Monday, 24 August 2015

Auction Find of a Random Bird Print


I was toying with the idea of writing a post about an auction find yet hesitated until I was reading Chronica Domus' latest post 

about some information on her beautiful slop bowls by a very informative reader. 
 I thought I would share my little object with its background 
which is by no means on the same level as the level of research 
nor beauty of object.

In smaller auction houses, there tends to be lots where not one object but a group of objects are sold together.  I won the bid for another print but this print came along for the ride.  
When I bid on the object, I did see this print but ignored it.


It was strange in retrospect that I didn't pay this much attention.
But I was concentrating on figuring how much 
I would put on my absentee bid.  
I rarely bid live because one can get carried away!  
But I love bird prints and I have a small collection to prove it.

Please ignore the white paint - I know I try to!

I actually have more prints ready and waiting to be framed.
I even have a matching bird themed bowl for the aperture for the wash stand.


But I think the intense calculation and more importantly the cracked glass distracted me from examining the print further.


It was only after I brought it home that I started reading up on the print.
I looked at the penciled autograph, and the raised blind stamp and thought perhaps it was worth googling the name I was unfamiliar with.


Truthfully speaking, I would not be too swayed by a print with a name and date on the lithograph alone.  But one had to consider that for a name that is not particularly well known to the general public, it wouldn't be worth the hassle to create a blind stamp to give false credibility to a possible forgery.

I had a look and there was a website that served as an archive of the artist Archibald Thorburn.

I then turned the print around and inspected the reverse where there were two stickers.


One of the stickers refers that a certain Lady D Hunt might have left or her items were held at Allens' Depositories.  The possibility of an item belonging to a then aristocrat still doesn't guarantee that the item is worth anything.
There is a bit of the sticker which had ripped off.
I googled it and it led to this bit of information written by a local historian of the area.
It seems that perhaps it was one of those general broad businesses that dealt in matters of the home
but also house clearances.


The other sticker seemed to be from the possible seller of this artwork.
I googled and all there was were references to auction houses whose art had provenances that led back to W. H. Embleton on Jermyn Street in London.
Jermyn Street is a rather smart address and always has been but of course while researching this I was reminded that not everything is on Google!

Some may say it is crass to discuss money but we have all watched enough episodes of Antiques Roadshow to know that we all love the stories but we are curious to see if the emotional value the family or bearer of the object matches the financial value.
In my case, there was no expectation.

I went and got the glass replaced and 
it shows the piece in a better light.  
It is nice but I don't know if I would have put a bid on this myself.

Upon researching past results and prices for art ready to purchase, 
the item could fetch up to £275 which is a bonus considering the piece I aimed to buy was only half that price.

But let me remind you that the item an art gets sold for isn't the item one pockets.
If I were to auction it then I would lose at least 25% of the price and the fee wouldn't be too dissimilar at an art gallery.

 
The other bird prints on the wall are of a different nature as it was by another artist, period and country.


And even though I have hung the prints without taking this one into consideration 
I am still going to stick it next to them and enjoy my bargain find!
 
I must reiterate that for those of you who are into art history that you will enjoy the latest post by Chronica Domus
( Please click on name for link.)


Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Mirage of Buying a French Chateau

One reoccurring article in the press worldwide 
is the allure of the possibility of purchasing a French chateau
 and the lifestyle associated with it.

  There was an escapist real estate feature last week in the Telegraph showing a classically proportioned French chateau that was the same price as a three bedroom flat in Mayfair.

Via
 The chateau located in the Dordogne with a 530 hectacre estate is listed at £10.9 million which seems a lot until you realize that 
Trafalgar Square is only one hectacre.

