Michael has been around a long time, I first met him at Greenwich town hall 20 years ago, and so I had a bit of trust for his judgement.
How wrong can you be?
Richard Ginori are a company that have made quality ceramics for centuries and their collaboration period with Gio Ponti is a period that I admire. This was a golden period in the history of the company in my opinion. They combined fresh wonderful design with the quality of the reputation that they upheld.
I must say I had a reservation about the quality when I saw the pictures.
Trust and auctioneers is something I keep on forgetting is non-existent.
But I gave the benefit of the doubt to Jeffrey, as this is what he does for a living. There is a good possibility that he had seen more of this genre than I.
He used o work for a major London auction house.
The auctioneer’s job is to look after the seller. So I do as much as I can to mitigate my purchases.
I think it is slight of hand when the cataloguer knows that something is damaged and does not give a condition report willingly so on this occasion I requested said report and received a glowing recommendation as to its worth.
I looked at the catalogue description. A Richard Ginori earthenware vase designed by Gio Ponti.
It even pointed to comparable auction records from Sotheby’s
If Jeffrey had have stood on the steeple of Salisbury Cathedral and shouted.
‘This is Gio Ponti vase’ it could not have been clearer that he was knocking this out as a genuine article. He wrote the script himself.
See picture to right.
Should I buy some Royal Mail shares or a Gio Ponti I thought there is a clear 300 quid profit in the shares but as ever I prefer art and I would make a bid.
I bought it online as per Woolley’s recommendation covered legally by the description. It was not after or from the circle of it was A Richard Ginori designed by Gio Ponti.
I was thrilled to be successful bidders I have hardly seen any Ponti never mind own one.
It was the fact that I got it for £700 that sent a few alarm bells ringing. But I knew I was covered by the catalogue description.
Someday you get busy others you don’t so when I had time I started my research, a little late, granted, and slowly came back down to earth.
I was even more concerned as I had been inspired by one of Ponti’s designs for a vase of my own. So if I can paint t someone else can.
So I asked Colin my friend what he thought and we set out to do a bit of research together.
I wanted to take a back seat so I don’t look too deeply into it.
In no time at all, he did, what Wallis and Gromit should have done.
“Not sure Wayne I think its fake” he proclaimed.
‘How dare the Woolleybacks of Salisbury try to sell me a fake’ I thought
Now it’s my turn so I contacted Ginori and they said quite clearly this is no one of theirs.
Jeffrey phones me talking about the tone of my email telling him he had tried to knock me out a fake.
“How do you know?” he said
“I contacted Ginori”
“Oh right” his attitude changed completely.
I didn’t call him a disgrace to his profession or claim he was trying to extort cash under false pretences.
“Can you send me the correspondence?” he asked
“No” I replied
Left an original Gio Ponti Vase by Ginori.
It makes you feel a bit stupid when this happens “Do they think I am a bit woolly around the ears”
Selling fake C.D’s is a punishable offence. Selling fake Louis Vuitton bags will land you in jail.
At least you know where you are when you go around a dodgy market.
Can Ginori seize this vase as it could damage the credibility of the company and its heritage for absolute quality?
It is not a vase by them
Could Woolley and Walls be reported to the Police?
But when the air of credibility is misleading well it could be said that this is a purposeful action. Well it fooled me this time.
At least you know when a robber is mugging you.
I know we all make mistakes but in this instance it took me 10 minutes to do what Michael Jeffrey should have done. I would like to know why he did no research.
I contacted the trading standards who duly visited them.
I think he will be a bit more careful with his descriptions from now on. I will keep my eye on them.
I will not trust his judgement again and I don’t think you should either.
Should Auctioneers be regulated?
Should the-saleroom.com be checked over in more detail?
It seems an age ago when they came in to film. I received a call from STV who produce the programme who told me that it was due to go out this Friday.
It will either be very funny, Edwina Curry buying a corset in my shop that I didn’t even know I had. Will I ever be able to show my face in public again? I threw in a pair of diamante flapper girl garters, I said flapper girl, garters. See for yourself.
Celebrity Antique Roadtrip Drop In To My Shop To Film......With Edwina Curry.
I decided to open the shop Saturday last 25th May, as there was a massive commemoration to honour the part Liverpool played in the Battle of the Atlantic.
So I get in and put my lights on and a board out in Water Street and my mobile rings.
“Oh hi it’s the BBC we will be with you just after eleven”
“What for” I asked as I didn’t have a clue
“Antique Road Trip”
“Oh right” I said as I realised I didn’t even have a shave and I realised I wasn’t looking my best. Surely they could have let me know and I would have made an effort, but there you go we can manage this lack of oversight that makes the usual lack of planning that the BBC undertake, look efficient.
I found a razor and s destubbled my chin and had a little tidy around. It wasn’t bad and its something I can take care of. It was after 12 and I sent a text to check I have the right day receiving the usual we are a little bit delayed.
