The Kensington hotel and the Victoria & Albert Museum have teamed up to bring you Venus Reborn, a bespoke afternoon that starts with a visit to the Botticelli Reimagined exhibition followed by a life drawing class at the hotel

Words: Rachel Mantock 

Having been dubbed one of the greatest artists of all times, with his works still heavily influencing, fashion, art, design and architecture today, Florentine painter, Sandro Botticelli epitomises the beauty of human life in paint and canvas form. The Botticelli Reimagined exhibition explores his greatest works, dating back to the Pre-Raphaelites, fusing his exquisite pieces with the 21st century, allowing viewers to relate to them on a very current level.

The V&A will host an experience that covers 500 years of Botticelli obsession, telling a story that continued on long after Botticelli’s death, his influence still permeating century after century. It’s the biggest Botticelli exhibition to be held in Britain since 1930, covering everything from his classics to his influence on popular culture and pulp fiction, with talks from David La Chapelle and on the profound relevance of The Birth of Venus painting.

Venus by Sandro Botticelli, about 1490

Venus by Sandro Botticelli, about 1490

As part of the Venus Reborn package – which is best experienced with friends and family, or even a partner – you will be able to fully immerse yourselves in this exhibition, taking it all in and letting it stir up your creative inclination. Heading into the newly, classically refurbished The Kensington afterwards, the grandiose element continues, with Renaissance and Georgian influences around every corner.

As we all sit down in the plush, grey coloured room, off the back of the drawing room, a life model clad in a gold robe sits at the far end in front of  a screen, gracefully waiting to begin. The wonderful, Daniel Shadbolt – an artist and teacher at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art and The Royal Drawing School – equips us with large, brown pieces of paper, chalk, pencils and a range of waxy drawing utensils before we start.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous as I am not the most artistically blessed of people, yet the class had an almost calming effect. Shadbolt tutored everyone in such an organic, low pressured way that everyone approached their drawings in a laid back yet hyper focused way.






Shadbolt encouraged everyone to concentrate on the model rather than the page, letting our eyes guide our pencils. Of course, the delicate canapés and wine also helped to create a relaxed mood, along with the The Venus Cocktail which was specially made in honour of the exhibition, containing Campari and Prosecco.

The class allowed us to take in instructions to do with combining materials, light and angles to create the most compelling result on paper. Even if the end product is nothing but amateurish, as a lot of my life drawings were, you won’t regret having been here. It’s about getting out of your head and taking in the human form in a completely different way than you are used to.

Hitting The Kensington’s, royal blue, velvet and wood clad bar afterwards is the ideal way to end a Botticelli fuelled evening, giving your newly found drawing skills a chance to embed themselves as the rest of your mind switches off and rests.

The ‘Venus Reborn’ package is priced at at £120 per person. The maximum group size is 12 people to ensure quality of tuition.  Price includes tickets to Botticelli Reimagined at the V&A, all drawing materials, a welcome cocktail, a selection of canapés and a half-bottle of wine. The experience is available from 1 April until 3 July 2016.

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