Antiques from Africa #43

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London in June is the place to be as the summer art and antiques fair season offers up the best available from across the world. Celebrating its 43rd year the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair, billed as London’s original art and antiques fair offers a wide choice of high quality, vetted art, antiques, furniture and collectors’ pieces. Bringing Africa on a plate to London will hopefully help my shop, The Old Corkscrew based in Franschhoek, to be noticed amongst the one hundred and sixty exhibitors at this prestigious event.

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The plate pictured is a wall charger from the Kalahari Studio. Established in South Africa in 1949 by Aleksanders Klopcanovs and his wife Elma, they had started with the Linnware Studio in 1948.  A year later they broke away to found the Kalahari Studio in Bramley, Johannesburg. In 1950 they relocated to Constantia Nek in Cape Town. Over the next ten years the output was characterised by strong design reflecting their European roots. Interwoven with this were the bold vivid colours and shapes, typical of Africa. The romanticized images of Africa and its people found on their work stands out in the international market and is avidly sought after by collectors.

The Olympia International Arts & Antiques Fair runs from the 18th to 28th June and gives dealers a shop window in London’s iconic Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre at the height of the summer tourist season with about 30,000 visitors. This year the organisers Clarion Events Ltd have smartly revitalised their website and the Fair Video on the home page is well worth watching, just please excuse the South African bloke- see www.olympia-art-antiques.com  Each year a programme of talks by various experts is laid on and this year’s speakers are curators from The Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum, Ashmolean Museum and Pallant House Gallery.

Some of the stock highlights this year include a life-size portrait of Madame de Pompadour painted in about 1830 shown by Nicholas Price, a magnificent Marcel Bouraine Art Deco Ball Dancer from Solo Antiques and a collection of vintage watches including a 1963 stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with original box from Scarab Antiques.

The highlight on my stand has to be the herd of 10 silver cows- perfect for any European wanting to pay Lobolla. These are actually novelty silver milk jugs including English, Dutch and German examples dating from 1891 to 1930. Lobolla, the African custom of a man’s family negotiating a bride’s price, was traditionally paid in livestock and according to Wikipedia “It is generally accepted that 10 cows, at a minimum, are required in a lobolo within the Xhosa and Zulu cultures”

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The only hitch here is that you will need a real ‘Lobola Calculator’ not just the phone app to work out their price.