March 2016 Newsletter

  • By Antiques-Art-Design Sydney

“I find no pleasure other than learning”

Inigo Jones
Close up of rose from Swedish silver and enamel case c.1920 from our current collection.
Hello there,

We hope you are having a great start to the year and are enjoying the extended summer weather.  We have some amazing new pieces in store and look forward to sharing these with you.  Please look for out for our new section below covering new finds and discoveries.

For the very organised, the annual Sydney Fair is being held this 26-29 May 2016 at Bryon Kennedy Hall, Moore Park, specialising in everything 20th Century, Art Deco and Vintage.  We will be sending out invitations early May, so please make sure you let friends and family know if they are interested, all they have to do is contact us via email and provide the following information: name, postal address and contact number, and we will send out an invitation.  This year the format may be email or post but we wanted to make sure we had all the information as not to miss anyone out.  For more detail regarding the Sydney Fair, please go to the following link:
Modernist silver fringe necklace by Bent Knudsen c.1970 from our current collection.
Blowing out the Candles
March Birthday Dinner for Eight…

At the restaurant at the end of the universe Douglas Adams plays mein host, Lady Gaga orders steak tartare, Mickey Spillane trades shots with Wyatt Earp, Gorky and Gagarin bond over borscht, Michelangelo picks at his marble cake, Kerouac, bored, hits the road…
What do you think about when you think about pink?
Roses? Lipstick? Gin? Elephants (even when you try not to)? Well whatever it is save your neurons because, according to NPR science journalist Robert Krulwich, there is no colour pink, just a mixture of red and violet,

“All colours are just waves of light, so every colour we see with our brains, there’s no such thing as a band of wavelengths that mix red and violet and therefore pink is not a real wavelength of light. That’s why pink is an invention. It’s not something out there.”

This is a catastrophe. Are we supposed to reject this treasured tone, once a symbol of persecution transformed by activism to the emblem of liberation and compassion, on the word of some scientist, or worse some science journalist?  What will become of fairy floss, cupcakes, lingerie, princess wear for tots, Day Three at the SCG, calamine lotion and My Little Pony, not to mention the eponymous rockamazon aerialist and Iced Vo-Vos and WHAT ABOUT BARBIE? No, I say no, a thousand times no! Join the deniers & revel in the bliss of pinkitude. Think pink!

Kay Thompson, channelling Diana Vreeland, as Quality Magazine editor Maggie Prescott in “Funny Face” thinks pink.

By Lorna Lesley
1960s pink Murano Sommerso glass and pink lucite Gucci watch from our current collection.
Shocking pink cushion cut tourmaline diamond gold cluster ring from our current collection.
“Stargazing: Memoirs of A Young Lighthouse Keeper” by Peter Hill, Knopf 2003
These days lighthouses are automated, the job of lighthouse keeper made redundant by technology and replaced by caretakers and venue managers as the iconic buildings in their rugged locations become upmarket B&Bs or corporate retreats.
In "Stargazing: Memoirs of A Young Lighthouse Keeper” artist and critic Peter Hill recalls his experiences as a lighthouse keeper in the rugged islands off the coast of Scotland in the northern summer of 1973. As a nineteen year old art student he found himself guarding the light in the company of, among others, a gourmet cook, a World War Two veteran, a Doctor Who tragic and a retired history teacher “the prof”, while working his way through an eclectic reading list and keeping up with the goings on in Coronation Street and the Watergate hearings.  Part history, part autobiography it’s the story of a lost world told with wry humour and heart.
                           Photo courtesy of Lorna Lesley

Taste of Sydney festival runs from March 10-13 and is held at Centennial Park.  Portena, Three Ducks Blue and Kitchen by Mike are on the menu at the four-day food festival plus several more.

There are live cooking demonstrations, meet-the-chef sessions and wine, and lots to sample from top restaurants around Sydney.
See link:


Often there are things that come into the store that are marvellous examples.  It may be of a type of work, or even a particular designers work, and sometimes there are discoveries that we make in the process of researching and talking about them with customers and connoisseurs, that it seems a shame not to be able to share them with a wider audience. This month we have decided to include a new addition to the newsletter which will highlight a particular object or discovery that we have made and talk about the history, or designer’s profile, or a particular style or artistic movement.  We hope that this will be of interest and give you a greater understanding of what fuels our passion in the hunt for the perfect pieces to offer up on our shelves.
Chinese export silver has become a field of collecting in itself, from the days when Canton was one of the richest ports in the world; when the wealthy dined off plates of solid silver and, reportedly in some cases, solid gold to the more commercial but still exquisitely made tourist pieces of the 1950’s and 60’s.
This item is of the later type and is a Chinese export silver canister in the novel form of a small pavilion.  Today these are often erroneously referred to, probably in the effort to be less controversial, as tea caddies, but were most likely made to hold cigarettes. This beautiful piece is completely hand made, from the filigree shingled lid to the exquisite detail of the ring pulls on the three sets of doors around the outside of the piece.  The level of detail and intricacy is astounding. It is then further embellished with stones; orange and green aventurine as well as including two full jade bangles, enamel and finally gilded to make such a delightfully glowing little object that it would be hard not to be charmed by it, as a tourist passing through Hong Kong or Shanghai in the 1950’s.  It was when the quality and skill used in making these tourist pieces was at its height.

But what more do we know about it? When it first arrived, people who saw it, said it reminded them of the Forbidden City in Beijing and perhaps there is a good reason for that.  Could it be based on the Temple of Heaven?  Or perhaps from a pavilion at the Temple of Longevity? (see pictures below) It doesn’t really matter and maybe it is merely a mélange of design ideas, however, what it does do, is successfully capture the essence of quintessential Chinese pavilion style.  
When discussing this piece with a client, and talking about how the skills that were required to make this were fast disappearing, he sent me a Youtube link to an amazing documentary about the restoration of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity. Rewarding to watch if you have fifty minutes or so to spare.  It is wonderful to see the dedication of craftsmen seeking to restore a gem in the Forbidden City, but also concerning to see how much these crafts have been eliminated from the lexicon of centuries old handicrafts and skills in China.
Our pavilion is only 14.5cms tall and no restoration was required, but still a testament in miniature, of the skills of the Chinese craftsmen who designed and pieced it together.

Pavilions from the Temple of Longevity, photo from (...with complete strangers)
Temple of Heaven, photo from
The Last Word…
The state of looking younger than one actually is,  as in “act yer ageia”
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