So you’re thinking of visiting the Art Biennale in Venice in 2019?… The history, architecture, culture, and geography of Venice is a powerful platform for contemporary art and design, and the Art Biennale is certainly the ‘Art Olympics’. The event is an underline, an exclamation mark and a highlight in the art lover’s calendar!

The Art Biennale is a wild ride, centred around a key, themed exhibition, and supported by an array of related conversations and events. Its heady and immersive mix of contemporary visual art drew over 600,000 people in 2017.

The curator of the 2019 Venice Biennale, Ralph Rugoff, explained that the 58th International Art Exhibition will move away from a ‘theme’ as such, but will rather “highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking. Ultimately, Biennale Arte 2019 aspires to the ideal that what is most important about an exhibition is not what it puts on display, but how audiences can use their experience of the exhibition afterwards, to confront everyday realities from expanded viewpoints and with new energies”.

Megan Dicks, Otomys Contemporary Director, is still savouring her experience of Viva Arte Viva 2017 – so here, in conversation with Jessica Leighton, Otomys Contemporary Art Consultant in Queensland, Megan shares her highlights, as well as an insight into the richness of the experience.

My highlights began from the moment I bought the tickets under the trees at the I Giardini della Biennale… I had longed to experience this spectacular global celebration of art and here I was at last!


New Zealand Pavilion – Lisa Reihana: Emissaries. 

This exhibition by Māori artist Lisa Reihana, featuring the epic, panoramic video installation ‘in Pursuit of Venice ’ is a contemporary exploration of the French scenic wallpaper ‘Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique, 1804—1805’ (also known as ‘Captain Cook’s voyages’). This installation was of extraordinary truth, complexity, scale and detail. Examining representations of Pacific and indigenous history and culture, the colonial narrative, and power, Reihana described: “For me it was really reclaiming our stories and making us more real again. Talking about the past, talking about now and how we can think of ourselves in the future.” Further, “the Pacific people in ‘in Pursuit of Venice ’ are also no longer passive, they gaze back at viewers and are active participants in a plethora of encounters that relate to a multiplicity of indigenous experiences within the colonial narrative; the good the bad and the ugly.”

Argentina – National Pavilion – Claudia Fontes: The Horse Problem.

The scale, emotion and detail of this installation in the semi-industrial space was breathtaking. A girl touches the nose of a giant white horse, frozen in mid-air, in this large-scale sculpture by Claudia Fontes, which examines cultural identity, colonialism, war, feminism and the relationship between animal and human. The two central figures are surrounded by 400 white rocks (which are hung and scattered around the figures) and a young boy. Fontes shared with Artreview: “The scene is inspired by the nineteenth-century cultural icons around which Argentina’s cultural identity was artificially built, and challenges them with a surreal scene that will hopefully have the quality of an apparition.”

Nordic Pavilion – Sweden, Norway, and Finland – Siri Aurdal, Nina Canell, Charlotte Johannesson, Jumana Manna, Pasi “Sleeping” Myllymäki, and Mika Taanila:  Mirrored. 

In this group exhibition, striking sculpture and moving images explored the relationships between each of the nordic countries of this region, and how their artistic practices connect. “The artists in Mirrored present a mapping of connections that override the national and regional boundaries, and instead track a more multi-faceted view of how artistic practice may connect”, said curator Mats Stjernstedt.

Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal – Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.

This was one of the more dramatic and divisive installations, featuring 189 works, including an 18-metre high statue of ‘Demon with a Bowl’, which climbed up and beyond the three levels of this 18th-century palace, and could be viewed from each level. This, alongside an extensive collection of Hirst’s sculptures, which explored the fictional tale of a shipwreck and a 2nd-century collector, looked at themes of reality, value, context and fantasy.

German Pavilion – Anne Imhof: Faust.

The German Pavillion was awarded Best Pavilion 2017, and it was certainly the most sensational, violent and unnerving of them all. We took turns standing in a queue for almost an hour, and as we walked closer to the show, and the black Doberman dogs behind wired cages at the front of the pavilion, the tension became palpable. Once we were inside to view the performance, the silence of the portico was suddenly broken by shrill screams and thumping sounds as heavy bodies were thrown onto the glass floor. A small platform high above us held a young man with a chain around his neck who looked as though he was about to jump, and on the floor, two large men wrestled each other in amongst the mesmerised viewers. Below the double thick reinforced glass floor lay a young adult on a worn mattress against the wall sprayed with graffiti. This tiered performance was powerful in its portrayal of the darkness of dejected youth.

Pavilion of Time and Infinity – Edith Dekyndt: One Thousand and One Nights.