I had been going to pen a letter to the Antique Trade gazette complaining how the glut of programmes are not helping the trade when the phone rang some weeks ago.
“Hi Wayne its Celebrity Antique Road Trip we would like to film in your shop”
“Where do you want me?” I said ashamedly capitulating to the power of the media.
Now here I am standing in front of the washroom mirror with a head like a burst couch and a hangover after a late night in Alma De Cuba in Seal Street regretting it.
“Who is the celebrity? “ I had asked and the subject was surprisingly well dodged by Sandy on the other end of my mobile.
It was manic in the streets so I got them into the private garage that was half empty below the building and I went to greet them.
I recognise that face I thought as a woman walked towards me.
“Bloody ‘ell its Edwina Curry” I said under my breath as I greeted them all welcoming them to India Buildings.
Trust my flippin’ luck I thought she must be one of the most hated politicians in Liverpool.
Most Liverpudlians have abandoned her saying she was from Crosby and that’s not really Liverpool. I will just have to get on with it I thought, but I am in for it when this programme goes out.
To commemorate the passing of Lady Thatcher I had a recent antique in the window to show my feelings towards her.
I had been saving it for a special occassion.
Was this now, not looking in good taste or are we going to get into a bit of a ding-dong.
She was quite nice really I was surprised on how pleasant she was as they set up the gear and off we went.
They started looking around in cabinets and behind things and in no time at all “Whats this Wayne,” she said
I couldn’t believe it she had found an old 50’s corset that I had found in the bottom drawer of a cabinet, a Maccassar Ebony buffet and I had forgotten about it.
Trust her, no one has even noticed it before and off she went modelling it while I am standing there thinking I wish I had sent that letter in to the gazzette.
Then she tries it next to me for size to see if it fits.
“I can’t believe I have just let you do that,” I said. Thinking how am I going to retrieve my reputation after this.
Anyway in for a penny I threw in a pair of flapper girl garters that she loved and we were off, here is a cigarette holder while she pretended to blow smoke in my face I just stood there flabbergasted.
I don’t usually do cringe but I must have looked like I had been slapped.
Her and the BBC dealer who was a nice bloke doing his best to control her went off round the shop and we managed to calm her down.
It is a good job I had just moved house splitting with my ex-girlfriends because I wouldn’t be getting in tonight after having Egwina in the shop.
Then to make it worse she is kissing me goodbye on camera.
My god those same lips have been all over John Major I thought as I tried to keep a straight face.
The things you have to do for publicity.
Next thing I am having my photo taken with her and she is going to tweet me will I ever live this down.
I think I will stay closed from now on of a Saturday.
I am going to be in a lot of trouble when this goes out which I think is September.
This week the big con continues when Grayson Perry has been given the option to do the Reith Lecture on the BBC.
Potter or Potherb it should be entitled, but no.
This lecture is called 'Playing to the gallery' and he does!
It seems that all you have to do to get noticed these days, is to be so different that you cause a stir. He talks about the Duchamp Urinal in the lecture.
Perry Grayson, is the modern day equivalent of Duchamps Urinal, and most of the stuff that comes out of her mouth should be squirted into said urinal because its….rubbish in my humble opinion.
Its painful it’s like listening to someone at the pub lashing his mouth off.
Though he does get it right when talking about the Hockney Exhibition at the National Gallery that was rubbish.
Even Hockney’s old art teacher said he was no more than a painter and decorator.
It’s like bringing the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club to an intellectual debate.
Tittering through the audience is all well and good but seems to me there is more to art than turning it into a Carry On film.
Its not that he wears a dress that makes me despise him, it’s that he wears a bad dress that makes him look a twat.
People tell me that he is not a twat and that they like what he has to say.
Well they are the people that he is aiming for the audience that thinks the same as him, or her.
Its like the silly little child in the playground that will do anything to get attention.
So they become a ‘Transister’ on purpose because it gets shock horror.
In the lecture he says that red paintings sell best. You have to admire his audacity to get up there and tell everyone what they already know only they have not had the time in their busy schedule to work out an opinion.
And he supplies opinions, all the time.
He has got more opinions than skill.
He does not have the skill of other potters. In fact he gets them a bad name.
He can’t have any time to throw pots, well he doesn’t throw them he coils them, or someone else does and he decorates them.
All those serious artists who regret not walking round with their wives frock on.
How many potters are sitting there sick that they never thought of it.
How many are listening to BBC4 thinking they could have been famous if they had thought of that.
Never mind spending twenty years at their craft, that means nothing.
All you need is to become famous these days when Tracey Emmin and Damien Hurst are multi millionaires, is to become a big mouthed spout off, get a bowl-head haircut, go down the local charity shop pick a bad dress and a pair of acid green tights, model yourself on Andy Pansy’s girlfriend and you are there, everyone wants to know you.
One of his pots has sold for £100,000 he says he has never made pots for poor people.
If democracy is bad taste how do you account for your success one person asks him and he or she laughs.
