This antique Chinese jade table screen was sold by Toovey’s fine art auctioneers and valuers for £120,000. Top British and Chinese dealers descended on Toovey’s Spring Gardens rooms at Washington on Thursday 11th August for their specialist sale of Oriental ceramics and works of art. Prize of the auction was the diminutive jade screen, just over 6” wide, which dates from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796). Carved on both sides with landscape scenes and on one side with calligraphic text, the unassuming panel and later wooden stand were consigned to Toovey’s in a shoebox with several other items by probate solicitors after the clearance of a modest flat in Richmond. Toovey’s Oriental antiques consultant, Lars Tharp, subsequently identified the screen as rather more valuable an object than the shoebox suggested. On the day of the auction, the final bidding was left to two Chinese traders, one in the room, one bidding by telephone, who brushed aside competition from fellow dealers from China and the London specialist trade to battle it out to the emphatic hammer price, Toovey’s top result of the year so far. Further specialist sales of Oriental ceramics and works of art are scheduled throughout the rest of this year and early 2012. Visit the specialist sale page by clicking here to see forthcoming auctions, or contact Toovey’s to discuss the valuation and sale of your Oriental ceramics and works of art.
Nicholas Toovey writes an article for Sussex Life magazine every month on contemporary Sussex artists. He was approached because of his contacts within the art world that he has formed from hosting the annual Contemporary Art Auctions at TOOVEY’S. It enables Nicholas to further promote artists and the arts in Sussex, an area he is particularly passionate about. His first article published in the March issue was on Brighton-based artist Chris Kettle. His articles so far have featured the work of Alison Milner-Gulland, Carolyn Genders, Eve Shepherd, Susie Jenkins and in the September issue he meets printmaker Sarah Young ahead of showing her work at the Brighton Art Fair. It is available in the shops now for £3.65. Many of the previous articles can be viewed here: http://sussex.greatbritishlife.co.uk/arts/features/
Susie Jenkins is an Arundel-based photographer who views the world through a lens from a different perspective. Seeking out tiny details to capture on film, she transforms these into abstracted works of art. Nicholas Toovey tells us more
At the age of eight, Susie was given a second-hand box Brownie and after a trip to Bruges returned with numerous pictures of water, a subject that has never failed to inspire her. Her desire to go to art school was stymied by her parents, who felt a different path would be more beneficial. This spurred Susie on to attend evening classes in photography, increasing her desire to create beautiful photographs. She was given a Nikon F2 from a friend after a holiday in the South of France when he saw how often she was using her point and click and how much she enjoyed it. Whilst working at Sussex University she fondly remembers the marvellous dean who allowed her to use the quieter summer weeks to take photographs and develop them using the university’s dark rooms. She describes these as important moments in her journey to becoming a photographer.
‘Aurora’ is a typical example of Susie’s work. It asks the viewer to decide what they see emerging from the photograph. Different interpretations are always suggested, for some it is a car driving down a hill-side at night, for others the beam from a lighthouse beneath the northern lights. Most people however, are surprised when they are informed that it is in reality a detail of the bottom of a boat magnified to abstraction. Tiny close-ups become vast open landscapes, planets, lunascapes or nonrepresentational vistas. Boats have been the mainstay of Susie’s artistic output for the last 12 years, but are often interspersed with reflections in water, clouds, flowers and watery landscapes.
With an increasing number of people owning digital SLR cameras, many professional photographers hear ‘I could do that’ from onlookers, whilst many amateur photographers can capture a beautiful image, this is often down to luck rather than judgment, and increasingly with the help of computer image enhancement. As a photographer, Susie started in a pre-digital age with wet film. This background dictates the way she works, adopting a ‘get it right first time’ attitude. The only difference she has found since purchasing a digital camera three years ago is that her studio is now her kitchen table. Susie avoids the lures of computer editing, as she believes that you cannot take a photograph without composing it in the mind first, looking through the lens you have to see the picture, otherwise it becomes a snapshot. Susie says patience is also important; on a trip to Guatemala she recalls standing in front of a beautiful doorway for half an hour waiting for clouds to disperse and the light to catch the door in the right way before finally taking the photograph.
Susie is co-founder of the Art for Life project with her daughter-in-law Beatriz Huezo. The project intends to help small communities in El Salvador after the country was stricken by two devastating earthquakes in 2001. El Salvador has been haunted by natural disasters, war and by the injustice of social inequality. Art for Life’s first success was to build twenty-five new homes in one of the worst hit areas, without the project a small village would have received no aid. Art for Life has continued with securing the land for and the building of a new school. The mission is very much ongoing with attention currently investigating other needs in the country.
Susie has always lived in Sussex. Despite ‘escaping’ the county on a number of occasions, she always returns to the place which she describes as the ‘hidden secret of the world’. Does Sussex inspire her? Of course, the streams, reflections and clouds all influence her work. In fact, Susie admits she started taking photographs because of her stimulating surroundings, working at the Arun Yacht Club, Littlehampton, inspired her to see boats in a totally different light. Having lived in Arundel for the last twenty-six years, Susie has always been involved with the Arundel Gallery Trail, both as an exhibitor and organiser. This year is no exception as Susie will be showing her works at 1 Tower House, London Road, with fellow artist Jan Irvine. The trail runs from the 20th to 29th August and showcases the work of over 150 artists at numerous venues across Arundel. All Susie’s work is produced in a maximum limited edition of 25, although many images are limited to just 10 copies.
