Sunday, 6 March 2022

Antiques Roadshow Coming To Liverpools Sefton Park Palmhouse.

 Sefton Park Palm House. Will host the Antiques Roadshow for a Valuation day on the 28th June 2022.

The magnificent structure in its wonderful parkland setting will see over a thousand people bring their cherished items, and car boot finds along for appraisal.

I was so proud to be invited to become a member of the Antiques Roadshow team and to be hosting a Roadshow day in my home town, well it does not get better than that.

For decades every Sunday night I watched the programme. The programme that inspired me to become an antique specialist.

I said to my mate Eric Knowles, when I joined the team.

I can remember sitting there in me short pants, watching you talk about Art Deco figurines”.

Cheeky Monkey” he said in his Burnley accent “I'm not that old”

Sefton Park built by Liverpools forefathers to give gentle relaxation and greenery to both the gentry and the working classes. And an escape from the industrial grime. 

It is a place I have visited all my life. From a very early age. During school holidays, unable to afford a week away we would go on days out. On bus trips and spend the whole day walking around the park. Though we lived closer to Stanley park with its boating lake which too has a Palm House it was a special treat to visit the mini Kew Gardens with its gigantic plants and its Aviary with its exotic species. The colours of the birds a complete eye opening contrast to the soot covered monochrome world not far from the docks where we lived and my father worked. 

I would sit and draw birds for hours on end during primary school taking paper home to do voluntary homework. I trained a Kestrel.

Then we could meander over to the bandstand and visit the famous cafe, still thriving today.

And there we would see the Peter Pan statue which was a treat for childrens sore eyes. And of course the famous Eros statue that is just by the cafe.

As you walk today watch carefully and you may see a wild Parakeet flying overhead, that had escaped from the cages that held the birds.

Then as a teenager and member of an infamous Fishing club I would sometimes, weather permiiting, in the summertime, board our clapped out smiley faced Charabang after doing my paper round and wolfing down my tea. And then we would drive to the lake to set the tackle up and pitch a line and a float in hoping to catch a perch or a roach. 

There on the bank sitting still against a mirror like calm, occasionally broken by a swan or two and a gaggling group of Canada Geese landing. And those quacking ducks that gorged themselves on the loaves of bread they were fed by children with their parents or grandparents escaping the humdrum of everyday life.

Years later I laughed in sadness at that wonderful sketch in 'Boys From The Blackstuff' where Yozzer Hughes who had gone slowly mad after losing his wife and children and fed up trolling the boards asking all and sundry to “Giz a Job” wades in to the lake. Sefton Park Lake. To drown himself. 
He went to see the Priest pleading with him
 “I am desperate”  over and over again, pleading with him. 
“I am desperate" in a sadder pitch. 

The other side of the confessional screen and the Priest feeling his desperation says “Call me Dan”

I'm Desperate Dan” he replies. He went mad.

There was nothing left to do. He had given up. He waded into the lake.

Only to get half way across and the water only came up to his knees.

Life was so bad for Yozzer he couldn't even end it all.

He just can't do anything right. When life goes against you. 

And it was like that in Liverpool at the time.

The decline of the docks. Industry had gone and unemployment was high.

This was the time that Sefton Park Palm house fell into dis-repair. It was a sorry state. There was no money, so it was claimed by the City Council. This was the Hatton era. 
And it started to get vandalised.

I recall stopping my car once and walking through the missing panes of glass and almost crying at the sad state of neglect and the sorry state of the place. The plants had all died. There were no avaries. 

I did not cry. I got angry and became a heritage campaigner fighting a corrupt council whose councillors and officials were lining their pockets, with the peoples hard earned rates.

The lake was left to choke up and all the fish died. They drained it and found loads of shards of pottery, some Herculaneum, that had been dumped there. 
Liverpool had escaped the Luftwaffe but it couldnt escape the dim wiited corrupt councillors who lined their pockets with greed.