It seems to me, that the height of bad taste, has now been accepted, by the very establishment
I bet Pete Burns is annoyed that he never went to pottery classes instead of being lost with no direction.
Next weeks Reith Lecture, by him, unfortunatly, is in Liverpool. And he asks what is art……….apparently.
I often deal with some of the most knowledgeable and professional auctioneers in the antique trade. I have ongoing relationships with auctioneers that spell out their terms and I feel I can rely on them.
I also have to deal with some of the biggest shysters who I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.
It is often the porters, the people who usually run a saleroom, who go unmentioned. These are usually the people I rely on to get a feeling of a place.
Very often not the spiv in a suit who runs it.
The Internet has made it easy for commission merchants to fleece the public.
This combined with the BBC, advertising the salerooms, for cheap entertainment, giving them credibility, on a daily basis.
The public now seem to be of the mindset that an auction house is the source of the goods.
That may often be the case but I am often surprised how the public will often pay more from an auctioneer than the price you would sell it for in a shop….. Then give the commission men 20%.
Most people could not be aware that an auctioneer will get 40%, yes 40% of the hammer price.
That is 20% from the buyer and 20% from the vendor. Some charge more.
They then have the insult to not even wrapping the goods for you.
Most of them don’t even supply bubble wrap.
Many of them belong to trade associations that are no more than sewing circles. That collude to give an air of credibility.
If you look into many of them they are no more better than the fences that some of them represent.
The auctioneers can’t and won’t regulate themselves. It’s too good for them at the moment with the Internet connecting them worldwide.
Why would a saleroom wish to hide the fact that a work of art is damaged?
Yes I know we deal in a trade that has articles that have hundreds of years of wear and tear on them, but really why shouldn’t each lot have a condition report attached to it. Why do they hide behind a caveat emptor of buyer beware.
This is slight of hand in my opinion. Any other trade would be outlawed by society if they were treated the way some auctioneers treat the public.
Back street garages get a bad name, but what about back street auctioneers.
That said I have had particular problems with Bonham’s Chester, no wonder they are closing.
I have also been illegaly overcharged by Sotheby’s, a company most people foolishly believe are squeaky clean.
They colluded with other auction houses to price fix.
The head of major auction houses were even sentenced in the US. Jail was too good for them.
Now many of the Antique trade newspapers have set up sites that enable buyers to bid from the luxury of their own home, via computer.
They have one purpose in mind, to add further charges for themselves.
To add another layer of commission.
Do these web-based vehicles check the credibility of the company that they are representing on the web?
Do we now have middlemen representing middlemen?
Today I ask, “Should auctioneers be regulated”.
So the main person who would benefit would be the buyer.
A saleroom currently has no moral obligation to a buyer as they work for the vendor.
Good commerce achieves good results.
Surely the long-term style of a company keeps the public coming back.
I get contempt from auctioneers, threats of storage charges, hidden fees, terms and conditions hidden away with unworkable contracts that you would never expect in any industry.
Maybe its time to stop this.
In France commissaires priseurs are highly regarded, they have to take exams and be examined by the State for credentials.
Its about time this happened in the UK I think.
I don’t much care for the secondary market in memorabilia.
Autographs and all that sort of stuff don’t do anything for me.
It is sometimes easy to dismiss collectors and their habits. I want bronze.
What is it that we all collect stuff? What drives a stamp collector?
Is it more like a disorder than a vocation? Who am I to say?
Then the other day while on the Internet my finger hovered over the mouse in my right hand and I pressed the button, suddenly I owned an autographed picture of the Liverpool team, from when I do not know it just seemed cheap, so I bought it.
I then wondered whether it was damaged or whether there was something that I had not noticed about it, why did no one bid.
I picked it up and Wow it was the team of…well that’s easier than it looks.
David Fairclough, Ginger, was in there, and I say that with regret because as cruel teenagers that what we used to call him when he watched us playing football on the school playing field next to where he lived. We knew he had trials for Liverpool and how he got his own back on all us horrid little boys the night he scored the goal against St Etienne. It was explosive I had no nails left that night.
Shortly after he came and knocked the ball around on he field, did Davey or Mr Fairclough as we now called him.
He has been in the shop since and I did not own up to it.
Dagliesh or Dog leash as he was called on his testimonial, is there, bottom shelf.
Keegan had left for £550, 000 and they signed Dagleish for £440,000 what a bargain.
Makes the price that Suarez the cannibal is worth look a bit ridiculous. Tommy Smith is not there and he would have battered Suarez the way he has made a fool of the Football club.
I bet any player in the photo would have played for Liverpool for nothing…well except Yozzer Hughes look-alike Graham Souness who was always a bit greedy.
Bill Shankly would have sacked him on the spot.
It’s all about money now.
I claim I am the only one who ever bunked into the Boys Pen…yes into the pen.
It was the deciding match of the season, remember the one that Bill Shankly took off his jacket, and proclaimed, to all, with his red shirt. I am one of you. Leeds United was the big team and we had to break their stranglehold under Don Revie and we did that and took the title.