This chateau in France has the usual grand features 
such as a grand staircase
and an ornate jib door leading somewhere interesting.
Of course a private chapel is de rigueur darlings.
Sin and saintliness were private affairs - very pre Hello magazine.
Although a private stage less so.
But it is so Cecil Beaton weekend away don't you think?
 But just a few days ago in social media news on the  
Candian version of Buzzfeed  they featured a comparison of what you could get in France versus what you could get in Vancouver.
They compared a 27 acre estate with 9 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms 
and stables to a similar priced 2 bed 2 bath flat below 
that boasted a "European" kitchen.

CAD $1.38 million if you're asking.


A few months ago, I had also seen in the Australian media 
a big article comparing French chateaus being cheaper than flats in Sydney.  
 The 9 bedroom chateau pictured above in southwest France 
and the 3 bedroom unit in Campsie, Sydney below 
are both asking for A$ 680,000.
Both pics via
 The visuals of century old stonework versus 
1960's red brick work on an ugly modern building was explicit enough to shock any Australian.

 It seems the benchmark that house prices have gone crazy is that the median price of many homes in the first world has overtaken the cost of a chateau!

This was obviously not exclusive to the UK mentality which is obsessed with home ownership and house prices.
I have a feeling it is seeped in Anglo-Saxon roots
 therefore any country that speaks English as its main language 
will share this affliction.

I have this conversation with people who contemplate buying property in France.
It is so easy to be seduced by turrets and moats and all those features that are au fait in children's fairytales.
Even when the inside decor pics aren't 100% perfect, 
it is still an escapist setting.

It seems many people lose the same financial senses and logistical faculties especially when they go overseas to purchase their holiday home/retirement home.  
All the tough questioning that would normally through their head when buying a new dress seems to dissipate in a foreign country buying a home!
( It could be all that rose wine.)

But there are political and economic reasons to remember why property is cheap.
French politics tend to be erratic but taxes are a constant.
New levies are introduced depending on the president elect.
Property outside Paris is notoriously hard to sell.
I have seen some houses that are still for sale 4 years on!

People looking for a Georgian rectory in the U.K. would be lucky to see more than a dozen for sale in the Costwolds. It would be a quick viewing to see affordable studios in a city like Sydney or Toronto and yet there is plenty of stock of French chateaus.
 
There is even more for sale once you get to France that are not listed on the websites.
The bigger the chateau the cheaper it is too!
Well I am being a bit facetious but running costs are not to be ignored.
Many homes don't have central heating or plumbing 
 and to install these basic amenities will require patience for bureaucracy and red tape, money, and some more patience.
Via
So do be cautious about a restoration project in France.
Bureaucracy in France is not to be underestimated and 
that is even if you are fluent in French.

Of course I think a home in France would be enjoyable if done right but I think there are not as many articles about being careful and raising concern as there are in promoting the idea of the idyllic French country life.  

What doesn't get publicized as often is those who tire of the lifestyle or need to balance out their life in France with another base in a city or even another country.  Life isn't all about drinking the latest released wines by the pool and shopping at the different antique markets at a different village every day of the week.  
There are many stories about village disputes, 
some xenophobic council members being a pest, 
and lonely winters in empty hamlets that are quickly forgotten about in the lavender scented l'heure bleue pastis induced haze.

One day I may consider the option myself but 
I would consider many aspects of a move and 
not be bamboozled by false house price comparisons and someone's travel account of the fabulous time they had when they were in Provence for two weeks a few years ago!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

My Wedding Memories

Mr CSW and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this month and I went through the photos and thought I would share some of my memories with you.

I got married in my thirties.
I never expected to get married so when I finally did I didn't really have any ready plans on how to have a ceremony.
I wanted to elope but legally weddings in the UK need to have two witnesses.

But I thought it would be actually odd just having 4 people at town hall so I decided we would invite only a few close friends.
Only the close friends and not their partners.
I know.
Controversial.

But this was my wedding and I wasn't in the business to play diplomatic games and appease everyone.  It was made slightly easier as there was only one family member of ours who came and that was only because that person lived in London.
I was no bridezilla.

In fact, people thought I was joking when I went into wedding dress shops asking if they had a dress I could buy in a month's time which is the time we prepared for it.