A campaign was won, grant funding was found and like a Pheonix it raised itself from the ashes and became a venue.

I went to a wedding there. In the afternoon. A wedding in a greenhouse I thought “Now thats clever. It was very hot. The sun would eventually set and a good evening would then be had by all.

 I did a gig there. As a clarinettist.

Another one some months later outside the cafe on a Sunday afternoon. Part of the amazing Gerry Harrison's Jazz Workshop. Then progressing I did a gig on the bandstand with my little group. The Penny Lane Jazz Band. We were not that good at the time, but it was great experience. 

Experience to stand there in front of people and of course in order to live you have to die a thousand deaths.

So, I got a job. As a specialist on the Antiques Roadshow and when asked by our Executive Producer Robert, “Did I have an idea for a suitable venue”. I calmly said “Yes I do”. 

And in June 2022. Hopefully, if they let me, I will be there on national TV, a proud Liverpudlian alongside some of the best antique brains in the country.

With an accent exeedingly rare.

Dreaming about what I will find.

One thing is for sure.

I know I will find a welcome for all my colleages from the people of my home town and they will bring along, their humour, their stories and their warmth.

I cant wait to show the team the place, that has been a massive part of my life.

The Palm House Sefton Park Liverpool, in all its majesty.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Benin and Me.

I can't remember the exact year, but I know I was quite young and I was not allowed to stay up late. But on this occasion I had somehow slipped through the dragnet of home discipline and found myself watching TV late at night. Alone.

Though this seemed like a treat, this was the 70's and way before all night television had been sanctioned by the milk snatcher, Thatcher.

There was the testcard. That strange surreal image of a young girl with some form of a puppet in her hand. If you fell asleep there was a piercing sound that was suppose to wake you up.

 Or there was, late nights on BBC2, and as I swept the...dial around, to change channels, I found the Open University. Wow, exciting I thought.

It was not quite the contra band that I was looking for. The last time I had escaped the sleep shackles I had watched 'The Invisible Shrinking Man' in black and white. 

It had scared the life out of me. 

The giant spider hunting the slowly diminishing character left a particular impression.

I may as well go to bed I though as the novelty of being up late had worn off. 

Then a programme started.

 In black and white, but immediately I was captured by an image that may well have changed my life. 

It was a bronze head with striated lines incised into it, lines that rolled down the contours of the cheeks. 

It was a dark colour and had overall shape that was different. Made of metal. 

It was a Benin bronze bust. 

I was transfixed as the black and white screen seemed as if by magic to turn to technicolour as my imagination tripped in on what I was seeing.

Or what seemed to be seeing me. Staring back at me from the tiny monochrome screen.

The glare from the wonder with those scarifications woke me up. I was going nowhere. 

The filmaker had the camera pan around this wonderous object, while the narrator told the story in that typical colonial BBC plum in mouth language. Stating that “When they were 'found' it. It was thought that a ancient greek civilisation had been discovered”. 

Well what they were trying to say is that the people of Africa were not clever enough to make objects that scrap up to western art.

But I saw something more. I felt a power that was not like the ornementation around me. Those strange Capi demonte style porcelain things in peoples houses that I saw on sideboards.

I did not know why, at this early morning time. Nor did I understand how these images described, as if they were “lost castings by Donatello” the great Florentine Renaissance scupltor. But they hooked me in.

The admiratation through gritted teeth, was taken away by the overarching slur that at the time they were found, that no African was capable of producing, or understanding the lost wax process.

How the BBC loved to demean. David Attenborough just about got away with it.

In the bush, finding pygmies, to make himself look and sound clever with his BBC speak.

But I saw something else from the spot on the floor, in front of that box of images. That night, that changed my life. I did not understand then, just what it was that pulled me out of my armchair. Whether it was the story of the intrepid explorers who had “found” them. 

Or how they made a measured encroachment into my soul as if they were talking to me. 

I was looking at the image of a past being who wanted to engage my stare.

The Oba, of whose face this was a lifelike cast.

