Antique Treasure Trove in The Famous Spiegeltent, Melbourne

The Famous Spiegeltent, in the Arts Centre Forecourt at Melbourne

The call has gone out to send out a message to a cross section of the community, to bring their antique and art treasures to be appraised by a savvy team of dealers in The Famous Spiegeltent, recently erected in the courtyard of The Arts Centre Melbourne.

Antique Treasure Trove days will be held on Saturday February 16 and March 16, 2013, commencing with the first session at 9:30 am.

You can bring along your antiques, collectibles, heirlooms and precious treasures to be evaluated by dealers, who are members of the Australian Antiques & Art Dealers Association (AA&ADA). Their expertise covers a wide range of cultures and decorative art categories from ceramics to furniture, clocks to barometers, books, maps and engravings and from rugs to textiles, as well as fine art and wonderful jewellery.

Tickets are required and can be booked ahead of time via The Arts Centre Melbourne website. Importantly, tickets will also be available at the door on the day.

Antique Fair Sydney 2006, courtesy Martyn Cook

So In the days of ‘reality’ television what is it that defines ‘real’ art and what is an antique? Let me begin by saying it is really nothing about being a hundred years old – we would like to dispel that myth please and if you read Antique, Masterpiece, Collectible – Recycle on a Grand Scale you will understand why.

Jamie Allpress, Allpress Antiques, Malvern Victoria photo courtesy Johnston Collection, Melbourne

It also helps that they are emotionally rewarding, according to President of the AA&ADA Jolyon Warwick James. A silver expert of great renown Jolyon will jet in from Sydney together with internationally renowned specialist antiques and art dealers Martyn Cook and his colleague Ian Perryman, whose expertise in the world of oriental carpets, tapestries and textiles is much admired. AA&ADA members taking part in this event have gathered enormous experience over a good length of time and have a complete passion for their product. That means if you engage them in conversation you will also gain access to a considerable wealth of knowledge to help expand your own.

Former Sotheby’s London expert Paul Sumner, whose Mossgreen Collection at South Yarra in Melbourne attracts many admirers, will compere the event. Event organiser Jamie Allpress of Allpress Antiques at Malvern in Victoria is very excited about the show. It is a first for The Arts Centre Melbourne and the AA&ADAThe Arts Centre is also providing an expert to talk about the famous Spiegeletent itself, a ‘masterpiece’ in its own right. Together with the NGV they will also dig into their own collections to display some of their own treasures.

Great art & antiques go together like peaches and cream

What do antiques and art do?

Well they enhance our environment through their beauty or quirkiness, immortalize the persona of the people who made them, represent our beliefs religious or otherwise, express our fantasies and highlight our follies, stimulate the intellect, fire up the emotions, record and commemorate both experiences and events, elevate the commonplace, meet the needs of both artist and viewer and finally, reflect the social and cultural context in which they were developed.

All of that you are saying? Well yes is the answer.

It makes good green environmental sense to continue to recycle furniture, art and objects into the future so this is a trade that should be booming instead of struggling. But that’s not because of a lack of interest, its a fact that millions of people worldwide still collect and continue to learn about antiques.

Like all ‘visual arts’ the world of antiques and art requires some study to gain an appreciation for its forms, with an emphasis on intellectual ideas and social and aesthetic considerations.

'Collecting antiques is about the past forming a foundation for the future - antiques look wonderful in contemporary settings', Jamie Allpress: Allpress Antiques at Malvern in Victoria

In Australia, as everywhere else, it is about the huge generational change we are in with many young people just beginning to access and expand their knowledge about the world of their parents.

It does not help when being a collector of antiques and art is often misrepresented as a hobby of only a select few. Worse still is the misnomer that all collectors are rich. This is not the case.

From my experience working in the antiques and design trade, perusing galleries, working at and attending fairs and auctions over a long period of time (some 30+ years) it is exactly the opposite. Collecting antiques and art is a pleasure indulged in by a vast number of people from very different backgrounds and all walks of life.

Great antiques look equally at home in a heritage space, or absolutely smashing in a minimalist contemporary space. An antique works in any setting, because it’s all about good design, quality materials and great craftsmanship.

When people began avidly collecting antiques and art from the 50?s  – 90’s in Australia, you were able to start small and trade up as your confidence and knowledge expanded.

However once overseas dealers cottoned onto the fact we had some stunning examples of English antiques in Australia, having arrived over a century of importing them without tax, when the Aussie dollar slumped against the greenback and English pound a great many were snapped up and shipped back to where they came from during the late 80’s and early 90’s.

It is hoped that this sort of ‘investigative day’ can turn up treasures in the trove left behind that hopefully will continue to find good homes here if people know about what they have and how best to look after it and conserve it for the next generation.

Collecting certainly requires a certain amount of discipline when exposed to say, the exciting atmosphere of an auction room, where emotions run high and any sort of logic or restraint can easily fly out the window. If you get caught up in that milieu you might just as well drive down the street throwing your cash out of a car window.

Working with a dealer one on one is an advantage and can be a very rewarding experience, as you search the globe together looking for that something special that will have added meaning for the person who generates the hunt.

It requires a great deal of focus and a special strength of purpose to form really great collections.

Thomas Hope, Chippendale the Younger and Charles Tatham items in the 2008 Art Gallery of South Australia Exhibition 'Empires & Splendour' courtesy The David Roche Collection, Adelaide

They can be assembled from the delights of something as small as snuff bottles to the wonderfully chosen eclectic Regency and Empire collection, generously brought together by David K Roche to provide an ongoing interest for both locals and visitors to Adelaide in the years ahead.

If you are seeking to make a start on your own collection this show will prove to be a great beginning. The outstanding displays provided by the dealers and the art centre will help you to hone your eye for detail.

Australian Antique & Art Dealers Association – members have to withstand a rigorous vetting test to join the team. They guide their clients in buying, collecting, selling, valuing and restoring antiques and art with confidence.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a never-ending quest for much of humankind. After all wealth in terms of money still = happiness for a majority of people and the success of lotteries and gambling options would rather seem to prove that. And if that is not true in reality well then, there is the chance the sums received can at least buy some happiness, albeit for a short time in the grand scheme of things.

What everyone really wants to discover by bringing their ‘treasures’ along to a day like this Aussie version of the successful English Antiques Roadshow is to confirm the fact that they really own one first and foremost. Perhaps it may very well help them to ‘save a family’ by bringing them through hard times or allow them to experience instant happiness through the acquisition of more than ordinary wealth. For the dealers involved it’s the captivating idea of a chance encounter with something of the wonderful kind that may have been lost for generations.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2013

Antique Treasure Trove with Dealers of AA&ADA

When: February 16 and March 16, 2013

Where: Forecourt – Arts Centre, St Kilda Road Melbourne next to National Gallery Victoria

Time: Sessions starting at 9:30 ending at 4pm

Bookings: Arts Centre Website – Forms to be completed if you are bringing along your treasures.

Tickets: Available at the Door on the Day

List of AA&ADA Dealers at The Famous Spiegeltent The Arts Centre, Melbourne

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