Friday, 30 November 2018

Theodore Deck-Ceramic Genius.

Recently the work of one of the most remarkable craftsmen has become sought after again. The appreciation of his work has never wained in the eyes of those who understand the art of the ceramist but here in England we have for so long concentrated on some of the work of rather average makers such as Susie Cooper and Charlotte Rhead. And of course Clarrice Cliff. Though Charlotte Rhead came from an illustrious family of ceramists. The Rheads were indeed a skilled bunch. But there is not many who can compare to the legacy that is left behind by Theodore Deck. (1823-1891)
What he did was de-industrialise the art of the potter running a workshop with around a score of craftsmen. He was inspired by the middle east and his Persian Ware is indeed now highly valued. It may not be clear as to the influence ha had on British ceramics but I see similarities with some of Burmantofts and by far the most important company in the style of the middle East Mintons.
Deck wrote a book called “La Faience”. I must get a copy of this book as I am informed by Peter Hyland that there is detailed technical information.
As a ceramist myself I have a thirst for the information that potters have or did have in the past. I suck this knowledge up, but the skill in interpreting the techniques are a different matter and trial and error is something that I have learned to take with a rather large dose of patience. Having glaze recipes is only half of it.
Josiah Wedgwood was a chemist first and foremost.
Deck's book La Fiaence was read by some of the best Louis Solon who began at Sevre before moving across the channel to Mintons, admired his writings.
Fiance the word derives from the town of Faenza in Northern Italy but Deck thought the word to be clouding the real historical sense of the fact thet the Persians were making fiaence long before the Italians. We now see some of this Persian ware was indeed Turkish, a style now called Iznik. Any type of earthenware decorated with an enamel or coloured glaze was accepted as Fiaence at the time
Deck was born in Guebwiller in the Alsace region of France. This was about 12 miles north-west of Mulhouse at the foot of the Vosges mountains. Mulhouse is the town where Christopher Dresser died. He will always be known for his designs for Mintons. His father Richard was a silk dyer. At secondary school near Belfort Theodore showed a particular love of chemistry. At 17 in 1840 he was forced to return home to Guebwiller to continue the family silk dyeing business along with his brother Xavier.
It didn't work out and he left for Strasbourg where he became a stove-makers apprentice.
Cast Iron stoves covered in ceramic tiles were commonplace in France and Germany. In the crowded marketplace the need to make something functional stand out was paramount to selling ones wares. He learned from his mentor Hugelin the art of using different coloured clays to inlay tiles. This style was kown as Saint Porchaire.
He was not to be kept still in the evenings he studied sculpture with Andre Friedrich.
He recalled how he had been fascinated by a painted terracotta figure he had seen on a school trip to Switzerland and when he asked who made it he was told “A potter”.
He must have liked the sound of this.
He went on his own in 1844 at the age of 21. The art of the stove maker was to travel and show off his work and he was noticed by manufactures who wished to employ him as he travelled through Germany learning local skills and styles along the way.
He made his way to Vienna where he made large stoves to for the Palace of Schonbrunn. He then went on to Budapest, Prague, even Berlin.
In 1847 he returned to France and began to work for Madame Vogt one of the leading stove makers. In 1848 work stopped at the factory when the Second Republic began. He retrned to Guebwiller and set up a small atelier to make vases and decorative objects, oh and stoves. It didnt work out too well for him and in 1851 he returned to Paris where Loius Napoleon had quietened down the unrest.
Madame Vogt's daughter Madame Dumas was his next employer where Deck became foreman. The Exposition Universalle of 1855 saw the Dumas factory exhibiting mosaic tile panels in many colours.
Mintons also exhibited that year with their “earthenwares and stonewares enamelled or glazed majolica. Deck would have seen these. He may also have found out that Minton had been developing low coloured glazes applied to earthenware body creating their majolica. Herbert Minton had seen Palissy ware on a visit to Rouen in 1849. Leon Arnoux had joined Minton in 1849 and became Art Director.
In 1856 he ventured out again with the help of his brother Xavier set up a new atelier at 20, rue Fontaine-au-Roi relocating to Boulevard Saint Jaques eventually moving from stove facings to ornamental ceramics and figures.
Had that school trip stayed with him all these years.
The Henry Deux had been mastered by Deck during his training and it was re-adopted.
The style was based on 16th century book binding designs. The potter Avisseau also reproduced this style that was taken up in the 1860's by Charles Toft at Minton.

