Promoting the Arts in Sussex

On July 21st Toovey’s Auctioneers and Valuers host their annual Contemporary Art Auction at their Spring Gardens salerooms in Washington, West Sussex. The auction is an eagerly awaited event for many collectors and connoisseurs of contemporary art and follows the preview exhibition “Off the Wall” at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery.

While most art auctions deal with the resale of second-hand works, this auction is unique, as it offers new works entered by the artists themselves. This year, event organiser Nicholas Toovey has selected 150 works to showcase fifty of the best emerging and established contemporary artists around, the majority from Sussex. He describes the collection as “a diverse and eclectic mix of styles and media that really highlights what is being produced today.” The variety on offer is testament to each artist’s individual approach to his or her subject and medium. The sale offers paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs and ceramics, with a third of this year’s roster of artists newly sourced and appearing at the auction for the first time.

Elizabeth Jardine's sculpture 'Owl', wingspan 61cm
Elizabeth Jardine's sculpture 'Owl'

One of the artists new to the event is Elizabeth Jardine from Brighton. She has steadily been developing her work since graduating from Falmouth College of Art in 2003. Inspired by long walks in the countryside, her paintings are quiet and meditative, often views through wooded paths with flickering light dancing across the canvas. Alongside her 2-D work, and equally important to the artist, are her papier-mâché sculptures, three of which have been selected for the auction. ‘Owl’ is a typical example of her 3-D work, where the wonkiness of cardboard and the energy of torn paper transform into characterful birds and animals full of life and spirit.

Nicholas looks all year round for artists with the right dynamic to keep the auction fresh and different from previous sales. He carefully balances new participants with past contributors that patrons of the event have grown to know and love, such as Chris Kettle, Carolyn Genders, Paul Cox and Eve Shepherd.

Richard Davidson's oil on panel 'Wellington Boots', 40 x 50cm
Richard Davidson's oil on panel 'Wellington Boots'

Richard Davidson has been a regular contributor to the auction over the years. This year he has entered three original oils on canvas based on the extraordinary ordinariness of everyday things. Prior to training as an artist, Richard had a legal career in London. This obviously still influences his subject matter, as much of it relates to the accoutrements of white collar work in the city, but as he quips: “the precision and attention to detail required as a solicitor made it unlikely that I would ever be an abstract painter.” A typical example of his work entered in the auction is ‘Wellington Boots’, which shows his attention to detail and his typical solid colour background, creating the strong contrasts characteristic of his oeuvre. It does not show the link to working in the city in the same way as his other two works but perhaps, after living in Graffham for the last eleven years, life in the country is slowly altering his source of inspiration.

Three works in naked raku entered by ceramicist John Evans, heights 15 to 20cm
Three works in naked raku entered by ceramicist John Evans

John Evans is among the fourteen ceramicists participating in the sale. The Worthing-based potter is a member of the Sussex Guild, the Craft Potters Association, London Potters and the Southern Ceramics Group. His work is largely in ‘naked raku’, an involved and lengthy process, which culminates in using the effects of smoke to decorate fired clay forms. While raku can be produced in a variety of colours, the orangey background on the three pieces John has entered is a result of using a local clay as the slip. In fact for these works the clay was literally dug up from his own garden in Worthing. John burnishes all his pieces before the initial firing, which leaves them incredibly tactile with an unrivalled smoothness.

The auction has been described as “the best Contemporary Art Auction to be held in the South East.” This is largely attributable to the family-firm ethos of Toovey’s, combined with internationally recognised expertise and Nicholas Toovey’s personal passion for promoting the arts in Sussex. With works estimated from £50 to £8000, Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction 2012 aims to be accessible to all, offering a friendly and enjoyable way to get involved in the contemporary art market. A fully-illustrated catalogue featuring interviews with each participating artist is currently available. The majority of works are on display at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery in their preview exhibition “Off The Wall” until July 7th. All works can then be viewed at Toovey’s Spring Gardens salerooms on Friday July 20th between 12 noon and 5pm and on Saturday July 21st from 3pm until the start of the auction at 6pm.

