top of page

a word on art

"Unique, Glorious, Endangered": The Secrets of Venice

The great joy of exploring Venice is the thrill that comes from discovering the undiscovered for ourselves. At every twist and turn of a boulevard, calle or rue we open ourselves to the chance of finding a captivating corner, being witness to a special view or discovering something breath-taking. The surprise of the unknown always delights, charms and captivates – this is what keeps us all exploring. It would be a tragedy to imagine a world where this wasn’t possible in Venice.

Lodovico Ughi Iconografica Rappresentatione della Inclita Città di Venezia consacrata al Reggio Serenissimo Dominio Veneto Italian • Engraving • Executed circa 1739 • 59" x 81", 150 x 205 cms
Ahead of our Secrets of Venice exhibition, we talk to Jonathan Keates, Chairman of Venice in Peril Fund, Ted Wake, Kirker Travel and Cory Fuller, Gladwell Patterson, who share their own secrets of Venice.

Jonathan Keates, Chairman of Venice in Peril Fund

Describe Venice in three words?

Beyond all words.

How would you describe the work of Venice in Peril?

Safeguarding Venice for humanity and teaching future generations how to love it.

What Venice in Peril project makes you most proud?

San Giobbe social housing project

Do you have a favourite art historical figure who has worked in Venice?

Richard Parkes Bonington.

What goes through your mind when you are on your en route to Venice?

Acqua alta.

What makes the locals of Venice different to other Italian?

Loud voices, singsong dialect.

How do you think the visitors to Venice can become more ‘sensible tourists’?

Leave the Piazza and Railto behind, explore churches and galleries, try to learn something about what made this city over 1,000 years.

What is your solution to the cruise ship crisis?

Ban the buggers, all of them, large or small.

The Venice in Peril Fund has financed the conservation of more than 60 monuments, churches and works of art that were in danger of irreversible decay. But over the years it has become clear that Venice presents special challenges beyond need for restoration. A percentage of funds raised from this exhibition will go to the Venice in Peril “2019 Acqua Alta” Appeal to meet immediate challenges of the catastrophic November 2019 floods and to be ready to offer support over the longer term.

If you have been happy in Venice, have experienced her magic, feel the world would be a diminished place without her; if, in short, you want to help save Venice, then please send us a donation or become a member or remember us in your will. Please call us on 020 7736 6891.


Ted Wake, Kirker Travel

What does Venice represent to you?

The most elegant place on the planet. La Serenissima epitomises man’s ability to overcome extraordinary challenges, to create beautiful buildings, priceless public places, and complex communities that intertwine and endure for centuries.

Your favourite place for peace and quiet?

St Mark’s Square at midnight on a Sunday evening in January long after the madding crowd has departed.

Do you have a favourite art historical figure who has worked in Venice?

It would have to be Canaletto – what made him leave Venice for London?

What goes through your mind when you are en route to Venice?

Isabella of restaurant Osteria Oliva Nera – and her pasta ‘al nero di sepia con gamberi’.

What delights you about your profession?

The opportunity to meet and share hospitality with an extraordinary range of experts from across the globe – who all love to share their knowledge and a glass or two of fine wine.

How do you think the visitors to Venice can become more ‘sensible tourists’?

Don’t do day trips – and do stay in a hotel. Local people need real jobs – and hotels provide excellent employment opportunities that enable Venetians to live and plan their long term futures in their city.

If someone was visiting Venice for a week, where would you send them?

For lunch at Locanda Cipriani on Torcello – with a visit to the Byzantine churches: the handsome Santa Fosca, and Santa Maria Assunta to see the exquisite mosaics.

Kirker has been organising bespoke holidays to Venice since 1986, and are more passionate about La Serenissima today than ever. Whether you are looking for a short break to visit a favourite museum or gallery, a glamorous weekend staying in a stylish palazzo, or one of our escorted opera and art tours in the company of an expert lecturer, the expert Kirker team would be delighted to create the perfect itinerary. The Kirker Concierge will help you with tickets to museums, arrange walking tours and recommend and reserve a table for dinner at one of the best Venetian restaurants – from gastronomic fine-dining to traditional trattoria and authentic backstreet bacari.

Kirker would be delighted to hear from you – speak to an expert on 020 7593 2288.


Cory Fuller, Gladwell & Patterson

Describe Venice in three words?

Unique, Glorious, Endangered

What does Venice represent to you?

For me, Venice is all about the light. The dancing watery refractions on the gothic facades, gondolas slicing through the water dazzle on the grand canal, the orange and pink sunsets across the lagoon mixing like an artist's palette with the white Istrian stone and pink Verona marble of the Doge's palace. Venice is a treasure trove, a spiritual place where despite the busy waterways and crowds, it is easy to find peace and drama in equal measure. I love to find shadowy secret churches hidden in plain sight and I am immediately captivated by their history and storytelling through the frescos, alter pieces, architecture and mosaics.

Which artist across the centuries do you think captures Venice the best?

The Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini was a master of spectacle. His work was a pivotal turning point for Venetian art and heralded the golden age of Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese and Giorgione. I am moved and transfixed as I sit in front of an alter piece in a gloomy church, an angel's face radiating light and joy reflected from a slender gothic window above.

What do you think the future holds for Venice?

The unprecedented acqua alta eccezionale and flooding recently is a timely reminderof the fragile ecosystem surrounding Venice and its future vulnerability. We must support Venetians in their hour of need as well as look at ways we can help protect the beautiful city for generations to come.

If someone was visiting Venice for a week, where would you send them/ your best kept secret?

My most favourite hidden gem to stop for a lunch or an aperitivo is Cantina Azienda Agricola. Any visitor who can find the workshop, L’Isola di Pinocchio in the Sestiere Cannaregio is rewarded. Handmade Marionettes are crafted here and the design process and colourful characters produced in this atelier are intriguing and delightful. I still have one in my son's room from his first visit.

Gladwell and Patterson have been brightening the wintery January days with an exhibition of fine Venice paintings for over three decades, and this month our gallery in Knightsbridge will once again come alive with depictions of the water, architecture and beauty from this incredible city.


bottom of page