He showed his creations at the 1861 Salon des Arts et Industries of 1861 and then the London International Exhibition of 1861. He displayed a copy of a 107cm high piece that was known to be in the Alhambra Palace in Spain before 1400. This vase is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, acquired shortly after.
He was now firmly rooted in the middle east for his inspiration. Publications were now being made available showing drawings of Islamaic decorative stylles.
Recuil de dessins pour l'art et l'industrie by Orientalist Adalbert de Beaumont it was reissued 20 years later in 1859.
Owen Jones Grammar of Ornament would have been available to him in Paris.
It had reproductions of Arabian decoration and design.

The 1862 Exhibition saw him well received.
After moving rue de Vaugirirard in Paris.
1867 saw the more experienced Deck show off his technical quality that had been improving all the time.
He now employed trained Paris Salon artistes we in Britain would be less familiar with these artistes such as Jean Louis Hamon and Joseph-Victor Ranvier who painted in a Neo-Grec style. Ranvier would become his chief artist.
Felix Braquemond had worked for Criel Sevres and Haviland.
The artistic director of Christophle & Cie known for their gold and silver work, Emile Reiber supplied Deck with various shapes.
Proceeds from a piece of “collaboration” was always divided equally between Deck and the artist. Solon called this an “unprecidented collaboration.”
Solon published The History and description of Old French Faience in 1903.
In it he accounts Deck tells us the conditions were far from a sweatshop but were most ideal. He says the gatherings of artists of the Bohemian persuasion all gathered anxious to see the results of the last firing.
The V&A acquired several more objects and his reputation was growing wildly. His work often showed semi-clad nymphs some of which show a foretaste of W. S Coleman's work for Minton.
It is not known if the artists influenced each other but Colin Minton Campbell Director of Minton appointed Coleman in 1871 and was known to admire Deck's work.
Mintons were exhibitors in the 1867 Paris Exhibition and he purchased some of Deck's work, for his own collection.
He was offered the chance to half share (without any capital) in a pottery he planned to Leeds.
Deck preferred to stay in Paris and declined.
Could this wealthy industrialist be John Holroyd who in 1863 bought the firm of Wilcox & Co Sanitary Ware near Leeds and in 1870 expanded the factory to trade as Burmantofts Pottery.
Burmantofts came close to Decks Persian ware it is an interesting thought what might have been.
He continued to experiment some of his shapes were now becoming Chinese in inspiration with naturalistic designs on white ground. His move into high fired porcelain in 1868 became cost pro-hibitive and were discontinued.
Deck stood in Municipal elections in Paris just after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War which saw the siege of Paris. Armistice was signed in 1871 but at this time Alsace was taken over by Prussia. He decided to stay French as many Alsatians did.
In 1873 he scored notable success in Vienna being awarded Medalion d'Honnneur.
This is when Edmond Lachenal was mentioned prominantly on his stand.
Edmond would go on to found his own factory. His son Roaul would continue his work through the 30's into a more geometric style.
Deck now had a shop close to the Grande Opera on Rue Halevy.
So it was the period we now call Aesthetic Movement that saw a seed change in styles and inspiration came from all over the world not just the middle east and new artists and industrialists were always looking to exploit the prevailing taste. This melting pot of design was being formed and it is easy to look back now and talk about it in sequence, but at the time a movement was in force that could not be stopped and wealth was available to purchase. History was, literally being made.
It was said in contemporary account published in the Pottery Gazette that his pottery “stands tranquil and as silent in its radiant garden as if its gay creations were all the work of magic”.
Round furnaces were noted and the Director kept the composition of the green-grey Deck Clay secret.
In La Faience he says he could not give fixed formula's on Faience body as it depended on locality.
The Gazette reporter was in no doubt to the overall quality of the enamel, meaning of course the glaze saying. “Extroadarily lustrous, reflecting the light from every protruding boss angle, and curve, as if from burnished glass”.
Deck's love of chemistry enabled him to write with fluidity but merely reading about it does not give a craftsman the level of skill he had. You have to do it.
All potters should bow down to the techniques laid down by Deck.
Many of his glaze recipes are printed in his book but as previously stated that's only half of replicating his work.
By 1887 many other companies had formulated their own Persian Blue but it was thought it was derived from inspiration of Theodore Deck.
Long before I know Le Bleu Deck I knew Lachenal Blue from my buying trips to France.
I have an unavoidable attraction to its distinctive velvet sheen. I did not notice so much at first the patterns of deck mixing these in my mind with traditional Iznik pieces. I have purchased pieces by Lachenal that may have been from Deck's own atelier by style.
I do not own La Fiaence yet but the inspiration from which I choose to write, is from the well researched account of Deck's work by Peter Hyland for the Northern Ceramics Society Journal Volume 33.
Peter writes about Deck's move into Gold ground inspired by seeing the mosaics in St marks in Venice where he exhibited in 1873.
He tells us how he mixes glaze and creates lustre, texture and even the way he applies. Yes if it was that easy.
The 1880's sees more of his Chinese ware accompanied by Japanese.
In 1878 Deck was nominated Officier de la legion d'Honneur.
In 1880 he exhibited a flambe glaze by a reduction firing.
Sevres were conduction flambe experiments by official ministry. The Commission de Perfectionment that had been set up in 1872 described Deck's 20 exhibits as remarkable and unforgettable.
In 1887 he was offered the post of Art Director at Sevres on the departure of Charles Lauth at the age of 64. He felt he had to accept even with ill health.
Xavier his brother was entrusted with the day to day running of production.
Deck, a practical man found it hard to cope with the tradition and management structure at Sevres. The aftermath of Lauth's departure saw him caught up in the middle of politics at Sevres.
He was accused of using his postion to enhance his own factory, but he stook at it exhibiting his Grosse Porcelaine in the 1889 Exposition Universalle.
He died in May 1891. His remarkable brother Xavier continued the business and exhibited at London's Grafton galleries in 1893, in Paris 1896 and in Brussels 1897, all with success.
Without Deck's innovation it did not move with the times into, art Nouveau that cut across Europe at blistering speed. Xavier died in 1904 and the pottery closed. It was demolished two years later.

