A little over a year ago I started this column and it has slowly taken on a life of its own. The rationale behind it was to give some background information on what is often perceived to be a staid and conservative industry. Nothing could be further from the truth and as I sit at the 42nd Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair I find myself writing Antiques from Africa # 42. Divine intervention, coincidence or deliberately planned maybe, but for me this 42 is more likely the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”.
This year the fair has had very good attendance so far and it is always nice to see the South Africans from all corners of the globe who visit London in June. It is also nice to be building an English clientele as it certainly eases the financial pressure of doing business in another country. On Friday I was chatting to a lady who together with her husband had bought from me last year. They had stuck in my mind as a couple as they had similar tastes in design- a rare thing in my experience. When I inquired about her husband she informed me as to his recent death and I could see the grief and overwhelming emotion brimming under the surface. Having been together for more than 40 years I did not know how to begin to offer condolences that would mitigate the pain of losing her nearest and dearest. In my attempt at small talk and to try to make her day out at the fair fun, I rambled on about the new stock I had found. In the course of our conversation as she was looking through my stock of small boxes, I quickly picked up she was looking for something important. She chose a small elegant vinaigrette and then proceeded to tell me why she wanted one. The answer was to place some of her late husband’s ashes in and to carry with her, so that she could feel close to him. I was at loss for words. I asked her permission to share this as her idea was both empowering and a smart practical way in dealing with a loss of this magnitude. It is sales such as these that one always remembers. They define your path as you grow, both as a dealer and a person alike.
One of the interesting developments at this year’s fair is the inclusion of contemporary design especially in jewelry. I am lucky to be opposite the fashionable Tyger Glyn Gallery owned by Miranda Rhys Williams. Their stock the latest in cutting edge design are more akin to wearable works of art. A good example of this is the Jonathan Boyd oxidized silver “Clyde 2013”.
Looking like a piece of industrial chain this necklace is made up out of conversations laid down in sliver and then formed into links. This stretches the imagination and shows that great art is still being created.
These quality contemporary jewels are going to be the classic antiques of tomorrow.