This ancient ruler of Ife would have no idea that I would be peering through the medium of the 20th century. 

Through that box in the living room, that transported you to places in the past. 

To distant lands.

And at this point in my life I hardly ever saw a black person. My mind was full of stereotypical juxtapositions. Of Black and White Minstrels. Of natives in grass skirts, Micheal Caine and Stanley Baker taking on the Zulus.

This would be decades before I discovered the genius of Louis Armstrong and The Duke of Ellington.

But those images stayed with me as I sometimes caught sight of them again. 

Over the years they became familiar to me.

I would eventually see some of them in the British museum. Where I would not be impressed with all. But several of the busts would help me understand that art is emotion and most of the icons of the 20th century were directly or maybe indirectly inspired by 'primitive work' such as these bronzes. More than I had first thought.

Greek art, above Roman would be created, to attempt to capture the spirit of a being, rather than just the likeness.

Felix von Luschan, a curator at the Berlin Ethnographic Museum, explained to an audience more familiar with European art, famously comparing them to the work of celebrated Italian Renaissance sculptor, stating, ‘Benvenuto Cellini could not have made a better cast himself, and no one has before or since, even to the present day. These bronzes stand even at the summit of what can be technically achieved.’ he added.

Well there you go!

We say bronzes but more accuratly they were cast from brass, copper and sometimes bronze. 

The tradition began in Benin before the 13th century, and large-scale artworks were first commissioned under Oba Ewuare I (1440-70s). Commemorative heads made for royal altars date back to the 16th century, maybe earlier. From the 18th century onwards, artists carved scenes into the ivory tusks that had always surmounted the bronze heads, providing even greater visual reference to the memory of the life’s work of the honoured Oba. 
Craftsmen also cast sculptures of messengers, vanquished foe, and foreign allies to celebrate the lives of past kings through tableaux for the altar.

In the Edo language, the verb sa-e-y-ama means ‘to remember’, but its literal translation is ‘to cast a motif in bronze’. 

At the courts of Benin, art in bronze perpetuates memory; and the first commissions of every Benin king were, and are sculptures, in bronze and ivory, for his father’s altar. To remember him.

Benin bronzes went into some of the most prestigous European collections. 

After the British occupation of Benin City in 1897, during the reign of Oba Ovonramwen (1888–97). By August 1898, most of the ivory and bronze artworks seized by the British from the royal treasury had been sold in large public auctions.

This was the age when colonials thought they could go round looting the heritage of ancient civilisations.

By the early 1900's, nearly all of the bronzes were in public and private collections in the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria. The Obas of Benin have been asking for their return for decades.

National Museum of Nigeria and Lagos houses the collection of Ife art.

Ile Ife as it is known was a city in Nigeria and was ruled by The Oba.

Yoruba, the ethnic group in the region describe Ife as their spiritual capital. The current inhabitants have decided that it is where the civilisation came from. 

And all will return for re-incarnation.

Ife sculptures have a unparalled realism. 

Crowns of glass beads encrusted the sculptures.

Usually you would not see the face of the Oni and there are holes that hold beads which cover the face. They may have been worn.

Yoruba polyrythyms would mix with Portuguese as early as the 16th century and become european music. 

Fandango's and the like, played in some of the most prestigious courts. Syncopated by african drums.

Several more sculptures were found in 1938 when builders were remodelling a house.

Leo Frobenius a German archeologist took pictures of them and the villages from where they came.
 He contacted the New York Times and declared that they came from the lost city of Atlantis. 
Claiming he had found a lost colony of Greeks.

It would be during the search for modern art that this looted 'tribal art' from ancient worlds would shape the 20th century. 

Picasso and others would help it along.

I know how it shaped my understanding of art and I will never forget my introduction into the captured majesty of those ancient Oba sculptures that now mean more to me than the slush of Victoriana I see in most collections.

I sincerely hope, that I now can begin to understand the imagery of Polynesian art and some of the beautiful First Nation American work.