As a national figure Theodore was given the honour of burial in Montparnasse cemetry where so many of Frances cultural innovators were buried.
In 2013 he was featured on a postage stamp.
Decks gravestone was designed by Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the statue of liberty. It incorporated faience panels in Deck Bleu and was inscribed 'erpuit coelo lumen'-translated it reads.
“He snatched the light from the heavens”.
The headstone was encrusted with a portrait medallion by Ferdinand Levillian.
There were other potters of course but they must all acknowledge Theodore Deck.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Parlons Francais by Paul Iribe-Piece of the Week.

I bought this, what I could call, historic document some 20 years ago, possibly 1998, on a street market in the town of Orleans France.
 Those were exciting times, Britain had only just joined the economic union and customs were opened up so France was a storeroom full of Art Deco that I could use to generate stock with a more classic line than some of what could be called more average British design.
I was over in France at least once a month. 
We had to eat out all the time and of course you have to have a glass of wine with your meal while there. Y'know perks of the job. We roughed it a bit but it was enjoyable. there were hardly any tourists then. Before the cheap no frill airlines invaded.
Somehow or other this book has stayed with me all this time. 
I recall the morning I bought it well.
 I had slept in the van the night before, on the front seat,  with Colin the window rattler who snored his head off in the back of the van. I woke up more tired than when I went to sleep.
The early bird catches the worm, and all that.
It was also the day that I found an original Hispana Suiza car mascot in good condition.
That I sold to a local motor museum in Mouldsworth. 
I wish I still had that too, its very rare and the more they have been reproduced the more valuable the original has become. James still has it too. When he closed the museum down he showed me it.
He knew he had something rare he kept it for his own collection.

