Meet Ashley Wyndham, the talented young Art Historian & Collector. Miss Wyndham’s background is remarkable to say the least having graduated the prestigious Leysin American School in Vaud, Switzerland – subsequently going on to attend the American University in Paris and eventually finishing her Undergrad in Art History at Vanderbilt University, moving onto complete her Master’s degree in Art & Museum Studies at Georgetown. Her impressive curriculum vitae includes roles at world acclaimed organizations such as Harper’s Bazaar, the Royal Academy of Arts, Gagosian Gallery, Studio D of Hearst Corporation, Damien Hirst & Science Ltd, as well as the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Ashley is also a philanthropist who has served Save Venice an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the art and architecture of Venice, Italy. Just now beginning to grow roots in Manhattan, Ashley’s youth was quite nomadic having lived all across the world from England to Argentina. The Extravagant was given the exclusive privilege to speak with Miss Wyndham on all things Art, Life, Travel, and Style – read our interview below to learn more about Ashley’s passionate process for collecting, her love of NYC, and favorite designers at the moment.
What are you currently inspired by?
“I cannot pinpoint one single thing that inspires me. I feel I am constantly being inspired by friends, people I meet, and places I go. I think you can find inspiration everywhere – it is essential to take interest in everything and keep your eyes open.”
Take us through a day in the life of Ashley Wyndham.
“All of my days are different, so this is a very difficult question for me. I enjoy waking up every morning and not being quite sure what the day will bring me. I like to keep my plans and options open and to grab opportunities as they come. The only thing I can say, which is absolutely consistent, is that I am by no means a morning person. It takes me a very large cup of coffee and bit of sugar before I am ready to take on the day.”
Tell us more about your background as an Art Historian as well as a collector.
“I majored in History of Art at Vanderbilt and then did my M.A. at Georgetown University in Art and Museum Studies. I have a passion for history, art, philosophy and writing so Art History was a natural fit for me. However, I didn’t study it with any clear career path in mind, I felt it was most important to follow my heart and what I was most passionate about and I assumed the rest would follow. After finishing my studies, I decided to give myself roots in NYC and that is when I began collecting. Prior to New York, I had lived a fairly peripatetic existence and did not have the ability to house my own collection. Although I have only begun collecting about two years ago, it has become an absolute obsession of mine and I am sad to say I do not have enough space for all the art I see and get excited about!”
How did you first get involved in the Art world? Was it an encounter with art in your childhood, or through family or school?
“It was honestly through all three. Both of my parents are very artistic in their own way. My father is a real-estate developer so I grew up surrounded by floor plans and architects, he is always dreaming up ways to make spaces more beautiful. My mother, on the other hand, is a complete bohemian and spends a great deal of her time drawing, designing and making her own clothes. I think I am a mix of both of them and am just naturally drawn to artistic and creative people. My parents also collect art, so I suppose it was something I had in the back of my mind that I could do when I got older, but never anticipated how much it would captivate me. I really enjoyed history as well in boarding school and when I had the chance to do electives my junior and senior year I filled up my schedule with history, English and language courses. It was during part of my AP European History course that we did a segment on art history and that is when I made the decision to pursue the subject at university. ”
Explain your process for collecting art.
“I wish I had a straightforward academic answer for you, but I do not. For me, the most crucial part of collecting is loving the art you buy. I really enjoy going to art fairs like FIAC and Art Basel and just seeing what is out there. If I connect with something, I buy it. In that way, I suppose you could say I am a bit of a hoarder, as I have no clear vision for my own collection other than gathering things that speak to me and make me feel something.”
Which is your most cherished piece of art in your collection?
“I think my favorite piece is Candida Hofer’s “Catherine’s Palace.” It is currently in the foyer of my apartment in New York. I think it is the most beautiful photograph. I love the idea of the memories that remain in a space long after they have occurred- all the residual energy of people who have had a connection to it- it is magical to me.”
How have your tastes changed since you started collecting?
“I think my tastes have developed as I have. Since I buy things that I connect to, as I grow older and experience different things I find myself attracted to different forms of expression, different styles and different topics. It is very cool to see your own transformation reflected in the art on your walls.”
Describe a little bit of the role that art plays in your daily life.
“I think that art is everywhere. You experience it in tangible and intangible ways everyday through yourself, through others, and through your interactions.”
Having held roles everywhere from Harper’s Bazaar to the Royal Academy of Arts and The Gagosian Gallery – What have been some of your favourite experiences?
“I have to be honest and say forthright that I am not the best employee and find scheduled hours very difficult and hindering. That being said, I was so honored that so many places took a chance on me. I enjoyed all of the places I have worked at or interned. Each experience taught me so much about myself. I have to say that perhaps my favorite was working for the Royal Academy of Arts when I was 21 in London. The work environment was so vibrant and I was helping out the Special Events team so there was a lot of cake tasting involved and I have a serious sweet tooth!”
Having lived all across the globe, what do you believe sets New York City apart, being your locality of choice?
“I love New York because it is such a melting pot of cultures. I love being exposed to so many walks of life on a daily basis and living in a city that is so international, so raw and still developing and finding itself. I find New York a fascinating place to be right now.”
Who are some of your favourite clothing designers at the moment?
“I have to say I am more of an accessories girl than clothing. That being said, I am drawn to very girly styles. I love Dolce and Gabbana, Self-Portrait and Alaia.”
Style advice from Ashley Wyndham?
“I think everyone should wear what they feel most comfortable in and avoid trying to constantly follow trends. It is most important to find your own style and what works for you.”
Being a frequent traveler, what have been some of your favourite destinations and why?
“I think I love almost everywhere I go! I recently went on safari in Kenya and spent a week in Mauritius. I love being in nature and around wildlife. Africa was absolutely enchanting!”
Where can we follow you?
“You can follow me on my Instagram @ashleywyndhammarie”
Where to next?
“I just planned my birthday trip! I will be in Portofino and Capri, I cannot wait!”