Yesterday, at the rather marvellous Woolley & Wallis salerooms in Wiltshire, a new world record was paid for a piece of Mdina at auction. Lot 169, the Mdina 'Crizzle Stone' shown below, fetched a staggering £950 - over £1,100 including buyer's premium. Whilst this isn't quite as much as the £1,564 paid for a large Mdina 'Fish' signed by Michael Harris on eBay.de in March (see below), it is important as it's the highest price paid for a piece of Mdina in a traditional auction room environment.
For those of you who haven't read my book, the Crizzle Stone represents the apotheosis of Harris' hallmark Fish design, and the highly complex, time-consuming techniques behind its creation. Furthermore, having researched and closely watched this area for over five years now, I am only aware of four other examples. Two of those are in a private collection related to the Harris family - primarily as they were only made towards the end of the four years that he ran Mdina Glass. Add to that the facts that Michael Harris was the only glassmaker with enough skill to make them, and the fact that they were very expensive at the time, meaning few were made and sold, and you have a considerable and desirable rarity.
As to the identity of the buyer, he or she has been revealed simply as a 'private European glass collector'. Whether it's the first piece in a new collection, or else the crowning glory of an existing collection, it arguably represents one of the best and rarest designs ever produced by Michael Harris. With thanks to Michael Jeffrey of Woolley & Wallis.
Friday, 15 June 2007
Wandering around glass fairs, as is my want, reveals the diversity of the exciting world of contemporary glass. Whilst glassmaking is a costly and time-consuming activity, often making many pieces expensive, there can be a few affordable surprises. One of them is the work of recent glass graduate Sarah Cable. The piece below is typical of her work, which I think is fresh, innovative, colourful - and great fun. Based on memories of housewives leaning over garden fences exchanging a natter in a very Beryl Cook like manner, these striking vases are available in different sizes, colours and patterns. Each piece is individually hand blown in brightly coloured glass, before being cased all-over in dark glass, which is made opaque and iridescent by fuming it with chemicals. Areas in the desired pattern are then masked off, and the remaining areas sandblasted away by hand to reveal the underlying coloured glass. Finally, small, contrastingly coloured 'petals' are added to the neck of the vase, like an opening flower. This particular example is made all the more special as the glass is graduated from peach to yellow from the base upwards. At an affordable £40 for a visually impressive size, I'm sure you'll agree that it certainly beats derivative factory-made glass from the likes of Habitat and Ikea! However, I'm not sure about the nattering old ladies, as to me they look some form of pod-like plant or flower from an alien world - an effect that is accentuated when they're grouped together. Fantastic! If you'd like to know more, or buy one, contact Michelle Guzy on 01785 249 802, or visit her at one of the many glass fairs she stands at. Having spoken to Michelle only recently, there are some pretty whacky and creative new designs on the way - I think Ms Cable has a long way to go, so I'd snap one up before her fame (and prices) rise!