Friday, 10 June 2016

In conversation with David Gledhill

David Gledhill, 'Das Gluckliche Paar auf Fahrt'. Oil on canvas, 92 x 127cm, 2008-2010
A few years ago, artist David Gledhill was given an album of photographs that had been found in a fleamarket in Frankfurt. The album dated from the 1950s and had been put together in East Germany by a GP, Dr Wilhelm Munscheid, as a fifth-wedding-anniversary present for his daughter Renate. Renate had married a West German, becoming Frau Manjock, and as a result lived in the West, though she was able to visit her parents quite often. But for some reason she did not receive the album intended for her.

An important aspect of David Gledhill's practice is painting from photographs, particularly found images. He has produced a series of 30 paintings based on photos in the album. Later, he discovered that Frau Manjock was living near Frankfurt and he went to meet her and to give her the album that was intended for her. He has made an interesting film (available to view on YouTube) about this experience.

Now the novelist Nicholas Royle has collaborated with David to write a novella, In Camera, sparked by David's paintings (and illustrated by them). This adds a further intriguing layer of fiction which conjures a new world out of the album. The interplay between this imagined context and the historical context is very rich.

As I'm so interested in painting that takes photographs as its subject, I've been really enjoying an email conversation I've been having with David Gledhill about the project.
David Gledhill, ‘Wohnzimmer mit Blick aufs Esszimmer’. Oil on canvas, 92 x 142cm, 2008 - 2010
Jane Housham (JH): When your subject is 'in' a photo, how important is it to you to reproduce the same qualities of dark and light as the original photo? When you paint a picture derived from a black-and-white or sepia photograph, do you use a single colour and let the white come from the background or do you use one colour plus white or even several different colours?

David Gledhill (DG): With the work based on black and white photographs, I just use black oil paint and remove the paint with rags and cotton buds to allow the primed surface of the canvas to show through. I go on applying further washes of black paint and then removing it again until the image is complete. Towards the end of the process I tend to scumble dry paint broadly across the forms to deepen the tonal contrast. After a few weeks I then apply a glaze layer with a tiny amount of raw umber paint in it. This acts to warm up the image and to pull it together and set it back behind a slight sheen on the surface of the canvas. Raw umber can approximate to the sepia hue of some old photographs so it has to be managed carefully so as to avoid too overt a sense of nostalgia, which isn’t really the point of the work.

JH: That's very interesting. Does the desire to 'seal' the painting behind that sheen bear any relation to wanting to reproduce the sheen of a photo?

DG: Yes, it opens up a space behind the surface of the canvas which has a similar feel to the space of a photograph. Of course it’s hard to make the canvas completely ‘transparent’ as it were and I’m conscious of a century’s worth of art theory that has privileged the picture plane over the content of a painting.
     Having said that, there are all sorts of little imperfections in a painting that remind you of its materiality and this is another significant distinction between paintings and photographs. I don’t think most people would be preoccupied with reading photographs in terms of their materiality rather than what they’re of, other than being conscious of the means of viewing, such as a print, an album or a computer screen. But when you see a painting you’re highly conscious of this object in the room, that’s like a piece of furniture rather than simply an image.
     The work isn't photorealist in the traditional sense of the term as I'm not trying to reproduce the specific quality of reflected light as recorded by a camera lens. The tonal range of the original snap is the point of departure but the finished paintings have much stronger contrasts of light and dark. This is because I'm attempting to use techniques and conventions from the history of drawing and painting to translate a photographic image into a painterly equivalent that also suggests the tactile forms beneath the record of reflected light.

JH: Your mention of 'imperfections' in paintings has just made me think of some of Peter Doig's large-scale works from the Nineties, which are clearly derived from film stills or photos but in which he has absolutely spattered the surface of the canvas with drops and smears of paint so that there's an extreme pull between those two elements – the painting as mimesis and as surface decoration or mark-making. But that same tension is there in this series too, as you say.

DG: With this work, I wanted to move the balance between the painting as object and as image towards a position where it’s inviting to enter into the atmospherics of the painting, but also evident that it has some material similarities with photography. Wiping the paint back to allow the primed canvas to show through, produces a similar effect to the printing of black and white photographs in that the lighter areas of the composition come from the support. 
David Gledhill, 'Dielenaufgang'. Oil on canvas, 92 x 138cm, 2010
JH: How do you feel about the process of choosing images to paint when you have decided not to select a composition from the infinite possibilities of unmediated reality but, rather, to choose from views that have already been mediated by someone else?