This colourful printed folio of designs, I was surprised to find, was by Paul Iribe.
 The idea for the publication had been suggested by Maurice Constantin-Weyer and printed in Paris.
Knowing some of the work of Paul Iribe who was an all round designer of furniture fashion and art, it went against the grain of his work. I was confused initially.
It was angry and and had a real punch to it.
Then I thought, well wouldn't you be angry.
 It was published in 1934 and the first hundred copies were kept for the artist. Now, I say its called Parlons Francais which is ironic because I did not speak very good French myself and missed the point initially. That it is called Parlon Francais and not Parle Francais.
Yes here it seems, Paul Iribe is speaking for the French in his mind.
1934 was a mere 15 years after the treaty of Versailles which was signed in 1919 the year after the cessation of the conflict of the First World War that saw so many of his compatriots die.
I have not done any research about whether the artist was there in the trenches, but he was definitely there in spirit.
 The language of the art with its captions is vitriolic and holds no punches.
 It is hard to imagine now today, with the vile comments on social media becoming commonplace, but here in 1934 this is about as strong as you could get.
And from a man who designed ladies clothes, who was in fact at one time the partner of Coco Chanel. 
It opens up another side to the man who designed the famous Nautilus Chair, examples of which are on view at The Waldorf, New York.
 Many other examples of his designs make small fortunes when they appear in the, usually, upper class salerooms.
So this was a man with sensitive desires to furnish the stately modernist Ocean Liners that traversed across the Atlantic.
That were sponsored by the State, The Republic of France.
And yet here he was in 1934, counting the cost of the First World war and it looks to me, projecting the death that was about to befall his country in 1939, some five years after its publication when the Nazis invaded.
This is a man who was not scared to upset the establishment.
I don't understand all the Parle or recognise a lot of the named and shamed but I know enough to see that he was fuming with rage.
 Rage at the people who were trusting the Nazi regime when they were about to cross the borders, once again, and this time make it all the way to Paris.
I am not looking any further into the history of the war time occupation, of France. 
I don't have the time in my head this week as the 100 year anniversary of the end of hostilities comes about this next week. It is a sad time to reflect.
I will be too busy remembering those fallen and some of those that fought, I knew.
 My Grandfather was there. Last year I remembered Passchendaele and those I did not know.
 I have spoken to many who have now sadly passed. But I will not forget them. Forthey sacrificed themselves so we could be free. And speak freely.
While wars still rage I will take a short time to think about those who warn of the dangers ahead. 
Paul Iribe was one of those.
 I respect the memory of what he did and sometime I will find my way into looking into the interesting, brave predictive, strong character that was Paul Iribe.
He unlike so many others these days was also bold enough to put his name to his words and sign this copy right above the French tricolour on the frontispiece.
I feel proud to have a link back to this man who told the truth and was not afraid. Parlon Francais.

It appears to me to be a historical document. Lest we forget. At our peril.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Joseph Hoffman Die Fledermaus Chair-Piece of the Week.

Stained Beech Bent and solid wood frame. Turned legs.
This is a chair with balls.
Designed 1905-08 by Joseph Hoffman for the cafe at the  Caberet Fledermaus which opened in October 1907 in Vienna  .

Fledermaus translated simply means flying mouse, or Bat.

Its wickedly simple construction makes this chair, one of the most influential designs of the early 20th century.

Noted as model no 728 in J & J Kohns furniture catalogue.

It is hard to now believe that this piece of early modernism was made during the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts period. One Hundred years ago.
Its simple construction lends it to mass production, something that both Thonet and Jacob and Joseph Kohn were the predominant manufacturers of. 
They were always on the look out for interesting shapes and at the time of putting this chair into production and were largely responsible for making affordable furniture for the masses.

