Life in the Arts Lane - Week 110 - Work Wakens From Its Slumbers

Life in the Arts Lane - Week 110 - Work Wakens From Its Slumbers

With a lurch, a hop, and a shudder the Art World is slowly - like Frankensteins monster - jolting back to life. For me leading the way is an auction house called Roseberys, located in South London, they are among a group of salerooms that have picked up the baton dropped or passed by Christies and Sothebys (depending on how you perceive it ) for selling decorative items for a few hundred up to a few thousand pounds. They have a two day sale this week which will hopefully tease the summer hibernating dealers out of their burrows blinking, rubbing their eyes and stir them into action.

Next on the agenda is the LAPADA fair ( London and Provincial antique dealers association ) which takes place in Berkeley square. It is quite a scary place to visit as the interior is usually quite dark and you enter having put your life at risk - traversing at a zebra crossing which the taxis and foreign registered sports cars see more as target practice than a place where pedestrians attempt to cross safely. Rashly I have signed up to take a stand. With a hundred or so other optimists I will spread my wares out, hopeful that an eclectic buyer will be sufficiently amused by my eclectic stock to make an eclectic purchase. It is true to say that the organisers make a big effort to entice the public with a barrage of emails and with copious and varied offerings to the press. They have had a redesign and everyone seems enthusiastic. The show takes place in the same tent structure as PAD ( Pavilion of Art and Design ). That fair coincides with the Frieze fairs and thus acts as a decorative arts element to those Fine and Contemporary art events. But first we have the LAPADA fair, which focusses on traditional antique dealing with a slant towards the curious and the original in terms of objects.

But events for the buying public are just one aspect of the return to the world of work. The retreat from holiday also means that the summer exhibitions are coming to an end. I just manage to get to see the Eric Ravilious show at the Dulwich picture gallery. He had a tragically short life - born in 1903 he died in a plane crash in 1942. His style seems quintessentially English and he sums up in many ways a gentle perception of a very local form of Art Deco. As a child we had his signature alphabet mugs and plates - designed for Wedgwood. The Dulwich show has been a huge success with long queues and enthusiastic reviews. In addition his work has recently shown a marked increase in value, moving from the decorative level into very significant sums indeed, from making tens of thousands his major watercolours now fetch hundreds of thousands. I ran into the Travers family, back from holiday, they have a gallery called Piano Nobile and spread their dealing out from a basic platform of Modern British, they are full of energy and it is a delight to see a business that thrives across the generations.

The upholstery in train, come on hurry up. ( image writer's own )

Back to work also are the restorers. I am not really sure why but the cabinet makers, polishers, gilders and upholsterers that I know all seem to have the deepest tans and the happiest looks. At Titian studios I drop in with my black working cocker spaniel - Mosca. Wagner is there with his new puppy - Penny. He had recently suffered a dog bereavement and his new hound has not erased his sadness but has definitely alleviated it. Mosca and Penny ran round his workshop with Penny doing her best to chew off Mosca's ridiculous floppy Cavalier ears. We - in the meantime - tried to discuss the work he is doing on a Dutch Rococo mirror. It is going fine but it was very very hard to concentrate. At Robins, the upholsterers, they are finally finishing a set of colonial armchairs for a client and at Hatfields the finishing touches are being achieved on a side table for another restless owner. Throughout August one can fairly and honestly blame people for being "away" but now the gloves are off, everything has to get done.

As September gets underway and August becomes a memory the pleasure of being back is encapsulated by a purchase I made. In Ladbroke Grove up by the tube station there is a pub called the Kensington Park Hotel, or KPH for short. It is a bit of a dingy pub but is a bastion of Notting Hill Gate history and sadly under threat from developers. It has lovely features including a couple of historic Double Diamond beer signs ( by repute Prince Phillips favourite beer, it is said he has one every night ) and a fine upstairs events room. Wandering upstairs I noticed a nice Irish rosewood early 19th c side table with a wonderful Connemara marble top. Once back downstairs I asked to see the manager and suggested he might like to sell the table. We get chatting and he turns out to be Vince Power the legendary music impresario, founder of the Mean Fiddler, Subterranea and almost countless others, for me his greatest creation was the short-lived Hop Farm festival where - jammed to the railings at the front - I saw the barely sober Pete Doherty perform the most perfect set I have ever had the good fortune to be nearly squashed to death watching. The combined joy of an out of the way treasure with a slice of hero worship topped with a drink in an historic watering hole - what could be a better welcome back to work.


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