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German envoy at home with art

24 November, 2017 — By John Gulliver

Marliese Heimann-Ammon and her husband, German ambassador Dr Peter Ammon. PHOTO: ©German Embassy London

I HAVE come across the unlikeliest patron of the arts – a woman bitten by the bug to help fellow women artists. I would never have associated her with the world of art – she is Marliese Heimann-Ammon, wife of the German ambassador, Dr Peter Ammon, whose magnificent home in Mayfair was thrown open on Thursday to the works of seven woman artists showing stone carvings, modern wire-mesh sculptures and paintings.

In a sense, the “Human” exhibition is a bit odd because, of course, considering it’s staged in the home – or should I say “residence” – of the Ammons the public wouldn’t have any real access. It is actually scheduled to run for a few weeks so I suppose appointments can be made for a viewing.

I must admit I tiptoed my way through the tall-ceilinged, panelled rooms of the house in Belgrave Square conscious I was in someone’s home. I noticed the other 30 or 40 viewers at the private opening were also tiptoeing around.

Dawn Rowland speaking at the German Embassy on Thursday. PHOTO: ©German Embassy London

“She’s a wonderful patron of the arts,” an exhibitor Dawn Rowland, who lives in Belsize Park, told me. “This isn’t the first time she has supported the arts, she is just so helpful.”

Introducing her works at the exhibition, she thanked Mrs Ammon – “none of this would have happened without your vision and hard work”.

All of the artists are well established but which artist doesn’t appreciate the plaudits of the public? Considering how artists covet their works, I suppose they may have paid for transporting their works to Belgrave Square but I am sure Mrs Ammon would have helped as well.

Ms Rowland’s life should inspire any “frustrated” artist. Entirely self-taught, she was swept away in her 30s by the art bug while taking part in a “clay-in” at a friend’s home in California. Then she was finally hooked after attending a two-week stone carving course at Camden Arts Centre in Swiss Cottage.
Now she is one of our most eminent sculptors – her striking large stone-carved heads and hands dominate the foyer of the “residence”.

Jane McAdam Freud at the German Embassy event. PHOTO: ©German Embassy London

Among the other artists were Jane McAdam Freud, daughter of Lucien Freud, who displayed a striking large wire-mesh sculpted head of her father as well as a montage of photographs of him.

Another artist was Valerie Wiffen, who teaches at the Hampstead School of Art. She mounted a retrospective of her works with two stunning self-portraits, one at the age of 22, the other at 48, as well as a portrait of the former Labour foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, who sat for her during one of her surgeries as an MP.


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