Gerbruder Thonet had put into production Model no14 in 1859. This chair is still in production today.
I have sold several Model no 1 which was manufactured in 1866 and this rocking chair still seems worthy of a trendy loft apartment today originally manufactured with its woven cane seat and back into its solid and bentwood frame. 
Chair design also owes a debt of gratitude to the wrought iron semi cantilevered chair that was shown at the great exhibition of 1851. Thought to have been designed by R.W. Winfield & Co it still has a deep buttoned upholstery seat and arm pads that sat on a slatted frame. 
This was being produced, in a slightly altered guise in Germany by L & C Arnold and it must have influenced many.
The construction of chairs was altered by fashion and at the turn of the 20th century simplicity was required in certain circles and this was a democratisation of furniture bringing simple style into the homes of many.
While Louis Majorelle and Galle were making works of art in solid mahogany with gilt mounts and exhibiting them to an international audience. The quiet revolution was taking place.
When Marcel Beuer designed B33 in 1927 made from tubular steel with a simple leather seat it was manufactured by the progressive company Gebruder Thonet in Frankenberg from 1929.
 It is still being manufactured today.
Would there have been a Bauhaus without Joseph Hoffman? Probably not. 
Palais Stoclet designed by Hoffman was a turning point in architecture for many.
Hoffman met Charles Rennie MacKintosh in 1902 and the combustion of ideas from two continents certainly fuelled the fire in the bellies of the Wiener Werkstatte of Vienna. Hailed as a genius by the Viennese. MacKintosh would die largely a forgotten man in his own country but be held as a everlasting beacon of hope in Europe.
The Die Fledermaus chair was originally painted white and these original chairs now command a kings ransom but this version is shown in a 1916 sales catalogue for J& J Kohn as model no 728.
This is a chair with balls. 
Something that along with the chequer board motif was Hoffmans trade mark. 
He would come to be know as square Hoffman.
And it works in all its variations of the theme its simple decoration, less is more is now proving ever more popular with a new generation who seem to have abandoned the past, wanting it only in limited quantities.
This chair, one of a pair has an original label underneath that says THONET MUNDUS. Mundus were a manufacturer and merged with  J & J Kohn in 1914 to furnish the growing sales of the company.
Thonet merged with Mundus in 1921
The original fabric is very interesting it appears to be a design that Gustav Klimt could have done, or was it a general swirl that he adopted from what was around him. Klimt was an original member of the Weimer Werkstatte.
This design has now taken on legendary status.
When you say museum quality.
I sold a exacting pair to The Walker art Gallery along with a side table some time ago.
I held this pair back. 

Its now time to let them go and let someone else have the pleasure of them.

 The pair are in original condition bearing Thonet Mundus-Borlova labels to the underside. 

Price £3750 for the pair.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Littlewoods Goes Up In Flames. I Am Gutted.

It seems a long time ago now, 2002 or so when I found that there was a planning application to demolish The Littlewoods Building on Edge lane.
This seemed a stupid idea to me.
 It was a landmark building.
An Art Deco building straddling Botanic Gardens looking like a giant ocean liner on the crest of a green wave.
A landmark for the city.
It survived the blitz but would it survive the North West Development Agency who now took it into their portfolio.
 This was dangerous times for the whole rundown area.
Where would it be without a focal point.
I kicked into gear and ran a press campaign to save it. I felt I was qualified to express my opinions to the style of architecture being a specialist in the Art Deco period, a period still undervalued and I made an application to list it.
The application was supported by the C20 society with special help from the late Gavin Stamp, a real champion of Liverpools heritage.
I got their support and the support of SAVE Britain's Heritage who were in the same building in Cowcross Street London at the time.
Through frantic last minute negotiations I managed to get the ear of the then Council leader Mike Storey who was also a board member Liverpool Land company and we managed to get the prowess of the structure recognised as important.
Then I found out English Heritage would not list it.
I have lost count how many time those English Heretics have hindered the saving of a structure. Though there have been successes.
I recall as the only objector to the Museum of Liverpool at The Pier Head pleading with the planning committee in 2005 to reject the scheme, and telling them, here, in Edge Lane, this was the perfect building for a museum, a ready made structure.
“Why does the city centre get it all” I asked “Surely the people of Edge lane deserve the chance”. I cried. “This would kick start the regeneration that was long overdue”. They did not listen.
Piloti writing in Nooks and Corners for Private Eye took up the cause and give me some valuable print. The Daily post and in particular Peter Elson gave it pages of airtime. The public seemed to love this building and got behind the campaign. Letters appeared in the press and it was agreed by the council that it was a important local landmark.
Mike Storey and his council put out a call for ideas and the need to create a scheme that would work and it was announced that Urban Splash had won and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Then nothing happened and the recession crept in.
Then that scheme was dropped then there was a foolish announcement to turn it into a school.
Nothing happened. Other schemes came and went and nothing happened.
Recently there has been a lot of emphasis on filming the city. Even though most of the films have been low grade rubbish there a big ideas and it was announced that this building would become “A huge complex that'll be a breeding ground for the best creative talents in the UK”.
I had a real sense of pride in helping to save the landmark and silently inside I was so proud of spending my time in effort for no financial return but for the love of my city.

