1 How did you get your start?
I started in the trade working with arms and armour dealer Howard Ricketts. Training was pretty thorough, working in a Bond Street gallery, learning the importance of being on time and working with clients face to face – there were no mobile phones back then. It was a very good grounding.
He didn’t deal in Japanese arms and armour but some of his colleagues did. That was my introduction to Japanese art, and my husband dealt in English prints. I started working on my own, specialising in Japanese prints and objects including lacquer and metalwork.
Now I ‘m at Heritage Antiques in Market Street, Woodstock. Things are tough in the trade as everyone says, but I also think there’s always something around the corner, whether it’s an old client coming back or someone new walking through the door.
2 What do you like about your field?
One positive point about my field is that young people love it. Japanese prints have strong lines and can be quite bold or quite subtle. You have kimono designs, landscapes, flowers, geisha scenes, samurai scenes. I have one client who is partial to putting scenes of severed heads on the battlefield in his dining room. Young people are more likely to travel to Japan too. Plus the prices are achievable.
3 What is one thing you could not do without?
My print of Lady Tokiwa Gozen fleeing with her three sons through the deep snow from stories of Wise Women and Faithful Wives. She was a noblewoman of the Heian period and the mother of Minamoto. The print is by Kunioshi and is c.1841. I will never sell it.
4 What’s one recent sale that stands out?
It started with a couple who came in recently. In Memoirs of a Geisha it’s said that a man can fall in love in six seconds when he looks across a room at a woman. Well, it only took the wife in this couple about eight seconds. She pulled her husband back to look at a kabuto (helmet), called her son to see if he liked it – luckily he did – and then bought it along with a war mask of the same era.
When I delivered it, they had a very modern, uncluttered home and she knew exactly the place where it would go. I asked if she had an existing interest in Japanese art or armour. She said no, but she was thinking of it as a sculpture, which was wonderful to hear.
5 Real ale or espresso martini?
My drink of choice – a champagne cocktail. Kir royale!
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