DG: I worked directly from the motif for many years. When I was studying in the late 70’s, I reacted to the conceptualised tendencies in the art of the time and went back to C├ęzanne. I wanted to work my way through the various modernist approaches and started by drawing and painting in the landscape. Of course, I ended up resorting to methods and conventions that I had seen in the work of other artists. I tried very hard to make work in response to my own perception and situatedness in a particular place, but as time went on the constant interruptions or bad weather conditions discouraged me from painting outdoors, so I made working drawings on the spot and developed them in the studio.  These days I would take issue with the idea of the experience of nature as an 'unmediated' one. It seems to me that experience and sense perception are already mediated, not just in the strictly physiological sense but also in terms of how we create meaning from what we experience, which is a social and cultural process. I'm compelled by this process of making meaning, so the intention and the decision to take a photograph are what interests me, rather than questions of the objectivity or truth value of the photograph itself.

JH: So is the key element of the choice of a 'found' photo as your subject the composition within the frame of the photo?

DG: Yes, exactly. I look for a composition I can lift out of the photograph and render in painterly terms. If I see a painting by one of my favourite artists that I’ve never seen before, the unexpectedness of the composition has the shock value and disorientating effect of discovering a new species, or a new set of unforeseen possibilities. It’s something I’ve never been able to verbalise but occasionally I get the same feeling from a second-hand photograph in a box somewhere. It’s a completely new way of seeing the world and then the job is to work out whether the newness of the photograph will translate into painting. Working from entire albums is less to do with the quirkiness of the individual compositions and more to do with reaching beyond my preferences and challenging myself to invest in someone else’s habitual manner of framing their own experience. The reason why I stopped working from my own photographs was that I gradually stopped challenging myself to try new subjects in new ways and working with an album makes you do that.

JH: Is it more challenging when you don't just select images one by one but, as with the Dr Munscheid photos, accept a set of images as your subject?

DG: I've made paintings from individual second-hand photographs but when I was given the album, I thought it was important to attempt as many of the images as possible, and managed to produce 30 from a total of 57. I've been frustrated with what you could call the 'commodity status' of paintings for years. When I invite friends to exhibitions they say "but I can't afford your work". All I want is for people to see them and if they're interested, to think about them. I realised that working in series can divert attention from this idea of the saleability of paintings as individual artefacts. More importantly it also enables the construction of meaning from the interplay of the paintings amongst themselves and between the paintings and the source photographs in their album context. It's inevitably more challenging to work this way partly because each project takes several years to complete.
David Gledhill, 'Meine Jungmadchenklause'. Oil on canvas, 127 x 92cm, 2008-2010
 JH: Would you agree that it involves a certain degree of 'submission' to someone else's choice of moment, of frame? For me, if I'm looking for an image to paint, I will either search for a long time for an image I want to paint (for instance spending hours in second-hand shops going through boxes of old photos and only finding maybe one or two I like) or, alternatively, I'll see an image in a newspaper or somewhere and it'll speak to me -- I'll know instantly that I want to turn it into a painting, but that means it has some very special quality about it. So what it comes down to (for me) is that I don't want to paint just any old found image, and that's why I wondered whether it was more of a challenge to attempt to paint all the images in Dr Munscheid's album, since I thought there must inevitably have been some images that didn't speak to you as strongly. You ended up painting just over half, which is a great achievement, I think. Perhaps 'submitting to the album', as it were, served to intensify the sense of 'strangeness' one gets from painting a found image, which I think is caused by so many of the decisions one would have to make if painting a subject 'in the world' already having been made for one. 