Well all that work now looks a waste of time and any scheme to regenerate the area now looks in doubt after a fire has raged through the structure leaving it gutted.
I am gutted too. I drove over to see the building being engulfed last night,  as soon as I received a text from Peter Elson. It was heartbreaking.
The fire starting on the 2nd September at 7 o'clock, it took several hours to bring under control and when I saw the fire it looked as if the building that survived the blitz Militant and 20 years of decay has been finally wrecked by the years of inactivity. Twenty years it has been laying there empty. While a fortune of European Objective One Funding totalling near a billion pounds there was no money for the first landmark you see driving into the city at the end of the M62.
So now what for the Littlewoods Building. Lets hope they don't clear the site and build student flats, that would be a crime. Actually who started the fire?
Some serious enquiries need to be made. There were several outbursts of anger around the fire last night with questions being asked, just as to how the tragic fire started. Some asking how this fire started. 
Just weeks after it was announced that Channel 4 would not be bringing their news headquarters to Liverpool. Very Strange indeed.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Tiffany Favrile Bowl-Piece of the Week.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was born (1848-1933) into wealth.

He was a gifted painter in his younger years. 
He was also an architect,designed furniture, textiles, wallpaper and rugs. He worked in Bronze, silver, wrought iron, wood ceramics and silver.
But he is mostly known for glass.
“I have always striven to fix beauty in wood or stone, or glass or pottery, in oil or watercolour, by using whatever seemed fittest for the expression of beauty; and I see no reason to change it.”
He expressly refrained from imitating by striving for a new medium.
“God has given us our talents not to copy the talents of others, but rather to use our brains and our imagination in order to obtain the revelation of true beauty.”
He searched also for new technical inventions that could help him with his restless ideas.

The son of Harriet and Charles Lewis Tiffany, New York. He was the founder of Tiffany & Co a purveyor of jewelry silver objects and timepieces.
 That name had become a byword for luxury and craftsmanship. Opening in 1837 by the 1870's his Fifth Avenue store became the place where presidents would buy gifts for royalty and heads of state. By 1900 they had 1,000 employees around the world.
Louis showed no interest in joining the family firm instead he went to Eagleswood Military Academy in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. 
In 1865 he toured Europe. 
While in London he visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Roman and Syrian glass made a monumental impression on him. 
This same museum now has a collection of Tiffany Glass. 
On return to New York he enrolled in the National academy of Design and exhibited, in 1867 paintings that were inspired by his European travels.
He worked alongside George Innes (1825-1895). He was part of The Hudson River School. 
They both enjoyed a love of nature.
Innes had a dialogue with the Babizon school of painters who worked near Fontenbleau.
Tiffany went back to Europe in 1868 where he met Leon-Charles-Adrien but could not work within his strict regime. He then met Leon-Adolphe-Auguste Belly (1827-1877) who was a painter in the exotic and orientalist style and exhibited at the Salon.
On return to New York he met Samuel Colman at the Century Club. 
While travelling separately they met in Granada and decided to travel on to Egypt and Africa together.
Morocco, Tangier where he painted the Souks. then to Tunisia and Egypt they often painted the same subjects.
He began to love Islamic art and started collecting glassware and other objects. These pieces would lead to later inspiration. He took photographs and would use these later to recall his influences. 
1878 would see him exhibiting street scenes of New York at the Paris Exhibition Universalle of 1878.
He received many awards and showing his work at 27 different exhibitions by the age of 21.
 He formed the society of American Artists along with John Singer Sargent and James McNeil Whistler. He realised his lack of classical training would always hinder him and his vast wealth gave him the opportunity to follow a avenue less crowded where those with more skills would outshine him. 
His works of this period is now valued for its skill and approach and highly valued.
His acquired sense of colour and his experiences would lead him into creating glass.

