Outside Concerns; Old Habits – By @WeR4everPpl

By Sean Grace


Outside Concerns; Old Habits


There are some moments in life that you can never prepare for. These are the moments you realise you’re no longer just watching the news, but in it. 


As they unfold, and are being experienced in real time, they have an air of unreality.That’s because you can visualise it happening, but not to you, or you can never visualise it happening to anyone, you included.


In the west of Europe, in one of the most urban, industrialised corners of the world, we are inoculated from nature. In our cities, with our urban pursuits, we forget her wrath. But once in a while something happens. It tears a rift and throws you, wide eyed, into another world 




Hot on the heels of Coronavirus and school stress, I found myself distracted by one of my old hustles – vintage decorative art ‘porn’.


Trawling the websites through the usual Danish sideboards and Scandinavian glassware, I soon hit upon a photo that made me stop and stare.


The auction entry was for a shelf. Attributed poorly to some danish designer, I wasn’t convinced, but it wasn’t the shelf that grabbed me, it was what was on it. 




It was the first time I’d been to Ibiza and it wasn’t going well. My partner’s chronic seasickness driving us all to the deck. The rain was hammering us at 45 degrees and we were storm drenched to the skin.


We’d anchored the boat in the harbour and braved the dinghy to shore. We were sheltering in a beach bar. It was only when they turned off the fridges and the electrics that we realised something was up. 


30 minutes later we were wading knee deep in water, the girls between us. The car headed towards us planning a left turn. And that was the moment. It suddenly dawned on me…If it doesn’t turn in this water, this is it. The moment you never thought might happen. How would I cope, I thought in a flash. And I just watched. Slowly, thankfully, it turned, only the swell hit us. 


Feeling for holes and kerbs, we made our way to higher ground. 




It was quite a shelf. Everything was from the same period and all so high end. Over £2000 of glassware and ceramics, and that just the auctioneer’s estimate. I did the roll call.


A large, Savoy clear glass vase, for the Iittala factory, designed by Alvar Aalto, Finland.


A red bowl form with platinum interior by british potter Martin Smith.


An Applet glass vase by Ingeborg Lundin, designed in 1955 for Orrefors and shown at the Swedish Art Exhibition and the Milan Triennale.


Not one, but two, clear glass Arkipelago vases, designed by Timo Sarpaneva, for Iiittala, Finland. 


A cactus engraved glass vase and a stylised foliage vase, both by Keith Murray, for Stevens & Williams, Royal Brierley glass. 


I wondered who lived in a house like this? Were they a maker or an artist?  a frustrated creative? A lawyer collating evidence of others’ creativity? Or a garrulous hoarder of objects each telling their own story. 


Curated and not at all incidental. Whoever put the collection together knew too much. Only a special kind of collector wants to go to sleep, and wake up, to this. 




I checked the auction and they were all listed. Why now? Why all in one go? What hole opened before them and dragged them through, as they realised they were  letting it all go.


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