MANGO MEETS…ROSE BALSTON
Rose Balston has just been included in Condé Nast Traveller’s little black book of Experts. This is what they say about her:
“Small groups, passionate guides, enlightening conversations: these are the three ingredients that go into making Balston’s company, Art History UK, such a treat. Moved by the fact that many of her well-travelled friends barely lifted the lid on the cultural offerings in their home town, she set out to make the London world of art and architecture exciting, alluring and interesting. The focus is on bringing London’s treasures – the galleries and museums – to life. Her knowledge is unquestionable.”
Mango caught up with Rose after attending a preview of her St George’s Day tour in The National Gallery, part of a new series six fascinating and entertaining tailor-made tours and walks she has created especially for guests staying at The Goring in London, entitled “High Days and Holidays”, all celebrating special occasions in the English calendar.
What’s best about now?
I am about to marry someone fabulous.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
How I spent two weeks in January: waking up to a view of Notre Dame, croissant et café, then recceing churches, museums, galleries, private collections of art, eating onion soup or croque monsieur, seeing the Edict of Nantes, the will of Napoleon, over the top rococo private ‘hotels’, eating steak and drinking red wine, toasting Henri IV and La Goulue (crazy Parisienne dancer and inspiration for Toulouse Lautrec), listening to jazz etc etc – HEAVEN.
What is your favourite journey?
Any one that ends in family, friends, art, music, good food and wine.
What is your favourite place?
The Wiltshire Downs. I have been lucky enough to travel a certain amount around the world and so far, for me, nowhere trumps this place.
What is your greatest fear?
Spiders, I can’t even write the word without shuddering. I actually have an excuse for this – apparently my Mum sat on one in the bath when she was 9 months pregnant with me, initially thinking it was a stone – aaaarrggghh!! I imagine the shock precipitated my birth.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My brother Wol is a regular inspiration. He is endlessly optimistic, is up for an adventure every day, takes regular leaps of faith, is interested to meet everyone and works incredibly hard.
And in fiction or history?
Titian, Christopher Wren, Gombrich, Henri IV of France, Lorenzo the Magnificent would all be up there.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To speak languages properly! I wish I’d stop saying ‘Je voudrais spaghetti alla carbonara, por favor’.
What is your greatest achievement?
After one of my recent Friday night Art Shots in the National Gallery, a friend said to me ‘I thought I didn’t like art before hearing you talk tonight’. Those kinds of moments are great indeed.
What is your favourite pastime?
Playing the piano / lunch (proper lunch). This last was initially inspired by Nick Ross, art historian extraordinaire, when he taught a 23 year old me that ‘All you need is lunch’ (to the tune of the Beatles obviously). Wisdom indeed.
What is the quality you like most in a person?
If you had one super-power, what would it be?
What will we all be talking about in one year’s/five years’ time?
I am enjoying this ‘cook fresh delicious cheap food in your kitchen’ thing that is going on at the moment – hopefully it will escalate and wipe out every fast food chain ever invented. And please tell me Homeland will still be producing series in five years time.