Nicholas Toovey’s article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in July 2012.

‘Exploring’ the July 2012 Specialist Book Auction

Lot 3044: Amundsen's 'The South Pole'

Toovey’s July Antiquarian & Collectors’ Book Auction catalogue is now online. The specialist auction includes a fascinating collection of books relating to the Polar regions. The list of authors include Robert Falcon Scott, Douglas Mawson, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, Edward Evans, Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Ernest Shackleton to name but a few. The collection almost forming a who’s who of Antarctic and Arctic exploration.  The sale commences with two works relating to the Arctic region, Lot 3001 and 3002 are both two volume sets presented in contemporary leather bindings. Lot 3001 is David Crantz’s ‘The History of Greenland’ being the first U.K. edition of 1767 estimated at £400-600, while Lot 3002 is Peter Cormack Sutherland’s ‘Journal of a Voyage in Baffin’s Bay’ published in 1852, estimated at £600-1000.

Many of the works are first editions and provide first-hand accounts of travelling in the North and South. Lot 3027 is a 1922 printing of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s ‘The Worst Journey in the World, Antarctic 1910-1913’. Taurus [84] described this work as ‘The best written and most enduring account of exploits in the Antarctic’ being the only first-hand account of Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘Terra Nova’ expedition. It is bound in the original blue cloth, a variant to that recorded in Spence [277], but which Rosove states is ‘significantly scarcer than the previous [cloth backed boards edition]‘. The two volumes carry a pre-sale estimate of £700-1000.  Another book relating to Scott is Lot 3026, Raymond E. Priestley’s ‘Antarctic Adventure, Scott’s Northern Party’. This first edition bound in the original decorated cloth is scarce, as ‘Many copies were destroyed during a fire at the publisher’s warehouse‘, see Spence [939]. Lot 3024 is a first U.K. edition of Scott’s ‘The Voyage of the “Discovery”, printed in 1905. This two volume set includes a mounted clipped signature by Scott on the reverse of the frontispiece, reflected in the estimate of £1000-1500. Further presentation copies can be found throughout the collection, Lot 3032 for example is Henrik Johan Bull’s ‘The Cruise of the “Antarctic” to the South Polar Regions’, which carries a presentation inscription from the author’s cousin, Johannes Catharinus Bull, aka ‘John’ to Miss Ivana Bull. John aided his cousin with the completion of the book and is acknowledged in the preface. This first edition is bound in the original decorated cloth and is offered with an estimate of £500-700.

Click on an image for full view and again for further magnification:

The sale also includes an account of  the cornerstone of Antarctic exploration, Roald Amundsen’s ‘The South Pole, an Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram”, 1910-1912’. Which describes the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Although a second impression of the first English edition, this two volume set was printed a month after the first printing. It is bound in the original red cloth with Norwegian flags to the upper covers and spines. This work is Lot 3044 and is offered with an estimate of £400-600.

These books relating to the Arctic and Antarctic are Lots 3001 to 3071 and are all illustrated on Toovey’s online catalogue. This Polar region collection joins other fascinating books within the auction, including Lot 3085 featured in our previous blog post. The Book Sale will be held on the 10th July 2012, commencing at 1.30pm, for viewing times and further information please visit www.tooveys.com.

Updating a Tradition: Lisa Katzenstein

Detail of tall cone vases in 'Flowers' design by Lisa Katzenstein
Detail of tall cone vases in 'Flowers' design by Lisa Katzenstein

Ceramics continually fall under the radar as an art form. In this country ceramics struggle to shrug off the perception of it being a utilitarian craft, whilst in Europe you have whole museums dedicated to the subject. Lisa Katzenstein is a Hastings-based ceramicist who, through her art, would like to change people’s awareness of the medium. Nicholas Toovey tells us more