The often overlooked art that my good friend and fellow specialist Ronnie Archer Morgan has brought into the living rooms of those watching the Antiques Roadshow on a Sunday evening.

I so admire how he has slowly introduced art lovers to the history of modern art through cultures past. I love how he explains the figurative meanings within, simple art that has a complicated past.

I hope I may now understand a little more about those geometric patterns associated with modernity that were often looted from kingdoms past, in Africa. And in ancient Egypt.

When Tutenkhamun was discovered the world went crazy for those geometric hieroglyphs and these images that were sewn into society along with ancient rythmic syncopations from deep dark and distant worlds that originated not far from the River Niger. From the Yoruba. Jazz was created in Congo square, and is the biggest cultural contribution that America has contributed to the world.

But it came from Africa. Where the Oba ruled. Ife. In the delta that shaped the world. 

That took Vodun across a ocean. 

From Dahomey.

Though its only recently that we paid it due, to acknowledge the debt in an honest and constructive manner.

I studied for my pottery sculpture.

I decided decades later, without thinking and subconsiously that I would burnish hand thrown pots with the tone of 'skin'. And I would decorate them with markings from where I did not know.

I do now.

Modern art, for me, started when the Oba stared back at me one dark night when my eyes met his ancient face. 

When I was young.

I have never forgotten that face.

Friday, 31 December 2021

I Find A Stradivarius. Or Is It A Stradivarious?

 Ever curious I recently came across a violin with a lable. 

Peering inside the case through the distinctive holes, the dealer said “Stradivarius, believe that if you want”.

It made me wonder.....What turns a musical instrument, into an myth?

I purchased it knowing that there were probabaly thousands of imposters and the labelled Stradavarius had become a by word in the antique trade, saying to all

 “Believe what you want, buyer beware”.

I took it home and hung it on a piece of string off the picture rail and there it stayed. 

A twenty quid talking point.

Then ever more recently I was told that a friend of a friend actually owned a Stradivarius violin.

A genuine one.

With a provenance as long as your bow arm. 

Ummm. Thats interesting I thought. 

I had the time and was given the opportunity to sift through the life of a great musician. Who had owned it. 

It seemed a great honour to me. 

The momentos of the vast travelling, that has to be done in pursuit of an International Concert career. It was all there for me to look at. 

I felt honoured to peer through the window of time. 

I have not seen the actual Stradivarius, but I have seen detailed photographs, heard and read all about it. 

Its concise history is known. It's in all the books. Very expensive books.

Speaking to members of the family I have peered into the life of the violinist who it was gifted to, by her rich father. Fascinating.

But always cynical I remember watching one of the later Lovejoy episodes, when the programme had lost its zeal, and become a Keystone Cop's parady.

This episode involved one of the actors from The Boys From The Blackstuff who was playing the part of a violin master repairer. He was being asked to fake a Stradivarius by the loveable rogue in order to pretend it was not real.

Though it was a comedy it brought out some real dilemmas and asked questions about authenticity that are lessons in life.

 “Why would you wanna ruin a thing of beauty” Yozzers mate says being asked to turn A Stradavarius into an 'ordinary' violin.

Far fetched you may think?

Well not by the history of violins that I have read about.

They appear to, not just be musical instruments but blue chip commodities. 

That are traded by kings and queens and held by rich institutions.

My Clarinet is made of Grenadilla not as is often thought, ebony.

I often see them being sold.

 Some that were owned by famous people. 

Of course the pads are usually well and truly dried.

I look at them but they are old and worn. It will let me down. I know it.

I leave them behind they are not too valuable. 

I have an antique metal clarinet....can't get a tune out of it. It squeaks in the box.

But what if it was, the clarinet, that Artie Shaw showed direct to the camera in a BBC4 documentary. Where he spoke about his life and how he became the sound of America. Around the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbour. 

Where he says that he recorded a little known George Gershwin tune called 'Begin the Beguine' and “It took off like a singed cat”.

