Thursday, 24 July 2014

Digital art at Alfies Antique Market

If you’ve seen the Barbican’s Digital Revolution and Jean Paul Gaultier exhibitions recently, you’ll know that digital mapping is at the cutting edge of the art world right now.

Central St Martins graduate Jack Irving makes use of the technique, which allows video to be screened onto almost any 3D surface, in his new exhibition ENIGMA, which Alfies Antique Market is proudly hosting for two weeks from Saturday 26th July on our second floor.

Jack’s work comprises the head of an alien goddess miming four Lady Gaga songs over a nine-minute installation. At one point metamorphosing into the head of a pig to complement the track ‘Swine’, the exhibit has both darkly psychedelic and erotic undertones. His method of using holographic glitter mirrors to transform the effect of the digital mapping makes Jack’s approach to this new art form unique and fresh and, Alfies feels, secures his status as a                                                                                           bright star for the future.

Having studied product design, Jack’s vision for his degree showpiece was to create a production concept for a future Lady Gaga world tour, basing his design on the star’s most recent album ‘ARTPOP.’ The album references sea goddesses, galaxies, space and time, which Jack used as key inspirations throughout the design process, creating an installation which collides the deep abyss of both space and the underwater world.     

The actual installation that you see is a 1:150 scale model of a design intended for big shows at Wembley Stadium: an alien manta ray creation which gives the impression of an extraterrestrial invasion upon Wembley. The overall production would take the shape of a three-hour spectacle, but the nine-minute installation you see offers a sample of how the finished piece would transport the audience through the power of projection technology. In a stadium setting, the large projection-mapped head would mimic Lady Gaga’s expressions in an exaggerated fashion. Exploring the theatrical possibilities of the latest technology, Jack’s exhibition offers an unmissable glimpse into today’s rapidly changing art scene.   

So come on down to Alfies and check out Jack’s exhibition – blink and you’ll miss it! Why not combine your visit with some shopping or lunch on our roof top terrace while the summer’s in full swing?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Antique Young Gun Awards at Alfies

Last Friday, July 4th, Alfies was the proud host of this year's Antique Young Gun Awards.

The Roof Top Kitchen was the perfect setting, the guests chatted excitedly, the drinks flowed and the sun shone down on the terrace. Spirits were high to say the least!

To start the proceedings, Bennie Gray delivered a witty opening speech followed by Gail McLeod editor of Antiques News & Fairs and a co-founder of the Antique Young Guns movement. The awards were hosted by fellow AYG founders George Johnson and Mark Hill.

The Antique Young Gun of 2014 was James Gooch of Doe & Hope, congratulations to James and to the 11 winners of the mentoring scheme, who were paired up with experienced members of the antiques trade, and to the 8 winners who won a showcase at the prestigious Lorfords @ Babdown.

Full results here.

Guests enjoying drinks on the terrace

George Johnson, Gail McLeod and Mark Hill on stage

Bennie Gray's opening speech

A winner is announced

Alys Dobbie of NanaDobbie, winner of a showcase at  Lorfords @ Babdown

Lily Trunfull of No1 Lewes, winner of a showcase at Lorfords @ Babdown

Matthew Wise of Cubbit Antiques, winner of a showcase at Lorfords @ Babdown

A perfect mentor match, Jason Clarke with Lennox Cato, antique dealer and regular contributer to the BBC Antiques Roadshow.

Matt Goymer of Delphis Antiques heads to the stage

Matt Goymer of Delphis Antiques wins mentorship with Ian Michael Towning.

Marika Clemow of Antiques Trade Gazette wins Special Judges' Award.

William Potts wins Judith Miller award for Outstanding Potential.

The 2014 Antique Young Gun award winner, James Gooch of Doe and Hope.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Accessorise in Style

No matter the era, accessorising has always been a way to show off wealth and promote your social status, but it must not be more complicated than the will to add some extra spark to any ordinary outfit. Accessories are all about personal taste, and your choice of style can truly reflect upon your personality. 

Alfies has everything you need in order to accessorise in your favorite era or decade. Here comes some of ours!


During the Victorian period a wide and eclectic flavour grew for a range of different materials such as mother of pearl, jet, tortoiseshell etc. Another thing that grew was the female hairstyles. Great chignons with long ringlets were topped up with ball combs of different shapes and sizes. 

1900's Opera glasses, offered by June Victor

Victorian ball combs, offered by Naneen Brooks


In the 1930s you walked with a steadier heel. Sandals were popular during the day, but for a night out you preferably slipped your feet into toeless shoes with a heel. Colours and patterns were very welcome as the designers of the decade showed a more playful attitude towards fashion than ever before.

