LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair returned to Berkeley Square last week with a display of glittering jewellery and outstanding art. With dealers from far afield to some from just round the corner taking part, the range of items was, as always, vast and exquisite.
Whether it is a coincidence, or possibly I try to look for them, but there always seems to be one or two strong trends that stand out at every fair, and antiques fairs are no exception. For me this year, LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair provided one such trend, and a supremely beautiful set of items. Wedgwood is a household name in fine porcelain and the more famous, and possibly most iconic, Jasperware. However, not a piece of blue and white Wedgwood was on display, but there was plenty of the very distinctive and recognisable ‘Fairyland Lustre’ series produced by the company starting in 1916 and production lasted until the early 1930s.
Fairyland Lustre was the product of two things, the advancements in the techniques of glazes being trialed by Wedgwood and the addition to the company of Susannah Margaretta “Daisy” Makeig-Jones. The contribution of Makeig-Jones is not only a landmark for Wedgwood for the production of her Fairyland Lustre products, but her very status as a senior designer and a woman would have been quite out of the ordinary at a time when the suffragette movement was campaigning for rights for women.
Pieces from the Fairyland Lustre series come in a range of shapes, and sizes and occasionally produced on new shapes commissioned especially for this series. They are distinctive for their use of lustre and gilding and their imaginative and highly creative use of myths and stories from a range of cultures to decorate these pieces. One such piece is “Ghostly Wood”, which is a jar and cover made from bone china painted in brown with underglaze and lustre and gilt. The narrative on this piece is inspired by The Legend of Croquemitaine by Gustave Doré – a story of the French Emperor Charlemagne which involved ghosts, fairies and other fantastical creatures.
Although this series of works were extremely popular, and in many way revived Wedgwood which was struggling in the early 1900s, the economic downturn in the USA following the Wall Street Crash in 1929 put an end to the exuberant spending on these luxury items. Makeig-Jones was asked to leave Wedgwood in 1930 but refused to do so, and decided leave on her own accord shortly afterwards. Feeling betrayed as a member of the family (Doris Audrey Wedgwood married her brother, Thomas Makeig-Jones) Makeig-Jones left in a display of artistic temperament smashing her pots as she left.
Pieces of Makeig-Jone’s Fairyland Lustre can be seen, if you missed seeing them at LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, in the collection of many museums around the world, and indeed right here in London. The piece, above, is also in the collection of the V&A museum – museum number C.70A-1988.
LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair may have finished at its home in Berkely Square for 2014, however the members of LAPADA can be found all around London and throughout the UK, and details of where to find dealers can be found here.