The noted antique dealers Windsor House Antiques have found a novel way of marking sixty years of trading. They have launched House Bargains on their new website. There you will find some wonderful pieces, including chandeliers, mirrors and cushions listed at substantial discounts. Well worth a peek!
The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th-29th January 2017
While I am sure that many of you will already know about this exciting regular event I always feel that it is worth reminding you that it is on. It is a magnet for homemakers, antique collectors and, of course, interior decorators. It is the sort of fair where you find the absolutely perfect thing – which you didn’t realise you wanted until you see it. Happy purchasing!
London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th -29th January 2017
In this welcome move the LARTA Fair moves to the mezzanine floor at Battersea Evolution and makes the perfect combination with the Decorative Fair downstairs. Visitors will find a good range of collectable decorative rugs, carpets, tapestries, suzanis and embroideries and other textiles. Now that it will be a bigger event than usual there will also be some contemporary designs and a variety of tribal, Islamic and Asian artefacts, including jewellery as well. Don’t forget that the best pieces can be seen online in a ‘virtual fair’ which becomes live when the fair opens.
The Autumn Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 27th September-2nd October 2016
Those fans of the series Poldark and Victoria on television will no doubt find antiques and furnishings to achieve a similar period look at home while those who favour Scandinavian style will find inspiration in the special exhibition Scandi Days & Nordic Nights.
Special visitors to this edition of the Fair are a group of dealer’s from the well-known Alfies Antique Market in Church Street, London NW8. Alfies are celebrating a well-deserved fortieth anniversary this year and this special Alfies Marylebone Stand on the Fair’s mezzanine floor is part of the celebrations. I sincerely hope that they will become a regular feature.
Among the Alfies dealers taking part are:
Tin Tin Collectables Luggage
Diplomat Treasures International
Matt Mitchell London
‘Expect the Unexpected’, Croome Court, near High Green, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR8 9DW
What a lovely co-incidence that in this ‘Capability’ Brown’s 300th Anniversary year I am fortunate enough to be able to write about Croome Court which as well as being Brown’s first major commission was a complete project due to the fact that he was asked in 1751 by the 6th Earl of Coventry to create a house and estate that would be the dernier cri. The photographs show the resulting building and landscape. Although the outside design and some of the interiors are Brown’s work the Earl later commissioned Robert Adam to design some of the rooms – the Long Gallery, the Library and Tapestry Room.
The Tapestry Room, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, featured a specially commissioned set of Gobelins tapestries and seat covers. Coventry was one of the great 18th century English collectors of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelains and he asked Adam to design a tripod stand to hold a Sevres jug and basin whose colours reflected those of the room.
In1948 the family disposed of the house and many of its contents were sold by auction and thus nowadays only about twenty percent of the collection remains. There are plans to bring these pieces back to the house later this year. The National Trust bought the park in 1996 and started on its restoration and in 2007 the house was purchased by the Croome Heritage Trust and they have granted a long lease to the National Trust.
Contemporary art installations have been placed in the house to evoke the idea of ‘expect the unexpected’ but are inspired by and use pieces that were originally in the house. Upon entering the building one sees the artist Will Datson’s original take on the idea of hall chairs through his 2.5 metre high installation. He says of it “It was my task to display the original hall chairs in a new way. We all see chairs every day, and usually ignore them, so I’ve attempted to create something out-of-the-ordinary, dramatic and playful, that’s hard to ignore.”
In the dining room, whose plasterwork was painted by members of the Hare Krishna Movement who used the house as their headquarters (1979-84), visitors are confronted by a 2 metre high golden box which contains beautiful examples of Meissen, Worcester and Sèvres porcelains from Croome’s remarkable collection which have been installed by the noted artist Bouke de Vries to form a dazzling ceramics treasury. He simply sums it up saying “It’s been extraordinary to work on this project with the amazing team at Croome”.
In the Lord’s Dressing Room you will discover two 18th century Adam-style commodes made for the house by the celebrated firm of Mayhew & Ince who also supplied the seat furniture for the Tapestry Room. It is worth remembering that the 6th Earl also bought French furniture for Croome in Paris from A la Couronne d’Or, the shop of the renowned marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier. There is also a portrait of Barbara St John, the Earl’s second wife.
While Croome’s Tapestry Room is now bare of its glorious contents it inspired the idea of bringing Grayson Perry’s tapestries ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ to Croome (until 11th September 2016). The six large-scale works, inspired by Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, tell the story of Tim Rakewell and many of the people and things depicted reflect events that Perry encountered in his life. A 1994 earthenware vase by Perry, entitled Spirit Jar is also on show.