I had got my place in the Pen, as it was only 20 or 30p or some silly price leaving 10p of my milk round money for a packet of cigs.
I got caught smoking once when the Old Man, who was in the paddock, was watching me.
You would wait for one of the coppers on guard of the lovely little treasures in the Pen to turn the other way or stop someone getting over the 10ft high railings with spikes, and you were off, skimming up and through the gap in the barbed wire that seemed to be left there to entice you to have a go.
He got the end of my leg this time but I was too quick for him as he adjusted his helmet I give him a cheeky grin the other side of the fence.
The game started and it was bad, they used to say the ground held 65,000 but there must have been 80,000 in the ground that day.
I was continually picked up and swirled around as if on a tempestuous sea.
I would be moved yards in one direction, then the other, and the risk was always to ensure you did not get trapped and pushed on to a barrier. It was too much. I was going to chance it.
Off I went up the railings of the boy’s pen stockade and through the wire nicking my collar as I ducked my head through.
There was plod standing there waiting for me…. to throw me back into the Kop, the Spion Kop and all its dangers to a young whip of a kid.
‘What’s he doing’ I thought ‘That’s being a bit too conscientious’.
He seemed to stall, a look of ‘what’s he up to’ on his face.
“Let me in I am getting crushed and he let me in and helped me down. So there was Plod was standing there adjusting his helmet again bemused as nobody had ever thought to bunk into the Boys Pen before.
Jimmy Case is lower left it used to be so funny standing in the Kop and he would get the ball and the Kop would collectively gasp urging him to shoot because he had a shot like a rocket. Then you would see those around the goal start to realise that if he missed they were in the line of fire. You can see it on the old replays sometimes the terrified look on the faces of those behind the goal.
Steve Heighway is there. He and Brian Hall had degrees apparently
Heighway was the youth team coach that brought Steven Gerrard and others through from the Academy. Only to have his services dispensed with by a cocky manager who then buggered off for a bigger payday.
Phil Thompson came to our school once to give an inspiring talk. He tells a great tale of the day after winning The European cup. He had ‘borrowed’ the trophy, and took it to celebrate in the Peacock Pub in Kirkby where they had a lock in.
It took them half an hour to find the cup the next day when they all woke up safely under a table still full of champagne.
Just imagine that today ‘Tommo’ borrows the European Cup for the night.
Sammy Lee is there, he of sheer hard work and determination, he used to drink in Kirkland’s on Hardman Street Saturday nights after the match.
He sank his money into a bar called Rumours on Smithdown Road.
That’s what footballers did then in the days before they featured on the Sunday Times rich List.
Alan Kennedy had a rough ride he died young he was a nice man.
I saw some of his cups and trophies for sale once at Charnick Richard but did not buy them.
There are lots of others in the picture I had better stop now I will be here all day. I am turning into an anorak.
Can anyone date the picture I think the player far right on the top shelf may be a clue as he was only around for a season.
It looks like I have got caught up in this memorabilia myself, what’s happened to me? And with the new book out about Mr Shankly by David Peace, about the life of the inspirational man, entitled Red or Dead, which will be a Birthday present that I hope I get the chance to read.
I was quite pleased to help to put together an exhibition of the amateur potters that work at the Lark Lane Pottery.
It was a short exhibition at Arts Hub 47 on the Lane.
Though it was exhausting, well anything would be when some people turn up to an exhibition that they were not even invited to, not mentioning any names........like David Backhouse.
That said, I thought it went well and gave the ceramists a chance to see some of their wotk out of the constraints of a pottery workshop.
It was done on the tightest of budgets we even borrowed the columns from Hugh Baird who kindly helped with a loan.
People made cakes and all round it was a success helped set up the display.
From little acorns and all that.
I hope it inspires the potters on to bigger things een though it may be a hobby for some. Lets hope its the first of many.
Oh Caravaggio 500 years later you knock the stuffing out of me.
I deal in modern art right, 20thcentury stuff and although I have always respected the old masters. I do see the workmanship and the skills that some of the masters had, as a dying art. I was amazed by Frederic Lord Leighton’s exhibition at the RA some years ago. His Athlete Wrestling a Python at the Walker Art Gallery here in Liverpool has to be one of my all time favourite sculptures, despite it being late 19th century.The Leighton exhibition was viewed the same day as the Cézanne expo, at; perhaps if my memory serves me right, the Tate, it was a long time ago. There was no comparism in my opinion. One was a master the other was an experimentalist. The way the master made a piece of velvet feel as if it was soft to touch, whereas a terracotta urn had a dryness, his painted marble had a feel that you could walk your feet over to cool them down. Such skill comes along only so often.
I understand all of the articles written about Cézanne but I don’t feel it.
A rolling stone really does gather moss. Though I do respect the opinions of people who are employed to write about art, most of them are too clever to be able to really understand. How can someone who can’t even emulsion a wall talk about real skill.