Then it becomes a piece of history. It's culture.

What is that magic that makes, a label inside a violin, with the name of Stradivarius worth millions?

It was previously thought that decades went by drying the wood used to make instruments.

But dendrochronologists have scientificaly dated the woods used in the making of his instruments to have only been felled a few years before the instrument was sold.

Quite often, when dated, the latest ring would be 1702 and the label on a violin would be 1706.

There are too many of these, short dates between felling and sale to be a co-incidence. Attribution to a maker by the exact tree used is now able.

Stradivarius built over a thousand instruments and about five to six hundred of these instruments are left. Of these 350 are violins.

He didn't buy wood in wedges like most, he bought entire trees or large portions of the same tree.

So we can be confident with the technology to hand that we can identify the very timber used.

There are fortunes to be won and lost on mis-attribution of one of his instruments.

His output was huge and the system of taking the timber from tree to sale must have been a akin to military planning.

He needed to use the timber that had cost him dear, and this he did to perfection.

So what was so magical about his chosen wood that made them sing in such a way that his legacy, we still talk about today with the utmost reverence?

Why do we call anyone a genius?

What is it about the name Stradivarius that has been passed down the centuries that has turned his name into investment gold?

And still play nicely too.

The attributes to make a violin are unique. You have to become an alchemist and dance between the practical skills needed to engineer any number of pieces of chosen wood and having picked them, take those different woods, and with those skills join them seemlessly into a work of art.

And be confident that the beautiful work of art will be of use to a skilled player with an ear that is tuned to hear the minute semi-tones of any string chosen or plucked. And make a violin or a cello sing sweetly and to to be applauded by any number of audiences, also with ears that quiver to a bending sound.

Musically educated ears to be matched with auditorium acoustics. That are traditionally constructed of wood. It's not easy. Wood is warm.

Science and magic is in the soul of the luthier. Who turns his spruce and maple to golden sound. Trees that in life are silent yet in death they sing.

What is it that allows the confidence of the player to match his hands and bow and become one, in tune?

The thickness of the wood and how the holes are drilled in the plank to set the varing depths of the curviture to be the gouged out.

The understanding of the exact level to be removed from that wood, done by a gauge but mostly by feel are not a given right. They have to be earned.

Spruce is an evergreen, it is not a dense hardwood.

Spruce does not have a cellular structure of a dense timber. The grain is straight hollow. With tiny tubes bound together like minature drinking straws, this carries the sound.

So when you curve but retain the flatness it conducts the sound. Yet is strong. The plate conducts vertically. It has a high density for a given wieght.

Balsa wood is the optimum material for violins but it is not strong enough. It could be strengthened with plastic, but why would you do this?

Wood is the correct material for the job no matter how much science is applied to it.

The balance of a violin being set with another wood, a harder wood. 

Maple is the usual hardwood support and has a diffuse grain. Birds eye maple could be used occasionaly for the back, but more than often, it was plain maple.

This spreads the sound horizontaly.

The woods, sometimes chosen by foresters ear, that could be augmented into those magic tones was not a given right. 

Knowledge has to be earned and passed down through families and generations. Just like those trees, it grows slowly but surely.

Altitude 1200 meter high some say makes it free of knots and the terra ferme and the flora around the tree is also crucial. Its like choosing where to plant grapes.

These are slow growing and not forced like the pines we grow for carcassing.

You have to understand just how it bends and how the climate helps it grow, to watch it grow. Then all of a sudden a tree is cut and ready to be handed to the lutherers aim.

What is the right time to fell a tree?

Maple grows best in southern Europe.

There are different visual aspects too to be taken into account.

If you dry it too quick it will split so it needs to be watered for a year, outside, and this watering cleanses the inside of the grain.

The ripples form and come out in pattern and depth in these verticaly cut timbers. Experience would be all in the choosing of grain.

The flame or the ripple if deep and goes well into the wood becomes a back plate. 

