Creative Conversations: Plum Guide Meets Joanna Payne

We sit down with the founder of Marguerite to talk favourite artists, the meaning of home and the little touches that make a big difference when staying away from home


Joanna Payne, photographed by Holly Whittaker

We sit down with Joanna Payne, the founder of Marguerite – a community exclusively from women and non-binary people who work in the creative industries – to talk favourite artists, the meaning of home and the little touches that make a big difference when staying away from home.

Tell us about Marguerite and the importance of building this community...

Marguerite is a real passion project for me. Our first event took place in my living room back in February 2015 when I was working for Frieze Art Fair. Whilst I was treated well at Frieze, I could see that other women in the industry struggled to get the pay rises and promotions they deserved - something their male colleagues didn’t seem to come up against with such frequency. I always felt that the network I’d built during my time at Frieze had given me a lot of confidence. So I wanted to share this with other women in the hope that it would do the same for them and ultimately encourage them to get the most out of their careers. For me, the most rewarding part of Marguerite is seeing women and non-binary people meet at our events and go on to make genuine professional and personal friendships. And I’m delighted to say that seven years and one pandemic later, we’ve just relaunched with a new offering, new events programme and a new outlook.

Named after Marguerite ‘Peggy’ Guggenheim, in what ways has her legacy in the art world shaped Marguerite’s philosophy?

Peggy really was one of the great heroines of 20th Century art. As the Germans entered Paris she embarked on a mission to save a painting a day - without her, seminal works by artists like Klee, Mondrian, Magritte and Kandinsky would no longer exist. She later went on to back artists like Pollock and Rothko - now household names. What really drew me to her was her eccentricity and the way she embraced life. She famously had over a thousand lovers and used to sunbathe in the nude on the roof of her Venetian palazzo. And those glasses! What a woman… Marguerite strives to uphold Peggy’s confidence, ambition and vigour, her fearlessness and her recognition of the importance of surrounding yourself with fabulous, intelligent people to expand your own knowledge and network.

Do you have a favourite artist or art movement?

Cor, it’s impossible to whittle it down to just one artist or movement! I love a lot of artists whose work deals with the female experience such as Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Sarah Lucas, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick and Kara Walker. Though I guess if I had to choose one art form, it would be photography. I studied everything Simon Baker taught at Nottingham Uni (the ex Curator of Photography at Tate, now director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie). He instilled a love of 20th Century dada and surrealist film and photography in me - artists like Man Ray and Dora Maar. My first ‘proper’ job at Whitechapel Gallery then taught me about photomontage - they had some brilliant shows by John Stezaker and Hannah Hoöch when I was in my early twenties. Contemporary photographers who really stick out for me are Jack Davidson, Juno Calypso, the late Ren Hang and Alec Soth - whose Facebook, Menlo Park, California, 2015 has been the screen saver on my laptop for the last seven or so years! I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.

What exciting projects does Marguerite have on the cards going into 2022?

We have some brilliant dinners coming up with the likes of Eshita Kabra-Davies who is the Founder of the UK's leading peer-to-peer fashion rental app, By Rotation and the artist, Gavin Turk. We’ve also introduced a new programme called ‘Marguerite Escapes’ which is a carefully-curated programme of cultural experiences outside of London with overnight stays, creative hosts and guest chefs. Upcoming Escapes include lunch in the Dorset home of chef Mark Hix with artist Polly Morgan and a trip to Hauser & Wirth Somerset.

Where in the world do you most love visiting for its art?

Hauser & Wirth Somerset! I can’t wait to take Marguerite there this April for Ida Applebroog’s show: Right Up To Now 1969 – 2021. We’ll have an after-hours, private Director-led tour too. The trip will also include drinks at Merlin Labron-Johnson’s The Old Pharmacy, dinner and an overnight stay at Durslade Farmhouse and lunch at The Newt.

Tell us the story behind a favourite item in your home

The first piece of art I ever bought was a Jo Hummel collage from my dear friend, Sid Motion’s eponymous gallery. I fell in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it at a group show back in 2018.

What makes a house a home, to you?

A huge dining table to host dinners with friends. You can seat 10 or 11 people around mine if you don’t mind a bit of a squeeze!

A large dining table that can fit lots of friends around it makes a house a home for Joanna

A large dining table that can fit lots of friends around it makes a house a home for Joanna

Where is your home away from home?

My dad’s house on the Isle of Wight.

Who or what do you consider to be an arbiter of style?

I have a lot of love for anything the PR maven, Daisy Hoppen turns her hand to. The brands her company DH-PR represents are the coolest of the cool (think Shrimps, Simone Rocha and Ganni, to name but a few).

For the Plum Guide ‘Perfect Stay’ home test, we collaborate with experts from different fields — from psychologists and hospitality experts to architects and interior designers — to identify the ingredients a holiday home needs in order to deliver a perfect stay. If you were designing a test or set of criteria for the perfect holiday home, what ingredient(s) would you specify as essential for the perfect stay?

I’m all about the little touches - the freshly-baked biscuits when you arrive, the bottle of locally-sourced wine. I also always try to book a room with a roll top bath - I don’t often feel like I have time for a bath when I’m in London so it feels like such a luxury to have one when I’m away.

A roll top bath adds a sense of luxury to a stay away from home

A roll top bath adds a sense of luxury to a stay away from home

To find out more about Joanna and her arts community, follow Marguerite on Instagram or head to the website.

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