Leather gloves, offered by Tin Tin Collectables
A pair of 30s shoes, originally from India, offered by June Victor


The decade came with a demand for a more feminine look, but the 1950s also meant a lot of change within the fashion industry. The desired silhouette changed almost every year and there was also a clear division between Christian Dior’s New Look and a more easy-to-wear kind of style. 

Crochet gloves, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Cork bag, offered by Carole Collier


It was a curious decade with a strong belief in the future. Pop culture was a strong influence and nothing was too extreme when it came to patterns, shape and colour. In fact, colour was more of a rule than an exception. With that said, a classic alternative to the explosive colours was still an option. 

Funky sunglasses with earrings, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Dickens and Jones silk scarf, offered by June Victor
Miss Dior beanie, offered by Carole Collier

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Beautiful Objects

William Morris once said 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' We totally agree with him.

If this is your mantra, make sure Alfies is top of your list for aesthetically pleasing objects. Alfies dealers stock a wide array of beautiful furniture and homewares.

Here's a delightful selection:

Sculptural chest of drawers by Christian Maas with original certificate.Offered by Sambataro Decorative Arts

A selection of wooden boxes from the Victorian period to the 1930s. Offered by Paola & Iaia.

A beautifully detailed iron peacock door stop. c1900s. Offered by Good Time Antiques

Large gothic style chandelier attributed to Gaetano Sciolari, offered by Design Sect

Stunning antique picture frame decorated in blue enamel, offered by Hayman & Hayman

A Pair of Maison Jansen lamps, offered by The Moderns
A single chair completely rebuilt and reupholstered in red silk by the Thirteen  Upholstery Workshop
Cloisonné style Minton by Christopher Dresser cup & saucer, with family crest and motto, c1870. Offered by Nadine Okker

Thursday, 19 June 2014

After Hours Shopping at Alfies

Friday 4th July Alfies will be keeping its doors open later than usual for some special after hours shopping in conjunction with the Antique Young Gun of the Year Awards. As well as being able to browse our many shops up until 8pm, we will also be offering our customers a glass of Pimms, to toast this special event!
Open since 1976, Alfies has firmly established itself as a leading centre for antiques, vintage textiles, 20th century design and collectables. We will be charting the history of Alfies in a special exhibition, from its humble beginnings on Church Street to where we are today; a 75-strong cluster of independent specialist dealers and four floors brimming with unique treasures and iconic designs.
So come and join us on Friday, 4th July when our doors will be open from 10am until 8pm to celebrate this rich and diverse community and raise a glass to the Young Guns of the trade. 

RSVP on our Facebook event page here!

Please note: Access to the Young Gun of the Year Awards, held in the Rooftop Kitchen at Alfies, is strictly by invitation only.

Antique Young Guns of the Year

Last year's winner Timothy Medhurst

Alfies is proud to be hosting and sponsoring this year’s Antique Young Gun of the Year Awards on 4th July, when last year’s winner Timothy Medhurst will be handing the baton over to this year’s new champion.  An impressive judging panel will be making this difficult decision, which will include the three founders of the Antiques Young Guns website and five well known antiques personalities; Judith Miller, Anna Brady, Sarah Percy-Davis, Pippa Roberts and reigning champion Timothy Medhurst.

The moment has arrived where we can finally announce the 17 finalists who will share an array of exciting prizes: 

Alys Dobbie, Brighton,, Amanda Pickett, Perthshire, Scotland, Daniel Larsson, Helsingborg, Sweden, Edd Thomas, Royal Wootten Basset, Wiltshire , Henry Saywell, Lillie Road, Fulham, London SW6, , James Gooch, Bedfordshire,, Jason Clarke, Reading, Berks,, Jon Irvine, London, , Lily Trunfull, Lewes, Sussex, , Marika Clemow, London, , Matt Goymer, Birmingham,, Matthew Wise, Lillie Road, London SW6, , Oliver Leggett, Suffolk, Paul Jones, Cheshire,, Robyin Alston, Bedforshire,, Serhat Ahmet, Portobello Road, London W11,, William Potts, London,

Watch this space for this year’s prestigious Antique Young Gun of the Year winner!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The London Antique Markets - 1964-2014

Bennie Gray was just 26 when he opened the Antique Supermarket on Barrett Street.  Just around the corner from Selfridges in an old printing works, it quickly became a hub for the trading of antiques.

Bennie Gray outside the Antique Supermarket, 1964
 At that time there existed several antique markets operating one day a week and there were many specialist antique shops but, before the Antique Supermarket opened in 1964, London did not have a permanent indoor market where antique dealers had the opportunity to trade all year round without having to dismantle their stock at the end of the day.

