport’s resident photographer Dennis Stone and some from Getty Images. Not surprisingly, they include several of the most iconic style influencers (and Heathrow passengers) of all time, including Marilyn Monroe Marlene Dietrich; Mick Jagger, The Beatles and even Queen Elizabeth II.

All proceeds from A Journey in Style go to Oxfam, Heathrow’s official charity partner.

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Having seen the digital screen advertising for the book, I popped into the landside T5 Gallery (above) to procure a copy. I have mentioned several times in this Blog that this is one of my favourite places, let alone stores, in any airport.

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Today, as luck would have it, both Director Ann Aldridge and Gallery Manager Alex Prior were on site and it was nice to catch up, have a chat about the Elizabeth Walker project and to view the stunning range of art and sculpture currently on display. It was also nice to hear that T5 Gallery, a rare perhaps solitary  example of a commercial art store/gallery in an airport, is prospering.

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[Alex and Ann in front of the wonderful ‘Before the Performance – The Royal Opera House’ by Will Rochfort at T5 Gallery]

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In recent months I’ve had a number of stimulating conversations with various airport executives (Paul Griffiths and Eugene Barry at Dubai Airports; Cissy Chan at Hong Kong International; Cheryl Nashir at San Francisco International; Glyn Williams at Sydney; Jonathan Coen at Heathrow and others) about what airports can be. Not just facilitators of a journey but an intrinsically experiential part of the journey.

All of the airports I cite are doing their best to achieve exactly that. We recently began a special series in each edition of The Moodie e-Zine (in association with The Design Solution) that offers a pictorial focus on how the great (but often misused) concept of Sense of Place is finding expression in airports. More, much more, next year as we start to examine what airports can achieve in serving the unique, ever-changing cross-roads of humanity that pass through them each and every day of the year.

In the meantime thank you Heathrow Airport and T5 Gallery for truly starting my latest journey in style.

From pictures to pencils. Regular readers will know that my other favourite store at Heathrow T5 is Paul Smith, right up there in my all-time list of the world’s best airport shops. Sadly I didn’t have time for my ‘Paul Smith socks fix’ (I have probably got more pairs than I have power adaptors and, given my capacity for forgetting the latter, that is saying a lot) but I was nonetheless stopped in my tracks by the brand.

I’m talking about another landside display, this time called ‘The Secret Life of the Pencil’ and it’s courtesy of Paul Smith. I’ll let the company explain the concept: This unique charity project collects, exhibits and auctions off pencils from famous owners including Stephen Fry, David Bailey and Paul Smith.

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“The humble pencil is found where most of mankind’s greatest achievements begin,” explain Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney, the pencil pushers behind this special project.

The photographic study aims to showcase the continued use of the pencil in an increasingly digital world, demonstrating how the simple writing implement still sits proudly on the desk or behind the ear of the world’s leading artists, architects, writers and designers.

Documenting each pencil in pin-sharp detail, the photographs capture individual pencils as unique as fingerprints, each giving clues to the character of their owner.

Nice idea. Rendered even nicer by the fact that travellers can make their own contribution to Children in Crisis by purchasing limited-edition posters and original prints at the Paul Smith shop airside (or online at PaulSmith.co.uk/secretpencils)

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[A golfing tip from Irish sporting ace Rory McIlroy]

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[A writing tip from the great author William Boyd]

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And finally…

On the 12th day of Christmas
my true love bought for me:

12 Swatches ticking
11 Torys Burching
10 Viktors Rolfing
9 Johnnies Walking
8 Heid-a-siecking
7 Handbags Kipling
6 Grey Goose laying
5 Cartier rings
4 Burberry Brits
3 French Hennessy
2 chocolate Doves
and all them bought duty free!
– The 12 Days of (Duty Free) Christmas – Traditional (almost)

Yes, once again I’m running my ‘Great Airport Christmas Trees’ competition. Already they’re starting to pop up all over the globe and I’ll be assessing the best, the most creative and the quirkiest. Here are some from Heathrow T5. I must say, I do like Viktor & Rolf’s. Talk about pretty in pink. Send us in your snaps please. It promises to be a cracker of a competition. A real Christmas cracker [Christmas tree rating = 9].

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[World Duty Free has gone for a standard look across departments. Elegant but not exciting.  Christmas tree rating = 6]

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[A more natural look from Watches of Switzerland but I think it just looks a mite sad and isolated. Christmas tree rating = 5]

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[Ah, now we’re talking. This is Heathrow Airport’s landside effort at T5. Big, bold, bright, beautiful.  Christmas tree rating = 9]

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  • Hello Martin:

    Just became aware of your blog, which is splendid, and wanted to make you aware of my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/artsintheairport. It is the only FB page that showcases all types of arts initiatives at airports throughout the world. I have covered holiday programs and displays for several years and will do so again this year. Often I promote what’s happening at Heathrow and have an on-going relationship with the T-5 Gallery. In addition, I have written arts and archives master plans, including one for Dulles and National and hold a Bachelor in Fine Arts, in Painting and Design, from Carnegie Mellon University.

    Regarding being able to buy the art one sees in an airport, take a look at Glasgow Airport where the gallery there sells and even ships/delivers the purchases. At Nantucket Airport (KACK,) all the artwork on display is for sale through the artist whose contact info is next to the pieces.

    If interested in learning more about what the FB page does and about me, please read the “About” section and then perhaps we can chat. Would really like to collaborate on this subject; perhaps you can mention my FB page on your blog and vice-versa as well your considering my being part of your new project. I totally believe that what one sees first in an airport and what one sees last is the memory you have of that airport – and, it should be art of any kind to replace negativity. Therefore, I believe that art inspires that Sense of Place that you talk about, the decision to define an airport through visual experiences that only a few airports really understand.

    I do hope to hear from you and hope that you have a chance to review my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/artsintheairport.

    Regards,
    Betsey Sanpere
    Creative Airport Solutions
    creativearprtsol@aol.com
    1-508-221-2429 (mobile)
    1-508-221-2429