2 October 2015

London Cocktail Week

Summer is over and autumn is upon us, one autumn event we are looking forward in particular is London Cocktail Week! This delightful event is held annually in October, this year it will run from 5 until 11, October. As the name suggests, you can expect a week of cocktail sampling at a multitude of venues dotted around the capital. These include bars, restaurants, pop-ups and street vendors who will serve some truly delicious creations.

Some might say this could result in a messy week of debauchery, but this is not the case, it’s a week dedicated to teaching people about the quality, not quantity of cocktails and their varied ingredients. Moderation is key. We'll certainly drink to that!

If you plan to create your own delectable cocktail concoction at home, Grays is the place to visit for unique cocktail apparatus.

A selection of cocktail shakers from the 1920s - 1930s, offered by Jack Podlewski

A stunning cocktail shaker with floral design, offered by Evonne Antiques

Set of fully hallmarked (Birmingham 1933) silver cocktail sticks with enamelled cockerels, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

25 September 2015

Lapada Art & Antiques Fair Berkeley Square 2015

Since it began in 2009, the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair has grown to become one of the most famous art and antiques fairs in the world, and an important date on the London social calendar.

It takes place 22 - 27 September in the beautiful Berkeley Square, Mayfair, just a short walk from Grays. It is one of only two events that happen annually in the Square.

100 exhibitors present work from across the art, antiques, design and decorative arts spectrum. This includes jewellery, furniture, carpets, tapestries, antiquities, clocks, ceramics, silver and fine art. Each dealer and item is carefully vetted, thanks to a 70-member specialist committee.

Onyx cameo brooch, circa 1870s, offered by HORTON LONDON
A selection of European porcelain scent bottles and stoppers from Meissen and the Paris manufactories,
mid-to-late 19th century, offred by Serhat Ahmet

18ct gold bee brooch, offered by Wimpole

Regard pendant, offered by Anthea AG Antiques

Vintage yellow diamond cocktail ring, offered by The Gilded Lily

At this year's LAPADA fair you can find the following dealers from Grays, don't forget to stop by Grays and The Mews whilst you're in Mayfair.

Pushkin Antiques

21 September 2015

The Dressmaker - 50s Vintage with a Vengeance

The Dressmaker is an upcoming film directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham, that explores the themes of revenge, love and creativity, beautifully set against a 1950s backdrop, where the fashion style and glamour of the era is used as a tool for both transformation and revenge. It had its world premiere at the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival (10 September - 20 September) on the 14th of September and will have a world wide release during the coming Autumn. 

The Dressmaker

Kate Winslet stars as the dressmaker who as a child, after being falsely accused of murder, is forced to leave her home in rural Australia for Europe. There she is taught the art of haute couture by Madeleine Vionnet and becomes an expert dressmaker. But after many years of success she must return to her small hometown in order to take care of her ailing, mentally unstable mother. Arriving with her sewing machine and haute couture style she starts to transform this miserable and suppressed place by her fashion designs and sewing skills, and between the glamorous styles and colorful clothes, she exacts some long awaited sweet vengeance on those who wronged her all those years ago.  

When one thinks of 1950s fashion, words such as elegance, style and glamour springs to mind and rightly so, which makes it an excellent backdrop for elegant revenge, with a glamorous femme fatal. The 50s, being a decade born out of years of depression and two World Wars, was a time shaped by the desperate cravings not only for peace and prosperity, but also for glamour, elegance and style. 

And this made way for grand designs made of opulent materials such as chiffon, fur and sequins and gave the Parisian haute couture a renaissance with designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert deGivenchy, Pierre Balmain, Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet.

And to the west, American culture gaining more influence and popularity, would through Hollywood turn movie stars into glamorous style icons, with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly.

Typical stylistic elements of the time were of course the well known corseted waist, creating the stylized hour glass figure or the wasp waist. Other stylistic trends of the era were the broadened shoulders, swirling knee-length skirts, long coats, hats with small veils, gloves, stockings and pearl necklaces. The clothes were simply cut and would often include some memorable detail, such as a low-cut back to a dress or some particularly stunning accessory.

Jewellery typical for the period would present sharp, geometric patterns celebrating the machine age, and put together more exotic creations inspired by the Near and Far East hinting at the fact that jewellery of this time were truly international.

And here at Grays we have many beautiful vintage pieces to choose from. Below you can see some of the items to be found from this era...

1950s amber coloured brooches, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Classic 1950s gloves, offered by Arabella Bianco

1950s Gold tone and yellow glass stone necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
1950s Jacket offered by June Victor
Sets were very popular in the 50s, this necklace, brooch and earrings set with glass stones is offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

17 September 2015

The London Design Festival

The London Design Festival, running from the 19 - 27 September, is one of the world's most important annual design events held every year to celebrate London as the design capital of the world. Running since 2003, the festival comprises of over 400 events and exhibitions collaborating with hundreds of partner organisations from around the world.

Conceived by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans, the festival builds upon London's existing design activity. Their concept was to promote the city's creativity, providing a platform for the country's greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver a celebration of design.
This year the Festival opens its newest Design District south of the river at Bankside spanning from Borough Market to the Oxo Tower. The new area will host 20 events and activities, showcasing the creative industry within the area.
Each year there is an ambitious programme of installations called the Landmark Projects. These projects commission the world’s best architects and designers to create works based around a particular material, theme or location. These installations have appeared in some of London’s most prominent spaces such as the V&A, Southbank Centre, Tate Modern and Trafalgar Square.

