Chamberlain & The Beautiful Llama

One of the many joys about working on the Collectables and Miscellaneous tables on the Antiques Roadshow is that you never know what the next person in the queue will have. It could, quite literally, be anything – it’s a little like Christmas! At Seaton Delaval (above) last week, I saw something that I thought was quite wonderful fun in a unique way. Compiled by the photojournalist Stefan Lorant from previous issues of Lilliput magazine, it was a small hardback book with the rather curious title of ‘Chamberlain & The Beautiful Llama’. Inside was a selection of wittily chosen and humourous photographs that provoke thought, or raise a smile. Or both. It’s all about clever, satirical juxtapositions based on observation and the appearance of things. So a bulbous ripe pear is compared to the face of a portly publican, a view of Parisian rooftops are surreally compared to a hat shop display, and kissing film stars are compared to fish. And, hence the title, a portrait of Neville Chamberlain baring his teeth …

Read More

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll no doubt know that my partner and I are renovating a late Georgian house right now. it was quite a wreck when we bought it, and required considerable rebuilding. I won’t bore you with the details, but will simply say that a month or so ago we were standing in the basement looking up through thin air at the sky above us! Not a floor or internal wall in sight! All scary stuff, but it’ll be worth it in the end. It isn’t listed, and one of our key aims has been to use original or reclaimed materials wherever possible. That has meant quite a few visits to my favourite architectural reclamation yard, Leominster Reclamation (above), that I first visited when filming Cracking Antiques. Our first visit yielded some superb reclaimed solid teak parquet flooring for much less than the cost of cheap brand new laminated flooring. This visit saw us find some octagonal Victorian terracotta tiles, with snazzy turquoise square tiles in between (below), for our hallway, and …

Read More

I’ve been a Freeman of the Guild of Arts Scholars, Dealers & Collectors for a couple of years now. A charitable organisation formed as part of the City of London’s ancient network of professional guilds and livery companies, its aim is to promote the study, curation, collection and trade in antiques, antiquities, decorative arts and applied art. It also helps and represents the people involved in these areas, and promotes honourable practice within the trade and profession. It does all of this by raising and distributing charitable funds to support historical projects, museums, research, and other similar causes. In this way, it helps to preserve our heritage for future generations. Founded by the late pottery dealer Jonathan Horne and Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville in 2005, it became recognised by the Company of Aldermen as a ‘Company without Livery’ in 2010. Within time, and once certain charitable financial targets are met, it will become a full Livery Company. Members are drawn from across the entire profession, and include dealers, auctioneers, collectors, …

Read More

Antiques Roadshow at Hartland Abbey

On Thursday I attended what must have been one of the busiest Antiques Roadshows I’ve experienced since Hopetoun House. Our location was the beautiful country house Hartland Abbey (above), near Bideford in North Devon. The abbey was built in 1157, and was the last monastery to be dissolved by Henry VIII, in 1539. Its royal connections have continued, not only through the family of its current owner Sir Hugh Stucley, but also as it played host to Prince William’s stag night before his wedding to Kate Middleton earlier this year! Few held hopes for a busy day as the weather looked to be grim, with heavy rain and winds predicted. It turned out to be quite the reverse, with blazing sun and blue skies throughout the day. As a result, the crowds descended from across Devon, and a steady stream of cars came into the valley along the driveway for most of the day. The team arrived at 8.30 in the morning (to find the above scene), and didn’t leave until nearly twelve hours later, with barely a …

Read More

Rave Reviews for Caithness Glass Book

I’m delighted that my new Caithness Glass book has received some great reviews lately. Lesley Jackson, the eminent design historian, curator, and author, has just reviewed it for the Crafts Council‘s prestigious ‘Craft’ magazine and said ‘”Mark Hill has done the design world a valuable service in recording the history of Caithness Glass and the intriguing if hitherto mysterious figure behind this pioneering firm, Domhnall ÓBroin… The best designs date from 1960-66 when ÓBroin was in charge; they stand out a mile. …Hill focuses on the ÓBroin era, although, because the book is aimed at collectors, he documents the firm’s later history and output as well. The text is clear and informative…”. Dr Alistair Mair, the Managing Director & Chairman of Caithness Glass from 1971-2002 said, “It’s a very impressive production…the photography is really first class. Graham Cooley’s exhibition and your excellent book are very impressive memorials to the history of the company. Many congratulations…“. Sticking with those who worked at the company, Gordon Hendry, a leading sandblaster and designer from 1975-2007, said, …

Read More