I always think, ‘what are the qualifications needed to paragraph art, and what do some of those entrusted with the purveyors of the pleasures of art really know’.
I blame some writers for building up bad workmanship and calling it modern art, when really it is just poor workmanship.
I often recall, watching an Open University programme late one night when I was a kid, I must have been 11. It was about the painting of a religious icon. I was fascinated with Lapis Lazuli and how it was more expensive than gold and how it was used to adorn religious art in medieval times. How it came from Afghanistan and how it was coveted as a piece of mercurial magic that was the symbol of the robe of the Virgin Mary. I am not that religious but some small slither of symbolism planted a seed in my mind. Why do we worship art?
The questions keep coming and have never stopped asking, and now I find myself with more questions, and the more I answer the more are asked.
I had been on a boat trip that left Liverpool Ireland. The first port of call was Cobh (pronounced Cove).Cobh was the last stopping place of the Titanic and its tourism was based around that fact. There was a Titanic bar that had closed, apparently it hadn’t gone down too well…….it went bust.
Cobh has a monument that had been erected to another maritime disaster, the sinking of the Lusitania, that sunk on its way to Liverpool.
A German U-Boat torpedoed it. It was one of the most tragic losses of life on the sea. It was claimed that the event is said to have shocked America to its core.
A passenger on the mini cruise had left a memento, to a relative who drowned in the disaster. A picture and a rose were laid on foot of the statue.
Up atop the hill amongst the candy coloured houses from the Cathedral the views were magnificent.
It is the closest port to Cork and I got a train into the town. There were lots of old Irish pubs and shops that look like they are in the living room of a house. I went in the art gallery to see a Paul Henry or two. There may have been a Sonia Delauney.
As usual when visiting a place I do not know I am drawn to bookshops. These are the sort of shops that feed my inquisitive mind, that allow me to explore the answers to the questions that I keep asking myself.
Here in all the hundreds of yards of shelves, sat a massive volume, beautifully photographed, a cut above the usual Taschen publications. Buy me! It seemed to be shouting to me, Buy me! The pages folded out, I love books where the photographs are not punctuated by staples.
It was the complete works of Caravaggio, in one book. It was amazing.
I had a 100 Euro note on me but it was130 and it was an expense I had not expected.
I had seen the Graham Dixon-Smith programme about one of the most captivating of characters in art history.
I had been shocked by, how someone with such talent, and raw emotion, could be tinged with a gentle temperament.
How could such a fiery character, who, it was said, would fight duals, with swords and daggers and who could thrust a stiletto as finely as he could paint a peach, be as controversial today as when he was alive?
I had let Derek Jarman’s celluloid images cloud my judgement. But still a man whose legacy lingered all these centuries later fascinated me. I knew the work of art that he created had been passed amongst kings and had survived revolutions and wars.
How could creations made with a mixture of ground up pigments, of tempura and oxides mixed with oil look so real? Like a photograph. How can I be thrown the raw emotion through a modern picture taken with a camera? Why hadn’t the paint faded? Why was the imagery so real? How could the message be as real today?
I had to buy the book and offered the shop my 100 Euro note and no more and they accepted my offer. It was a heavy book and would need a lot of time to read. I have a lot of books that I need to read. It had its own case that came with it with a handle. It is the sort of book that posers will delicately place on a coffee table to make them look clever I thought. It was a beautiful book. Should I ever read it and have I wasted 80 quid on a whim?
Sailing out of Cobh at Dusk was a remarkable event. However much you study art there is no equivalent that can beat a beautiful sunset. The town of Cobh is situated in a natural harbour the pretty houses on the hill were lit up as if by magic and the term Emerald Isle slipped into my mind as the boat slipped out of sight of the harbour.
It was a beautiful event. Not even the famous Irish painter Paul Henry would be able to capture that memory for me.
I looked around the stern of the boat at the silver surfers I thought about another night of naff entertainment on board. But there was a swell developing a gale-force wind was predicted. Though the day was calm, you could feel it building up the further out of the protection of the Harbour, to deep water, you got.
Today had been my Birthday, Thanks Mr sunset for the lovely present.
The boat was like the Mary Celeste that night it was too rocky for most of the pensioners to walk around there was the noise of glasses breaking. Worryingly the ships crew came in to the cabin to bolt down the portholes. An announcement came over the tannoy that the ship was to be diverted to Dublin, which wasn’t half bad I had been there before so I had a mental map.
Armed only with 20 euros I decided that the best place for a rainy Sunday would be the National gallery and then I realised, there within its walls, there is a Caravaggio a real one.
So I will be able to see for myself what all the fuss is about I may be disappointed and wonder what all the fuss is about. Well let’s have a look.
I have been locked in a Police station every Saturday afternoon. The Old Police Station Lark Lane. For two years come rain or shine I have been there every week in a glazed brick cell……. And it’s by choice.
