Meet Benjamin Rhodes
The director of art gallery Art First, Benjamin Rhodes, tells us why he loves working in rejuvenated Marylebone
“In many ways Marylebone is the perfect London village. It’s very central, a whisper from Oxford Circus, but you can find everything here, and it’s also very agreeable and grown-up. I first landed here a long time ago, in the 1960's, and then it was very different. Yes, Ringo Starr lived around here and the Beatles opened the Apple Boutique around the corner on Baker Street, and there was a couple of restaurants, but it was otherwise quite down-at-heel, with a lot of places at the end of their leases. At the same time, it was a great urban secret.
Ringo Starr lived around here and the Beatles opened the Apple Boutique around the corner on Baker Street
“A glimmer of change came with the Conran Shop in 1988 and after then, Marylebone became rather fashionable. Now it has completely changed and is really quite luxurious but unlike Bond Street, the other side of Oxford Street, which is forbiddingly full of glossy headquarters, it has kept its variegated streets.
"There are some great cafés and restaurants like Peter Gordon’s The Providores, and plentiful design and fashion shops: a mixture of high-end and special interest. On a Saturday, Marylebone High Street comes into its own as a shopping street.
“Of course, Marylebone was always a little bit grand. The architecture is wonderful, and it’s noted for its red-brick mansion flats, which used to house dowagers and their lapdogs, and which now attract a cooler set. It’s always had the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, one of the most wonderful private house art galleries in the world. Indeed, art-wise, Marylebone and its near neighbour Fitzrovia [the district just to the east] have become one of the most vibrant parts of London. It buzzes in October, when the art fair Frieze is held in nearby Regent's Park. We have a ‘Last Thursday’ event where all the galleries open in the evening on the last Thursday of every month which is great fun. Come and see us."
Artfirst, 21 Eastcastle Street, London, W1, www.artfirst.co.uk
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