The Handbook Reviews MasterPeace!

Phil Clarke, The Handbook, 16th October 2019

Mindful & Monet: The Latest Inner Peace Trend (That Really Works)

Relaxation comes in various forms, flotation therapy sees you trapped in a water-filled car roof box while they play random unsettling noises until you fall asleep; goat yoga (does what it says on the tin) is somehow an actual thing while a vampire facial offers you the alluring opportunity to be injected with your own blood INTO YOUR FACE. But amid all the madness, the timeless methods of finding zen are still the best, which is why I followed in the steps of neolithic cave dwellers, Leonardo daVinci, Van Goch and Banksy, and went painting.

Masterpeace is located in the heart of Belgravia and offers guests the opportunity to both seek inner peace and walk away with a framed picture for the loo. No amount of bikram will decorate your bathroom, unless you plan to smear the walls in sweat. The new studio provides all the materials, expertise and Prosecco you’ll need to create your own MasterPeace (geddit?).

Having not painted since I was in long stockings (as in at junior school, I’m no Grayson Perry yet) I decided that I simply had to try out MasterPeace. Ensuring I’d deliberately had a relatively stressful and long week, I went to Eccleston Yards to seek inner peace and unleash artistic impression on a Friday afternoon.

If the term ‘art studio’ has you thinking of a gloomy garret, covered in the detritus of painting and scattered with artistic paraphernalia, half finished cups of tea and Van Gogh’s ear, then think again. The two floor glass fronted studio is impeccably presented, warm woods and plenty of light. And if you thought that the arts crowd was universally snooty, then you’re wrong again, I was immediately welcomed like a long-lost brother, handed a glass of Prosecco and a canvas.

The small class began with a moment of relaxation and meditation, as Amelia, our tutor for the session, played the obligatory zen-like music. Anyone, however up-tight, can deal with two minutes of ‘imagine you’re on a beach’ before snapping back to reality with a top-up of Prosecco.

The process is simple (art school aficionados maybe look away now), you choose a picture from your phone, hook it into a projector and shine the pic onto your canvas. Then you paint it – basically it’s a modern twist on tracing.

I selected a French hillside from a recent holiday, turned my phone onto ‘airplane’ mode and plugged it into the tech. Then, donning a custom-made smock, I toddled over to the rows of acrylic paints, selecting dollops at random onto my palate.

We were joined by MasterPeace founder Zena El Farra. She’s driven and impressive, a former banker who decided that her passion wasn’t running a multi million pound budget and team of 100s. Now she’s running a gorgeous art studio, a team of 18 and doing exactly what she loves. As she calmly painted a picture of her cat she explained that MasterPeace is only the start of the journey, with early success in the month or so since opening solidifying plans to open more studios across the capital, spreading creative zen across the world one canvas at a time!

But not mine! Art was never my strong point and it was clear early on that this was going to be no Titian, but Amelia kindly offered encouragement and advice as I carefully completed my toddler’s scrawl of a painting “It looks like a Matise!” was undeserved praise that I’ll bank anyway.

But the painting was largely irrelevant, it’s not the point of the endeavour and nobody cared. Mixing colours, remembering my France holiday, glowering at the canvas, combines to take you away from the here-and-now. The calm atmosphere, the bottomless Prosecco and delicious platter (including a brie and honeycomb that itself is worth the expense of the session) all seem to take all your worries to another place altogether, leaving you with the far more important challenge of getting the perspective right on the buildings you’re currently painting or mixing the right colour for a perfect sunset.

At the end I left with a dubious painting (they frame it for you), a full stomach and, most importantly, a sense of peace and contentment that can’t just be put down to the sparkling wine! Not only will I be heading to my local art shop this weekend to purchase essentials for painting at home, but I will also be returning to MasterPeace; it really is a masterpiece itself.

MasterPeace is open to individuals and groups (I was there just after a hen party), for painters of all (and no!) ability, from children to oldies, beginners to experts. The studio can be found at 12 Eccleston Yards, Belgravia, SW1W 9NF