Industrialisation would give new opportunities and the demand for luxury items to fulfil the ambitions of the new rich industrialists led him to draw on his fathers reputation.
He formed a Interior design company that lasted for four years. He would encompass many variations of design and was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and in particular William Morris who was enlightening the world to medieval design and craftsmanship.
Art Nouveau, was the breath of fresh air that filled his lungs.
Tiffany would be inspired by art nouveau and its principle designers but would look to nature for his own special style. In 1882 he had received a commission from President Arthur who was a New Yorker to redecorate the Whitehouse where he would install a three part glass screen to separate the public and private areas. 
Twenty years later Theodore Roosevelt would remodel the Whitehouse again. This time in a Neo-Classical style.
He and his associates decorated houses for some of the most wealthy people including Andrew Carnegie Cornellius Vanderbilt II and the writer Mark Twain. He split with his associates in 1883 and was free to explore his own independent projects.

He loved old glass and the way minerals in the soil had effected the glass when buried for ages. Glass that dated back to 1450 BC from Egypt was often thought as the earliest and Syrian glass blowing using a hollow pipe was invented in the 1st century B.C. Glass is mentioned alongside gold and precious stones in the bible as a precious commodity. 
In the mentioning these treasures, only glass is made by hand.
Tiffany would go on to form a reputation that has not been equalled.
This small bowl infused with blue and greens is only 5inches wide. But a object of exceptional beauty.

Part One: more to follow soon.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Is India Buildings About To Be Butchered by The HMRC.

