Bellmans, founded in 1989, is one of the largest auction houses in the South of England.. Located nearby our showroom, in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, with another office in Central London, Bellmans holds regular specialist auctions across a wide spectrum, including Asian Ceramics & Works of Art, European Ceramics, Fine Art and Furniture and Jewellery.
Pippa Green is the Works of Art Specialist for Bellmans Auction House, and has an abundance of experience, from working at Christie's to the Guggenheim in Venice, gaining her vast knowledge of fine art and antiques. We wanted to find out what it’s like working in this exciting industry, read on to discover more...
I had always been interested in history and how people lived, I suppose social history, combined with a love of snooping around museums, architecture and cultural voyeurism. I wanted to work in an environment that combined some of these elements and auction houses appealed because of the constant change and the unexpected, a glorified Generation Game. It’s still changing and I am certainly still learning.
A recent stand out auction at Bellmans was the collection sale of the Late Professor Bernard Nevill earlier this year. Not only was his home and its contents famous as the backdrop for the iconic film, ‘Withnail & I’, but in cataloguing and researching his career a richer picture of his baroque taste evolved, together with his skills as a highly regarded fashion textile designer of the late 60s and 70s. The sale naturally did very well! Other stand outs have to be the auction selling the collection of Princess Margaret and Audrey Hepburn.
Valuation days are held twice a week at Bellmans, and without an appointment, clients can bring in all manner of items if they are keen to sell or get an auction value. Sometimes the “counter” can get pretty busy and one never knows what to expect or what treasures one may discover. The items can be left on the spot and entered into the next available Interiors sale. It’s always exciting to see the items brought in along with the anticipation that this will be the day someon brings in a dream item. No two auctions are ever the same and no two days are ever the same!
Busy! It can range from condition reporting lots for the forthcoming sale to cataloguing for the next, answering valuation enquiries, some over emails, meeting buyers and sellers, depending on the day! Maybe, if lucky, walking a dog at lunchtime.
Arrive with an open-mind, one never knows what could leap out from the auction catalogue or view. No one auction is the same and pieces may not fit the exact criteria on the shopping list, but there is always something unique and individual. It takes time to get your eye in and to look closely at the object. It’s always advisable to view the saleroom in person during the exhibition period prior to the auction, review the condition report and discuss with a specialist. The bidding process is very easy and can be dealt with in a variety of ways; the estimate provides a guide but ultimately the value is realised on the day of the auction. If you are concerned about over spending, it is safest to leave a commission bid. Although another golden saying is ‘No regrets’ as some lots only come up once or twice!
The market has dramatically changed since the late 1990s, mostly down to the internet revolution transforming auction houses, which are now open to private buyers and collectors and not just the preserve of dealers. Also, with globalisation these buyers can be located anywhere in the world.
Definitely ‘Eclectic’- in general I’d say my taste is eclectic, but it depends on the architecture of the space and light. Careful mixing of styles can create an interesting, charismatic interior, whilst singling out individual, antique pieces will stand out. In the case of brown furniture, less is often more!
France, as it is not too far to travel and there is so much to explore including the fairs and brocantes.
Hobbies - chasing children… going to art galleries!
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