DG: I know what you mean but I wouldn’t choose the word ‘submission’. I think I must have overdeveloped empathetic faculties, because I’m absolutely enchanted by the idea of entering into somebody else’s world. I’ve also been fascinated by the less appealing works of those artists I admire and this is across all media, including pop music, literature etc. There are the things you adore and can’t get enough of. You read them or listen to them over and over and then after years of pleasing yourself in this way you become curious about the less immediately appealing stuff. In order to maintain and expand the range of what you can do as an artist, I think you have to try harder with things you don’t like at first. Teaching art has encouraged me to go to exhibitions I wouldn’t normally bother with and I’ve learned far more than I could have by sticking to Rubens, Rembrandt and Titian, whom I’m in awe of. So it’s a case of being aware that I need to tackle compositions that are less ‘catchy’ in a way, and those often turn out to be the best ones. This is definitely something that working with old photographs can help with because whilst early photographs were often formulaic, since about the 1930’s people all over the world have been pointing cameras at all kinds of things in all kinds of ways.
     I knew why I took the shots I used as source material to make paintings when I started to work from my own photographs, but I was curious to explore other people's motivations. Of course this is only conjecture, but it seemed to me that the Doctor who recorded the family home as a memento for his daughter was trying to stop time and to preserve something that was slipping away. What made the album so powerful for me, was that with the passage to communist rule, the past must have seemed irretrievable in both a personal but also a larger social sense.
      One of the mistakes I made early in the project was to assume that the Doctor’s personal transition from Nazi to Communist East Germany somehow made him guilty. Renate showed me a framed photograph of her father in Sweden during the war, dressed in an officer’s uniform. Apparently, thousands of small town doctors fled to the West before 1961 and the closure of the borders, in search of the material basics of life; their own flat and car, television etc. It was clear from the album (and the paintings) that Doctor Munscheid had a big house, a maid and chauffeur, so he must have adapted pretty quickly to the new regime. That fascinates me and it’s there to be read from the photographs and hopefully the paintings. It’s this possibility that snapshots can contribute to the development of a new form of history painting that motivates me to keep searching for material to work with.
David Gledhill, 'Der Vater bei der Arbeit (mein Arbeitsplatzchen von 1945-1952). Oil on canvas, 92 x 153cm, 2008-2010  
 JH: Is it possible to see the Dr Munscheid paintings in the flesh anywhere?

DG: I had a few shows of the paintings when I finished the series back in 2013 but not since then. I'm hoping that if the book generates some interest, I'll be able to exhibit the paintings outside the North West. I would love to exhibit them as a series in the town they document.

JH: That would be excellent. Do you have any feelings about their needing to be kept together as the originals were?

DG: I've sold two or three of the paintings from exhibitions and, in those cases, I've painted replacements so that the series is kept intact.

JH: Do you think you'll carry on replacing bought paintings in that way? What will it mean when you no longer feel the need to fill gaps in the series?

DG: I’ve produced a number of other series since the Dr Munscheid paintings, so perhaps there’s a time limit on the will to maintain the integrity of a body of work. If I was in a position where there was interest in the work, I would rather offer it to a public collection for a drastically reduced price than see it sold off bit by bit.
JH: Are there any photos in the album that you didn't make paintings of? What were the reasons for leaving those out, if you did?

There were quite a few out of focus snaps of dachshunds playing in a garden, which may have taxed my commitment to the project, so I didn't bother with them. There are three paintings of dogs in the series however, so they are represented!
David Gledhill, 'Stuzzi'. Oil on canvas, 38 x 56cm, 2008-2010
JH: Is there a limit to how long you can concentrate on a single subject, even if it consists of multiple individual images?

I wanted to minimise my own intervention in the album's narrative by painting as many of the photographs as possible, but I think self-imposed strictures of this kind should occasionally be sidestepped to keep things fresh. I wasn't aware of any other artists who have used entire photograph albums in this way, so I was determined to do my best, but I think eventually you can run out of steam. 

JH: Do you like Richter's photo-derived paintings? I mean those of his paintings that are akin to your Dr Munscheid series, clearly based on photos. I love them.

DG: I think Richter’s Baader Meinhof series are easily the best paintings produced by anyone in the last 40 years and for lots of reasons other than the technical quality of the individual paintings. His use of the serial form is genuinely innovative and the engagement with historical events and particularly events of such traumatic impact was completely groundbreaking. I often wonder why he seems to have backed away from the possibilities opened up by these paintings. Of course he has had to endure the volcanic political life of Germany first hand, whilst my interest is from a safe distance as it were.

JH: Yes, I think those paintings are extraordinary too. When Tate Modern had their big Richter retrospective a couple of years ago, I spent ages just sitting in the relatively small room where that sequence was hung. The imaginative engagement with those dark events was incredible. I agree that he seems to have retreated to some extent now.

DG: Perhaps the abstracts sell better!

JH: Did you feel any pangs at parting with the album when you returned it?

DG: The experience of meeting Renate and reuniting her with the album was incredibly powerful. For the first time I felt that painting could be a significant social activity with some kind of direct connection to lived experience. I think previously I had bought into the idea of art as a process of self-realisation, but with this body of work I had attempted to understand someone else's circumstances.

