Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Arts and Crafts Candlestick In The Manner of WAS Benson-Piece of the Week

Copper and Brass Arts and Crafts Candlestick. 
In the manner of WAS Benson.
This is a fantastic piece of design.
Reflect back to a time before electricity when a candlestick could be knocked over, so this design is counter-balanced with the round ball weight that is part of the design.
It was also designed to be carried in the hand and placed down safely.
10cm high by 24cm long
It is in overall good condition for its age.
 It has a few knocks but I would want to see this as it has been used. It would benefit from a bit of a polish. 
This is possibly a design by........ 
Carl Deffner was born 13 Oct 1856 in Esslingen. On 11 June 1892 he married Charlotte (Lolo) Schoenleber. Records show only one son for Carl and his wife, Karl "Max" Deffner (1900-1985) who was an engineer.   Deffner died in 1948.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Antique Dealers Are Breaking Up Their Brown Furniture To Keep Warm.

Up and down the country, they are burning their stock to keep warm.
Faced with one of the worst winters on record they have no option.
With gas prices at an all time high and electricity now a luxury, they have to make ends meet.
In an age when most Victorian tables are now cheaper to burn than buying coal and with massive warehouses to heat. 
There is only one option reduce storage costs by burning wardrobes. 
They are only worth a tenner at auction anyhow.

What the bloody 'ell has happened to Mahogany, Rosewood and Walnut this is ridiculous.
Antique furniture is now that cheap that you cant fuel your fire for less.
Can you believe it, the furniture retail index has dropped again for the umpteenth year on the run. Its crazy. One dealer I know had his pension tied up in quality stuff and he told me its worth a fifth of what it was.
It cant get any cheaper And Joe Public educated by Bargain Hunt are more interested in cheap and cheerful than quality.
Where is all the money going to? 
 MDF and chipboard rubbish? 
What is wrong with the public? What is wrong with the public's sense of reality when they would rather add to Sweden's balance of trade, while antique dealers are smashing up their chest of drawers, just to stay warm through this storm spread winter.
What’s more the same people complain that the high street is dying on its feet.

Cant you give them a break, they are hard working people who deserve to have food and clothes for their families. Some of them are second and third generation antique dealers, some even more. There may not be a fourth. What’s more the same people complain that the high street is dying on its feet.

And the great British public wont even give them a meagre crust.
Buy antiques now before they are all burnt.....or painted with Farrow and Ball.

Its all the same shops these days, they say. They love it when they go to France and find all those Brocante shops full of things that the French wont buy.
They bring pieces home, and tell everyone as if its a trophy, “Its French”. Then they go and add to China's economy and accessories it in John Lewis with stuff made by people paid two pound a month. While the local antique shops are disappearing and will soon become as rear as a glass cased Dodo.
Antique dealers are green they stop things being destroyed, they recycle.
Nowadays if you recycle a bit of wet cardboard or a squashed milk carton there is definitely someone who will give out a grant for it.
If the person running the recycling firm is a black, one legged lesbian well there are hundreds of thousands available. So where is the help for antique recyclers?
Where is the aid to stop them going to the wall, going out of business and allowing their shops to be taken over by charity shops, that get tax relief.
The same charity shops are generally full of the lower middle class trying to get the stuff before the antique dealers get it. 
There was recently one tweed suited  twerp on the Antique Road show, proud as punch that he had bought a vase worth two grand in a charity shop for £37.50. Grinning like a Cheshire Cat. “No £36.50” he corrected the valuer.
He should have been made to pay the charity that he robbed, back, or the staff in the shop who valued it, without getting a second opinion, should be made to pay.
Whatever the case, the charity was done out of a couple of grand while Billy Brewster wallowed in glory as if he was clever.
If it had of been forty five quid he wouldn’t have chanced it.
Just think how much Oxfam lose a year by not getting the prices right.

