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Specialists are all in the business for those moments that they find and identify those rare and beautiful objects often hidden from view for many years, and over the years I have been priviledged to discover numerous extraordinary works of art including unique Salvador Dali ceramics and an early undiscovered First World War work by the artist Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946).
I have particularly always been fascinated by the cross-cultural influence of artists working in differing media that would not normally be considered their original metier, an area I often think is under-examined especially given the way a lot of artists in the 20th Century often worked, studied and socialised together and the great cross-pollination of ideas that ensued.
An extraordinary example of British avant-garde clothing particularly comes to mind, designed on the eve of the First World War, by the artist Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). The embroidered and block printed silk robe was amongst a small group of daring textiles designed around 1912 to 1914 and was made during an extraordinary period of creativity for Lewis, when he was developing a style of abstraction, blending ideas from Italian Futurism and Cubism, which eventually formed into the short-lived movement dubbed by Ezra Pound as Vorticism.
The robe was probably produced for either the Bloomsbury Group’s Omega Workshops or the Rebel Art Centre – a short-lived workshop set-up in 1914 when Lewis left the Omega group after quarrelling with the Bloomsbury set. The full-length gown combined bold colours with bands of stylised foxes, swans, fish and kneeling figures and with only one other example known was of particular rarity, quality and art historical importance.
Philip Smith is an auctioneer and specialist in 20th Century Design and Modern & Post-War British Art, heading up these departments for Lyon & Turnbull in the South of England.
After graduating with a Masters from the Courtauld Institute in 2007, Philip has over 10 years’ experience within the auction industry, beginning his career at a leading provincial auctioneers in the South of England, leading both the Design department and Modern & Post-War Art department nationally. Within this time he developed sales that were considered to be some of the leading sales in the country within these fields and was particularly known as a leading specialist in studio & contemporary ceramics, post-war art and artist’s studio sales.
Philip is a trustee of Court Barn Museum, the Guild of Handicraft Museum, in Chipping Campden which includes curating and organising exhibitions for the Museum, and he has lately been involved in Design: Head, Hand, Heart in 2018, an exhibition devoted to nine leading contemporary designers who follow the rich heritage of architect and designer Charles Robert Ashbee.
Philip has regularly contributed to a number of publications including Ceramic Review, contributed to articles in The Times and The Telegraph, and has given lectures on the changing nature of Studio Ceramics reception in the art world at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and Arts & Crafts Jewellery at Court Barn.