JH: I imagine it must have felt very strange to have owned the album for quite some time, to have painted versions of the images in it, and then, later, to reconnect those images with the reality of Frau Manjock in her retirement home. For me, one particularly powerful moment of your film was early on [it's at 1 min 44 secs or so], when you're just about to meet her and the automatic glass door opens to admit you. For me, that's the invisible barrier between your painted/constructed version of Renate's world and her actual world – you cross over, and then the rest of the film is about real Renate.
David Gledhill, 'Gemutliche Stunden auf dem Balkon'. Oil on canvas, 124 x 92cm, 2010

DG: The visit was an almost hallucinatory experience for me because many of the pieces of furniture and even the light fixture that you see in the film, I had spent months meticulously painting from the interior shots of her father’s house. I felt as though I had grown up in that house myself and here I was in the flat confronted with objects I knew intimately.

JH: Oh yes, it must have been quite surreal! It makes me think of my obsession with 'visiting' places via Google Streetview. Sometimes I've explored them so thoroughly on my computer screen that when I actually go there in reality, there's very little sense of surprise. But the circumstances here must have been a hundred times more intense than that.
      When it came to collaborating with Nicholas (Royle), what were your feelings about the album and your paintings becoming the subject of someone else's creative process? Was there any sense of tension or reluctance?

DH: Absolutely no reluctance at all. I was delighted that Nick was interested enough to collaborate. There are key differences between Nick’s narrative and what I know about Renate’s childhood, such as the fact that she was an only child, whereas there’s a brother in the book. What really moves me about the story is the relationship between the Doctor and his daughter, which culminates in an incredibly tender and moving scene. I have a daughter myself so I suppose I’m susceptible to the subject, but it suggests that mixture of exasperation and love that parenthood brings, whilst also evoking the imaginative world of childhood during a time of comparative austerity when domestic objects had an immediacy and fascination. It also deals with the enduring mystery of photography as something that happens between people, something that I obviously enjoy thinking about!

JH: I think that would be the perfect note on which to draw this conversation to an end. It's been so interesting for me to discuss your wonderful paintings with you. Everything about the project interests me, and I do hope that very many people buy the book and experience the pleasure of experiencing all the layers it contains.

DG: Thanks very much, I’ve really enjoyed it!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Kate Dobson -- a stranger in a photograph