This was my most beautiful and peaceful highlight. The simplicity was a theatre in itself – a performer sweeps materials, to align with the light, and engage the viewer in a quiet, reflective, attentive moment. Dekyndt: ‘A carpet made of dust collected at Arsenale, Venezia, is placed under a light whose beam espouses perfectly the shape of the carpet. Regularly, the lamp slightly turns on its axis. Someone then comes to softly move the dust with a broom back under the light.’

If I’d had more time I would have taken a ferry to visit ‘Qwalala’ by American artist Pae White, a coloured glass installation on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, but this required at least a half day. My four days were jam-packed and punctuated with plenty of Aperols, deep-fried mozzarella and pasta – a fifth day would have been superb!

Accommodation in Venice varies enormously, and a great location offers the option to breakfast in the nearby courtyard with locals or to sit on the verandah overlooking the energetic and often glamorous water traffic.

I’d highly recommend:

  • San Clemente Palace  Kempinski which is set on its own private island; just a short ferry ride to the mainland.
  • If it was good enough for George and Amal Clooney for their wedding night then it may be worth considering the fabulous Aman Venice and booking this one well ahead. This hotel has a luxurious and confident blend of high Italian renaissance interior detail highlighted by its contrast with contemporary art and design.
  • Live like a local and stay in one of the centrally located and well-appointed apartments through Views on Venice.

The Biennale is unique in its power to bring together artists from varied disciplines, from across the globe, at such a large scale. It was an opportunity to relish and delight in cultural and artistic diversity, and a chance to gain endless inspiration from international influences. Venice Biennale 2019 – lock me in!

After an extraordinary 2017, we knew that a holiday was imperative. And so it was! Siestas, balmy evenings, shared tables, informed conversations, page turners, coastal walks, day dreaming. Such meditative recovery worked wonders. Seeing Otomys Contemporary into 2018 with a refined perspective. Whilst ready to return to the Gallery – we contemplate our next break. A vacation with Caroline Denervaud at Hôtel Les Roches Rouges – Côte d’Azure.

Azure blue, pure white and ochre red are the colours celebrated in this hotel perched on the water’s edge, close to the Esterel, where holidays are experienced to the rhythm of the sea and the sunlight. To step into Les Roches Rouges is to step out of the world and to delight in the pleasures of Provence. Here, you can enjoy long days in the sunshine, savour the passing hours, and taste the simple yet sophisticated joys of a holiday in a barefoot paradise. To stay here is to take your time, to enjoy the company of the people you love, to discover new things, or to do as much or as little as you please. In short, to enjoy a holiday!

Les Roches Rouges is the essence of understated luxury, simplicity, conviviality, where the immensity of the sea, mild climate and an exquisite natural environment combine to create a truly authentic and refined setting.

The hotel benefits from two swimming pools, including a large natural seawater pool, a Mediterranean garden, three bars, two restaurants and an array of activities, both in and around the hotel, from an open-air cinema to ping pong, diving, petanque, yoga, hiking, cookery courses and sailing.

Les Roches Rouges invited several young contemporary artists to complete the walls of the hotel. Their works are frequently abstract, executed in glowing colours recalling the Mediterranean light that has always inspired painters, some even painted directly onto the wall; as Le Corbusier did in the iconic Eileen Gray-designed villa E1027.

Otomys Contemporary Artist – Caroline Denervaud shares a strong presence within Les Roches Rouges Artist Colony. Les Roches Rouges was very taken with her abstract paintings, and invited her to complete the hotel’s bedrooms. Inspired by the play of colour, she works with multiple shades of blue and red that she harmonises with browns, pinks, yellows and ochres. She works in pastels that she rubs with her fingers, to create a dense, velvety depth of colour, echoing the abstract harmony of colours that she creates in her Paris studio.

90 Boulevard de la 36ème division du Texas, 83530 Saint-Raphaël.

Photographed by Benoit Linero – Office de Tourisme de Saint-Raphaël.

After 15 years of living abroad, Otomys Contemporary UK Director Nikki Finch and her family recently relocated to the UK and home has now become the beautiful Georgian city of Bath.  Set in the rolling countryside of the South Western county of Somerset, Bath is a town best known for its natural Roman-era hot springs, 18th-century Georgian architecture home to famed 18th century writer Jane Austen.

Independent, creative, unique and classed as a designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, tourists flock to Bath all year-round. Many come to experience the infamous Baths and breathtaking 7th century gothic Abbey which are built from Bath’s remarkable honey-coloured stone. This is the stone that founded Bath’s trademark architecture and continues to deliver a sense of elegance and history that will forever set Bath apart from its neighbours. After the Abbey, the Royal Crescent and The Circus are top spots for taking in this Georgian architecture and undoubtedly one of the most photographed parts of town!