This year, sister company Alfies Antique Market have joined #LDF to put Church Street design on the map. Entitled 'Alfies and the Church Street Design Trail', this event will take place on Thursday, 24 September and will consist of talks, exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops.

See below for some of our favourite pieces of iconic design selected from dealers at Grays:

 Doulton Flamb√© Sung Bowl with Vines & Berries, c.1920, available from Serhat Ahmet

Striking vintage Park Lane gold tone dangle earrings, available from MGN Collectables
 French octagonal Art Deco vase, available from Flo Morgan Gallery

Stratton abstract design compact from the 1960s, available from Gillian Horsup

1960s Silver & blue enamel brooch, available from Linda Bee

Jakob Bengel necklace, available from Gillian Horsup

27 August 2015

Micro Mosaic Jewellery

While on the lookout for interesting jewellery pieces for a recent magazine photo shoot, we spotted beautiful micro mosaic jewellery and instantly fell in love with these awe-inspiring mini-masterpieces. 

The term micro mosaic, coined by British-born businessmen and collector Sir Arthur Gilbert, referred to Roman mosaics created from tiny fragments of glass called tesserae. These intricately crafted pieces depicted ancient Italian historical sites, as well as animal, bird, insect and floral motifs with incredible realism.  Mosaics were made into small oval or circular plaques cemented to a glass, stone, or metal background and incorporated into brooches, pins, pendants, necklaces, earrings, and rings. Many of these pieces were sold as souvenirs during the Grand Tour Era and the wealthiest tourists would even commission their own mosaics. Despite their popularity, micro mosaic jewellery was rarely mentioned in the jewellery design reports of their time, sadly indicating the lack of appreciation for the precision and tremendous level of workmanship required to create these magnificent pieces. The early 20th century saw the downfall of this form of art, with the higher quality micro mosaic jewellery ceasing to be made. 

Micro mosaic jewellery is a true work of art and finer quality pieces are rare to find.  We are delighted to have found some wonderful pieces at Grays. Here are our favourites: 

18ct gold Victorian micro mosaic bulla pendant set in 18ct, Etruscan style made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company
Silver gilt micro mosaic Victorian pendant, made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

18ct gold Victorian micro mosaic brooch set into a blue glass surround, made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company
Italian c.1810 micro mosaic plaque of a crane, in original gold surround.
Offered by Peter Szuhay

14 August 2015

International Ebola Recovery Conference

Kamba Fine Art is a gallery based in Grays devoted to the development of contemporary art in non-Western nations, and supports emerging and established African talent, giving them a platform for their work.

This year Kamba Gallery have been invited by the Sierra Leone High Commission to attend the International Ebola Recovery Conference in New York on 24th of October  2015. Kamba will be raising funds for the victims of the Ebola crisis by showing a series of unique art pieces created by 20 prominent African artists. The gallery have commissioned 40 works to be created for the auction in reaction to the Ebola crisis, after the conference they will be generously donated to areas that have been affected by the Ebola outbreak. These pieces will be placed in hospitals, schools, museums and national parks.

This will be Kamba Gallery's second visit to the UN after participating in the UN’s 70th Anniversary in July last year. In conjunction to this event in New York, the gallery is also planning to hold an auction in London to help raise money for the Sierra Leone based charities, Street Child and Excel. Before their trip to the UN, Kamba Gallery will hold an exhibition in London at Gallery 8 which will take place 23 - 30 September, 2015.

For more information on the International Ebola Recovery Conference or the auction visit the Kamba Fine Art website or see below for a selection of works that will be available at auction.

Bunmi Babatunde - Survivor’s Rhapsody 1, 1989. Cold cast.

Damilola Odusote - Protector, 2015. Acrylic on canvas.
Francis Uduh - S.O.S 1, 2012. Cold cast fiberglass.

Duke Asid - Friends, 2015. Oil on canvas.

Emeka Nwagbara - Together We Overcome, 2015. Oil on canvas.

30 July 2015

Antiques Roadshow: Balmoral Castle

Today's Antiques Roadshow will be a special one - it will be filmed at Balmoral, the Royal Family's most private residence. For over 150 years this castle has been home to royal traditions of picnics, stag hunting and kilts.

Balmoral, c.1890–1900

A large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it became a royal residency in the Autumn of 1852, when Prince Albert formally took possession, the price being £32,000. In her journals Queen Victoria described Balmoral as "my dear paradise in the Highlands".

Along with Sandringham House in Norfolk, ownership of Balmoral was inherited by Edward VIII on his accession in 1936.

Edward VII relaxing at Balmoral Castle, c1907-1908
The lodge has been in the news periodically since 2005, because Queen Elizabeth often spends the first few days of her summer holiday in the lodge. Will she make a guest appearance on the Antiques Roadshow?

At Grays, we came across a few antiques that wouldn't look out of place in the Scottish home of the Royal Family....

'A Water Party', Oil on canvas, John James Chalon (1778-1854). Signed and dated lower right 1836. Offered by Horton London

Solid sterling silver ornate candlesticks, offered by AMS Antiques

Red and gold bohemian centrepiece with a portrait of a lady. c1870-1880, offered by Mousa Antiques
Victorian Scottish Banded Agate Bracelet, offered by Nayabelle

Edwardian urn vases, offered by Past and Present

19th Century Scottish solid silver 3 piece decorative tea set, Glasgow c.1894, offered by Pushkin Antiques Ltd

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