Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Abstract art in Alfies

Art is a great way to add some of your own personality to an interior. Choosing the right accessories to go with an interior is as important as choosing the colour of the walls.So when looking for a unique work of art for any space, keep in mind that we have some great pieces at Alfies that must be seen. For this blog I am looking specifically at abstract art.

Abstract art uses a visual language of form, colour and line to create a composition which, to a certain degree doesn't represent our own visual references. It indicates a departure from reality, this can be slight, partial or complete.
There are a few famous examples of abstract artists. One of the first ones was Kandinsky,(born 1866-1944) he created the first completely abstract work of art, a watercolour without any reference to reality.

Untitled (First Abstract Watercolor). 1910 (1913). Pencil, watercolor and ink on paper.

In Alfies I found some special pieces, this is a great examples of abstract art from Bent Ply,(F40-45)

John Lancaster c.1960's

The picture below comes from Peran Dachinger's Fine Art located on the first floor (F20)

Richard Ott, Mixed media on wood

Another very famous abstract artist is Jackson Pollack. Paul Jackson Pollock was a very influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionism movement. In the process of making his works of art he moved away from figurative representation completly. He used paint pouring as one of his unusual techniques and painted with his canvases laid out on the floor, developing what was called the 'drip' technique, see picture below.

The painting below from Bent Ply, resembles Pollacks chaotic style and would make a very bold statement in any room. The colours are very striking!

Cubism, one of the first abstract styles, began in the early 1900's. The cubists tried to create a new way of seeing things in art, many of their subjects were represented as a combination of geometric shapes. Because of this cubist pictures are often described as looking like pieces of fractured glass. This picture from Peran Dachinger's Fine Art is very cubist in style.

K. Sancto 1963

Oil on board 1940, artist unknown

The above painting is from Dimech (F046-49). The colours are very dark and subtle.

Lastly is my personal favourite, this is only partially abstract as there are some recognisable figures in the painting, but the lines are really fine and delicate contrasting with the childlike scribbles. A really great painting, from Hungarian artist Antonyi, also from Dimech

Art is all about personal taste and choosing the right painting can be a very rewarding experience.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Delicate flowers and mystic jet: the highlights of Victoriana

Flowery motifs were popular during the Victorian era and they adorned home utensils, jewellery, wall-papers, furniture, fabrics and stationery. Flowers were important as a romantic gift from a man to his special lady. Flower dictionaries were written so that people could unravel their symbolic meaning, as feelings could not be expressed freely in public. Tussie-Mussies, small bouquets of flowers wrapped in a lace doily and tied with satin, were sent as gifts from men to the object of their affection. These cute bouquets carried secret messages of love or dislike depending on which flowers were chosen, their size and how they were grouped together. Flowers had a silent meaning of their very own, and could convey what was not dared to be spoken. Even the manner in which flowers were sent had a special meaning. A flower exhibited in an upright position meant something positive, while one presented in the opposite direction had a negative meaning. A person could also say "yes" by offering a flower with the right hand, or ‘no’ when presenting it with the left hand. The array of flowery motifs took on various shapes, here are some samples:

Delightful gold and silver Victorian diamond brooch from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian ceramic decorative tiles from Renato

A Victorian silver sugar scuttle from Goldsmith & Perris

A Victorian teapot stand with beaded ormolu trimming from June Victor

Hand embroidered Victorian frame from Sheila Cameron

To contrast the delicate flower motifs, black smooth Jet became increasingly popular during the Victorian period. The colour black has a long held association with mystery as in natural state precious black stones are rare, such as black coral or black opal. Jet objects have been found in burial sites from Bronze Age buttons, studs and necklaces, Roman beads, eardrops, armlets, rings and hairpins, Saxon monastery jewellery, Viking age chess pieces to Medieval ecclesiastical crosses, some of them put on houses to ward off evil. Jet was exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace organised by Prince Albert, and gained popularity as a fashion item. During the reign of Queen Victoria it was stated that only Jet jewellery could be worn at court during the time of official mourning. Thus Jet became the preferred material for mourning jewellery and the Jet industry expanded. Even more so following the death of Victoria's husband Prince Albert in December 1861. Examples of beautiful Jet from our dealers:

Elegant Whitby Jet necklace from Marie Antiques

Striking ornate carved Whitby Jet necklace with carved drop from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian Whitby Jet dual strand necklace with faceted beads from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian Jet trimming accessory or appliqué from June Victor

Find the flowers for your love at Alfies or the Jet jewellery of your dreams at Alfies!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Fathers' Day Gift Ideas

It's Fathers' Day on the 21st of June. Eek! It's hard enough trying to find a good birthday and Christmas present for my Dad...let alone something for this extra date. I've done the predictable CD/DVD/book/golf-ball options pretty much every year. My Dad always acts like he's suprised...hmmm really?!

So let's do something different for our Dad's this Fathers' Day, let's be a bit original - let's get something for them that shows how much we do appreciate the old boys. I've been scouring Alfies and come up with some ideas to help you (and me!)

An original 1920s nickel and silver Omega pocket watch called Turler
Mo Heidarieh

A 1930s Mappin & Web ice bucket.
W & L Antiques

An excellent quality 1950s Danish leather swivel chair
Stephen Lazarus

Miniature Gin Bar with glasses and decanter
Ian Broughton

A very desirable pair of Edwardian gentleman's antique cufflinks in 9ct gold
Peter & Naneen Brooks

A selection of gifts available from
Robinson Antiques

Some food for thought. But if you are still in really big trouble trying to pick something out for your Dad, you can never go wrong with the Alfies Gift Certificates (available in £10, £20 & £50 denominations)...Now there's an idea!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Treasured Possessions

If you haven't heard already, next week sees the start of the annual Coutts Jewellery Week. Coutts highlights work of both up-and-coming jewellery designers as well as the more established ones through a whole load of fantastic exhibitions and events. 'Treasure' seems to be the main event of the week showcasing 40 of London's hottest new designers. Hatton Garden (London's historic jewellery quarter) will also be transformed during the week allowing visitors a rare glimpse into the world of the jewellery-maker. It should be well worth a visit!

I'm always pretty excited when I find a piece of jewellery that is so unique and seems so current. Even though they say fashion repeats itself I am still surprised when I find pieces from years ago holding their own against contemporary designers. Every time I look around Alfies I always manage to spot something that inspires me. Here are a few treasures that I found that made me remember you don't always have to follow the latest trends or the newest designers to stand out from the crowd!

This is a massive statement bangle by Chanel with natural pearls. It was most probably made in the 1950/60s and can be found in Francesca Martire's shop on the 1st Floor at Alfies. Francesca is mainly a furniture dealer but she has some really great jewellery hidden away by Mirium Haskell, Chanel and Swarovski.

This is another 1960s piece in 18ct gold. This ring is from Sormeh Ouji
who has an amazing collection of unique one-off pieces of jewellery

This brooch was designed and made by Arthur King and is offered by Pari's Jewellery at Alfies. It has a double pin on the back to stop it drooping under the weight of its large complex design.

This ring is undoubtedly my favourite piece at the moment. It's an Italian ring from the 1960s and is made from 3 colours of brushed 18ct gold. It's beautiful. This piece is for sale at Pari's Jewellery on the ground floor at Alfies.

To view more super-chic jewellery like this click here and search 'jewellery.'

Coutts Jewellery Week runs from 8th - 14th June 2009.
here to get a 2 for 1 voucher to visit the Treasure exhibition next weekend.
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