 Despite there appearing to be some level of secrecy, I can confirm that the beautiful travertine marble arcade is to be butchered with holes whacked in it all over show. Maybe four of them.
There is a big risk to the architectural integrity Holts Arcade.
 Liverpool's famous architect, of repute, Herbert Rowse must be turning in his grave.
15 years ago I was so proud. I had found a bronze plaque, the original, with detailing that reflected India Buildings class. It was cast to commemorate the sacrifice of those that lost their lives in the Great War. That worked for Alfred Holt and Company. After lots of consternation and a word with the owners of India Buildings at the time the pedantic building manager agreed to erect it in the arcade.  Though it had originally been outside Holts Offices it now seemed the fitting place. And it was set on the marble.
I would cry every year at 11 o'clock on the 11th November when the old Holts Line and Blue Funnel employees would gather and it would become a focal point. Not just to remember Holts employees but all those who fell so we could be free, so we could speak our mind. Be free.
They are now going to twat a hole right through where it hangs. There is no other way to say it. The HMRC, I overheard don't want it there. They want it lost, again. 
There is something magical about this arcade. The dimensions are just right. Its Classical perfection. 
It is as perfect as you can get.
Some years ago I asked the c20 Society if they would put their weight behind upgrading its listing status.
 Gavin Stamp one of the countries leading heritage fighters, who Liverpool will sadly miss, backed me.
He was a past Chairman of C20society and put his weight behind it. After a lot of work by Clare at C20society  English Heritage upgraded it from Grade II to Grade II*.
That seemed to be a protection jacket wrapped around it. To save its integrity for future generations.
Yet it now seems this wont stop it escaping the grubby paws of this current crop of unsophisticated developers and the HMRC.
You know it makes me sick to my back teeth when we do all that work to put it beyond ruination and then the place will still get wrecked
In many of my heritage battles I have often thought myself akin to David fighting Goliath and this bunch really are Philistines.
They say they have employed heritage experts. 
Well they cant be that clever or experts if they are in on this grubby little deal. Some people don't have the integrity to call themselves experts if they don't understand what heritage means.
 They take the coin to do what they are paid for, not what should be done. 
And the architects are Falconer Chester Hall. It couldn't be worse. Well it could Stiles and Wood got the contract....after they put in the lowest price.
They were talking at one time about polishing all the bronze shopfronts.
To make them look like brass. Lose all the patina.
Money, money, money that's all this new lot seem to be interested in.
There are some things that just need to be left alone. One is Holts Arcade.
I fought the last lot, Green Property, (see Private Eye 1229 above) and their ideas to close part of the arcade.
But to no avail they had all the power and did nothing to make lettings happen. India Buildings went into further decline, they were letting the tenants leave the building with regular abandon.
They needed to empty it out. Mike Tapp of Green Property advised me that they see the future as a whole letting. Open offices and a call centre. That where the money was. John Lee from CBRE had told them so. 
So we watched its decline.
Like being strangled slowly every day they would let another tenant leave.
The building, they said was 75% let when they took it over after it was repossessed by the banks and the biggest fraudster in British history Achileas Kalakis did time.
So I was about to close up and a new lot bought the buildings. Things looked up. We would see a couple of people walking round and clung on a bit longer. Lawrence Kenwright was in the running for India Buildings and I have to say I did not think he had the skill to restore it. It was bought by a British Virgin Islands offshore company. Then the HMRC were interested. 
 Or was there a bit more to it than that? Then they began threatening me. bullying everyone, and they offered me a relocation terms and it was time to move.
Then they behaved like type and shafted everyone around me and I knew it was the wrong thing to do.
I could not have held on any longer, the centre of gravity of the business district had changed.
Then the Philistines shafted me.
But this now gives me a chance to go back. To carry out some unfinished business, because I always regretted not doing more to alert the public to the vandalism that was about to begin. 
I have to be honest I thought I had been abandoned by the public. 
My business is personal to me and I take all things personal. Its my life its not a business.
If I had of been doing it for money I would have gone back into property. I had packed that business in a long time ago, but was afraid I would end up, well like the Philistines that then owned me.
 I am ashamed I let them take me for a ride.
Come back Lawrence Kenwight all is forgiven.
This lot have now closed the beautiful arcade to the public and the Arcade will never open again, which is Grade II* listed in its own right, and the shops are to be offices.
And Liverpool City Council are complicit. Sort of partners in slime really.
The dodgy building manager used to go past shouting out, “All these are going to be offices” he would say and I just got angry inside.
But now its time to say it loud.
I am ashamed of myself that I did not put up more of a fight up.
I am also ashamed that I did not make more of arguing against it.
The local press had changed it seems all about twitter now and to be honest even though I was critical of the last lot of journalists they now seem great intelectuals compared to these new kids on the twitter feed block.
It was always easy to persuade Peter Elson as to the merits of history and heritage because he felt it too.
The city council planners have been given delegated planning powers over India Buildings.
A Grade II* listed building.
This means they can do virtually what they want.
The owners and there is now another company involved India Buildings Development Ltd, with a liability of £100. Check them out at Companies House. Theres a few characters there. That the HMRC are doing business with.
It stinks. So after they have shafted me I am now free to shout it from the 8th Floor.
 This is the worst thing that could have happened to India Buildings.
I admit it I was wrong and I should have done something about it.

But where were all the people to help. To complain about the right of way being stubbed out, like The Ramblers. I phoned them once and this bloke just went on, and on and on, and on, so I put the phone down.
I cant do it alone is there anyone out there that cares about this amazing heritage asset. In the World Heritage Site. (will may lose the WHS status this June, when the UNESCO World Heritage committee meet).
The Friends Of India Buildings.
The HMRC unions are up in arms about this move.
The Bootle Strand will be decimated.
The area of Water Street will be re-invented. But will this be Plastic Town and not Liverpool the city that used to have character. That is until London, investors with no real links to the city were touted by Mr Anderson and smoothed along by the likes of Gary Millar and Nick Small.

It could be the usual David amongst The Philistines, but y'know I have a sling and I am going to have a fight. Better late than never. Its that time.

Please if anyone with genuine interests can help please don't hesitate to contact me.
Its time to fight them on the beaches.

And I Dreamt That I Dwelt In Marble Halls. No More. Holts Arcade Is About To Be Butchered.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Antiques Roadshow 2018 Valuation Days and Venues.

Antiques Roadshows 2018

Bring along your family heirloom or that little something you have always wanted to know a bit more about for a valuation by a member of the Antiques Roadshow team.
Why not just come along for a great day out.
I will be present at The Piece Hall Halifax Sunday 8th July, Erddig Wrexham Thursday 26th July and Media City Salford Thursday 30th August and I am so looking forward to it.