Art Basel – Where Champagne Meets Art!

Hi Everyone hope you’re having a great day!

Sometimes we have a day where we feel like we have learnt as much as we normally would in a whole month and today was certainly one of those…invited by the House of Ruinart to see their collaberation with the brilliant photographer Erwin Olaf at Art Basel.


Did you know:

1. The House of Ruinart is the oldest champagne House, established in 1729.

2. The famous wine crayères were originally a group of chalk caves dug by the Romans in the 4th century A.D. They liked to use chalk for building construction.slideshow-14-2


3. When the House bought the land containing the crayères (caves) they then built tunnels linking the caves to one another – there are now over 7 kms of caves under the Ruinart property alone.

4. Champagne makers like the deep chalk chambers for the constancy of the underground temperature;  the sponge-like quality of the chalk soaking up humidity keeping it at an equally constant 88 percent; and the absence of light and vibration.

5. The crayères are now registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Have a look here for more information – or register your own live tour.

6. Since 1896 the House of Ruinart has commissioned an artist each year to complete a special project – starting  with the Czech artist, Alfons Mucha, creating an advertising poster marking the beginning of art nouveau

7. This year, together with Erwin Olaf the House celebrates 120 years of artistic collaberation and Erwin tells the extraordinary story of Ruinart’s crayères through his camera lens.


A couple of pieces on display:


“Photos like Champagne, need darkness to find light” Erwin Olaf



I was lucky enough to meet Erwin Olaf personally .

5 Questions – Getting to know the real Erwin:

1. What triggered your career as a photographer?

Actually I was studying journalism but didn’t enjoy it. Another teacher saw this and literally beckoned me over, showed me his camera, the magic of the dark room and how one can influence the outcome of a photo and…well I never looked back.

2. What has been the main influence/s on your work over the years?

My life – I would describe my work to be like a personal diary. When I was young sex had a huge impact and later as a man a more ambitious and aggressive note came through. The breakup of a long relationship certainly impacted my work and now as I get older I feel my art taking on a new intellectual level.

Also when you are lucky in life you meet people who give you opportunities – I feel I have been very lucky to meet lots of people giving me a wide variety of opportunities.

3. What was at the forefront of your mind as you were approached by Ruinart?

Champagne and photos are always associated with advertising and this was something I really wanted to avoid. So much so that I actually had almost completed an initial project for Ruinart which I then discarded and replaced with the current one. I am thankful that Ruinart let me do this.

4. Which camera did you use for this project?

My Hasselblad which I have had now for 35 years!

5. What advice would you give someone who wants to become a famous photographer?

You need to understand a little technique but mainly you need to develop a style that is close to your heart and stick to it for three years. You will be bored of it by then but it takes three years for people to notice you.

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Thank you Ruinart and thank you Erwin – really nice meeting you!

Art Basel Officially opens Thursday 16th June – more information here.



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Hi! I’m Yvonne, a 40 something (wink) Kiwi, living in Zurich. I love fashion, travel, shopping and food – believing chocolate will cure almost anything!

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