Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Charleston Art & Antiques Forum

Spring usually heralds a slew of design-related events and decorators showhouses, and there is one upcoming event in which I think many of you will be most interested.  The 16th annual Charleston Art & Antiques Forum will take place in, yes, Charleston from March 13-17.  The event is one of this country's premier fine and decorative arts forums, always boasting a stellar line-up of art experts and historians.  This year's event is no exception.

With its theme of "A Grand Tour: Trade Winds of Influence", the forum will explore how the grand tour of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries influenced the decorative arts of both Europe and America.  Dame Rosalind Savill, Director Emeritus of the Wallace Collection in London, will be this year's keynote speaker, and her lecture is titled, "Twenty Years with French Decorative Arts".  (This lecture should be especially interesting to those Francophiles.)  Other speakers include experts from such august organizations as Winterthur, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.  The bonus to the event is that J. Thomas Savage, Director of Museum Affairs at Winterthur, will be hosting and moderating the forum.  Those of you who know Tom- and I know that's quite a few of you- are familiar with his charm and ebullience, both of which guarantee an interesting time!

Rosalind Savill

J. Thomas Savage

While all of the lectures look intriguing, there are three in particular that I think many of you will find inviting. Fiona Heyward of Oxford, England will speak on "Life at Haseley Court and Its Gardens: The Legacy of Nancy Lancaster".  Heyward is certainly qualified to lecture on Haseley Court considering that she and her husband are the current owners of this magnificent house, once the home of the great designer, Nancy Lancaster.  For some time, Fiona and her family lived across the courtyard from Lancaster, who spent her final years residing in the Coach House of Haseley Court.

Fiona Heyward

The dignified looking Haseley Court

The Chess topiary garden at Haseley Court. According to Fiona, it was planted in 1850 and transformed into its present design at the turn of last century.

Fiona kindly answered a few of my questions about life and gardening at Haseley Court, both of which I can only assume are magical.  Fiona has fond memories of Lancaster, who, according to the homeowner, never interfered nor criticized any changes made to the house or gardens under the new owners. (Fiona noted that much of Lancaster's work on the house's interiors had already been dismantled by previous owners, with the Chapel Room and Tobacco Room remaining intact.)  The gardens, it seems, are just as beloved to Fiona as they were to Lancaster.  Although the garden's layout remains the same, Fiona has tweaked plantings just a bit.  And in what can only be described as music to a gardener's ears, Lancaster's gardening advice to Fiona still guides her today: a garden needs both formal and informal plantings and should not look too immaculate!

There were other interesting tidbits that I gleaned from Fiona, but I don't want give away her entire talk.  I think that Fiona's lecture will be one not to miss!

And the other two lectures not to miss?  Architect Ralph Harvard, whose work is seen often in both magazines and on design blogs, will present a talk on the architectonic furniture of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  I'm including a few photos of this furniture, below, to give you a sense of what this furniture looks like.  During the 18th century, furniture of this region was often made by the same joiners who worked on paneling and such for local houses, hence the same type of architectural details were also used on chests, cabinets, and bookpresses.  I think that the geometric patterns on this furniture gives it a robustness that seems fitting for today's interiors:

Eastern Shore blanket chest with X and "quadrant" panels

Eastern Shore blanket chest with X panels

Eastern Shore corner cupboard showing a complementary color combination of orange and blue.

Then there is Count Stefano Aluffi-Pentini, who will be speaking about on Italian palaces like Palazzo Colonna, seen below.  Is that image stunning or what?  So you see, you'll learn about English great houses and gardens, French decorative arts, Italian palaces, Southern furniture, and more.  I can't imagine a more interesting forum!

Count Stefano Aluffi-Pentini, photographed in his library.

Palazzo Colonna in Rome.

For more information on this event, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Charleston Art & Antiques Forum website.  I hope to be able to tear myself away from work to attend, so perhaps I'll see you there.

All images used with permission of The Charleston Art & Antiques Forum.


  1. Uh oh...this show came up sooner than I expected. Thanks, Jennifer, for the reminder. As you pointed out, it's a 'must see' for those interested in fine antiques and décor.

    And, it's in Charleston, for an extra inducement, if any sane person needs one!


  2. I had the pleasure of going to the Charleston Art & Antiques show years ago. It is outstanding! xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  3. i would love to see the 'CHESS GARDEN'.
    that is incredible.

    happy valentines

  4. Anonymous10:37 AM

    A heavenly time to be in Charleston with Spring blooms at full tilt and what a first flight line up of speakers. Just checked in with the Charleston Forum (1-800-926-2520)and the Connoisseurs Package tickets (includes parties in three great historic Charleston houses)are selling rapidly.

    Happy Valentines day

  5. We have been to Hasley Court before and after Nancy and both were seriously wonderful.Last time was two years ago and it felt like Fiona Heywards garden as it should.