Voyeur or Voyager

The Mayor of London sold me an Oyster and I took it to South Kensington. I spill out of the carriage, onto the platform and then move swiftly through the brightly lit, curvaceous ceramic walkway. I’m moving upwards on an upward moving escalator and taking two ribbed steel steps at a time. This is effortless. Effortlessness made even more so by the push of the warm updraft from the underground tunnel below. It’s lifting me. I’m taking three steps at a time now. The air is in my hair, blowing it forwards into my face and pushing me forwards too – like in a fast car on a straight road with the roof down? – the air coils over the top of the windscreen and hits you in the back of the head?

Day light. Ray Bans

Straight across Old Brompton Road past the second hand car dealer – nothing less than the cost of the average UK house here. I eye up a Lambourghini Murcielago. It’s in pearl with Grigio Sirius Q-Citura Leather, Hercules Titanium Rims, Carbon Ceramic Brakes, Transparent Engine Cover and integral Satellite Navigation – of course! Some work hard for this kind of stuff – so they can find their way in a Murcielago.

I walk an easy mile or so in the fresh morning air, past small flower shops proclaiming: “Spring is here – buy your own bunch of it here”. I step over the threshold of Christies. Plate glass doors close quietly and automatically behind me sealing off one realm of artificiality, and marking the start of another. Sensation and its meaning is everything here and I step forward into the comfortably chilled and conditioned air onto the baby seal skin, recently raked carpet. It’s soft beneath my shinny shoes and a young woman called Cynthia steps forward towards me and smiles warmly with her eyes. The projection of sensual appeal and business charisma is measured – a conscious construction. Perhaps it was learned during her corporate induction. She may even attend refresher courses in bleeding edge seduction techniques – surely its cost effective? Can I show you anything Sir? Anything in particular? Could you take me to the Egon Schiele? Of course. My pleasure. Cynthia’s wearing Jimmy Choo’s “Tell” on her feet – A patent leather court shoe with low heel and cut out detail just where her toes meet the main body of her foot. Cynthia’s shoes lead the way. The knap of the baby seal skin carpet is pressed towards the warm white halogen as she canters quietly towards Egon’s drawing. The soles and tips of her heels leave a trail of pale pressed triangles and dots in the carpet behind her – like a form of reverse out Braille. I can see but I have no idea where this is going. Should I get down on my hands and knees and feel the impression? She’s spelling something out for me. Her Choo shoe prints in the thick carpet are speaking to me: I know that you want me. However, as sensually charged as all of this is... you know, you, me, these fine surroundings, all of this… tasteful, expensive, understated expressionism, the question is: Are you a voyeur or a voyager? We arrive at the Schiele. Girl kneeling, resting on both elbows. 1917. Cynthia asks me if it’s my first time. I nod. This beautifully gaunt, bony, long limbed girl is half dressed and her sensuality pours from her body. She’s about the same age as Cynthia and is wearing similar shoes.

Martin Hinchcliffe. July 2007, Visiting Christies, South Kensington, 2007.