Now in its fourth year, the Widow Series is an ambitious experiential project inspired by ‘Madame Clicquot’, who took over the French champagne house in 1805 after she was widowed at 27. (She went on to pioneer a production method that turned champagne clear and introduce the brand’s most famous visual asset, its yellow label.)
Each year, the champagne house invites a different creative to pay homage to the Madame by curating an immersive art event in London. Previous curators include FKA twigs, fashion editor Carin Roitfield and photographer Nick Knight.
Tom Hingston was given the task this year and has curated a seven-room installation at Oxo Tower featuring music and visuals from a diverse group of artists.
Inspired by clubbing and counterculture, Rebels begins with a film installation set to Young Fathers track Get Up and ends with Field of Dreams – a space inspired by festival fields. Created by Rebecca Louise Law and artist Chris Levine, the room features a carpet of flowers, laser beams stretching from wall to wall and an edited version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop on a loop.
Elsewhere, Nick Knight has created a space that pays homage to punk, set designer Anna Burns has created a watery installation inspired by the recent discovery of a shipwreck containing 200-year-old bottles of Veuve Clicquot and photographers/filmmakers Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones have created three sculptures (one static, one animated and one VR) exploring the notion of gender.
Hingston has also designed The Comet Bar, an area that looks back to the birth of the acid house movement, and features music from Hot Chip’s Joe Godard, while Savages singer Jenny Beth has teamed up with partner Johnny Hostile to create a space featuring photographs, poetry and the jarring sound of white noise. Neneh Cherry designed the sound for Burns’ shipwreck scene, and Mo’Wax founder James Lavelle created a custom soundscape to accompany Du Preez and Thornton Jones’ future-thinking sculptures.
Speaking to CR, Hingston says the Rebels theme was inspired by the story of Madame Clicquot: “[She] transcended so many barriers – geographical, sexual, social, cultural – to fulfil her ambition and her values are as relevant and powerful today as they were then,” he says.
“Using the ‘club’ as a device [gave] us a contemporary framework to tell the Veuve story through without it feeling like a history lesson. It also serves as a powerful reminder of how defining some of these moments in British culture were, moments that shocked but were then imitated the world over.
“That’s exactly why the Rebels concept resonates, because the language of club culture is universal – we each have our own personal experiences of night culture and its surrounding environment; the club, the gathering, the festival. We also recognise the role that those individual scenes have played in influencing some of the most exciting output from this country – be it in music, fashion, art or film.”
Nick Knight and Du Preez and Thornton Jones are long-time collaborators of Hingston’s (he worked with Knight to create the album art for Massive Attack’s Mezzanine in the late 1990s) and he recently collaborated with Young Fathers to create the artwork for their album Cocoa Sugar.
“Collaboration has always formed a central part of my working practice here at the studio. To have the opportunity to bring in so many of our extended family and creative partners into a project like this has been brilliant,” adds Hingston. “Setting out to develop the concept for each room, we immediately had an idea of who would best bring each room to life, based on their own interests and experiences and of course the subject of their output.”
The Widow Series is open until Saturday November 17th – tickets cost £22 and two hour time slots commence at 6pm and 9pm.