Art 101 – Quaglino’s Hosts Comedic BAFTA Photographic Exhibition



Photography at Quaglino’s is back and will be showcasing the lighter side of life. From Monday 9 September, luxury restaurant Quaglino’s (, will host an exclusive photographic exhibition of images commissioned by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).Shot by official BAFTA photographer Jay Brooks (, the previously unseen collection, illustrates some of the best British comedy TV talent, including Miranda Hart, James Corden, Reece Shearsmith, plus many more comedy greats.


Funny Ha Ha?’ BAFTA Portraits by Jay Brooks will run until 31 October. Brooks spent three days in the hotel basement of The Gore Hotel in 2010, shooting a selection of British comedy performers. After the initial sketching, brainstorming and gathering of props, the subjects were given a brief and then left to let their creative juices flow, which they did in abundance. The title of the exhibition, was inspired by one of the subjects, Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville), who discussed during the shoot, his belief that he and writing partner Steve Pemberton were not comedians but comic actors and that neither of them were “funny, ha ha” but comedic in a darker sense. Each of the performers captured in this series of portraits all mirrored this similar ethos, as most were not stand ups, but actors who do great comedy and often work with a sense of pathos, which frequently borders on melancholy and darkness. This philosophy is also symbolised in Brooks’ photography.


BAFTA Quaglino's 2


Jay Brooks is known for his cinematic style and ability to draw a seam of, often dark, humour from his subjects.  This has made him a popular choice across the worlds of advertising, TV, film, theatre and music. His characterful celebrity portraiture has graced the covers of some of the UK’s most respected publications. Jay has a continuing relationship with BAFTA, regularly contributing to their photographic archive.


Aside from his work with BAFTA, Jay has worked as a portrait photographer within music, entertainment and advertising for the last 12 years. Recent subjects include Kanye West, Daniel Radcliffe, Kim Cattrall, Ronnie Wood and Paul Weller.  He also boasts three portraits in the collection in The National Portrait Gallery.


BAFTA Quaglino's


This is the ninth in Quaglino’s ongoing series of collaborations with established photographers and emerging talents.  The legendary venue is the perfect setting for this BAFTA exhibition.  From its inception in 1929 by Giovanni Quaglino, it has become a destination restaurant, welcoming the finest in entertainment and high society alike.  With its sweeping staircase and art-deco inspired dining room, guests can enjoy a glass of champagne as they browse the comedic photos, before dining in the iconic restaurant – Or spend a night in the mezzanine bar taking pleasure in the popular Joe & Seph’s boutique popcorn bar which for the autumn season has taken wine and cheese matching to a new level and has introduced new cheese inspired flavours to complement the exhibition with recommended matching wine selections for each flavour from the Quaglino’s sommelier team.


These images form part of a unique collection of stunning portraiture that BAFTA has commissioned for its Archive and Heritage programme. Since 2007, the Academy has developed a policy of using a new photographer each year for publishing commissions and awards portraiture. These photographers are working in the international visual arena already and have individual styles that enhance the variation of the organisation’s ‘Future Archive’. 


About BAFTA:

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round Learning & Events programme that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, master classes, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, Los Angeles and New York. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work.


For further information, visit


About Jay Brooks:

Portrait photographer Jay Brooks originally studied Film & TV Set Design at Wimbledon School of Art but truly fell for photography after a road trip across America in the mid 90’s.

His original theatrical studies have, however, left a lasting impression on his photographic style and method of working. Jay’s keen interest in location and acute attention to detail, storyboarding and props combine, often with a dark seam of humour, to create unique environments for his portraits.

His graphic, cinematic style and atmospheric lighting has made him a popular choice across the worlds of film, television and theatre, music and advertising. His characterful celebrity portraiture has graced the covers of some of the UK’s most respected publications including The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Sunday Times Culture, The Independent and Time Out.

Jay has a continuing relationship with BAFTA, regularly contributing to their photographic archive, much of which has been exhibited at their Piccadilly headquarters. His ongoing, yearly project shooting some of UK’s finest Screenwriters also continued into 2012 in conjunction with the BAFTA lectures.

Jay also works regularly for The Old Vic and The Royal Court Theatre providing promotional and advertising images.

Recent advertising campaigns include Adidas Footlocker, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, Southern Comfort and Red Stripe and Laphroaig Whiskey

Despite being kept busy with such a varied raft of commissions, Jay still finds time to work on his personal projects; His project on Britain’s very first youth culture, the teddy boys, continues to gather pace and he regularly travels across the UK covering tradition-based dance events ranging from the conventional to the decidedly off-the-wall. Selections of both can be seen here alongside regular updates on his tumblr page.

Jay is also proud to currently have three portraits in the collection of The National Portrait Gallery.

He is based in North London where he lives happily on a diet of late nights and Haribo.

For further information, visit


About Quaglino’s:

From its inception in 1929 by Giovanni Quaglino to its reinvention by Terence Conran, Quaglinos of Mayfair has been a destination restaurant, welcoming royalty, rock stars and high society alike. It offers an extensive brasserie-inspired menu and specialises in fresh crustacea and platters of fruits de mer. The art-deco inspired dining room features a sweeping central staircase and eight decorated columns, and the space also features a buzzing mezzanine bar and two private dining rooms.


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