Into the light

Louise T Blouin is a squillionaire Canadian publisher with an interest in the arts. Having acquired the iconoclastic art magazine Modern Painters and turned it into a fashion magazine she has now set up a foundation in her own name and its new headquarters have just opened in London.

The Louise T Blouin Institute is one of the largest non-government funded, not-for-profit cultural spaces in London to be used for exhibitions and events. Louise T Blouin MacBain’s £20 million investment has transformed the former coachworks of Barker & Co, coachbuilders for Rolls Royce, Bentley and Daimler.

Architects Borgos Dance have retained its 1920s industrial facade but rebuilt the interior

to provide a dramatic triple height 35 ft entrance hall, a 5,000 sq ft gallery space and café, offices for the Louise T Blouin Foundation and

another 4,000 sq ft gallery on the second floor.

A permanent James Turrell installation will work with the façades of the building, using all 80 of the existing external windows. Each window, lit from within, will act as an intelligent unit, controlled individually or as a whole to create an ever-changing artwork on the facade of the building.

As an adaptive reuse project it is beautiful and admirable, yet there is something disturbing about it all. Hey, Louise T Blouin McBain is probably a charming and lovely woman, even if she collects celebrity intelligensia and war criminals. And the rich and powerful have always used vacuous blockbuster art to dress up their activities, but something about this makes me feel queasy, whether it’s the oh-so-correct cliches about creativity and culture, the endless photos of the rich and powerful, the slickness, the spin……?

Never mind, we’ll just eat cake.