So mahogany and walnut is out of style and decades of furniture dealing experience does not count for a jot these days.
Most warehouse-men have burnt their Millers Guide years ago, to keep warm, because they are not worth the paper they are written on any more. They are so out of date, that it is hilarious, especially when someone comes into the shop trying to sell something quoting their prices.
Though its no joke when a member of the public comes in the shop taking about the table they bought 15 years ago for three hundred quid and says “There’s one in the Millers Guide for £550” and you have to tell them its worth a hundred if they are lucky.
So does anyone care if your heritage is broken up and burnt because its cheaper being used for cooking on a barbecue than charcoal.

The exception of course has been Art Deco furniture. 
This is strange as most of it that was made in England is, lets say, not the best quality.
Yes there are Epstein and Hille, but most of the stuff that passes for Art Deco may in fact be post war.
The look is there though. The blonde veneers seem to brighten up a room where mahogany will dull it.
But I still love a good grain, and I hope an appreciation for quality timber will be revived and it will come back.
But for now, Art Deco furniture and post war design is where the money has gone. It looks so modern in an apartment.
And when all the brown furniture has been burnt so dealers can stay warm,some bright spark will realise that a good patina is back in style, and everyone will run around buying Georgian again and it will all start all start to go up in price....only this time there may be less of it around.
Who will be the brave one who will hold their nerve and stack a warehouse high with good stock, the stuff they used to want years ago? Will they be the clever ones?
Because the stuff is for nothing it cant go any cheaper, though someone did said to me last year......and it has.   

Thursday, 13 March 2014

WMF Art Nouveau Card Tray-Piece of the Week.

This is a nice Art Nouveau design on a pewter tray 22.5 cm long. It was made in Germany probably 1899, though they did continue designs up to the start of the First World War where they would have been making rather different styles that were not designed as tableware or decorative objects. The original name of the company is.

Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik

The Art Nouveau maidens hair merges with the entrallic floral decoration that is so typical of the period.
Though we in Britain helped to start the art nouveau style with our rediscovery of arts and crafts, the continental factories excelled at design. Though 20 years later the Bauhaus would industrialise design.
WMF will have been sold in the likes of Liberty in London.
  This is a nice way to own a piece of original Art Nouveau at a reasonable start price of maybe £250.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Liverpool Banksy To Be auctioned In London-Good Riddance

Well I have to say good riddance really. In my opinion this was never a Banksy. 
 This is a copy of a Banksy who in turn copied Brec Le Rat.
The invention of it being by the Urban Vandal Banksy was made up by journalists at the Liverpool Echo and the Liverpool Daily Ghost (Thank god someone put that bit of chip paper out of our misery, at least it stops them spreading lies)
Now we can all marvel at the reproduction of a Georgian Building that was basically rebuilt and has almost none of its originality. Though most would not be able to tell.
The ECHO have reported that it has been saved. Well they would, wouldn't they.
They say it is now to be auctioned off for charity.:
Stuart Howard of Ascot Property Group said: “If Banksy's Liverpool Rat could feasibly have remained on the Whitehouse pub, or even returned to the building, then we would have been happy to give it pride of place. “We took the advice of experts and it lead to the conclusion that this was simply not an option. “The piece has now been preserved and we will ensure that a number of fantastic Liverpool causes benefit from its sale.”One of the beneficiaries includes Litherland’s Rowan Park, a school for children with severe learning difficulties
It must be in a thousand pieces though.

Apparantly I valued it somewhere along the line.
 Funny I don't remember saying that it was worth a million to Andrew Rosthorne, of the Lancashire Magazine
I may have said a million people valued it at a pound. But where did that come from.
Its about as made up, as the whole spoof of it being an original when it is a caricature anachronism of a a bit of spray can on a wall. 
Banksy was a copyist of Brec Le Rat in France anyway.