I haven't 'investigated' any photos for ages, so at the weekend I dipped into the drawerful of old photos that I got from my Mum and picked one more or less at random -- this is it, above. It was the second one I looked at and I stuck with it because it had a name written on the back.
The name was Kate Dobson and there was a date, October 1877.
     I should say that these photos weren't particularly valued by my Mum. When I was sorting out her house, they were in the damp stone outhouse in the garden, in rotting cardboard boxes and covered in black smuts. I think they must have been inside something she bought at an auction, a writing box, perhaps, and she wasn't that interested in them but kept them anyway. But they weren't family photos, just random images from who knows where. Mum lived in Richmond, Yorkshire.
     So the idea was to find out, if possible, who Kate Dobson was. In the photo, Kate looked as though she was in her early thirties, I thought, so I searched on the Ancestry website for Kate Dobsons living in or near to Darlington (where the photo was taken) and born around 1845. It didn't take too long to identify her as Kate Mary Ann Dobson, born in late 1853. That makes her actually only twenty-four in the photo. I think she looks a little careworn for her age, don't you?
 I knew I had found the right Kate Dobson because she had filled in the 1911 census return as head of household and her handwriting was identical to that on the photo.
     What else could I find out about Kate Dobson? She was christened Kate, rather than Catherine, which seems relatively unusual. Her full name, as you can see, was Kate Mary Ann Dobson. She was born in Leyburn in Wensleydale, a lovely little Dales town not far from Richmond.
We used to go quite often when I was little, to Tennant's auction house, which is still going strong and is very highly regarded. Also, my singing group (Bel Canto) went to compete in the Wensleydale Festival music competition which was held there.
     Kate's paternal grandfather was Matthew Dobson, a 'landed proprietor' born in 1774 and resident of Grange Hall, Heighington, near Darlington, where his family had lived since at least 1628. Grange Hall was registered as a non-conformist place of worship in February 1780 so the family were almost certainly non-conformists. In August 1810 Matthew married Martha Stapylton, a native of Leyburn, and they moved to Grove House, in Grove Square, just off the main marketplace. That house was built in 1757 and is still there today. It's a bed & breakfast place now. Matthew and Martha had eight children and Matthew doesn't seem to have had to work, probably living instead from the income from his 'land and houses'.
The way into Leyburn marketplace from Grove Square around the end of the 19th century
      Their eldest son was Ralph Stapylton Dobson (born 1813) and he established himself as a wine and spirit merchant in Leyburn. He married a local girl, Mary Ann Fryer, in late 1844 and they had seven children, of whom Kate was the fourth. The wine and spirit shop must have been very successful because the family moved from one house to another, over the years, starting at 'Railway Villa' and ending up in 'Brentwood House', right in the marketplace, and he was able to afford to send his sons away to Bishopton Close school near Ripon. Two of Ralph's three sons ended up taking over the business. Ralph often served as a juryman at the Assizes, along with other respectable citizens.
     But there was a major falling out between Ralph and his siblings over their inheritance from their mother. The Yorkshire Post carried a long and detailed account of a court case heard in Lincoln's Inn in December 1868. It's so complicated that I can't understand it properly but it comes down to Ralph being accused of stealing his mother's will (and, possibly, destroying it?), so that he could inherit half of her property rather than having to take only a one-sixth share. He was accused of being 'a villain and a perjurer' by the lawyer representing two of his sisters. He said, in court, that 'up to the present time he had lived respected in the neighbourhood in which he was born [...] and he was now charged with a deliberate fraud upon his aged mother, with a view to injure his sisters and deprive them of their just rights. If, therefore, the jury decided against him, he would go forth from the court a disgraced, ruined, perjured man.' Unfortunately it took the jury just fifteen minutes to decide against him.
     Kate Dobson was fifteen when this calamity struck the family, and who knows what effect it had on her. Both she and the youngest child of the family, Maria Margaret (born 1859) remained unmarried and they seem to have become inseparable. They continued to live at home for many years until, eventually, in the 1891 census (when Kate was 38) the two sisters had moved to Richmond (my home town) and were lodging at Clyde House at the top of Frenchgate. Kate was earning a little money as a music teacher and Maria was listed as a 'fancy wool worker'. I'm not sure how much money there was in that. Their next door neighbour was a widow, Jane Whitelock, who was 81 in 1891 and seems to have been supporting two daughters and two granddaughters on the income from running a lodging house. Perhaps this inspired the two sisters for, by the next census, in 1901, they had set themselves up as lodging house keepers at 30 Maison Dieu, Richmond, right opposite the house I grew up in.
30 Maison Dieu, Richmond, Yorkshire
I don't think it can have been terribly profitable because, ten years later, when Kate was in her late fifties, they had moved again, to 22 Windsor Terrace in Darlington, which, being near the railway line (as far as I can work out -- it's gone now) was something of a come down. They only had one boarder. No further censuses are open to scrutiny, so I haven't been able to track them any further.
     Kate and her sister Maria are buried together in Darlington West cemetery. Kate died in 1933 and Maria in 1936, both spinsters. When I discovered that they shared the same gravestone, I felt sad that they had only had each other for most of their adult lives and also in death.
     That's all I've been able to discover about Kate Mary Ann Dobson -- oh, apart from the fact that Kate trained as a first aider in 1891. If anyone is researching her as part of their family tree, they're welcome to copy her photo. As they lived opposite the house I grew up in (and, actually, that tall red-brick house partly visible in the photo above was my great-grandmother's house where my mum spent most of her childhood), Kate and Maria feel like neighbours now. I had no idea when I pulled Kate's photo at random out of the drawer that she would have lived so nearby.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Language of the Silent World

On my Instagram feed I recently posted an image from an Edwardian booklet on British Sign Language, 'The Language of the Silent World'. This was first published in 1914 and the last edition was printed in 1929. Until it was superseded in 1938 by a new pamphlet published by the National Institute for the Deaf, this was the mostly widely available source of information on sign language.

It's interesting for the choice of words given and also for the way they are signed, which in some cases may show a sign that was a good 'cultural fit' at the beginning of the twentieth century but which may now have been altered (for example, the sign for 'punish' seems to be based on caning, as rainbowhomevintage noted on Instagram). But a lot of the signs are still the same, commentors said -- I don't have any knowledge about this myself.
     I think it's very strange that the last page of the book is a set of animal shadows as this seems to make very light of anyone who relies on sign language to communicate. I don't think you would find those in a sign language book today.
 One of the big questions I have about sign language is how the grammar works? Evidently there are nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, but how do they combine reliably to make complex sentences, how do tenses come across, and different constructions such as conditionals or commands? Perhaps someone will add a comment or two below.
unfortunate placing of wormhole...

