Journal

26 October 2016

AUTUMN CATALOGUE

The first log fire has been lit, the leaves have changed their colour, Halloween is only a few days away...Autumn is most definitely here!

Our Autumn Catalogue, No 47, has now been published and makes our minds turn to creating a cosy home filled with objects that make us smile.

Please email us if you would like to receive the E-Catalogue which is now available

 

29 July 2016

CHRISTIE'S LATES: FESTIVAL OF FOLK

Robert will be holding a talk on "Collecting British Folk Art" at Christie's South Kensington on Tuesday 2nd August at 7.45pm.

Find out more at @ChristiesInc

 

 

25 May 2016

"A UNIQUE INDIVIDUALITY AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL"

A Preview of  Masterpiece 2016

This time last year we still had builders here, with their accompanying dust and noisy chaos, as the renovation project to our building was in full swing.

Now we are back to normal in Battersea and have just rearranged the shop, after most of the sold pieces from our Exhibition have been collected and we find ourselves on the edge of spring, as it breaks into summer.

For us, early summer in London has become synonymous with Masterpiece, probably the most innovative and significant art and antiques event held in the UK.

The preparation and planning for this are now our primary focus, as we concentrate on the stand layout, decoration and installation.

It’s like a theatrical production and requires the input of many dedicated and skilled individuals. Masterpiece is all about detail.

We never know what other Galleries and Dealerships will bring to Masterpiece, but there is always a unique energy and creative spirit, possibly due to the quality and variety of works on show and the diversity of materials, age and scale, which combine to make it the most exciting venue we exhibit at.

The pieces we offer need to be strong and honourable to hold their own in such company and we revel in the opportunity of exhibiting our vernacular, naive, primitive and folk art alongside some of the most significant mainstream works available for sale anywhere in the world.

As always, we aim to source rare and extraordinary examples, both figurative and abstract, with confident lines, bold compositions, exciting textures and original surfaces.

This is an exhibition where we can celebrate the compatibility of authentic naïve art with both ancient and modern works, where we can also illustrate the relevance of the “primitive” in a contemporary setting.

The pieces we have selected to exhibit still speak of the hands that created them, they are of differing scale, both rich and raw in spirit, yet common to them all is a unique individuality and attention to detail.

We have Complimentary Tickets available, so please contact us if you would like to visit and we look forward to catching up with old friends and to meeting those of you who plan to visit for the first time.

 

 

 

06 May 2016

LIKE THE OLD DAYS

From 1978 until 1989 we lived here in the flat above the shop.

We were unreliable in our opening hours as we didn’t have any help and the two of us went out buying, until we filled the little van we had and returned to the shop to sell it!

They were different times and the trade worked in a different way, but we always made a point of being open on Saturdays. They were happy times and we would move downstairs for the day with baskets of bread, cheeses, salads and other little regional delicacies Josyane had picked up during the week and wine. People knew we would be in and dropped by to see what was new, for trade gossip and a chat, whilst sharing a glass of wine and a nibble with us. It was convivial, fun and hopefully mutually beneficial.

We established some good friendships and clients in those times, some of whom we still work with and now even with some of their children

Times have changed, we had two children and moved out to a larger home nearby, but the demands of a young family with weekend sports, recreation and activities took their toll on our being able to be at the shop. However we then we found the wonderful Odette who opened and ran the shop on Saturdays for over 20 years, before retiring when we gutted and renovated the building and shop last year.

She will be so hard to replace and we have been taking our time thinking about who would be perfect and what their job description will be, as we probably need somebody with some internet savvy and maybe photographic skills to help keep us alive and relevant in the 21st century. But primarily they will need to revive and develop the legacy of our traditional Saturday opening.

In the meantime, we sincerely apologise to all for the inconvenience of our having been closed on Saturdays since the beginning of 2015. We promise this will be rectified in due course and we will let all on our mailing list know when it changes back.

In the meantime, as our Exhibition is running over the next two weeks, we will be open from 10.00am - 4.00pm this Saturday 7th and next Saturday 14th May.

Like the old days, I will be here and open all day this Saturday and will have a little bread, cheese and wine to share with anyone who happens to drop by.

The building may have been renovated, but we hope that the spirit remains the same.

 

09 March 2016

ESCAPE

Naïve and primitive art have been enjoying a renaissance in interest and a rapidly rising profile over recent years.

Critics, curators and collectors variously claim this is due to its fundamental unpretentious integrity, that its bold graphics and limited palette have been a source of inspiration to some twentieth century artists and that its raw untutored style is a refreshing escape from contemporary concepts and ideologies.

Personally, I think it is because it is simply human, it is art that people can feel and relate to. It makes them smile.

Much of the subject matter is not carefully observed, but is painted or executed from an understanding or familiarity, or even as Alfred Wallis said, “painted from memry”.

In our Annual Exhibition, we aim to celebrate what is now popularly known as Folk Art and gather together works by little known unrecorded “artists”, alongside completely anonymous works, in a variety of media.

We source and select them visually, looking for that individual quality that somehow defines them as special, the very quality that has helped them survive through several, even multiple generations.

The execution, materials and techniques are varied, yet there is often the feeling that the artists had a relationship with their subjects.

Like unself-conscious children making images of their homes, parents, siblings and pets, they use assumed information of scale and relationship. They ignore studied observation, viewpoints and perspective to show what they want to be seen, they exaggerate and imagine.

