Kensington at Christmas

05 I just got back from the Kensington Dollshouse Festival and I am filled with the spirit of Christmas for so many reasons—old friends, new friends, amazing miniatures, and all that London has to offer this time of year! I have not attended for several years, but it was just like visiting an old friend—you just pick up where you left off. I got to see so many people I have not seen in some time, and since I went with an associate, Tandy Nash, Director of Education at the KYGMC, it was extra special to be able to introduce her to my British pals, as well as to the world of miniatures.

I remember when I first began going to the Kensington festivals. It was the late Pam Throop who first introduced me to this wonderful purchasing opportunity outside of the US. And Caroline Hamilton, the event’s past producer, always made the show so much fun, remember? She even ran around with a lighted headdress so she could always be easily found! I realize the Internet has made international buying somewhat easier, but there’s nothing like talking in person with the artisans about their work and sharing the camaraderie of our collective passion with an admiring crowd. It’s an exhilaration that cannot be re-created in an email, or in this blog for that matter, but I hope I’ve brought back some of the excitement in the miniatures I acquired at the show. Many were Christmas decorations that will add a bit of cosmopolitan flair to our exhibits since holiday ornamentation across the pond is decidedly different from the reds and greens we usually use here. You’ll notice mostly blue and silver décor in the UK, a holiday trend you’ll soon be seeing more of in the collection.

One of my favorite holiday scenes is the Chessington Plaza room box above by the Lawbre Company. It’s another example of using alternative colors during the holidays. I love the bright yellow bows on the mantle greenery which complement the blues of this room so beautifully. I worked with the late Dan McNeil on Chessington, and many items reflect times gone by. The feel of the room is similar to the setting of the house in which I grew up during my first 12 years of life. Glass shelves held all of my mother’s favorite objets d’art and we all knew it was a matter of “look but don’t touch!” The grand piano by Linda Grant in this room box is a reminder of where I took my first piano lesson at age 6. I actually purchased it at Kensington 20 years ago. The charming sofa is from The Singing Tree, a popular London shop that closed many years ago. You may remember the proprietor, Cottie, who passed away just recently. The chandeliers in this piece are by Phyllis Tucker, the lamp by Jim Pounder, the crystal vase on the shelf by Jim Irish, and the sculpture on the mantle by Joe Adotta. I adore it all.

14bWhile in London, I also had the pleasure of dining with Susan Rogers and Kevin Mulvany, who have contributed a great deal to the collection and to its centerpiece attraction, Spencer House. They also created the Colonial Williamsburg room box pictured left. Artisan pieces featured include chairs: Nancy Summers; Cobalt Net china: Christopher Whitford; compote set: Tricia Street; petit-point rug: Phyllis Sirota; and petit point over the mantle: Annelle Ferguson. The Christmas tree is by Lois Bigley and the stockings on the mantle are by Jo Bevilacqua. I think this room really comes alive at Christmas with the deep red and green accents contrasting the blue gray mural wallpaper.

Of course, I couldn’t not visit the real Spencer House while in London or Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Being in Spencer House, as opposed to peering into Spencer House, always makes me marvel at our miniature and I notice details that I have not thought about in years. But the most amazing thing that happened during the trip was while I was visiting The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. While admiring the many pieces in the royal collection, I noticed something from my own—an urn featured in a circa 1818 watercolor by Charles Wild of George IV’s Rose Satin Drawing Room. Our urn is by Jens Torp and is featured in the fine arts rotunda. I had no idea of its provenance, so you can imagine my delight at seeing it in both the painting and in the State Room at Windsor last Monday. The entire experience was incredible and I was thrilled to be sharing it with friends. In fact, I almost feel as if I’ve celebrated Christmas already. Perhaps, it should be a new tradition … either way, and on either side of the ocean, I hope you have a joyous holiday season!

IMG_6384 This watercolor by Charles Wild shows the gold and enamel urn in George IV’s Rose Satin Drawing Room. The miniature by Jens Torp is displayed in Spencer House.

This watercolor by Charles Wild shows the gold and enamel urn in George IV’s Rose Satin Drawing Room. The miniature by Jens Torp is displayed in the fine arts rotunda of the KSB Miniatures Collection.


Posted on December 11, 2015 in Collecting Miniatures