With her inimitable vision Susie creates engaging and beautiful worlds from reflections and minutiae, reinforcing photography as a fine art. For more information visit www.susiejenkins.co.uk
Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in August 2011.
A collection of Victorian microscope slides made one of the more unusual lots passing under the hammer at Toovey’s Fine Art & Antique Auctioneers & Valuers Spring Gardens rooms in July. The lot was included in the specialist auction of Clocks, Watches and Scientific Instruments that Toovey’s hold every two months. The exceptional group of over a thousand biological and botanical slides was contained in a twenty-nine-drawer, tabletop cabinet. Subjects captured between glass ranged from the intriguing to the somewhat macabre, with specimens such as blow fly ovary, frog’s lung, flea’s gizzard and various human tissue samples, all neatly labelled and many in colourful, decorative mounts. Collections like this are sometimes referred to as ‘cabinets of curiosities’, a term first applied to the great curio rooms of Renaissance Europe. As interest in science and nature grew during Victoria’s reign and microscopes became increasingly sophisticated, viewing specimens like these became highly popular, not only with professionals but also with middle class families as a source of education and entertainment. A number of companies specialised in sourcing, preparing and mounting interesting samples from around the world to meet the demand. It is now unusual to find such a good collection of slides in near original condition like this, a specialist collector from Bristol travelled to the Sussex Auctioneers’ saleroom to secure the lot for £10,000 against six telephone bidders.
Eve Shepherd is a Hove-based sculptor who feels a responsibility to create work with a message, she admits her work portrays sadness as well as joy, but hopes either way, that this will strike a chord with the onlooker. Nicholas Toovey tells us more.
Eve started her career in art with an informal voluntary apprenticeship with the Sheffield-based sculptor Anthony Bennett. This training led to a position with a commercial sculpting firm in York where she produced realistic life-size figures, working to short deadlines with a team of fellow sculptors. After several years Eve came to a crossroads in her career, she felt the commercial work had become a purely money-making occupation with her love of sculpting and her creativity sacrificed and stifled in the process. A two-year break from sculpting followed and with it relocation to Brighton with her partner, a decision she calls a ‘leap of faith’. The rejection of the commercial world meant Eve had to start her career from the beginning, looking to create work that was truly her own. One of the first sculptures after drawing this line in the sand was ‘Broken’, a cast bronze of a kneeling shackled minotaur with head bowed, perhaps a commentary on her emotions towards her former work.
Today she enjoys being by the sea in a city that is tolerant, fun and less restrictive than the other cities she has lived in. Eve also loves the contrast of liberal Brighton with the neighbouring ‘very British’ countryside. Does Sussex inspire her? Yes, mainly in the people with their ‘can do’ attitude and the ability to ‘think outside the box’. As part of her relocation Eve obtained space at the Red Herring Studios in Hove which remains the base for her output. This industrial building is softened by the community atmosphere created by all the different artists working within. The atrium of her studio has floor to ceiling shelves storing models, moulds and materials reminiscent of a film prop studio. A room off this is the artist’s work area, with creations in progress and numerous points of reference, books and music arranged around the room. On one surface is a maquette (a small-scale preliminary model) of Henry Allingham seated in a wheelchair holding a poppy wreath on his lap before an arrangement of four flags. Allingham was the last surviving British Serviceman, to have volunteered for active duty in the First World War. Eve felt he was a fitting symbol for those who fought in the war and survived, she wanted to create a memorial to the brave servicemen and servicewomen who continued to live with the torment of the Great War in their hearts and memories rather than for those who had fallen. Eve has actively sought a commission to make this maquette into its intended large-scale version, but interested parties always fall short when it comes to planning permission or funding. Eve jokes ‘I will probably be sculpting it when I’m his age’, although her original intention was for it to be a completed work and unveiled on 14th June 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the war. Another on-going project that is permanently in the background is the commission for a one and a half times life-size sculpture of Stephen Hawking for the grounds of Cambridge University. For her commission work she has to have an underlying personal interest to accept it, these sculptures are portrayed with accuracy in anatomy and scale and described by Eve as her technical and academic pieces. It is not surprising therefore that Eve is an Associate Member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a Member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors.
Two years ago Eve obtained a kiln and has been exploring the capabilities of a new medium for her work by creating fired clay sculptures. This facet of her oeuvre is spontaneous and experimental. Often with Eve’s fingerprints still evident, these sculptures show a fluid, unshackled approach and highlight her influence from the Italian Renaissance, a period that the artist admires. Eve loves the psychology and story behind each sculpture, often giving the human form zoomorphic attributes or animals anthropomorphic characteristics. A recent series of work was specifically based around Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, however the majority of her works could easily illustrate the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or Hans Christian Andersen.
Eve’s work always offers a subtext with deeper connotations and emotive honesty. She unusually embraces two different styles of production and finish and, by allowing both styles to inform one another, creates sincere and soulful works of art. Her refined academic work is often a commentary on social status and perception, running in unison with the more immediate fired clay sculptures. This work in fired clay arguably portrays the artist’s voice with greater impact, often with darker undertones that are challenging for the onlooker, but always showing incredible mastery. If you would like to meet the sculptor and see more of her work, Eve will be exhibiting at the Brighton Art Fair between the 22nd and 25th September. For more visit www.eveshepherd.com
Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in July 2011.