‘Capability’ Brown and the Earl had become friends and thirty years after he started his transformation at Croome he still visited there and indeed Croome was described as his ‘first and most favourite child’.
In 1783 Brown died while on his way home from dining with the Earl at his London residence. The Earl had a monument erected in Brown’s memory and it bears the inscription:
“To the Memory of Lancelot Brown
Who by the powers of his inimitable and creative genius formed this garden scene out of a morass.”
For those of you interested in learning more about the 6th Earls collection Sèvres I recommend:
THE SIXTH EARL OF COVENTRY’S PURCHASES OF SÈVRES PORCELAIN IN PARIS AND LONDON IN THE 1760s by Rosalind Savill in the French Porcelain Society Journal, Volume V 2015
Sir Edward Heath – at home in Salisbury
Standing in the wonderful environs of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is Arundells a beautiful house of Georgian appearance which in part dates back to the mid-thirteenth century. It was from 1985 to 2005 the home of the former politician and Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and although he had a long political career the house is very much a personal home which reflects all facets of his life. It is important to remember as you go round it that it remains very much as it was when he lived there.
Immediately on arrival at the entrance hall you get the welcoming flavour of the house and an idea of how the strands of his interests are skilfully woven together. This he achieved with the help of the designer Derek Frost. Many of the paintings in the hall reflect his love of sailing through depictions and models of the five Morning Cloud yachts he sailed and interspersed among them are Napoleonic prisoner-of-war ship models made from bone and rigged with fine strands of hair. The maritime-inspired combined clock and barometer was a gift from President Nixon. There are also drawings by Sickert and Augustus and Gwen John.
A photograph of a young Sir Edward with Augustus John and Dorelia can be seen in the adjoining drawing room which is dominated by a Steinway grand piano which Sir Edward played and upon which are photographs of politicians and world leaders. Among the many artworks in the room are paintings by L S Lowry, Ken Howard RA, Derek Hill and a painting of Heath’s home town ‘Broadstairs’ by Sir Robert Ponsonby-Staples which was a gift from Sir John Betjeman, given as Sir Edward had so often admired it when visiting Betjeman. Two pieces of sculpture one of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill by Oscar Nemon and a bust of Sir Edward by Martin Jennings are worthy of inspection as are the carved Chinese pieces on the mantelpiece and to its right the display of blue and white porcelain including a large pair of bottle vases which were a gift from Chairman Mao.
Pictures in the corridor towards the dining room and library include two paintings by Sir Winston Churchill which he gave to Heath. There is also a fine group of etchings by William Wyllie, two Singer Sargent’s and a painting by the Cuban artist Portocarrero which was a gift from Fidel Castro.
The dining room is hung with pictures by John Piper, including two Sir Edward commissioned himself. The table is set for lunch which was one of his favourite ways of entertaining – roast lamb followed by Stilton cheese, halibut and lemon pudding were among his favourites as were Brussels sprouts – and from the place cards on view when I was there one gets an idea of the wide range of people he invited which included Princess Margaret, Sting and Sir Harold Wilson. Dame Maggie Smith, Terry Wogan and Yehudi Menuhin are among other well-known guests. There is also a large group of ceramic pieces on display including Tang pottery, Sevres, Chelsea and Worcester porcelain as well as some Copenhagen Flora Danica.
The Library overlooking the garden contains the high wing-back chair Sir Edward favoured and it was where he would entertain and chat to colleagues and friends from all political parties and walks of life. The walls are adorned with 18th and 19th century Japanese prints which perfectly suit the room. One of the major achievements of his political life was a growing rapport between the UK and China which is also reflected throughout the house but he also obviously had an interest in their arts and culture which is particularly apparent in the panels of specially commissioned wallpaper on the staircase which relates the popular Chinese legend of the Monkey King. They were a house-warming present from two of his former Private Secretaries.
Upstairs is Sir Edward’s study which was his private sanctum and where he worked at a Georgian writing desk which had previously belonged to David Lloyd-George. Heath’s army career is also recalled in another room with uniforms and other memorabilia on show from when he was with the Royal Artillery during the War and later on with the Honourable Artillery Company. His Garter Banner hangs on an upstairs corridor wall.
Downstairs just beyond the stair hall is a short corridor which is hung with political cartoons by leading cartoonists such as Giles, Jak, Low and Trog, many of which feature Sir Edward. He enjoyed sharing them with his visitors although sometimes I imagine it may have been a wry chuckle.
