IN MEMORIAM – a D-Day Veteran

James Kirkwood (1922-2017)
courtesy of Andrew Jamieson

On 6thJune 2015 I published a blog about the exhibition The Last of the Tide at the Queen’s Gallery.  In it I mentioned my partner’s father who had served on the landing craft taking Canadian forces to Juno Nan Beach in June 1944.  Last year he was awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government and even though somewhat frail he was able to attend the ceremony at Glasgow City Chambers. In recent months he became much frailer and it is with profound sadness that I have to tell you that he passed away in the early hours of 28th March 2017. The day after his 95th birthday.


In late 2010 he gave the Ensign from the landing craft and his Operational Orders to the Imperial War Museum in London ( together with an account of his naval service which you can access through the link.


He was a really good, kind and humble man and was very proud of his country. I am so honoured to have known him. It is a great thing that his war service though is remembered through his generous donation to the museum and I thought it may be of some interest hence my sharing of it.

Ceramic temptations!

Ceramic Art London 2017, Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1, 31st March – 2nd April 2017

Midori Takaki
The land of Archaeopteryx, 2016
Hand-built, stoneware, underglaze, slip and glaze
Dimensions: 18.0cm W, 17.0 H, 5.0 D

As someone who likes ceramics I find it both encouraging and exciting that contemporary ceramics are becoming more eagerly collected and appreciated.  Now in its thirteenth year this year’s fair has ninety participants offering a wide variety of pieces.

Sophie Southgate
Spectrum Series
Group of 15 pieces
Dimensions: 1m x 1m x 1m

The natural world – whether rural or urban in nature – provides the inspiration for many of the artists.  Be warned though as I am sure many of you will be tempted to purchase a work whether a practical item such as a delightful teacup or something intensely sculptural. With prices from £25 upwards there are choices to suit all pockets.

Nichola Theakston
Beyond Him no.6
Coil built construction in Black stoneware and terracotta paperclay.
Applied slips.
Dimensions: 53 x 53cm

A new home!

Thompson’s Gallery in Seymour Place

Thompson’s Gallery has moved from New Cavendish Street to new premises at 3 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London W1H 5AZ.  Their opening show in this exciting new space will feature the very distinctive works of Sophie Levi and James Tweedie.  The exhibition Sophie Levi & James Tweedie – Away From Convention continues until 8th April 2017 – see the website for details of the pictures in this show.

Interior view – Thompson’s Gallery in Seymour Place

Hollywood Style!

Betsy Bloomingdale: A Life in Style, Christie’s New York, live auction on April 5th 2017 and online sale March 30th-April 6th2017

The Atrium, Mrs. Bloomingdale’s Hollywood Regency villa, Los Angeles.
Photography by Spencer Lowell. Courtesy of Christie’s.

In her later years Mrs Bloomingdale summed up her thoughts on style saying: ‘To me, style in anything you do, whether dressing, entertaining, collecting, whatever, is a sureness of choice. It can be learned, it can be developed, but to be successful, it mustn’t be perceived.’

Both the online auction and the live auction reflect her philosophy whether it be in jewels, or clothes – Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Christian Dior – or her home. A leading figure of Los Angeles society she was known for her philanthropy and her entertaining. She welcomed many legendary Hollywood figures to her home as well as the Reagans and the Annenbergs.  She kept a record of every dinner party she gave from 1959 until her death last year.

The Dining Room, Mrs. Bloomingdale’s Hollywood Regency villa, Los Angeles.
Photography by Spencer Lowell. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Her home was a fine example of Hollywood Regency and was one of the legendary designer William (Billy) Haines last remaining masterpieces.  Haines started his career as a silent movie star but his refusal to end his relationship with his long-term partner Jimmie Shields led to his MGM contract being ended in 1933.

The Bedroom, Mrs. Bloomingdale’s Hollywood Regency villa, Los Angeles.
Photography by Spencer Lowell. Courtesy of Christie’s.

However this inspired Haines (1900-1973) to set himself up as a designer of both interiors and furniture.  His clients included Joan Crawford, Jack Warner, George Cukor, the Goetzes and the Annenbergs at both their home Sunnylands, near Palm Springs and also at Winfield House, London when Mr Annenberg was the US Ambassador to the UK. As these images show Haines had a deft touch creating an 18th century feel in rooms that were very easy to use and so perfectly crafted that the owners rarely changed anything.

This sale is truly a celebration of 20th century American style and taste!

The Living Room, Mrs. Bloomingdale’s Hollywood Regency villa, Los Angeles.
Photography by Spencer Lowell. Courtesy of Christie’s.

London Fashion Month – celebrated!

Those of you walking past the large railway arch window of the retail design agency gpstudio at 74 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 will most likely have had your attention drawn by the remarkable decoration painted on it.

It is the work of the fashion illustrator Jacqueline Bissett who was approached by gpstudio to illustrate her take on what she had seen at some of the London Fashion Week Shows – think House of Holland, Armani, Bottega Veneta and Havva!

gpstudio’s Gregor Jackson said: ‘Fashion illustrator and artist Jaqueline Bissett’s painting on our Arch Window has blown us away and attracted much attention. As an artist Jacqueline is a perfect match for us bridging fashion, art and retail. We were thrilled to have her paint live at gpstudio for Fashion Month.’


You will be able to see it until 14th April 2017.

Berwick Street Market – some good news

Labour Councillors and the West End Labour Action Team have welcomed Westminster City Council’s U-turn on plans to privatise Berwick Street Market following a year-long campaign from market traders who organised a 37,000-signatrure petition against the privatisation proposals. With just days left before the new market contract was scheduled to start on 1st April, the […]

via Berwick Street Market privatisation U-Turn welcomed by Labour — labourwestminster

Fit for an 18th century dining table!

Four Private Collections – including a collection of ceramic handled cutlery, Stockspring Antiques, 114 Kensington Church St, London W8, 27th March – 4th April 2017

A boxed set of Worcester knives and forks c. 1758-60, in a ray skin covered standing box lined with crimson silk velvet and silver braid with twelve pairs of knives and forks, English steel blades of scimitar shape and three pronged forks with silver ferrules.

This exhibition comprises ceramics from four different private collections and includes Japanese and Worcester porcelains and a group of cane handles.  Of special note is the collection of more than seventy pieces of ceramic handled cutlery.  The majority of these are French and English but there are some interesting examples of Chinese and Continental porcelain too. They provide an exciting and fascinating guide to not only the changes in ceramic handle shapes but also the development and dating of the silver and steel fittings during the course of the 18th century.

A Bow knife and fork, painted in polychrome with the crest of Moses (Luis) Mendes, c. 1756, a merchant in the City of London.