This April I was featured in Ethan Svirsky's monthly blog. Ethan, aka Marshgoodland Antiques, is an 18 year old Dealer based in London supplying decorative antiques to the Trade and Private market. I'm yet to talk about myself in much depth, so I thought you may enjoy reading this to get to know me a little more!
When did you first get into the Antiques and Garden Trade?
I first got into the trade when I left the family furniture and furnishings retail business in rural Herefordshire to pursue a city job in Bristol. This lasted a matter of weeks before I was looking for ways to return to supplying peoples homes with lovely items. (Somehow!) I managed to land an amazing job running the main Tetbury showroom for Lorfords Antiques and from this point on I was submerged deep into the world of supplying private homes and Interior Designers with decorative antiques.
I then left Lorfords to create my own business which allowed me to have control over the whole process. The reason I focus on garden ornaments is that I've always loved the outdoors and I enjoy the simplicity and tranquility that comes with a well decorated garden.
Can you tell us some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
Right now no favourite project stands out. I’ve been fortunate to supply some rather prominent Estates and Hotels since day 1 and I’m always meeting Designers and business owners who are talking about a coming revamp. A very exciting project currently pending is assisting a local Georgian Hotel with the design and look of their entrance. It's been great fun to be involved in the preliminary design stages of an area.
What’s important to you when sourcing your garden antiques for your customers?
When it comes to features like statues and planters, many designs have been replicated and copied. I'm always on the look-out for pieces i've not seen before. This trick seems to be working as I've had more than one Dealer comment along the lines of ‘Ive been in the trade for x many years and I've never seen some of what you manage to find’. I take that as a great compliment!
Has there been a garden ornament/antique that you found and just can't bring yourself to let go of?
Yes! It's a superb story… I visited a rural farm sale to secure a lot compromising of a trough and a plinth. Initially I had set out with an eye on the trough, however when I eventually won the lot and returned the items to my Yard I fell head over heels for the plinth. It's a beautiful mid-19th Century piece, stamped, with exceptional laurel wreath motifs to each side. The deep red, earthy tone mixed with years of weathering is sensational and, even what completes it is the fact one side is completely smashed through! This mixture of wreckage combined with design just gets me! Right now someone would have to make me a generous offer to take it off my hands... but I’m not finished with it just yet.
Could you recommend some garden ornaments that you think makes a garden special?
Period cast iron benches. I love benches because, alongside offering a place to rest, the cast iron ends come in an array of beautiful designs. I love history, particularly history of culture, and cast iron is a lasting testimony of our Islands rich industrial heritage. Whilst Coalbrookdale is a name thrown around by collectors and enthusiasts, there are so many other Foundries who produced breathtaking designs (McLaren, Yates, Carron… ) that should feature on anyones watchlist.
Do you have a favourite piece you have sold?
Recently, I was briefly the custodian of a large cast iron. This was one hell of a big, crusty bugger and by Lord did it have a look! He now resides in front of an oak-framed building in rural Herefordshire and quite frankly couldn't look any more at home! By chance I had the Client back just the other day and she even commented how it looks as if it's alwaysbeen there.
I see you have teamed up with Hereford based company, Seedling Cards & Gifts, what would you suggest for someone trying to liven up their garden for spring/summer?
Plant and do just about anything that attracts wildlife. A garden would lose its soul if it didn’t have bees, butterflies and birds all swooping and hovering in their own wonderful ways. Whilst promoting wildlife encourages a diverse ecosystem (and that’s so important in its own right), it also creates a symphony or noise and colour that can never be recreated… I'd rather have a garden without any clear scheme but one that bustles with life. I'm a herb fanatic, so I would suggest Borage and Bergamot as interesting places to start.
Where do you go to clear your mind?
The Malvern Hills. I spend a lot of my time in the Countryside and it's one of the only places I have ever witnessed pure silence (not even blowing of wind)… and in a job like this when you're always on the phone or in a van, how can you top that?
If there could be a soundtrack for Tom’s Yard what would it be? Why?
Ramble Table by Creedence Clearwater Revival on repeat! A mega song on mega proportions…. Just like trade, it goes fast, it goes slow (haha!) but ultimately rocks throughout!
What do you see the future of Toms Yard being?
Right now I'm still fine-tuning the business, working out what works for me but more importantly what people respond to. Recently selling olive trees has gone down very well. What I love is that people already seem confident in coming to me for advice and ideas, so offering a 360 degree service is something I’m very keen to pursue. At the end of the day, I'm exceptionally passionate, I just have to make sure that what I offer is my own unique look.
A huge thanks to Ethan for his exceptional Arts & Crafts artwork. How he knew that was my favourite style I'll never know! Make sure to check out his website and to give him a follow on instagarm.