He says:
After its disappearance, Wayne Colquhoun of the Liverpool Preservation Trust declared, ‘The Banksy is no more. It was worth a million pounds but they have destroyed it. The most important part of it, the head, was painted on to stucco. It can never be restored to its original condition. They would need rather a lot of Araldite to glue that back together.
‘Artwork by its very nature can never be replicated. You can never sum up the spirit of an original. Destroying an original Banksy to put in its place a copy is beyond a joke. It would be a repro. The boards below the head may have been saved but will be badly rotted as they were not marine ply and the glue of plywood disintegrates.’
Now the rat, or cat, is listed to be unveiled with seven other Banksy works in an auction for charity at a bizarre event to be staged on April 24 in the futuristic ME London hotel in The Strand.
The auction, in the £330.00 a night hotel designed by Foster and Parters, has been named Stealing Banksy? and opens after a press conference to be given by masked men and women described as ‘curators, restorers, and salvage teams’.

The Sincura Arts Club say, ‘Stealing Banksy? is the 2014 project exploring the social, legal and moral issues surrounding the sale of street art. Though we have been accused of many things during this project, we do not steal art nor do we condone any acts of wanted vandalism or theft. We do not own the pieces of art, nor encourage their removal and to date have made no financial gain from the sales of street art. If assigned to manage a piece of art we ensure the salvage, restoration and sale is carried out in a professional and sympathetic manner.
‘We perform extensive due diligence on each piece assigned to us to ensure there are no legal issues surround the ownership, removal or sale of the art. It should be noted that both Scotland Yard and the FBI have issued statements that there is no evidence of criminality involved in the removal or sales of our pieces.’
The Sincura Group claim to be ‘market leaders in VIP concierge, lifestyle, tickets and events’ and last summer said they had rescued Banksy’s famous No Ball Games graffito by cutting it away from the side of a shop in Turnpike Lane, Tottenham Green.
Tony Baxter, a director of Sincura, now says: ‘We are delighted to include the Liverpool Rat in our upcoming show as it represents one of Banksy’s most important pieces. We understand the lengths Ascot Property Group went to, to safely salvage the piece, which was no small feat given the level of damage. Without this work the piece would have been lost to the elements forever. By putting it on the market its sale will ensure both the piece’s longevity and benefit local charities.’

If the Liverpool Rat is sold by auction in London, funds have been promised to the Rowan Park school for children with severe learning difficulties at Litherland. The school’s business manager June King said, ‘We are thrilled that Ascot Property Group has thought of Rowan Park School when choosing a charity. We are in the process of building a community adventure play park for children with disabilities within the Sefton area. It is a massive undertaking and the first project of its kind in the area – with sandpits, water pumps, tunnels, zip-wires and all kind of other activities, all of which will be accessible to children with disabilities and their families.’

What I did say was.

Liverpool Banksy Destroyed-You Dirty Rat-Or Was It A Cat?

                      Now Here’s something to really get hacked off about.
 The Whitehouse Public House on the Corner of Duke Street Liverpool is in the Shadow of Gilbert Scott’s gigantic sandstone Cathedral and recently had become as Iconic a landmark after was claimed that the Graffiti artist Banksy hopped off a train and knocked a quick mural of a giant Rat in the dead of night on its facade. It was said this happened in 2004 and was then covered up in 2008 when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture.
The property had been left to decay and It was claimed it was to be preserved, after a repairs notice was served on the properties owners, but Liverpool is a city that is incapable of preserving anything of note these days be it old or new.
Then to make it worse they allow a modern landmark to be butchered in plain view with little or no consultation to the masses that pay their wages that feel this piece of modern art was done for them. 

Lets Butcher a Banksy, 
Now that’s real Culcha for yeh!

This was then written up by the pay per click website Liverpool Confidential

All in all good riddance, its been a bit of controversial fun while its been there, but now if someone wants to pay money for a piece of garbage masquerading as art, well, there's no accounting for taste.
At least after we paid 300 grand through our taxes for its removal a charity may now benefit.

