The Great Indoors

 

Long gone are uninviting dark Dickensian cluttered shops. Antiques have entered a new (eco) friendly state where they have never been more desirable. 

If you are excited to step back inside now that the number of hot days have outweighed ideas for al fresco experiences, then October is the month for you. Save the dates 19-21 October 2018 – the weekend of Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair is a good time to be in Somerset.  

Nothing says let’s get cosy (with over fifty of the finest dealers in decorative antiques and Mid-century design to dress our homes for winter) like a bucolic weekend in the South West.

After a working summer in Suffolk interspersed with inspiration trips to Italy and France, Chris Randle of The Antique Partnership is handpicking stock ready to make a debut at Bruton this year. Taking the traditional with the trendy, Chris shares his secrets for fashioning friendly environments…

Twenty-five years of dealing and restoring antiques has earned Chris what’s referred to by insiders as the knowledge, an increasingly rare quality in today’s new market changed by the Internet and social media selling. 

Chris uses the Internet to his advantage – not having a shop helps him keep prices keen. But hashtag searches only get you so far and his clients are not one-click wonders. He has built a genuine reputation by splitting his time between antique dealing, interior decorating, and through real face time with buyers at high calibre events.

So how does one attain the knowledge? Chris is modest.

“Take on challenges and overcome the mistakes made… never be afraid to ask those who know more than you,” he says. Chris happily returns the favour by sharing his knowledge with those who ask.

The new season is about touchy feely interiors. “Attractive, difficult to find talking pieces often with a rustic country touch…nothing over perfect but with a warm feel,” says Chris.  

An appreciation for old things comfortably coexists with fashion.  Buying antiques can be your fastest route to trends with quality iterations that add individuality which never dates. Chris says fashion is getting louder with “brighter colours than of late” and no room – no matter how small – is devoid of a talking point or two.  

Try bold geometric designs in primary colours and Victorian pub signs like this scoreboard (probably made for indoor excitements such as a game of skittles).

Bruton is brought to us by Sue Ede, the woman behind the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair, which is celebrating its 30th next year.  This October is only the 3rd edition of Bruton, but it has already created a buzz. Stands are artfully curated and highly personal, filled with objects that exhibitors truly love. From immediate wows to settings that show the potential of even the humblest pieces, beauty is everywhere to be found for all manner of tastes.      

I dressed this corner of my home with pieces collected from regular exhibitors at Bath and Bruton.

Step inside The Antique Partnership’s stand at Bruton this year and you will get a taste for rustic 19th Century French and English pieces. Your eyes will meet the glass eyes of a polychrome rocking horse and rest on pairs of upholstered French armchairs. The modern home is not museum-like, beautifully upholstered chairs are actually bought to sit in. 

Chris is a fan of the “practical but strikingly nice to look at.” A flight of painted Georgian drawers, a lime waxed pine dresser base, and a rare walnut topped centre table fit the bill for Bruton.     

The months when the great indoors beckons is a natural time for living green to resonate. The choices we make for our own homes effect that place we all call home, planet earth.  Chris believes the green angle will translate over time, but it has not hit the right spot yet. “A huge effort needs to be made to bring this concept back into the publics mind,” he says.

Choosing antiques over new is surely one of the most pleasurable ways to sustain our planet.  But who needs preaching when the beauty found at Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair can inspire change without words.

Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair

19 – 21 October 2018
Haynes International Motor Museum
Sparkford, Somerset, BA22 7LH

Entry is £5 or get your Free Ticket here

The Antique Partnership

©Photographs courtesy of Reclaimed Woman & The Antique Partnership 

Take Two Bruton

Artist Chloë Holt and dealer in rare antiques, Chris Holmes have cultivated the kind of careers many dream of, doing what they love.  There is an air of anticipation as I interview the two, both buzzing, ready to stand at Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair this October.  It might sound early, but excitement has been building since Bruton launched onto the interiors calendar last year at the luxury laden Haynes International Motor Museum.

Amore dei Fiori Chloë Holt RCA FRSA

Whether buying or selling, unexpected things can be found at fairs.  Love – Chloë and Chris confide, is one of them.  They met at a fair five years ago.  “I was getting inspiration and Chris was selling the most amazing things,” Chloë recalled, including his grandmother’s Italian mirror, which she persuaded him not to sell.  Most men don’t present a  sixteenth century Italian altarpiece painting depicting deep blue skies that match their “sparkly blue eyes.”  It’s a good thing Chris’ father had the sense to sack him from the family shipping and haulage business, telling him to go and do something he enjoyed with his life instead.

Intuition, an exhibition by antique dealer and interior designer, Axel Vervoordt with Daniela Ferretti inspired their recent trip to Venice, but it turned out Chris had more than the Biennale in mind, and he proposed.  Chloë didn’t say no…

Think but not too much.  There are two ways of understanding intuition – the scientific take says it comes from a subconscious store of knowledge and experience, the kind that underlies a dealer’s seasoned eye for style and authenticity.  The other mystical and fateful face of intuition defies reason and explains the saying when you know, you know.   As Chris and Chloë show us, both senses of the word can come into play at an antiques fair.

“A real time of change and experiment” came for Chloë when she sold her first painting at her degree show.  A first foray into her now signature, textural mixed media work, the painting depicted rusty red brackets in a snowy vision of the Horseshoe Pass in North Wales on New Year’s Day.  That year would later see Chloë win the Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards and become a Fellow of the RSA.

Chris Holmes Antiques at Bath Decorative Antiques Fair

I was introduced to the couple in February at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair, the longstanding fair by Cooper Events, the same organisers behind Bruton.  Now exhibiting together, they describe their tastes as eclectic, yet identical and only disagree about the amount of stuff they can squeeze into their home.  Forget museum-like living, Chris makes Italian Renaissance pieces, antiquities and early art feel ripe for real living, alongside Chloë’s paintings with their celebration of imperfection that puts one at ease in their presence.

 Ashes Chloë Holt RCA FRSA

carved wooden figure from Gotland c.1350. Chris Holmes Antiques

Signs of provenance, past stories and the green-minded make beauty of reused objects.  Chris has “always felt there is no more eco-friendly way of living than valuing an object for not only its beauty and quality, but also for the fact it can and is reused over hundreds of years.”   I bought a French grape pickers’ hod (similar to the below, flagged for Bruton) from Chris this summer at Salvo.  The crest represents the Pope’s vineyard, and almost a hundred years later, the hod is holding my house plant.

French antique grape hod. Chris Holmes Antiques

Bruton promises a trove with the best decorative antique dealers from the UK and Europe. “Just make sure you are an early bird and ready to make quick decisions as competition to buy from these dealers’ collections is fierce. Don’t miss out by hesitating – there is nothing worse,” Chris shares from his personal experience!

He strongly believes the best way of learning about antiques is to handle them, see them and experience them and learn from the specialist dealers who are selling at fairs.  Chris never stops learning, “there is always something new and exciting to discover.”

Should you discover a giant clam, a Sycamore Dairy Bowl or an early onion bottle, Chloë could be close, collecting inspirational objects for her studio…

stone Minoan capital with octopus motif Chris Holmes Antiques 

Be sure not to miss the rare early stone Minoan capital with a carved octopus motif and Chloë’s sought after paintings on the Chris Holmes Antiques stand, which promises plenty to excite both the eyes and the mind.

Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair

13-15 October 2017

Haynes International, Sparkford, Somerset, BA22 7LH

Entry is £5 or get your Free Ticket here

Chris Holmes Antiques

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Chloë Holt & Chris Holmes