Renowned names in design and modern art sale

A number of works by highly collectable artists will feature in an Oxfordshire saleroom this month, including examples from artists Cedric Morris and Bryan Pearce, and furniture maker Gerald Summers.

Day one of Mallam’s Design + Modern Art Sale on December 7 and 8 focuses on Modern Art, with an oil painting by Cedric Morris (1889-1982) entitled Flowers and Pears, signed and dated 1946, estimated at £20,000-£30,000. It was gifted by the artist to the current vendor as a wedding present.

A striking oil on board entitled St Ives from Barnoon by Bryan Pearce (1929-2006) is also featured in the sale. Coming to Mallams from The New Art Centre in London, it is signed and dated 1972 and is also expected to achieve £20,000-£30,000.

Day two is all about design and features two really interesting collections. The first is the Ron and Lorna Wheeler Collection featuring almost 100 lots of studio ceramics.

Ron Wheeler was Chief Executive of Tewkesbury council for over 20 years as well as a noted ceramics scholar. During his time with the council he had arranged for overseas students from the British Council to visit Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire.

Seeing how influential the pottery had been on these students, yet how little was documented about it, he set about writing Winchcombe Pottery: The Cardew-Finch Tradition. This was published to great acclaim in 1998, in conjunction with Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (CAGM), and continues to be used by University ceramic courses to this day.

The Ron and Lorna Wheeler collection was borne out of Ron’s research and love of ceramics and features items by a range of renowned potters including Sid Tustin, Michael Cardew, Ray Finch and Bernard Leach.

Shallow bowl by Sid Tustin

The second collection of note is a selection of works to be sold on behalf of Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA).  Established in 1948, the CAA’s mission is to celebrate, champion and advocate for fine craft in the UK including ceramics, glass, textiles, jewellery, wood, paper, metals and textiles.

As a registered charity, this collection is part of a series of fundraising initiatives in CAA’s 75th anniversary year. It features 16 eclectic lots, including a Matthew Chambers stoneware piece estimated at £1,200-£1,500, an oxidised silver cage necklace featuring amethysts and lemon quartz by Daphne Krinos, estimated at £300-£500, and a wheel engraved optical glass block entitled Apartment Block by Alison Kinnaird, estimated at £500-£800.

Gerald Summers plywood armchair

Also featured in day two is an armchair, estimated at £8,000-£12,000, by Gerald Summers (1899-1967). In 1929, Summers and his wife, Majorie Amy Butcher, started the company ‘Makers of Simple Furniture’ and began experimenting with free-form designs and malleable materials. Summers specialised in airplane plywood, which resulted in some of the most innovative designs of the period.

His seminal work of 1933-4, of which the armchair in the sale is an example, took advantage of the wood’s flexibility. Summers manipulated one piece of wood into a seamless seat, considered a Modernist masterpiece. With its smooth surface and absence of metal, it was originally designed for use in the tropics to withstand high humidity, however, the chair was only replicated 120 times because the production costs were too high.