Welcome to my February newsletter.
The often used quote from Robert Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men- often go array” seems pretty apt for this month, as you will know from last month’s newsletter I was looking ahead and planning for Masterpiece London 2023, indeed I have a selection of very special items reserved for that event that were to be included in this year’s exhibition catalogue.
That was until the “bolt out of the blue” e-mail from the organisers of Masterpiece who have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event citing escalating costs as well as a lack of overseas dealers willing to commit , as you can imagine this news completely rocked the exhibitors as well as the industry , I am sure the majority of exhibitors, like myself, had started preparations for this year from the moment the curtain came down on the 2022 event. If that wasn’t crushing enough news for the antique events industry, next off the press was the sad but less shocking news of the closure of Summer Olympia, an event that I had enjoyed exhibiting at in years gone by, and was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, yet another seismic shift in what are very strange times indeed.
I have recent first-hand experience of staging a small boutique antique event in London and of course I know how delicate the balance can be and how sudden unbudgeted costs can quickly destroy a previously sound business model, as a consequence of these unforeseen price rises many exhibitors cannot possibly justify pledging their allegiance in advance, and without those advance commitments the organisers cannot possibly commit to the expensive real estate and set up costs that these events command, and so begins the domino effect.
Where do I go from here, the answer is that I am not 100% sure as things stand but will keep you up to date with future developments, I may decide to publish a 3rd volume of my exhibition books and possibly compliment that with a physical showcase somewhere in London this autumn, one thing that will not change is the consistent presence of market fresh items on my online gallery.
It is at unprecedented times like these that I consider myself very fortunate to have worked countless hours over many years engaging with a passionate and dedicated worldwide following of Japanese art lovers, an online audience that continually follow my monthly newsletter ramblings and social media channels and regularly make contact to acquire the latest market fresh pieces.
If you recall In last month’s newsletter I promoted the two fine pieces of Satsuma by the Kinkozan studios as part of my article on Japanese ceramics, I was delighted to be contacted by a highly valued client that I had first met with his design team at Masterpiece, it was a great pleasure to be invited to his iconic home this month to be involved with the placement of these and other fine pieces and the ongoing curation of his Japanese art collection.
My featured item last month was this large and fine quality bison okimono from the studios of the highly regarded Maruki company, artist signed by Atsuyoshi, seemingly the studios dominant artist specialising in large scale animal subjects. On this occasion I was contacted by another UK based collector who could not resist the size and charm of this fine beast. It was sourced in the USA where it has possibly been for most, if not all of its life, it now joins a very good collection of okimono and predominantly mixed metalwork items that this particular client has been hand picking from my gallery and exhibition books during the past few years.
My most heart-warming moment for January originally stemmed from a USA collector contacting me by text and telephone to discuss various items in my gallery and to give me a feel for what he actively collects. After discussions on metalwork we eventually moved to the large Cloisonne Koro pictured above, that I now understand he had been considering for some time, we both agreed that whilst finely worked it was purely a decorative item as opposed to a high value cabinet piece that might be more suited to his collection, of course it was also priced accordingly, but he just liked it. After a fun filled financial jousting session and with one eye looking towards a future business relationship I accepted switching my GBP price into Dollars to meet this clients expectations on this piece.
With payment proof received away went the koro by registered and fully insured delivery, a few days later upon its safe arrival in the USA I received a text that simply said “Steve, I’m completely in love with it, smitten, I’ll call you.”
Well, as expected later that day the client called to personally thank me, he was obviously very pleased, as was I, and I thanked him for his business and for providing me with such positive feedback for todays newsletter. What I didn’t expect was the next text some days later that advised me that he was so pleased that he credited my bank account with an amount that switched the Dollars back to GBP, I was truly speechless, never have I felt so thankful for what was a most generous and completely unprecedented action, thank you Mr J and thank you to all of you who religiously follow my journey.
For February I have decided to exclusively highlight one of the pieces that was destined to be displayed at Masterpiece 2023, this majestic artist signed okimono of a pair of oriental ducks at rest upon a lake, they are just so charming.