Outside the beautiful garden, an intriguing combination of open spaces and secluded areas, is very much as created for Sir Edward. It stretches down to the confluence of the Rivers Nadder and Avon and reveals a wonderful view across to the meadows. In one corner is the restored bow of Morning Cloud III which was sunk by a freak wave in September 1974, and whose two crew members Nigel Cummings and Christopher Chadd (Sir Edward’s godson) tragically lost their lives.
At the front of the house with its view into the Close and of the Cathedral is an exhibition space in a building which used to house Sir Edward’s archive. At present (until mid-August) there is a display focusing on ‘World Leaders of the 1970s: A Decade of Turmoil’ which features President Nixon, Leonard Brezhnev, Chairman Mao Zedong, Willy Brandt, Indira Gandhi, President Pompidou, Kakuei Tanaka, Pierre Trudeau and Henry Kissinger. Interestingly enough the latter will be giving a lecture in London in October as part of a series of celebrations organised by the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation to celebrate the centenary of Sir Edward’s birth (9th July, 2016). The following exhibition which runs until May 2017 is ‘Heath at 100: A Political Life in Cartoons’ which promises to be a fascinating way of remembering the major events of his time in politics.
My visit made a lasting impression and I would readily accept an offer to live there just as it is, because it’s a happy house of taste, comfort and history. I can quite understand why Sir Edward fell in love with it at first sight and for us visitors today it is extremely fortunate that he was able to acquire the lease in 1992 and that he formed a charitable trust which allows us to share in the delights of Arundells and to remember Sir Edward, the man.
Masterpiece London 2016, The Bull Ring Gate Entrance, South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3, 30thJune – 6th July 2016
Now in its 7th edition one can easily understand why Masterpiece has become a magnet for collectors and museum curators from around the world. There is a great emphasis on quality and connoisseurship and the pieces on show reflect more than five thousand years of art history – and yes they are for sale.
Masterpiece’s chief executive Nazy Vassegh says: ‘I am delighted to announce so many exciting additions to this year’s fair. Masterpiece 2016 will have unrivalled depth and quality, and I am pleased that Masterpiece continues to strengthen every edition. We are looking forward to another great year.’
It truly is a must visit fair and allow yourself plenty of time because there are so many exciting things to see and tempt. Like me you may well want visit more than once.
Over the coming days I will post varied selections of what is on show.
The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London W14, 27th June – 3rd July 2016
This Fair certainly has staying power as it is in its 44th year and continues to draw visitors in from home and abroad to see what the hundred and sixty participating dealers have to offer for their collections and homes.
The Fair’s Director, Mary Claire Boyd sums it up: “The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia is London’s original, quintessential art and antiques fair. Over four decades since the event was founded, we continue to pride ourselves on offering a wider choice of high quality, vetted art, antiques, furniture and collectibles than any other event in the capital.”
Among new “features” is Showcase which highlights five specially chosen galleries and dealers – Simon Pirzada (ceramics), The Parker Gallery (Fine Art), Adam Gahlin Fine Art (Modern paintings, drawings and prints), Adam Bentley (Contemporary Art) and Store Street Gallery ((Contemporary Art).
The well-known SOFA CHICAGO – a Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair (SOFA) will have a European version at this Fair as Mary Claire Boyd, explains: “We are very excited to introduce SOFA LONDON as part of The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia for the very first time this June. SOFA is widely known in the US for its international dealers selling one-of- a-kind masterpieces. Here in London we have an elite selection of dealers who will be showcasing original works from different artists and makers using a variety of mediums. For sale will be works of art including ceramics, metal work, photography, glass works, textiles, furniture and sculptures that appear more contemporary and cutting edge than other pieces in the fair, but yet will also stand the test of time. SOFA CHICAGO attracts over 35,000 people but for those who aren’t able to cross the pond to attend we’re delighted to offer this opportunity within the UK.”
According to recent research there is a resurgence in the demand for antiques and again I will share Mary Claire Boyd’s observations on this: “The world of antiques can be intimidating at first glance but this research shows that there is a real thirst for antiques. They are appreciated for the qualities they can bring to people’s homes– particularly amongst the younger generation who are frustrated with spending money on furnishings that only last a few years.
“While people see great benefits of purchasing antiques often they don’t realise the options and scope available to them – and the affordability. Antiques are unique, often come with a fascinating story – and add individuality to your home. They can also be combined very effectively with contemporary art and furniture.”
Very true indeed as many leading interior decorators would no doubt concur.