'Landscape' design rectangular vase by Lisa Katzenstein
'Landscape' design rectangular vase by Lisa Katzenstein
Group of leaning vases hand-painted with wild plants by Lisa Katzenstein
Group of leaning vases by Lisa Katzenstein
'Melon' design wave bowl by Lisa Katzenstein
'Melon' design wave bowl by Lisa Katzenstein
'Melons' design large square vase from the 'Grow Your Own' series by Lisa Katzenstein
'Melons' design large square vase by Lisa Katzenstein
'Honesty' and 'Physalis' design tall twist vases by Lisa Katzenstein
'Honesty' and 'Physalis' design tall twist vases by Lisa Katzenstein

Lisa was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the age of 4 she moved with her family to Italy, moving again to London when she was 10. She continued to live in London and eventually shared a one bed room flat with her husband and renting a separate studio. In 2007, Lisa and her partner decided to stop spending money to live uncomfortably and moved to Hastings, halving their outgoings and trebling their space. Lisa’s mother-in-law lived in the town so they both knew the area very well. Today she would not live anywhere else, as the move took them to somewhere that they now love. She acknowledges Hastings may have had a bad reputation, but personally cannot understand the reasons behind it. In her eyes the town is not too chichi like other neighbouring towns and is a wonderful place in itself, it also is host to a thriving artistic community. Does Sussex inspire her? Definitely, it may not be immediately translated in her work but she loves the contrasts between East and West Sussex and the nearby west Kent. From the Denge sound mirrors near Dungeness and the wilder parts of the pretty marshes in East Sussex to the ‘park-like’ appearance of West Sussex. Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings have their history, she says, but it is portrayed differently to the Cotswolds which has a Disney Land appearance. Whilst these places are more an inspiration, it is perhaps the proud scruffiness of nature and wild flowers in our counties that transfers onto her work in ceramics.

Lisa studied a BA in ceramics at Central School of Art, London, followed by an MA in ceramics at the Royal College of Art. She is a professional member of the Craft Potters Association and on the Sussex Guild, she is also listed on the Craft Councils listed makers list. When she was leaving college very few of her fellow students could make a living from ceramics, with the public attitude being very much ‘Why pay that much for a vase?’. Fortunately today, people have a better understanding and appreciation for a one-off piece of art. As a nation our perception of ceramics as an art form is slowly changing, but a dedicated museum to ceramics, especially 20th Century works, still seems a long way off.

Lisa describes her work as traditional, her pieces are slip-cast or press moulded white earthenware adorned by hand-painted ‘tin-glaze’ decoration prior to firing. This technique was developed in Europe to imitate the imported and fashionable Chinese porcelain. It would be referred to as Majolica, Maiolica, Delft or Faience depending on where it was produced. She also says that her work is a half-half mix of design (as it is functional) and art (as it is individually painted). The traditional element also refers to the fact that not only is the work functional but she chooses flowers and nature as her subject. However her work is not stuck in the 18th or 19th Century, Lisa reinvents the oeuvre for a modern audience, the flowers are not painted in a botanical way, they are contextual.  Her bright, colourful and cheery palette enables her work to be eye-catching and still fit within interiors of today. Her latest series of work concentrates around the renewed interest in ‘grow your own’, decorated with vegetables and fruit.

Lisa will be showing her work on the 9th and 10th June at the fabulous ‘Sussex Guild Show’ at Parham House near Storrington, and at ‘Art in Clay’ at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire on the 6th, 7th and 8th July. Her work can also be seen at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery between the 1st June and 7th July in a group exhibition with 49 other artists in the preview exhibition of Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction where all the works on show will be offered for sale at their Spring Gardens Salerooms on the 21st July.

For more www.lisakatzenstein.co.uk

Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in June 2012.

‘Lyrical Ballads’ by Wordsworth & Coleridge in Book Auction

Lot 3085: Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth & Coleridge

Consigned for Toovey’s specialist Sale of Antiquarian and Collectors’ Books on 10th July 2012 is a landmark of English poetry, being a combined group of poems by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).

Lot 3085 is described in the catalogue as: [WORDSWORTH, William, and Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE.] Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems. London: printed for J. & A. Arch, 1798. First edition, second issue, small 8vo (156 x 88mm) (Occasional minor spotting or soiling.) Late 19th Century green calf, by Riviére & Son, the spine gilt in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third compartments, gilt turn-ins, t.e.g. (endpapers replaced). Provenance: Geoffrey Ecroyd (armorial book plate); ‘Antony’ (presentation inscription to preliminary blank dated ‘17th December 1966’).