In the corner of, in winter, a freezing building armed only with a handful of muddy clay, with your hands in cold water. I have practised the art of throwing pots.
Sometimes being arrested would be more fun. The frustration can be devilish.
Then other times when things go well it seems worth the effort.
I understand having served an apprenticeship as a Carpenter (the best training anyone can get) the secret of perfecting anything you want to do, to a high standard, is to put the time in.
I was told a long time ago by old crusty blokes with beards, people I had been trained in various arts by, that “its 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”.
It’s the truth you have to work hard and put the time in nothing comes naturally, and anyone who tells you anything differently is a liar.
But carpentry experience does not take into account, art.
John Parker who runs the Lark Lane Pottery looked at me with a wry grin when I proclaimed after a week or two that I was going to do an exhibition of my work, he had heard it all before.
“I want to make my clay look like metal, like work of a French Dinandier”
“Yer what” he said, and I don’t blame him he must have seen thousands of people come through his doors over the years, all of them with different ideas on different levels.
“Start small,” he would say as I threw pot after pot that were a mess over the months using tons of his precious clay.
He would be standing there scowling, calculating how much more work he would have to do to recycle my wasted clay, that never seems to go where you want it, at first. That mud seems to have a life of its own.
But he allowed me to practise.
But I think my enthusiasm won him over and he let me practise and I recycle my own clay, which is a drain
The big incentive in getting it right, is, at least partly so you don’t have to spend ages needing the air out of soaking wet clay on a plaster bat.
Clay is a messy little bugger that gets right up your arms and all over you, so you look like you have been dragged through a lake backwards.
It is the most humbling experience. To be faced with a lump of mud.
A mass of nothing. If you had it on your clothes it is a horrible stain. Yet you have to take this inanimate object and mix in a little bit of water to make it flexible so that you can mould it, upwards, and create something of beauty. There are no prisoners with the punishment that you have to endure, in order to progress to the next stage.
To lump another pound of clay on top to suffer the frustration all over again, then when you have mastered that, another pound of clay.
It was easy for me in the past to sell the art of the potter without really understanding the true skill that is requisite in order to make something that is recognised, as a work of art, when really it is only a vessel.
Year’s back my shop was featured on Flog it, and shortly after middle-aged gentleman and his wife, having seen it came into the shop.
I am a potter he said. I did not know what that was really, even though I sold pots.
Two hours later I went to a private view at the Bluecoat Display Centre to see the work of Duncan Ross and it was he who I had been speaking to in the shop.
I wish you had told me who you were I actually have purchased retail one of your pots which is one of my cherished pieces.
I wish I could talk to him now. I asked him, if he was inspired by Dinanderie and he said he was not aware of what it was.
I recall how, I wanted to make the simplest form almost like an African primitive pot. How do you do that? Google the term African pots and the inspiration is there. But like playing jazz it’s not about studying something, it’s about feeling.
How can you feel what it is like to be an African making a pot to hold grain, or water, with the basic of tools, without a kiln, firing your vessels in a hole in the ground, with fire?
The basic elements fire, earth and water are the most primitive of all needs.
They have a challenge that is hard to quantify. Why do you want to make a pot like an African? Why do you want to make a vessel in the Minoan style, what good is that. Why did the Ancient Greek want to turn a vessel for water or wine into a work of art, into an object of beauty and very often with a narrative?
Why did our ancestors paint the caves with their quarry What is the basic primeval instinct to create? To pit your self against your materials to achieve something that is more than the sum of its parts.
Magdelaine Odondu annoyed me when I met her at the Bluecoat also for a private view. Her pots were on sale for £20,000 and were not worth, in my opinion, a fraction of that. Her manager said he had driven the prices up from $300 to $30,000. Psychology I thought. But I took these two established potters that I had met, as an inspiration, which is still a prevailing influence to what I do now in my burnished work. I leave the tool marks in where Duncan does not. I still can’t understand how he manages, mostly to create such workmanship that shows his patience. Odondu is the same her burnishing is perfect, simple shapes she can feel her heritage. I am not sure how much of that is hype. I am just beginning my journey, but the art of thinking is the hidden jewel in all good potters work. The art of being able to leave something of oneself in your work, that is an intimate connection with the recipient of your work is hard to explain.
I have destroyed more work than I have created but now, and only now, I can feel my work taking shape becoming mine, with the simplest of materials clay and a clay slip, I need to make a shape that reflects the simplest of forms. I think that the philosophy of simple materials and simple forms ties one of your hands behind your back makes it more difficult…….. And I have always liked a challenge.
This time I had a bit of notice that the BBC was coming in to film the Antiques Road Trip. It was the day before I was told that it would be Charles Hanson. I had better tack all my stock down I had said to one of the crew laughing. He is the bloke who seems all over the place. Bull in a China shop and all that stuff.
They had parked Charles Hawtree……err I mean Charles Hanson's car in the garage below the shop and we went into filming.