Necks can also be chosen and the tree in death gets a second life.

The life of the tree goes on indefinitly in its sacrifice to become a instrument.

And the wood we are working with today were saplings when stradivarius was making his.

But will the instruments of today be as good in 300 years as a Stradivarius is today.

The loving care that is needed through all stages is what makes a good violin.

The curve or arched shape of a violin carries the load and combining this with its pleasing shape that helps to stop warping. Sharp course corners would acentuate or, help a split. Wood is a material that is subject to changes in temperature and forces that if unchecked or not counter balanced would ruin an instrument.

So the shape and form of Stradivarius design was quite revolutionary around the time of 1700.

Stradavarius changed the way Cremona heard the instrument. A town of trained ears. 

This will have been by trial and error. In this town that understood.

We can see his original moulds that are preserved in Cremona today.

Still curious, I asked my good friend, retired professional violinist of The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and all round mechanic, Ken Johnson about his violin.

So what of my Stradi-various. 
Well I left it hanging there when I moved house......hardly paying it any attention. 
What are the chances? 
Its funny how your mind plays tricks.
And now I think, maybe should I have looked into it a bit more. 
Could it have been real?
And now I will never know.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows. St Mary's Nantwich Cheshire UK

I was first introduced to the work of Harry Clarke by a lady, who one day entered my shop and made friends with me. 

A very interesting person, she was a maker of stained glass who had completed several commissions, in stained glass, for religious buildings in Perth Australia, where she was living. 

She had been born in Liverpool, but like many had emigrated with her parents at an early age.

She showed me his techniques and I was fascinated by his palette of colours.

We became good friends.

I purchased a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Falling under a spell.

This was not cheap at the time. Though it looks so now.

It was illustrated by Harry Clarke and I was taken by those illustrations that had the colours of Arabian nights with a Dublin Hue.

 Many were in black and white showing the Aubrey Beardsley inheritance of all illustrators at this juncture in time.

They had an aggressive stylisation with a feminine touch.

 (No I can't work that one out myself either).

I then stumbled across some information that he had been commissioned for stained glass at St Mary's Nantwich in Cheshire. I had to go.

Its probably fifteen years since I first saw them.

I had thought about going for a day out but it always seemed a long way off the motorway, when I would see the signs for the town.

I did get a chance during a recent visit to Nantwich to pick up a Joseph Hoffman glass vase.

I was taken by the whole setting of the church and the respect it retains in the centre of the market town. 
I have become used to seeing historic structures trashed in Liverpool as the clowns who ran the city ruined the listed buildings by allowing innapropriate development.
But not here, in Nantwich. They want their history.

I wanted to see if I could make out the difference.
In the way that the light plays on the stained glass and the feeling that is within, and from several different centuries.
 I played 'Spot The Harry Clarke' and in no time at all I found them.
 It was dull day but the light came shining through the pale pinks and lilacs, and his unmistakable style finally became apparant in the drab light. 
It is at first glance, another stained glass window, in another church. but the more you look, the more you see. You can identify its him by his palette.
So I did a little video that I would like to share.
This was a Harry Clarke alright with all the usual symbolism and hidden meanings that I now associate with his remarkable way of seeing the world. Completed in 1919. The eyes have it.
And through his eyes you can journey into a distant place. 
Of Chivalric Knights and dragons breath and mythical places that feel real in your own imagination. 
That awake when you venture into Harry's thoughts.
This was a window commissioned in sad times but it has a glory in its melancholy.
Richard Coeur de Lion was as bold as I recall.  There is an atmosphere.

There is more than stained glass on view.
The Church is wonderful with its history evident for all to see. 
I won't put it all down here.
You can find more information here. St Mary's Nantwich. 

There are some remarkable carvings inside and on the outside of this medieval sandstone church that was restored in the 19th Century by George Gilbert Scott. 
I know the work of the family well. 
Growing up with the imposing Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool by Giles Gilbert Scott, also in sandstone.