I finally got a dress from Amanda Wakely.
It was an ivory version of a cocktail dress and the train can be tied up and it waterfalls.

Wedding shoes seemed simple but as most women will know, there is a huge difference between white and cream and ivory and very few shoes matched my dress fabric.
But I found these.
It also was my something blue.
I wasn't convinced with the muslin pom pom but they looked better on.
They were so high that it changed my foot arch for the next two days.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Norway's Famous Garden - Flor and Fjaere in Stavanger

It has now almost been a month since I returned from my trip from Norway and thought today I would share one of two highlights with you before it becomes such a distant memory.

Norway and the fjords were everything you imagine.
I must recommend that if you see the fjords that a cruise really is the best option even with the pitfalls of traveling on a cruise. 
It also heightens the Viking experience.

Today I want to share my visit to one of the more established and acclaimed northern most gardens in the world called
Flor and Fjaere.


The right side of the island are the Flor and Fjaere gardens Via 

I arrived in the port of the 6th largest Norwegian city of Stavanger which is a very wealthy town due to the oil industry.

Doesn't the town look like a lego set from above?

Below is the more mundane view.
The world beach volleyball tournament was being held at the port.


The Flor and Fjaere gardens were technically closed as they were preparing for the Norwegian chess championships but they opened especially for the guests of the cruise ship.
It enhanced the experience by sharing the space with 20 other guests.

This is for gardening nerds and gardening novices alike a treat to visit.
Mr CSW and I were very inspired and taken by the beauty but the story behind the gardens which are still owned by the same family that started it in 1965.
The dock on arrival
40 years ago Asmund Bryn bought several acres on an island 20 minute boat ride from Stavanger where they already operated a garden nursery.
Due to ill health, he thought it would be sage to live in a place with cleaner air and recuperate.
40 years later these gardens have become a destination and has hosted Norway's royal family birthday celebrations among other events.


Below is Siri, the daughter in law of Asmund and now runs the gardens with her husband.  The couple have been pivotal in making this a public garden during the summer months.
She was a stunning woman who reminded me of a more Nordic version of Robin Wright-Penn especially with her hair very much a a la House of Cards.


She hosted the tour and showed us the gardens and shared the back stories.
Interestingly enough, Asmund always wanted to be a garden designer but never had the opportunity to study it in an official capacity as he had other family obligations of running his family garden nursery business.


But forty years later, this garden is renown for its unique style that is very local to the special climate and the Caribbean gulf stream that this area benefits from.

This area was mostly rocks and not arable and the land has been cleared but the rocks that remain are account for much of the success of the gardens. 
( Please click link to see an old picture of how the land looked before.)

Not only does it lend a certain texture and balance to the topography of the land but it also retains heat from the sun so it keeps the garden beds warmer and allows the surround plants to survive at certain survival cusp of temperature.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

525 sq ft is enough as proved by decorator Max Sinsteden

Long time readers are well acquainted with my love of decor and interior design magazines and even if content or viewpoint varies and is inconsistent I still stick with most of my subscriptions.

I was very impressed with House Beautiful's July / August 2015 edition.
Not because of every house featured but the one of the titles on the cover was
"Small Spaces!"

The stand out for me in this issue was the 525 sq ft ( 48.77 sq. m ) studio flat 
in New York City whose tenant is the interior decorator 
Max Sinsteden of the interior design firm Olasky and Sinsteden.


Most apartments are completely foreign in concept or architectural style in magazines.
For me anyway...
But having lived in large cities and having lived in two studios myself - one having been in Manhattan - I really appreciated this feature.


He shows that a small space doesn't mean that you can't have a "grand" scheme.
He manages to have every element of comfortable living.

My favorite part of this flat is his sliding curtain screen and his hanging artwork that fortifies his demarcation between living and sleeping area.
I wish I thought of that when I lived in those two studios.

You can see the curtain in action in the picture below.