14th December 2017
We pose the question "what gift would you love to be given this Christmas?" to a panel of discerning industry folk and get six personality packed answers
It’s that time of year again when everyone is frantically rushing around in preparation for the big day. The internet is at capacity, the high-streets are packed, and just about everyone is in shopping overdrive. For many, the common goal is to get to that magical part of Christmas when the tree is up, lunch is sizzling away in the oven, loved-ones are all around and, glass in hand, we get to give and receive gifts.
With that moment in mind, we thought we’d invite six busy industry people to put their feet up for a couple of minutes and indulge in the question of gifts. The answers, much like last year, are a wonderful insight in to each personality on our panel. Enjoy.
Marc Allum: BBC Antiques Roadshow Specialist, Author, Journalist, Freelance Consultant and Lecturer
"Theoretically, I should be an easy person to buy for but as any friend or relative who has actually tried to source me a Christmas present knows, my eclectic fascination for artefacts is both a boon and a curse. The problem is that, despite my wide-ranging interests, I really know what I like. In matters of taste, I am both annoyingly strict, perhaps even OCD, and at the same time unpredictable and esoteric. My brother always chooses well, usually something like a wonderful coffee table book full of stunning reliquaries, or a beautiful French pocket knife. Museum gift shops are good hunting ground for me and I love something slightly shocking, such as a mug featuring a gruesome anatomical transfer from my favourite museum gift shop, the Wellcome Collection. I also like kitsch, perhaps a strange contradiction to my strict notions on taste, but kitsch is the necessary antidote to the serious side of the antiques trade, and so something tastelessly tasteful, such as a glow in the dark Madonna, will always satisfy me too.
I never rate presents by value, the best presents I have ever been bought are thoughtful. I love fossils and minerals, so a stone with a hole in it (A Hag stone) or a nice ammonite picked up on a beach will fire an emotive respect for the giver. I like souvenirs and memories, so in a way, the feeling imbued in an object is what makes a gift special to me. This year I’d really like an over-engraved coin by Shaun Hughes, although his work can cost several hundred pounds. These microcosms of the engravers talent are the most superb mix of skill and artistry – tomorrow’s collectable art."
Charis Williams: Salvage Sister, artist, Reloved columnist, public speaker and Salvage Expert on Channel 4’s Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House for Free
"This year I started a creative metalwork degree, which encompasses blacksmithing, welding and jewellery making, along with learning loads of other great skills, as I result I have become really interested in using metals. I’ve been working with sheet steel and cutting it out with a plasma cutter, which is an awesome tool, and one I would love to have in my workshop so I could make all manner of amazing things with it. Sadly, they are really pricey, and can be thousands of pounds, but I’ve managed to find a good one that is £380. Although I would love my whole family to band together to get me the number one Christmas gift on my list, I may have to treat myself to a little Christmas cheer, then, next year everyone would receive a piece of sheet metal art made with it."
Rob Cain: The English Polisher and owner of the Antique Curio & Salvage Barn
"Winter in my barn is freezing and generally about four degrees colder than outside, so I spend a lot of time thinking about heat and being warm. I am now in my seventh year in the barn in Harrogate and each year I tell myself that this is the year I will get a log-burning stove fitted. Alas, each year I add several extra layers of clothing and sit it out in the Yorkshire winter, which can chuck out some pretty mean weather during the colder months. If I could be given one thing this Christmas it would be a Belly Stove log burner, which I’d keep chugging away all day long so I could sit by it, nice cup of Earl Grey in hand (no milk, one brown sugar please), to warm up. My Dad, also a French Polisher and Antique Furniture Restorer, had one in his workshop when I was growing up, it had a hot plate on top to pop the kettle on - happy memories."
Loma-Ann Marks: Editor of Reclaim Magazine
"There are so many beautiful things that I’d love for Christmas (every issue of Reclaim brings more covetable delights) but if I have to choose one then I have to go with something that, every time I see it, leaves me in awe. It is the most inspiring, pioneering, perfect fashion story I think that’s ever been created, certainly the best I’ve ever seen: ‘In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort,’ shot by iconic photographer Richard Avedon for The New Yorker in 1995, with uber model Nadja Auermann and a very suave skeleton. I’d walk over hot coals to have just one of the prints, to have all of them would be nirvana.
Looking at the images is to enter an unexpected, emotionally intense world where death and beauty, love and mortality collide; all dressed in designer clothes. These themes normally appear on gallery walls, in opera, Shakespeare. But Avedon – who revolutionised fashion photography and portraiture – puts them in a magazine, his vision realised with the ultimate collaboration of clothes, set design, location, hair, make up and, of course, his own unique talent."
Matt Dixon: Owner of TallBoy Interiors
"Christmas is, without doubt, my favourite time of year, a time when all of our family travel from all over the country to be together for a big celebration. As part of a tradition my family do themed parties each year, which recently have been testing my design capabilities as they seem to be getting bigger and more adventurous. A lot of my current stock becomes part of the fixtures and fittings for a few days. Although the theme changes each year, one thing stays the same and that is at the end of the evening when everyone is relaxed and enjoying the final festivities me and my dad enjoy the warmth of a good malt whisky. So this year the top of my list would be a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky, which I consider to be one of the smoothest whiskies available. It comes with a larger price ticket to our usual choice but, hey, it’s Christmas, so why not. A decent sized bottle costs anywhere between £135-£200, but you can’t put a price on making memories (that’s my pitch for any family member who may want to buy me this!)."
Tamsyn Morgans: Vintage Home Blogger at The Villa on Mount Pleasant and Interior Prop Stylist
"As much as I love my Victorian house, there's no getting away from the fact that it can be a bit draughty during the winter months. So, top of my Christmas wish list would be a gorgeous, plump, vintage feather-filled eiderdown to keep out the chills. I love the pretty faded pastel florals and muted paisley patterns, and they look beautiful stacked on top of each other on a wardrobe or cupboard during the warmer months. Plump, laundered eiderdowns are still easy enough to find on eBay, but I always love the selection that Decorative Country Living have on their site. Perfect for snuggling under on the sofa to watch It's a Wonderful Life, mug of hot chocolate in hand."
Many thanks to our wonderful panel for sharing their wishes with us, we hope very much that they are granted.
A very Merry Christmas to you all from all at Arthur Swallow Fairs.