There are a series of Misericords. I love that word.
A misericord is a small wooden structure formed on the underside of a folding seat in a church which, when the seat is folded up, is intended to act as a shelf to support a person in a partially standing position during long periods of prayer.
There are so many beutiful artifacts and historical features that I will have to go back again.
 In another fifteen years maybe?


Thursday, 30 September 2021

Jerry Lee Lewis Tower Ballroom Poster-I Track Down The Man Who Made It-Piece of the Week.

I recently purchased this historic Jerry Lee Lewis concert poster.

The concert took place at The Tower Ballroom New Brighton.

 Just a Ferry 'Cross The Mersey in 1962.

I decided to track down the man who made it.

I caught up with Tex O'Hara at his sisters house in Liverpool.
He spoke to me in great detail about the techniques he used to design it, and about the concert itself. 
Tex O'Hara designed many of the early Beatles posters. 
His brother Brian O'Hara was lead guitarist in the Fourmost, who were in The Brian Epstein stable of Merseybeat groups. They played many times at The Cavern in Mathew Street Liverpool, England. And in the 60's they had a big hit with a John Lennon penned song, Hello Little Girl. And many others.
They had a residency, that lasted for over a year at The London Palladium.
Brian Epstein would employ Tex to produce the posters that promoted many of his concerts. 
Though he was not too happy when he spelt The Beetles incorrectly on one poster. 
That poster is now worth a lot of money. Tex O'Hara designed the first Beatles Drum Logo.

The 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' Concert at The Tower Ballroom took place on 17th May 1962. 
Many of the Merseybeat groups would be there to pay homage to The Big Bopper.

Appearing with JERRY LEE LEWIS were The Echoes, BILLY KRAMER and the Coasters, LEE CASTLE and the Barons, THE BIG THREE, THE PRESSMEN, THE UNDERTAKERS, THE STRANGERS, VINCENT EARL and the Zeros, KINGSIZE TAYLOR and the Dominoes, STEVE DAY and the Drifters, and RIP VAN WINKLE and The Rip It Ups.

Tex tells me about Rory Storm being manhandled off The Killer's White Piano and how Jerry Lee Lewis from The Deep South who had just married his 13 year old bride was welcomed to The Wild West of Merseyside. 

I got him to sign the poster. YOU CANT GET BETTER PROVANENCE THAN THAT. 

Watch the video below for more information about this historic event.



Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Jean Gerbino Micro Mosaic Ceramic Vase-Piece of the Week

 Jean Gerbino (1876 -1966) set up his pottery at Vallauris, in the South of France. 

Gerbino was born into a Sicilian pottery family, he started learning his craft at an early age. He left for Vallauris, France, where he worked as a potter under Clément Massier.

 In 1919, after a spell in Algiers then in Uzès, near Nîmes, then he returned to Vallauris. Where he was to stay.

The vase on the left is 12cm high.

He was heavily influenced by Japanese Nerikomi pottery known as Neriage. The work he produced involves laminating different coloured clays to produce blends of colour that seem to swirl yet was uniform. 

When you then cut across the grain, of the blended clay, you get beautiful repeated patterns. 

The making of a stick of rock come to mind.

The detail is amazing.

Jean Gerbino devoted 15 years of his life to developing this unique process, a combination of mosaic and Neriage.

 In 1931, it won him the Paris Concours Lépine prize. Many other awards followed.

The vase below is 9cm high.

His work is unique in Europe to my mind and is as timeless as the Venetian masters of glass who weaved their millefiori rods into beautiful artistic creations.

 It must have taken a great amount of time to produce his work.

 Firstly in the concept of getting all the different clay to merge in the kiln and then in the designs, which have an art deco inspiration though post war and are of their time.

The colours reflect the light in his part of the world and echo the provincial colours of the pottery creations that made Vallauris a draw for ceramicists.

I have four vases ranging from 9cm to 12 cm in height.

I am amazed by them.