All this fuss over a spray daub by someone who copied Banksy who copied Brec Le Rat only in Liverpool!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

La Piscine Roubaix-One Of My Favourite Things

You get around a bit and see things and then you think you have seen it all and cant have your socks blown off that easily, and then you come across a little gem like La Piscine.
I had been meaning to go for a decade and it always seemed a little out of the way and in a part of the world that you would not normally go to, unless you were in Brugges and its not far a detour to get there. Its an old industrial town that the world seems to have forgotten about, it seems to be a bit smog stained still from its past. Though it has a bit of your usual French style architecture a lot of it seems heavy and a little overworked. It seems a little like, well I wouldn't say Bradford, oops I just did, but I didn’t mean it. 
What I meant to say is that at one time it was a proud place with Civic pride and then the industry moved out and it fell down the pecking order. What all places with this past history is trying to do, is re-invent itself. Bilbao tried it and won. Liverpool copied the idea and failed with the museum of Liverpool that destroyed some of the cities most cherished views.
Roubaix has got a more difficult job. 
There are no cheap flights there is no tourist industry here and, why would you want to go there?
Well they have quietly created a gem a palace of pride in what appears at first drive, a barren wilderness.
And it is wonderful. After the approach that you take to get there and take in the underwhelming façade of La Piscine, what is after all a swimming baths, you get inside and it has everything.
We only had less than two hours but I wish I had a full day. 
I wish I would have been able to eat in the restaurant with its art Deco wrought iron balustrade that was lit with the sunlight that flooded in to the structure, through modernist style sky lights.
Now I have seen a few bits in my time. Sometimes being at a quality antique fair, I have been able to see thousands of items of beauty. You can sometimes see better, stuff, than what’s in most museums, especially if you discount how curators are like pack animals and follow the leader, and buy things that other curators or art journals say are needed.
There are curators who go out on a limb, but rather a lot of them fail, and they cant be allowed to fail because, curators are clever.....aren’t they?
Well this curator who put all this stuff together was clever. It is one surprise after another. Maybe its because the theme is Art Deco and French, but maybe its because they are just bloody good at their job, and have sewn together some magnificent things that are class, and not too pretentious, but have an unassuming sense of style, of what the period that I love has to offer.
We get the term Art Deco as a reworking of the 1925 Exposition Art Decoratif et Industrial in Paris. 
Someone or other, who may have been Bevis Hillier coined it.

This museum is both entertaining and absorbing.
 I sometimes like to think I know a bit but it was a tantalising, tingling of the senses that ensued that left me amazed. Combined with a sunny day, the sense of surprise that left me hunting for more. I was so disapointed when I had to leave, as I was on a work trip and needed to be somewhere else.
I will have to go back. I need to go back.
 Not just for some of the most amazing sculpture in a beautifully polychrome tiled swimming baths interior that was designed to be reflective and I don't mean looking back reflective I mean jewel like.
What it must have been like with water inside and beautiful French ladies in stylish bathing caps inside and around the pool, in its heyday I can only imagine, and I did.
Here it contains works of art by the likes of Paul Jouve, and the sculptor PomPom and my favourite, Rembrandt Bugatti ( the son of the furniture designer and brother of the car maker). These mix with lesser names that make you question what art means. There is a Jan Martel.
Can art, by a artist you have never had pumped up by a writer, be as good as a work by somebody you have never heard of. I know it can. You cant sell a dud to me.
The ceramics section was encompassing, not huge. 
There were ceramic works designed by the amazing French furniture designer Emile Jaques Rhulman for Sevres. 
Along with works by a ceramicist whose work I bought new a couple of years back in Lille, called Amina Roos.
There's the proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There are Picasso ceramics and a huge 8ft high pot that defies the art of firing.
Bit it is the way it all melts together that is the beauty of this place.
 I believe they were going to knock it down one at one time. It is my pleasurethat the did not.
From an age when swimming baths were palaces designed to be an experience just like cinemas and theatres were.
There were so many ceramics on show I have to go back.
 I used a whole memory stick photographing nearly every piece, but I need to go back and have lunch and take my time.
The whole area that houses the paintings would be worth a trip in itself but the experience of the whole is remarkable.
There are temporary exhibitions that are made to be contemporary and to attract people and give the whole experience a contemporary quality.
Who so ever is running this show has class and is not afraid to challenge.
Unlike the people running my local museums they understand that a museum experience should not be designed to resemble a penny arcade with flashing lights, or a creche were people can dump the noisy kids on to people who are studious in their approach to art and may be a little bit more serious than the “I don't know much about art but I know what I like brigade”
If you ever are within a hundred miles of this place, La Piscine in Roubaix Belgium, make sure you detour. I guarantee you. It will be worth it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Sudley House-Why Have Liverpool Museums Ruined This Historic Gem?

