Lucy Yeomans Kirsty Wark Yana Peel Tess Macleod Smith

ART ATTACK: Continuing its mission to “celebrate incredible women,” Porter magazine brought the fashion and art crowds together on Wednesday to celebrate the Serpentine Galleries’ new chief executive officer Yana Peel.

The event, which included a talk by Peel and the journalist Kirsty Wark and a dinner at the Mark’s Club, aimed to kickstart an ongoing talk series by the publication called “Incredible Women Talk.”

“Porter has always been about celebrating women and their journeys to become who they are, so it’s important to take those stories out of the pages of the magazine and make them come alive,” said the magazine’s editor in chief Lucy Yeomans, adding that Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley and American ballet dancer Misty Copeland are among the next speakers.

Peel opened up about her approach to her life and career and shared highlights from her professional journey — from her time studying literature at McGill University to working on Goldman Sachs’ trading floor for eight years — with an audience which included Manolo and Kristina Blahnik, Natalia Barbieri, Amanda Wakeley, Samantha Cameron and Alice Temperley.

“I attribute my curiosity for getting me this far and my sense of optimism. I’m still trying to convince my team that ceo stands for chief eternal optimist,” said Peel.

Samantha Cameron, Kristy Wark and Yana Peel

Samantha Cameron, Kirsty Wark and Yana Peel.  Courtesy

She also spoke about her ambitious plans for the Serpentine Galleries, which revolve around innovation and creating experiences beyond traditional exhibitions.

“The Serpentine was always a wonderful place of experimentation and I have an amazing platform to build on from the success my predecessor had achieved for 25 years. I had the realization that we haven’t come this far just to come this far,” said Peel. “I’m more about 100 small changes rather than something radical. It was coming in and asking, ‘What does innovation look like in 2017 and how can we work with partners like Google and Facebook? What does it mean to be the most popular exhibition ever in a world of social media where the breadth of what we can accomplish goes so far beyond the people who come into our world?'”

Peel was appointed ceo in April, after Julia Peyton-Jones stepped down from the position she held for 25 years.

Referring to Andy Warhol’s words that “Good business is the best art,” Peel also stressed that she is open to commercial partnerships: “I celebrate collaboration between culture and commerce. Looking at art as charity is not the perception that i want to adopt, so collaborations that enable Swarovski to sponsor the Zaha Hadid exhibition or enable Goldman Sachs to finance an architectural pavilion that wouldn’t otherwise happen are always welcome, as long as the partners are sensitive to some of those radical ideas.”

Speaking of the shifting political climate, Peel, who previously expressed her discontent over the U.S. elections result via social media, is staying optimistic and seeing this as a period where artists can get to work and pose questions through their art.

“Art helps and as difficult and awkward as it is for people to read things in the paper that they don’t like, we’re seeing the most amazing creativity, the most unwavering commitment coming out of this. When I think of what makes the art world so beautiful, it’s those ideas, collaborations and questions raised by artists every day.”

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