     As there was quite a bit of interest in the booklet, I've scanned all the pages for anyone that's interested. My copy has some bookworm holes in it! So if you notice some strange little holes, that's what they are.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Last day of Open Studios 2014

Today is the last day that my studio will be open for Herts Open Studios 2014. There's still time to pop round (until 6pm tonight -- see details at It's been great being 'forced' to spend hours on end in here and I've found it quite stimulating. I finished the 'dream' collage above this morning and I'm going to work on another two this afternoon.
     What I won't miss is the weird feeling of the studio and, by extension, the house, being open to the public. I find I'm hypervigilant, looking up constantly to see if anyone is coming down the path, jumping at sounds -- ridiculous, really. Especially as there hasn't been a constant stream of visitors so most of the looking and jumping is quite pointless.
     I've enjoyed showing people what I do and everyone who has come has been very nice but I'm not sure what I do is to most people's taste. It's strange, because I don't think what I do is very 'difficult' or 'way out' but I think a lot of people have a relatively narrow 'bandwidth' of what they like when it comes to art -- and I don't think Open Studios is a good way to sell paintings or anything that you want to charge more than a few pounds for. In terms of my experience this past month (which is, admittedly, very limited) people are not coming in looking to spend wads of cash. But I have sold some cards and prints and have broken even on the money I invested in joining the Open Studios scheme (ie going in the brochure and getting some 'Open Studios' bunting to put up) -- so all good. But this time sitting surrounded by my very eclectic artwork has focused my mind somewhat -- if I'm going to have a goal, going forwards, it's to try to get into a gallery or even more than one. We shall see if I manage to do this...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I'm in my studio

I'm in my studio again for Herts Open Studios 2014 (my listing is no 53). My Swedish man in the moon lantern is smiling away to welcome people (though it's too late for crayfish) and I've just had my first visitor of the day.
     Manning the studio for the advertised hours has brought it home to me that actually I don't spend as much time in here as I could. It's stimulating just being in here, surrounded by all the stuff I've accumulated over the years. Yesterday I got my box of beach pickings out and just handling these strange bits of detritus makes ideas come.
I suddenly seem to be doing several things at once. I'm making a piece from the fragments of reflector I've picked up over the last couple of years -- I still need to wire the pieces to the metal grille:
And I'm working on a little collage which seems to be taking on a rather dark theme. I don't think it will look much like this when it's finished, though.
Nothing is stuck down yet. The moment where you start to stick is the moment of commitment. Not there yet. I'm enjoying myself.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hertfordshire Open Studios -- my first time!

End wall of my studio
This afternoon at 2pm I'll be opening the gate at the side of our house and pinning up the signs to point people down to my art studio. It's the first day of Herts Open Studios 2014 and my first ever open studio session.
     I've got tea and biscuits (most importantly) plus loads of paintings, collages, prints and cards. There are the mugs I've designed too. I really hope someone comes and buys one of those as I like them so much.
Framed prints start at £10 for the little ones, going up to £25.

But absolutely no obligation to buy anything, of course. It will just be great to see people.
     These are the times when my studio will be open:

     And if you're in St Albans during September, there's a 'Secret Postcard' art sale by members of Herts Visual Arts Forum, including me, at Courtyard Cafe. Lots of little original artworks, all priced at £20, to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care. The postcards are on display in a back room, so do ask if you don't immediately find your way to them.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

All the old toys in the world?

We've been up north for a flying visit this week, partly so that we could drop off a couple of boxes of our tin toys at Vectis in Stockton-on-Tees. Vectis is the largest toy auction house in the world and while we were there we were lucky enough to be shown round.
It was breathtakingly vast -- just one huge room after another piled high with toys of every description. It made our tin toy collection seem very insignificant but they were happy to add it in to the vast stock waiting to be sold.
They generally have one or two sales a week and you can go there to bid in person, but it seems most people bid online. When we were there, the day's sale had just finished and they were starting the massive job of packaging all the sold lots up for dispatch to their new owners.
I couldn't linger too long taking photos as I felt we shouldn't take up too much of the (lovely) staff's time. It was very kind of them to take us round (thank you, John). I didn't know where to look next -- there was so much to see. I'll finish with a few more pictures.

John said that old dolls like these are no longer so sought after -- I'll have them...