Art and antiques in Kent this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 07:30 12 December 2015 | UPDATED: 07:31 12 December 2015

Notes of Christmas at Leeds Castle

Notes of Christmas at Leeds Castle

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From delicate hand-cut paper masterpieces to rare Chinese oil paintings, Kent Life you brings the pick of the Kent art scene

Antique of the month

By Tony Pratt of The Canterbury Auction Galleries

In the 16th century, at a time when most of China was closed to foreigners, Canton, a bustling port on the Pearl River north west of Hong Kong, became one of the world’s great trading centres.

Western merchants flocked there and trading routes were quickly established between Asia and Europe.

Canton enjoyed a golden age of prosperity with cargoes of silk, tea and porcelain flooding out of the port.

Such commercialism needed accommodation for merchants, ship owners and the inevitable officials and so buildings sprung up along the waterfront, known as hongs.

They provided offices, warehouses and even sleeping and eating facilities and were a hive of activity. However, by the middle of the 19th century, trade had moved to Hong Kong and the merchants gradually moved with it.

In our most recent sale, we offered on behalf of a local private owner a rare pair of small oil paintings showing respectively a view of the Canton hongs and a panoramic view of nearby Macau harbour from the hills.

Painted on brass panels measuring just 4.25ins x 5.75ins, the early 19th-century paintings were important records for historians, particularly as the hongs were destroyed in a fire in 1856. Just how important was proved when they sold to a local collector for £11,000, a multiple of their guide price.

If you are interested in learning more about your antiques and what they might be worth, we run a free saleroom valuation service, contact me at the saleroom on 01227 763337.

Through the Eyes of Time

Victoria Claire is a visually impaired artist from Kent who has been sculpting in wood for more than 20 years. She suffers from a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which will eventually claim her sight.

Over the last two years she has been exhibiting her collection Through The Eyes Of Time, comprising a selection of work exploring her journey through life, love and loss.

After exhibiting last year at Sessions House in Maidstone, local MP Gordon Henderson was so impressed with her work that he balloted to get her an exhibition in the House Of Commons, which took place in the upper waiting hall last month.

A cut above

The largest collection of hand-cut, papercut originals in the south east is on show in a new gallery, Pope & Lawn in Tunbridge Wells.

The collaborative venture of papercut artists Chris Pope and Helen Lawn, the gallery is dedicated to an art form which combines the traditional practice of paper cutting by hand while introducing a contemporary twist through the addition of colour and the use of mixed media.

Each of the 50-plus papercut works on display, which range in size from A4 to A1, is a complete ‘one of a kind’, painstakingly crafted entirely by hand and comprising hundreds if not thousands of individual cuts, some of which may be as small as a single millimetre.

This is complemented by a selection of overspray works, as well as a range of limited edition prints including a very limited number of giclee fine art prints.

● Find Pope & Lawn at 3a John Street, Tunbridge Wells, 11am-5pm Mon-Fri and until 8pm on Thursdays in the run-up to Christmas.

Notes of Christmas

It’s going to be a white Christmas at Leeds Castle this year, as three dimensional paper works of art depicting scenes inspired by traditional Christmas carols will decorate the magnificent state rooms.

The beautiful illuminated scenes in white, gold and silver, created by artist Helen Musselwhite, will be on display to visitors in the Castle from 5 December until Christmas Eve.

Cutting by hand, Helen uses a variety of papers as she builds detailed and multi-layered scenes inspired by the natural world and its inhabitants.

Fragrant spruce trees will be adorned with elaborate, specially designed paper decorations and carols will ring out through the Castle. Each room will also feature a vintage musical instrument, for children to spot on a musical themed trail.

And every weekend in December and from 21-23 December, Leeds Castle hosts the annual Christmas Market offering seasonal gift ideas, toys, decorations, live music, rides for children, cookery and floristry demonstrations.

● Entrance to Notes of Christmas and the Christmas Market is included in the price of admission. Annual tickets to Leeds Castle cost £24 for adults; £21 for seniors and visitors with disabilities (carer goes free); £16 for children (under 4’s free). Annual tickets are valid for 12 months so you can pay once and visit all year round. Pre-book online before you visit and save 10 per cent.

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