(Top to bottom: Bath’s Pulteney Bridge and famous Bath stone architecture)

For Nikki though, it was no easy decision to finally depart from her contrasting Asian shores and head towards the UK “As a family, we have always been so stimulated by the buzz and slightly chaotic nature of living in developing countries.  However, we knew it was time to settle down for a few years and allow our teenage children the chance to experience a European culture.”

Nikki and her family are loving the change in pace having fun exploring their new surroundings. Nikki’s Bath highlights include:

Nikki admits that “The surrounding villages and countryside is equally charming.  I have become a regular visitor at Hauser & Wirth in Somerset – who have created a wonderfully creative hub for art enthusiasts and guest speakers that bring the community together. The gallery hosts exhibitions by internationally renowned artists so there is always an excuse to come back regularly”

(Top to bottom: Scenes from Hauser & Wirth in Somerset)

Nikki goes on to explain that “My parents were a great influence in my appreciation and love of art.  From a young age, we visited art galleries, auction houses and museums.  They always liked to change the art on the walls at home, depending on the season.”

Now based close by in Belgium’s Antwerp, Nikki’s parents provide the best excuse (like she needs one!) to jump on the Eurostar on a Friday evening for a long weekend visit. In the culturally rich, ancient city of Antwerp you’re never far from a Rubens’ Flemish Baroque masterpiece in the Belgian artist’s home town. However, most recently Nikki agrees that with his incomparable eye and keen sense of beauty, renowned interior designer Axel Vervoordt has put Antwerp back on the map in a more contemporary way. “In the last 10 years, Antwerp feels like it has evolved into modern city, seamlessly fusing the old with the new. It’s well worth the visit if your Europe bound!”

Nikki’s favourite Antwerp activity? “It has to be browsing through the beautiful homewares and fashion at Graanmarkt 13 . A remarkable concept developed by the owners, Tim and Ilse and described as having ‘a white facade, 3 floors, 14 windows, a balcony and an open door’ it’s a traditional townhouse in the centre of town renovated by Vincent Van Duysen, – one of Antwerp’s best architects.” This exquisite building is divided into a fabulous restaurant, a curated high end design store and luxurious apartments on the top level.

(Top to bottom: Graanmrkt 13’s apartment & a selection of delicacies from the restaurant. Images courtesy of Frederik Vercruysse)

In between exploring her new home in Bath and regular design trips to Antwerp, we asked our UK ambassador Nikki, what she has lined up for Otomys Contemporary – ‘We have so many exciting plans for Otomys Contemporary UK this year! I’m just about to launch our gallery at the Affordable Art Fair in London this month.  Along with this, we’re working on expanding our collection to include both some exciting artists AND new art forms -so keep an eye out for features and on our facebook or Instagram.’

‘Finally establishing our UK arm means Otomys Contemporary art will now be accessible to a much wider European audience and I’m so excited to be part of the vibrant London Art Scene and Otomys Contemporary new endeavour. It’s going to be our best (and busiest) year yet!’


Thank you Nikki, for letting us peek into your new design-led lifestyle- we can’t wait to hear and see more soon!

What makes a holiday so inspiring? There’s much to be said about holidaying with a large budget but it is often the simple things that make a deeper impression.

I recently travelled to South Africa with my family and adored the change of pace, the soft African light, the early morning calls of the hardee-da birds, ocean swims, mountain hikes and G&T’s sitting on the large sculptural boulders on the beach at sunset – nature never disappoints.

When I travel it is not only the physical experience that excites me but the visual – I take my eyes and mind on holiday!

Cape Town is set between the deep inky blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged, powers of Table Mountain. It is the most livable city in Africa, with a reputation as a leading producer of creative, inspiring and innovative design. In this issue of Chronicles I’d like to share a selection of experiences that resonated for their thrill, style, comfort and inspiration.


  • CBD Apartment of Art Gallery ‘Whatiftheworld’ founders Justin and Cameron.
  • The home of Krisjan Roussow – Otomys Contemporary fine art photographer.
  • Seahorse Villa – a coastline retreat – book through Luxury Retreats.

Photo credit: Justin Rhodes’ CBD Apartment / Krisjan Roussow – De Waterkant / Views from Seahorse on Beta Beach in Bakoven


  • Walk through the Kirstenbosch Gardens and up Skeleton Gorge to the very top of Table Mountain. Catch the cable car back down or … walk!
  • District Six Museum for history.
  • BoKaap District for culture and colour frenzy.
  • Robben Island to do a half day tour of Nelson Mandela’s prison.
  • Franschoek for a full day or more of wineries, art galleries and restaurants.
  • Babylonstoren near Franschoek for food and design.
  • Chapmans Peak Drive – spectacular scenic drive pref from a vintage car with music on!
  • Swim in the icy waters of Camps Bay and Beta Beach and Surf at St James.
  • Dance at Caprice in Camps Bay on a Sunday Night with a very cool crowd … keep an eye out for artist Krisjan Roussow!