The majority of the poems are by William Wordsworth, but among Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s contributions is the earliest version of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ The scarce first issue was published in Bristol by Joseph Cottle, printing five hundred copies but almost immediately disposing of his stock to the London publisher. Arch produced a new title-page and advertisement leaf. Arch also replaced the poem ‘Lewti’ with ‘The Nightingale’ causing a minor error in page numbering. This second issue of ‘Lyrical Ballads’ is still scarce, but admittedly the first issue is even rarer with only a dozen or so examples known.  This single volume will carry a pre-sale estimate of £1200-1800 when it is offered at Toovey’s Spring Gardens auction house in Sussex.

Contemporary Ceramics at Toovey’s Auction

Lots 34, 35 & 36: Three works by John Evans at Toovey's Auction

Event organiser and curator of Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auctions, Nicholas Toovey, always offers a selection of work entered by contemporary ceramicists.  The 2012 auction on 21st July is no different and includes the work of fourteen ceramicists. Nicholas firmly believes that work in ceramics has a place within the contemporary art market, stating: “I have always viewed the work of the contemporary potter as an art form. When making my selection I always look for more sculptural forms or a painterly quality in the decoration. If viewed in this way, the clay becomes the blank canvas for any number of possibilities. Each ceramicist was chosen for their mastery of their craft and their individual approach.”

Lot 104: 'Clematis Vase' by Justine Munson
Lot 108: 'Tall Carved Ball' by Emily Myers

He continues, “I think work in ceramics is often overlooked as ‘art’, probably because of its historically more utilitarian applications, especially in this country. In Continental Europe, however, you have whole museums dedicated to the subject of modern ceramics. That said, England still has a wonderful heritage of studio pottery, which I am pleased continues today.” In keeping with the outlook of the Contemporary Art Auctions, there is an eclectic mixture of styles and appearance included in this year’s auction.

Ben Barker and Josse Davis have participated in all the previous contemporary art auctions at Toovey’s. Both were featured in a previous blog post ‘The Familiar Faces of the Contemporary Art Auctions‘. In contrast, there are five ceramicists appearing at the event for the first time: Pam Dodds, Jessica Jordan, Lisa Katzenstein, Justine Munson and Emily Myers.

This year the printed catalogue has a question-and-answer feature with every participating artist. Here is an example of the answers from these five new participants:

How do you describe your work? Pam Dodds: I usually say something like… I work on the wheel, an experience so like putting your hand up a cow’s bum, but then discovering you have found something sweet and wonderful being played on a finely tuned musical instrument.

What inspires you? Jessica Jordan: I have always lived in Littlehampton, very close to the Sussex Downs and the beach. I use aerial views of the downs, looking at the changing landscape through the seasons. The surrounding areas are a big influence to the work that I do.

What are the qualities of a great artist? Lisa Katzenstein: Somebody who finds their own subject matter and ploughs on without regard for fashion, but still has an awareness of the culture and society they live in.

Is there an interesting fact about you that people may not know? Justine Munson: My studio is so cold in winter I have to wrap my feet in bubble wrap to insulate them from the concrete floor. It’s not attractive but it works.

How do you manage to get the carved lines on your pots so even? Emily Myers: There is no trick to it, except a great deal of time invested in each piece. The caring is all done by eye. Many people have commented on my steady hand when they watch me work.

These five ceramicists add to the mix in the auction and join Peter Beard, John Evans, Carolyn Genders, Jonathan Chiswell Jones, Tony Laverick, Claire Palastanga (whose spiky heart-shaped dish was chosen for the front cover of the printed catalogue), and Maurice Young.

Many are members of the Craft Potters Association and are highly regarded in their respective fields. Some of the participants will be familiar to regular visitors of the Art in Clay and Sussex Guild shows and exhibitions. Offering ceramics alongside paintings, prints and sculptures has already changed some people’s perception of the medium and Nicholas hopes that this will continue with every Contemporary Art Auction.