So we see homes, children, agricultural animals and pets, food, landscapes, pubs, churches, trophies of hunting and fishing. Images of subjects the artists knew and cherished, which they could enhance and escape to.

Escape is such an important element of art, as it excites imagination and makes memories, it is not tangible, it’s a feeling, sometimes even a fantasy.

Escape is about getting away from the ordinary every day experience of living and it is no coincidence that horses, carriages, mules, carts, boats, ships and later locomotives were such popular subjects, like art itself they offered a sense of freedom and a means of escape, over land or sea.

Annual Exhibition of Antique Folk Art 5-14th May 2016

 

 

 

 

05 February 2016

Crazy Beautiful

The snow came in gracefully, the breeze was light and the flakes fluttery, but they came and they came…. and they came.

Bustling, brash, bright, busy New York City gradually came to a standstill as nearly three feet of snow settled and piled up over everything.

It began peacefully on the evening of Friday 22nd January, the opening day of the 2016 New York Winter Antiques Show, after two weeks of crashing uncertainty on the world’s stock markets.

In any language, these circumstances did not combine to inspire confidence that the Winter Show would be a massive commercial success, and it possibly wasn’t………...but it was remarkably good.

On the snow ridden Saturday, (traditionally the busiest day of the show, with an average attendance of some 6000 plus visitors), with the city closed to all over-ground traffic, the show management boldly decided to keep the fair open and to welcome any intrepid souls who braved the conditions.
I believe that a total of something just short of 600 were reported to have visited.

The atmosphere was fun, there was a comradery in the hall and of course great tales of how people had made their journeys. The child in all of us was excited by the sheer beauty and drama of it and to witness this hectic, energetic city cloaked in huge billowing clouds of pure virgin white, still and virtually silent……..and yet business was still conducted.

We sold four pieces that Saturday, to three different clients and we were a long way from being alone in our success.

I believe that the show was generally successful. Visitor numbers increased as the snows melted and the second week brought fresh, sunny early spring days. We noted again that vernacular and sculptural works were eagerly sought after by designers, collectors and individual private buyers, but also interestingly that more traditional and formal pieces, of both English and American origin, met with demand and good sales were achieved.

On its own this doesn’t mean very much, as this is the pre-eminent and longest running vetted antiques show in North America, with an established reputation and strong client base, so can be considered as commercial a micro-climate, but it does reflect a shift in taste and dare I suggest “fashion”.

For the first time in its history the Winter Show eliminated their datelines and pieces by modern or living artists, (whose works are represented in multiple museum collections), were allowed to be exhibited and a few new specialist modern and contemporary dealerships, were invited to join the show. It is possible that this drew a slightly new audience to the Park Avenue Armory and it certainly altered the feeling and atmosphere of the show in what we thought was a positive manner.

Respected Art Critic Roberta Smith wrote a long and enthusiastic preview of the show for the Weekend edition of the New York Times for which she kindly selected an inherently primitive vernacular sculpture of ours for the cover photograph and mentioned our stand as one of three “OMG” moments at the 2016 show, which was a considerable compliment and privilege.

Finally on the last weekend Josyane’s flair for creating a composed, balanced and exciting stand was rewarded with the “Most Inspired” Award in the 2016 Booth Design Contest, another huge honour, of which we are very proud.

We enjoyed the trip, were hosted by warm and generous friends/clients, shared conviviality and good food with old friends and conducted successful business in a world that seems to be increasingly interested in the merit and values of vernacular and primitive works and in spite of all the inconvenience it caused, (including delaying Ilse’s return to the UK due to cancelled flights), we loved the snow. It was just so soft and relentless, so deep, white, magical and powerful, simply just crazy beautiful.

 

05 January 2016

“A child of six could do that.”

Is it curious that works classified as “primitive”, “naïve” or “folk art” , created by untrained hands or by artisans, rather than artists, are enjoying wide critical acclaim? No not really.

Great artworks generally share most of the following qualities:

-Originality of composition.

-Experimental use of materials.

-Bold and confident execution.

-An inherent narrative or pathos.

-The unique expression of the hand that created it.

So in a world where we often hear said “A child of six could do that” in relation to prized and sometimes highly priced abstract and contemporary artworks, perhaps we should consider more carefully what an “untrained” hand can and does create.

Great art is about a quality or an indefinable “spirit”, something that touches or moves us, something that speaks in a different, even more powerful way than words.

The market, particularly in the highly charged art collecting world, likes to have names, biographies, authorship, portfolios and catalogue raisonees, built up around its heroes, who were all once unknown.

Contemporary art demands more intuition, “eye” and courage than established works from further back in history. Critics and collectors need to be excited, inspired or moved by new new creations of unsung and as yet undiscovered “masters” and confident enough to back their own judgement as to what is worthwhile or exceptional.

In the endless search for originality in “art”, lines have become blurred. The pushing of boundaries and experiments with concepts have taken “art” into new realms and yet some institutions, critics and collectors are beginning to feel that maybe the “artist” does not necessarily have to have been trained by the art establishment or be part of a movement or moment, because their work can stand alone and speak for itself.

We believe that this is why eyes and interest are turning towards folk, “outsider”, primitive and naïve works, where singular individuality and powerful expression can frequently be found and exciting discoveries made. It is a place where human creativity has been left to breathe freely and allowed to flourish.

 

 

Gallery Tour