Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gateshead Antiques Roadshow

What a great city! I really look forward to the Antiques Roadshows I'm fortunate enough to take part in. Not just because of the camaraderie and the objects, but also because of the people and the city they live in. Having never been to Newcastle or Gateshead before, I was excited to see another part of the world. And I wasn't disappointed, the city is nothing less than beautiful, and inhabitants incredibly friendly.
They also brought some real 'gems' along to the modern Sage Centre. I can't reveal what I saw today, but let's just say that they were a delight, particularly a vast collection of items that were right up my street. Watch the current series to see what I found.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Tynemouth Antiques Market & Newcastle

Stepping off my early morning plane from London to Newcastle for tomorrow's Antiques Roadshow, the bug struck. Thankfully neither a case of pre-event jitters, nor 'man flu', but the bug to hunt for treasures! My Roadshow colleague and friend Steven Moore, a native of Newcastle, knew just the place - Tynemouth Antiques Market. Getting there couldn't be easier, as the market sprawls around Tynemouth metro station, on both sides of the tracks under a wonderful Victorian brick, glass and iron building. If you're up that way, this bustling market is certainly worth a visit. Over 60 stallholders ranging from professional dealers to house clearers, and those who want to clear some space at home, sell a wide variety of items at prices to suit any pocket. Art Deco ceramics varied from as little as £5 for a 1930s Shelley lustre bowl, to over £150 for a rather lovely Myott jug. Character collectables featured large, as did all manner of different types of glassware. My already tightly packed overnight bag couldn't take much, but I managed to squeeze in a reasonably rare Isle of Wight Studio Glass Green Azurene disc paperweight, bought for a bargainous £6 from a lovely lady who had been given it as a gift in the mid-1980s. If you have any money left, I can recommend Attica in Old George Square off Highbridge in the centre of town. Spread over two floors behind a rather grand wooden door, you'll find everything from funky 60s-70s lamps and clocks to Italian ceramics, Fat Lava, vintage specs, handbags and clothes. The latter is a speciality of the shop, and there's plenty to choose from, be it an early 20thC men's (collarless) dress shirt by a local maker, a tweed jacket or a Sixties mini.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Broadfield Lecture 2008

I was honoured to be asked - the annual Broadfield Lecture, part of the International Festival of Glass, is a rather grand affair. This morning I found myself standing in a beautifully appointed room at the Broadfield House Glass Museum, surrounded by oil portraits of the great and good of the Victorian British glass industry. And, of course, some 40 expectant faces staring at me, waiting for me to begin. After savouring the moment for a moment, I launched into my hour-long lecture on glassmaker and designer Michael Harris, the subject of one of my books and the exhibition I have organised and curated that stands on display in the room across the corridor.
With his widow Elizabeth, son Timothy, specialist dealers Ron & Ann Wheeler, and a number of other well known experts from the glass world in attendance, I was aware the pressure was on. But, you know what? I really enjoyed it! I always used to find public speaking rather scary, but if practise doesn't make perfect, it certainly makes these events more bearable and even a little pleasurable.
After I had finished, Stephen Pollock-Hill, owner of Nazeing Glass, joined Roger Dodsworth, Keeper of Glass at the museum, in thanking me for the lecture and also for my contribution to British glass. I was indeed well and truly honoured! In addition to this, one of the most exciting aspects of the event was the audience, with a couple of notable exceptions as mentioned above, nearly all were new faces to me, meaning the Harris story spreads even further. However, with lunch and wine served afterwards, many of these new faces became new friends.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Harris Goes Home

I've just got back from Broadfield House Glass Museum in Stourbridge, West Midlands, where I have been setting up the first ever retrospective exhibition of the work of Michael Harris at Mdina Glass and Isle of Wight Studio Glass. Exhausting, but enormous fun!
The exhibition contains hundreds of pieces of glass designed, and in some instances made, by Michael. The pieces have been sourced from my own collection, with gaps filled from the Harris family private collection, and the collection of a notable collector. For those of you who haven't heard about the Michael Harris phenomenon, and how he revolutionised the production of studio art glass during the late 1960s, I suggest you read my book on the great man, published back in 2006. But I guess I would say that, wouldn't I?!
For those of you who are attending the third International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge from 22nd to the 25th August, you'll be amongst the first to be able to visit this ground-breaking exhibition. Mdina and Isle of Wight Studio Glass has risen dramatically in terms of demand and value over the past three years, and it's about time that Michael's work was displayed in a museum - even more so one in the home town where it all started.
Just one final thing. I owe an enormous debt of thanks to Elizabeth Harris, Michael's widow. She showed herself as being nothing less than a superstar at displaying the wide variety of diverse objects on show in the cabinets. But I guess that's what an innate skill and talent for it, twinned with 40 years of experience, gives you!
If you're coming along to the IFG, please come and say hello - or come along to my lecture at the museum on Saturday morning at 11am. What's more is that Michael's son Timothy will be blowing glass afterwards. If you can't make it for the weekend, visit Broadfield House Glass Museum until January next year to say hello to something far more appealing - the best and largest exhibition spanning 40 years of Michael's work that has ever been seen!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Last week I was called by my friend and colleague on the Antiques Roadshow, Eric Knowles. On a recent trip to France to buy antiques and collectables for hit BBC TV series 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is', he picked up a little something that he thought had my name written all over it. I've just met Eric in north London's bustling Camden Passage antiques market to see what it was. And he was absolutely correct - it was right up my street! We filmed a short slot, bartered a little, then money changed hands and Eric and I went our separate ways happy.
For those not familiar with the series, two leading experts spend £1,000 of their own money buying a variety of antiques and collectables with the aim of selling them on later to make a profit. The expert who makes the most profit wins, with the profit going to charity. In this episode, Eric was up against Jonty Hearndon. To see exactly what fabulous object Eric thought I'd like to add to my collection, and to see whether Eric or Jonty wins, you'll have to tune in to the new series to be screened later this year. In the meantime, here are Eric and I clinching the deal!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Thousands flock to Czech glass exhibition

The 'Hi Sklo Lo Sklo' exhibition of postwar Czech glass design held at the King's Lynn Arts Centre in Norfolk has now closed. Over 4,650 glass and 20th century design fans visited to view over 1,000 objects during its inaugural four week run. On average, that's over 1,100 visitors per week, and nearly 200 visitors per day!
To see what you missed out on, click here to view some images of the exhibition. The accompanying catalogue is still available - click here for details on how to order a copy.
Due to the staggering demand, it is likely that the exhibition will travel, potentially to locations in London and the north of England. Watch this space!