Cape Town is culturally diverse and a rich creative hub for the arts. Here are just a few of my favourite Galleries:
Southern Guild.
• Irma Stern Museum.
• Goodman Gallery.
Everard Read.
Moor Gallery.


All day eats:
Shortmarket Club.
• Thali.
Chefs Warehouse – a favorite for lunch al fresco!
Hemelhuijs – exotic South African food.
Haas Collective for Art with coffee or lunch.

Neighborhood Market in Woodstock.
The Companys Garden.

Buitenverwachting – for a superb formal dinner in a winery setting.

• The Planet Bar at The Mount Nelson Hotel CBD.
The Gin Bar.
• Morning tea (or an early G&T?) at the Twelve Apostles overlooking the Atlantic Ocean– full of colonial charm!


  • Cecile & Boyd – a unique and eclectic mix of decor finds.
  • Bree Street CBD for boutique fashion shops and Greenmarket Square for local souvenirs and sculpture.
  • Tribal Trends – for upmarket African interior decor.
  • Neighbourhood Market in Woodstock – Local designers covering fashion, art and interiors.

I hope this feature inspires you to holiday in Africa and to enjoy all the creativity and beauty it has to offer. And if you have visited before, share with us below your travel highlights!

Lastly, for a phenomenal wild life experience my all-time favourite Game Reserve up North is Phinda … well worth the trip!

Megan Dicks.


London is home to some 1,500 odd galleries and its current art scene is one of the world’s largest, with an international reach that rivals that of other famed art hubs including New York and Paris. However, one that towers (quite literally) over all others is the Tate Modern.

At only 15 years old, most will agree that the Tate has done well in asserting itself alongside the globes’ ‘gallery greats’. When it first opened back in 2000, it seemed the Tate had already entered as a key player at the highest level, levelling with its’ counterparts at New York’s MoMA and Paris’ Pompidou and becoming a pivotal, leading voice in today’s contemporary art scene. We think it’s fair to say that the Tate Modern has settled very nicely into the museum landscape.

Since its arrival, the Tate’s familiar Turbine Hall has been lauded as one of the most photographed spaces in the world of contemporary art. So, where does this leave the new Switch House extension? How has the new building been received so far, and how does it connect with the existing landmark that we’ve all come to recognise in the London skyline?








The Tate Modern opened its brand new angular extension in June earlier this year. Using 336,000 bricks to wrap around the ziggurat shaped pyramid, Swiss studio Herzog & de Meuron were invited back to design the extension, having been responsible for the original conversion of the former Bankside Power Station in 2000. The latticed brickwork facade intentionally helps to match the exterior brickwork of Giles Gilbert Scott’s original power station. Ascan Mergenthaler, a senior partner at Herzog & De Meuron sums up the spatial design, saying “from the cavernous subterranean Tanks dedicated to performance and installation art, to the lofty top-lit galleries with their large luminescent ceilings, each form a broad ribbon for circulation meandering up through the building, to the generous day-lit education spaces.” (Dezeen, 2016).

Named after part of the power station that housed the electrical switches, the new galleries have expanded the museum by 60% to accommodate its’ thriving visitor numbers (The Art Newspaper, 2016). Frances Morris, the Tate’s new director, explains that the objective for the new building was to harbour more “participatory art or the debate around art and audiences”. Morris pinpointed the 1960s as the decade where this can be articulated with the greatest amount of authority. The 1960s, being a time where massive social, political and artistic shifts were witnessed in society, creating crucial moments in history that deserve to be celebrated within the new spaces (Dezeen, 2016). The installations begin in the mid-1960s in the theatrical basement tanks and as you climb the spiral stairs the narrative from artists of the 20th century begin to take over.

With a view to present a greater variety of artworks and more global artists, the Tate is aiming for an increasingly global portfolio of modern and contemporary art. It’s all part of Morris’ plan to grow the Tate. Not just underground into the Switch House and up ten storeys into the new ziggurat, but within its international outlook and it’s vision to right the gender balance, so that the next generation will understand that women also make great art.

The result? An undoubted consensus that Switch House has had a transformative impact on the city already, reinstating the Tate Modern’s landmark appeal and continuing to be an influential force in honouring the contemporary arts. We can’t wait to climb the spiral staircase to the outlook over the Thames ourselves.

Have you visited the new Tate Modern building? We’d love to know what your experience was like in the comments below.

tate-modern-extension-herzog-de-meuron-london-jim-stephenson_dezeen_1568_33Photography by Jim Stephenson for Dezeen.