Royal Salute celebrates Kate MccGwire’s sculpting commission with lavish London dinner and whiskey tasting
Unveiling Kate MccGwire’s metal and feather marvel protean at Frieze London was celebrated with a grand dinner worthy of monumental sculpture. It was a rare and well-deserved public victory lap for MccGwire, who mostly lets his enigmatic and complex work speak for itself. Avoiding the hustle and bustle of the fairground tent in Regent’s Park, Royal Salute Whiskey celebrated its achievement by hosting the October 13 event in the most opulent banquet hall imaginable: Tate Britain.
The institution’s neoclassical exterior was illuminated in royal blue, creating a mysterious and inviting facade on this moonlit evening. MccGwire, in her opening toast, cited the natural world as her main muse: “I have always been inspired by the powerful forces of nature, but also by the delicate and fragile elements that also exist in nature.”
The dinner was located in Gallery 9 under the majestic domed ceilings and surrounded by masterpieces by Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth and John Everett Millais, attendees dined on Scottish themed dishes such as the Richard soufflé III Wensleydale Twice-Cooked Celeriac Consommé and Aged Aberdeen Angus 31- Tenderloin. The table settings were a subtle nod to proteancontrast of soft feather material with hard metal. Bundles of ivy, asparagus fern, and heather covered the table and spread across the floor. In the greenery shimmered copper cutlery that not only echoed the sculpture, but also the weathered whiskey stills that served as inspiration. And yes, a lot of that elixir was flowing, some blends as rare and exclusive as the esteemed works on the walls.
Art and spirit intertwine at McCGwire’s Paragon, a limited-edition set that combines an original, undulating (and unmistakably MccGwire) sculpture with a mouth-blown crystal decanter containing 53-year-old blended Scotch whiskey. Installed in an oak cabinet at the top of a pedestal, Paragon already looks like an otherworldly totem; dramatically lit in gallery 9, it seemed truly magical. Guests had the opportunity to taste the whiskey it contains (the blend was dubbed “Royal Salute ‘Forces of Nature’ by Kate MccGwire” and featured a nose of blood orange, honey blossom and blended mango with rich caramel and black licorice – a yin-yang combination fitting). A Signature Blend and a Malts Blend, both 21 years old, were also available to taste, as well as cocktails for those who prefer their whiskey not pure (Kensington, Versailles). MccGwire summed it all up eloquently: “This body of work was inspired by the ever-changing forces of nature that influence the forms and energy that embody my sculptures, but also the luminous amber of water that flows through the Highlands, an intrinsic and essential part of the whiskey making process.All in all, the evening served up a perfect synergy.
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