I went along, as I do every now and the to Sudley art Gallery in Mossley Hill.
I first stumbled across it 25 years ago......a hidden gem.
That was before they ruined it.
 Now it is a shadow of itself, and in my opinion ruined. 
Where has all the art work gone. I wanted to see one of my favourite pictures, the small Bonnington that has hung there for decades.
I searched but I couldn’t find it. I was disappointed, but as I walked around it was evidence that this once hidden gem has been found by David “Fuzzy felt” Fleming the butcher of Liverpool Museums.

It seemed to have it all, at one time, it was bequeathed to the city and the merchant who left it to us must be turning in his grave at the uninviting mass that has now the remnants of the collection.
It was crammed with art, it was a hidden gem, that just needed a little polish every now and then, and now it isn’t. 
Why have they changed the character of this once grand institution. I know our museums need disabled access but the lift that has been fitted has taken up two exhibit rooms and is such a monstrous carbuncle that you have to question if the curators of this museum understand any thing about aesthetics.
 A modern contraption that must have cost a hundred grand. Has anyone used it?
It looks like someone has built a greenhouse in the middle of a room. Then two rooms are taken up further with no exhibits at all.
Upstairs is bland to say the least. Where has the Herbert MacNair furniture gone?
This was an amazing display. Not many people know the links with Liverpool and the Glasgow Four.
And what has happened to the Robert Anning Bell pieces? He designed for Della Robbia.

That were local. The Bates plaque that was on the wall.
 Where has that gone along with other works of art that sat beautifully in an elegant poise for all to see.
And why has a whole host of rooms now been devoted to rooms for kids to draw things that have nothing to do with the art contained, or, was contained, as they have been shipped out to make room for the new idea of creating a crèche.
Dump the kids on serious scholars so they cant learn anything seems to be the fashion.
I know we have to get our kids into museums I spent enough time bunking off school in the Walker Art Gallery, but why ruin it for the rest of us by aiming the collections for snotty nosed kids.

I saw one of them ready to strike the Godwin gong before little Johnnie Bratsville's mother took it off him.
Now little Johnnies mother didn’t look like she was taking a blind bit of notice of the exhibits.
Just killing time, getting the kids out of the house so the husband can watch the match or something like that. 
The Liverpool museums also put most of the Liverpool Herculaneum collection into permanent storage to hide our own history from us. Why?
80 million pounds they have spent in the last decade, well we spent it, its our money, our taxes. and they ruin the whole feel of this once wonderful museum.

It was here in Sudley House that I first saw the most beautiful work by Bonnington.
Had it been exhibited next to a Turner on purpose because of the quality and freshness of the work.
 I then went on to study some of his work and find out just how important the work was.
If he had lived he may have rivalled Turner. He was a traveller and went to take the light in France and was ahead of the impressionists, but had a realism that they could never achieve.
I marvelled at the simple brush strokes that created a sail or a buoy. 
How this man understood light and tone and colour, and in age without the things we take for granted.
He died so young but not before he had befriended some of the most important artists in France and exhibited there himself.

The art savagery that has taken place here at Sudley house is alarming.
It is ruined by the very people who are supposed to be protecting our heritage. Our museums.
And where is my Bonnington?
Now all I have, is a 6 by 4 postcard to remind me of the most wonderful little painting I have had the pleasure to sight.

Its probably in store they will say...well get it back and the rest of the stuff that have been taken out. Its vandalism on a institutional scale.