It was an unusually sunny day and Charles turned up looking like an mad English Colonial Gentleman from the 18th century with a floppy Panama hat and a beige suit on, err, just playing himself really.
Mad dogs and Charles Hanson I thought.
He was off “Well Hello Wayne, what a shop I wish I hadn’t spent all my money I love it”
Here we go I waited for the punchline. He then ruined my day by saying he had the grand sum of 25 quid to spend. This is going to be the hardest 25 pounds I have ever earned I thought.
But in with the spirit of the programme I tried my hardest to make a sale and I suggested a few bits. I tried to tempt him with an 18century jug with a frog and a newt inside and this of course lined him up for all the jokes about being drunk as a newt and gave him time to show what he knew. Two minutes.
I had suggested he bought a Sabino Turkey or in french a Dindan he was off dindon, dindan dindan, dingdong he sang. I called it a Turkey after that but he wouldn’t stop he just kept going on and on, he is mad.
The price tag said £68 so he knew he was safe and I left him room with a £35 ask.
I even offered to throw in one of my spectacle holders that I make. He went for it.
“That’s so kind Wayne” aiming himself at the camera he was off again this may be one for the future viewers, when Wayne becomes famous and is known for his work this could be worth a fortune”
I got a bit embarrassed.
“Yes when I cut my ear off,” I said trying to play it down and make a lighthearted joke about it.
“Yes like Picasso” he said with a confidence that showed he knew what he was talking about.
“No Van Gough” I chipped in.
The crew were having a laugh behind the cameras I just decided to have a bit of fun and wind him up a bit, but it seems there isn’t much winding required he is an off beat character.
He started whispering to the camera about getting me down to £24 and I just threw in the Sabino Dindan and the Dali-esque spectacle holder for £20.
I would not wish the next shop you go to go through what I had gone through for a quid.
Or even a fiver for that matter but that’s life.
If he had of hung on a bit I would have given him the piece for free if he promised he would go.
Jokes aside it was good fun and it seemed to go quite well The crew had a right laugh as did I, and I look forward to seeing the programme which could be anytime.
“Wayne how do I get out of here he said can you give me directions”
“Yes I replied, “Go out the front take a left go ahead where you will come to the Pier Head, and then…keep going”
He left a little calling card in our garage, he hit one of the stanchions, only superficial damage but lucky for me it wasn’t in the shop.
Not sure when the programme will go out, on air, but it should be funny.
I don't think they filmed him wrecking the place. When the security told me he had hit a stanchion I had this image of him bringing the floor above down. Lucky it was not that serious. Ding Dong.
I first travelled to La Belle France in 1993 and spent quite a while there.
That's where I really got my buzz for hunting down art and antiques in places in towns, that, at the time, had never had an Englishman in. I loved it I was like a grown up kid on a treasure hunt.
I realised this is what i wanted to do.
What a chore it was, heading down to the South of France towards Montpellier it was like driving on the old Snake Pass.
This would be 1993 and plans were underway to connect the Languedoc region up with the North, the A9 was under construction, which made it worse because the roadwork’s created extra delays while huge wagons curled around mountainous terrain where no vehicles should go.
Driving for a day sometimes you would not see a soul it was like the land that time forgot.
Millau (pronounced like a cats Meow) was a nightmare.
It is one of the most beautiful places in France.
The town has a holiday feel, surrounded by mountains the hang gliders would drift down from the craggy ledges like little coloured spots on a sky blue canvass, slowly drifting gently into sight on the breeze.
Campers would pitch tents next to the river that meandered through the valley.
I used to watch the petrol gauge in my transit visibly empty and I would cringe at the juice it would take just to get back up through the mountainous pass that was the only way to get through this region for me, and everyone else.
In the summer with the stifling heat and without air conditioning it was a particularly challenging routine.
Traffic jams don’t suit the French.
You only need one Frenchman to honk his horn and they all start, and you cant even ball at them to shut up because that starts world war three.
I have spent hours cooking in my tin can behind a lorry full of cement or livestock crawling on the limit of about 20 miles an hour.
I used to try and do it between twelve and two p.m as only mad frogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun
Passing a lorry on a narrow mountainous road is a hazardous affair. Especially when you are in the wrong place, or the wrong side of the car.
First you sneak your head over to the left of the car, to check if the coast is clear to overtake.
Only to have it almost lopped off by a crazy French person doing the free roll down the other side, as if been set free, after his crawl up behind Le Camion.
That’s where I learnt half of my French with my cassette ablaze in the car “Repeat after me ......Ou est. La Cathedral…sil vous plait” and Quell Heure est I’ll” and other stupid sentences that I never ever needed.
It’s also where I learnt to swear.
Expletives are soon picked up on a French road when you are sat on a red hot seat stewing in 98 degrees, when all you want to do is get to a hotel and freshen up, or better still get to the sea.
On one trip I rolled down the mountainous path and right into an Opel garage at the foot of the pass to have them all laugh at the diesel filter on the Vauxhall Astra I had just bought from Penny Lane Motors, who are not recommended by me.
