►Where did you study and when did you start working at auctions ?
- After graduating from University College London in 1998 , with a degree in History of Art and Italian I applied for a position at Christie ’ s in the 19th century Furniture and Decorative Arts department where I learnt the ropes of auction life . In 2001 I spotted an opportunity in the Oriental Carpet department to become a junior specialist and there my journey with carpets began .
►Why exactly carpets became the subject of your interest ?
- I had always admired how the gallery space within Christie ’ s would transform around the time of the auction with walls hung and floors spread with richly coloured rugs and carpets from along the silk road . Their places of origin seemed so foreign and romantic . I was fortunate to work in a small department which allowed me to shadow William Robinson , Head of the Department at the time , who taught me much of what I know today . What to look for on the face of the carpet but , more importantly , what a carpet will reveal from the reverse .
►Are you interested in modern carpets ? Which of these carpets can become classical in the future ?
- At Christie ’ s we specialise in antique weavings , hand woven with natural dyes , and thus my day to day interaction with modern carpets is very limited . For me , the classics of the previous centuries serve as inspiration for much of what is woven today . Antique carpets were so well made that there are many examples that remain in extremely good condition that I imagine they will continue to the be the ‘ classics ’ of the future .
►Is there a trend at a carpet auction ? What is exhibit ’ s price made up of ?
- The decorative market , carpets woven from the more commercial period starting at the end of the 19th century have fluctuating appeal which is determined by the tastes of the period . For the past decade , darker coloured carpets such as Mahals , Sarouks or Kirmans have proved difficult to sell as they did not fit the lighter , modern interiors . As with all trends , these are cyclical and tastes change and we are seeing a renewed interest in carpets with richer palettes that can be married together with wallpapers , curtains and fabrics , all of which are seeing a renewed surge of interest in today ’ s interiors .
Christie ’ s clients are very discerning and we see this in the quality of material that they are looking for . We vet our sales very carefully , aiming to offer our clients fine examples that are rare and unusual and that have not been heavily restored and are estimated in line with the current market . If possible , an auction should consist of a variety of pieces that will appeal to both the collector of classical carpets that are considered to have been woven from the late 15th – late 18th centuries , as well as later 19th and early 20th century decorative pieces that appeal to both interior designers and private buyers who are looking to decorate their homes . If a carpet has a successful design , the palette is pleasing and the condition more than acceptable , then our clients remain confident in what we are offering .
►Tell us about your typical working day .
- One of the things I most enjoy about Christie ’ s is that no one day is exactly the same . We hold two major auctions a year for which I have to source , catalogue , market and sell the carpets . This usually involves a significant amount of travel however this has proved extremely difficult during the pandemic . It takes several months to put a good sale together and finding key pieces can take years . In addition to the auctions Christie ’ s handles private sales of high value carpets for clients that prefer to sell away from the more public auction platform . I also support our International Estates and Appraisals teams in the valuing of large collections both for private individuals and larger institutions .
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