The concept proved popular and, with the exception of a few poison pen letters received from some of the more traditional members of the trade, the Antique Supermarket was soon filled with a variety of antique dealers.  After a quiet start, with all the energy put into the opening, the word spread and the centre's popularity grew to eventually establish a star studded clientele. 

Antique Hypermarket - Kensington High Street
Antique Hypermarket - Kensington High Street

In 1968, off the back of the Antique Supermarket’s success, Bennie Gray opened the Antique Hypermarket on trendy Kensington High Street and, a few years later, Antiquarius on the Kings Road, Chelsea in 1970.  Bennie eventually sold these markets and each continued for a time.  Antiquarius was sold again in 2009 and the building has now become US store Anthropologie.

Antiquarius - King's Road, Chelsea
Alfies Antique Market came next in 1976, named after Bennie’s father, jazz musician Alfie Gray.   Bennie Gray was born on Cosway Street, just around the corner from Alfies, and when the dilapidated Edwardian department store, Jordan’s, came up for sale he jumped at the opportunity.

Alfies Antique Market in the 1970s

At the time the deteriorated state of the building was echoed along Church Street, where what had once been a thriving working class community fell into the familiar pattern of inner city decay with shops boarded up and vandalism rife.

Alfies opened to become an unpretentious, un-daunting antiques experience, eventually welcoming a younger, design-led crowd.  Bennie is justifiably proud of the impact Alfies has had on Church Street. Some 20 independent dealers also now line Church Street, many of whom started out with a stand at Alfies. 

In 1976 Bennie opened Grays, at 58 Davies Street.  The Edwardian Grade II listed building was originally built for John Bolding & Sons, a manufacture of sanitary equipment.  Bolding had the building commissioned to house a showroom on Davies Street and workshops at the rear in Davies Mews. 

Work begins on Grays Mews, 1978

Grays Mews opens in 1978

A year after Grays opened work began on the rear workshops to become Grays Mews.  For a time the basement was continually flooded and architects found the source to be part of the underground river Tyburn, a tributary to the Thames.  This water was channelled to create a water feature that can still be seen today.

Today Alfies Antique MarketGrays and Grays Mews are London’s largest permanent centres for antiques and are collectively home to over 250 small businesses.  Open all week, the key to the success comes from the antique dealers themselves, their passion and dedication to finding and trading in beautiful objects and passing on the unique histories that accompany them.  In a world of internet shopping, this personal service is becoming a rare find.  All three centres are full of experienced specialists, each with their own area of knowledge and expertise.  Here's to another 50 years!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Father's Day Gift Ideas

This year, for Father's Day, why not avoid the high street and visit Alfies for that something special? Alfies is full of potential gifts to suit every budget. Our dealers have a wealth of knowledge of their stock and are at hand to give you expert advice. To make thing's a bit easier, we've compiled a selection of wonderful items your father would appreciate...

A selection of garden tools from the Victorian period to the 1940s. Offered by Paola & Iaia.

Pocket watches, offered by Pars Jewellery.

Trench art made entirely from empty shell cases. c1930 -1940. Offered by Eclectic Antiques & Contemporary

1950s novelty cork screw. Offered by Good Time Antiques.
Large 1950s desk lamp with diffuser, offered by Design Sect.
Art Deco 18ct platinum cufflinks, offered by Kieron Rielly
Kent Pure Badger, hand made shaving brush, offered by W & L Antiques.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A Classy Cup of Tea

Great Britain has a long history when it comes to drinking tea. In fact, we have been drinking tea for 350 years. And even if China was both the birthplace of tea and porcelain making, Britain is now well known for being inhabited by quite a few tea enthusiasts and fine porcelain makers. 

During the 17th century the British East India Company had a monopoly on importing goods from outside Europe and during their glory days tea became one of their highly valued goods. At first tea was something very luxurious and therefore only the upper class could afford it. Luckily, time has made tea much more accessible and whether you can enjoy a cup of tea or not is no longer a question of class.

With that said, it is difficult to deny what beautifully made porcelain can do for your tea. Here at Alfies we have a few dealers who know a thing or two about how your afternoon tea could be coloured and shaped.

Worcester cup and saucer c1765, offered by Janes Antiques
Royal Crown Derby 1900 Japan pattern, offered by Janes Antiques
Royal Crown Derby 1932, offered by Horner Antiques
Royal Doulton 1904, offered by Beth
Carlton Ware spiderweb pattern 1920s, offered by Beth
Molly Hancock 1930s hand painted, offered by Beth
Breakfast set for one - by Hammersley for Thomas Goode & Co, offered by W & L Antiques
Vintage tea service by Roslyn China, offered by W & L Antiques 

And speaking of afternoon tea, why not have it here at Alfies? Our Roof Top Kitchen offer a range of home made cakes to enjoy with your tea.

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