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Sabine Getty and Harriet Clapham explain how to get into the art world

The Young Ambassador co-chairs demystify the art world and tell us which artists they'd most like to have over for dinner

sabine getty and harriet clapham
Natalie Salmon
Fashion Digital Editor
Updated: July 18, 2022
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Until recently the art world has been a, well, rather intimidating place. Especially when it comes to the world of old masters and the likes of Van Gogh and Monet. You may know your Banksy from your Jeff Koons already… but two women in London are looking to make sure that a new audience has a deeper understanding of their esteemed predecessors.

Enter Sabine Getty and Harriet Clapham. They can't remember exactly how they met, "I think at a dinner or at the opera", muses Sabine over a coffee at Sotheby's where I meet the two newest doyennes of the art scene. Clearly art runs in both their veins. Clapham studied art at The University of St Andrews "then I moved to London and I got a job at Gagosian, so I've always been in the art world." Meanwhile Sabine explains, "My mum dragged me to every museum under the sun as a kid… I have such a connection to it."

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harriet clapham © Hubert Cecil

Harriet Clapham and Sabine Getty dicussing art after the 'Young Ambassador' launch event. (Photo: Hubert Cecil)

Their new joint venture is becoming co-chairs of the 'Young Ambassadors' programme which is part of the National Gallery’s patronage scheme. It aims to educate those aged 20 to 45 about art and become future art savants. Through insider access to the collection, it helps members discover how artists of the past - Rubens, Titian, Turner, Cézanne, Constable, Van Gogh, Monet - continue to inspire artists of today. It's designed for a diverse group of young professionals who are passionate about art and united in their desire to support it, while benefiting from close access to the collection and its experts.

Learning is at the core of the programme. Those who have signed up so far have had incredible opportunities to experience art up close, "Next weekend there is a visit to Tracey Emin's studio in Margate, which is going to be incredible because she has so much happening at the moment and is supporting so many young artists." explains Harriet, "Members have the opportunity to meet artists, visit their studios and often see their shows with them." The group will be accompanied by Priyesh Mistry, Associate Curator of Contemporary and Modern Projects at the National Gallery, proving that expertise is in no short supply.

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sabine getty © Hubert Cecil

Sabine perusing the works of the 'Old Masters' at the National Gallery. (Photo: Hubert Cecil)

In the past people have felt put off by the art scene's barriers to entry. Something which Harriet acutely recognises, "I think it's a lot about the press, the reputation… The art world is described as being very opaque and inaccessible. And you often need the right kind of person or message to lead you in." Sabine is very open minded towards those who are new to the game, "I feel that having that much knowledge is not a necessity… anyone should feel like they can come into a museum and enjoy the art, and take whatever they want to take from it." This makes sense because the entire point of the programme is to make sure everyone feels welcome to join. So far the 'Young Ambassadors' has had plenty of sign ups, which is unsurprising with Sabine and Harriet at the helm of the project. 

So, other than signing up for the Young Ambassadors programme (obviously) how does one become an art-connoisseur or culture vulture as a newcomer? Harriet’s advice is to, "Go and see as much as you can. That's how one develops connoisseurship. That's how one educates their eye. And the more you know, the more power you have."

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princess beatrice sabine getty National Gallery© Getty Images

Sabine Getty and Princess Beatrice at the National Gallery's inaugural summer party.

Off the back of their summer party & fundraiser for the National Gallery's Bicentenary campaign, which saw the likes of Princess Beatrice and Sienna Miller in attendance, I of course have to ask the renown tastemakers which artists they would have over to a dinner party at their house if they could. "I would have Salvador Dalí and his muse Amanda Lear who seems hilarious," says Sabine, "She has this incredible, angular face and he was so inspired by her."

Ever the Art-History major Harriet would opt for a biographer, "Someone like Giorgio Vasari, who observed all of those major Renaissance painters and documented their lives really closely, I would love to pick his brain and have dinner with him."

Count us in. 

You can sign up for the Young Ambassador programme here.

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