Yes it looked like it should have been an air filter in a fish tank. I give them a right telling off when I got back.
I had been through Millau 50 times and then one day I noticed on the horizon the strangest thing.
There were poles being erected. Not just any old poles, they were like stilts that were springing up they were like skyscrapers, massive things, growing out of the earth.
Even in the distance you could see the scale of them.
The next time there was another few, and then the penny dropped when as if by magic a concrete carpet was being laid across them one at a time.
This was not possible I would say it defied gravity. It couldn't be possible to build a structure so light and simple that high.
Surely it couldn’t work, and yes, it was a bridge under construction.
Sometimes it would be half covered in mist other times it would be a silhouette as bold as brass against the hue.
I would look every time as I travelled past on that horrid road to see the progress.
It must be one of the wonders of the world if they can pull this off I would say.
And they did pull it off and it was opened.
Designed by Foster and Partners but erected by Frenchmen it is a remarkable feat of engineering that shows us British up. http://www.fosterandpartners.com/projects/millau-viaduct/ Click on the above link for a full history of the feat.
The British designed it but we would not have the nerve to build it. It’s the sort of feat that built the Seven Wonders of the World.
Yes we will put the A75 between two mountains some one probably quipped in jest, but they did it.
Not only did they have the nerve to build it, they made it so beautiful and with as little concrete that is physically possible.
They made it float as lightly on what looks like mid-air. The thin air that the hang gliders gently fall from atop a ridge on the other side of town.
Its suspension defies gravity.
If you build it light it will hang light.
The first time I drove across it was worth every centime of the ten euro or so they charge.
I just had to stop at the viewing platform, with a café, and eat a packet of biscuits.
It seems to have become a shrine for people to wonder at the feat of engineering that all French people should be proud of. A pic-nic area with distinction.
I find it hard to put into words what is so good about it, other than its simplicity.
All brilliant design should make you wonder why it is good not state the obvious as journalists are paid to do. You do not need to write pages about it. Just look at it.
It has alleviated the traffic queues.
But now the views down to the valley of the River Tarn directly below the viaduct and the green forests that border it, are over, all too soon and you hanker for more.
In no time at all, unless you stop, you are on your merry way dreaming of the cool blue of the Med, as you should have done in the first place.
I don’t know how many awards it has won but it gets my award for sheer audacity and undertaking and beauty.
If you drive down to the south of France try and go over the Millau Viaduct.
It would be daft not to jump at the opportunity to traverse two mountains suspended hundreds of feet in the air on a slither of tarmac held up by slender sections of wire above a beautiful valley.
Its not Bijou and its not as if you can put it in your pocket, but still, it is one of my favourite things.
These are remarkable chairs designed by Ernest Gimson.
Yes, we know most people think a chair is for sitting on, but if you study the evolution of design through the ages nowhere is it more apparent than in furniture design.
The way a chair sits is paramount to its worth, oh yes, and how comfortable it is, also matters to some.
But sometimes comfort can give way to design because after all a piece of furniture is also there to look at.
You may have a surplus of chairs or tables, but sometimes just for aesthetic reasons it proves important to have something around you that you, that can adore that gives you pleasure.
If it works as a design and you can reliably sit on it well there you go.
This is a design which, at its time of manufacture has one foot in he past.
The splats on the back of the chair are taken from a French design.
The whole chair looks as if it could have come from an older period, which is of course something the artisans of the British arts and Crafts movement strived to achieve.
All the honesty and integrity of construction is evident in the design and I particularly love the way the upright support for the ever so slender armrest almost looks as if it had been speared into the frame.
As if a matador, had launched a pair of daggers diagonally, just to put a finishing touch on the carefully thought out design.
Apart from design this is an architectural important element of the construction.
They allow the narrowness of the uprights to astound you at the delicacy. They seem to float, those the arms that gently bend.
It is both a masculine and a feminine design for this reason.
Without the surprising part of its design you could never enable such a fragile looking armrest to function.
And function it does it is comfortable and is supportive of the back. You know it’s a craftsman made piece as all the joints are pegged. But despite it being made by craftsmen piece it still feels fresh and modern today as when it was designed in 1907.
Edward Gardiner probably made this chair, on or shortly after that date.
It is known at The Pass Chair, simply because, a Mrs Pass commissioned the design from F.W Troop.
The design was used as platform chair for a church hall in Wootten Fitzpaine in Devon.
Also known a higher backed version, which is often described as The Chairman’s Chair.
Cheltenham Museum has a pair in their collection donated by B.J Fletcher who was the headmaster of the Leicester School of Art and also Birmingham Municipal School of Art.
Fletcher is known for his designs for Harry Peach of Dryad and it was said he was an exponent o the arts and crafts ideals.
That aside it is just a smashing looking chair.
This chair is for sale at £980.
I have another making it a pair and that chairs seat has been re-rushed.