Monday, March 31, 2008

Cites licence

The law on trading endangered species is being tightened up through new Cites regulations and licensing laws. This applies to those importing or exporting woods such as Mahogany or Rosewood and objects such as tusks or certain taxidermy. It appears that you might have to apply for a licence if the piece is post 1947, however, those pre 1947 seem to be exempt.

We will continue to update you on this as we receive new information ourselves, in the meantime please look at links below if you think it might apply to you.

UPDATE Cities saga continues

Trade in endangered species is governed by the Unites Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Cities controls "parts and derivatives" of endangered species as well as live specimens. This means that ivory, tortoiseshell, taxidermy items, wooden furniture etc are all controlled.

Most antiques, however, enjoy an exemption from the controls under what is known as the "worked item" derogation. This states that an item shall be exempt from the normal sales controls if it was acquired prior to June 1947 and has been significantly altered from its natural state for jewellery, adornment, art, utility or musical instrument.

One well known mid-century furniture dealer recently came unstuck when he was informed a piece of furniture he was selling was fashioned in a species of rosewood on the banned list. Unknowingly he was breaking the law.

Cities say "We are aware of the need to tighten up definitions and were hopeful of some progress on the matter in the near future. For the time being it's best to play it safe".


Cites licencing

Antiques for Everyone

NEC, Birmingham UK

The Spring 2008 Antiques for Everyone Fair is held at the NEC, Birmingham. Antiques for everyone has over 440 specialist dealers from across the country. It is the UK's largest indoor, datelined event of more than 50,000 antiques for sale, with examples of garden statuary and furniture. However, it is particularly well known for its ceramics with more than 100 specialists.

Above: The stand of Erna Hiscock and John Shepherd, Lytham St Annes. A nineteenth century stained glass roundel, attributed to Pugin and Hardman from Wales Place Canterbury a Jesuit Mansion, priced at £885.

Above: A pair of carved limestone figures, late nineteenth century, £1450. On the stand of Newsum Antiques, Winchombe.

Above: The stand of Cottage Collectibles, Tetbury

Above: various kitchenalia and furniture on the stand of Smithson Antiques, Lincolnshire

Antiques for Everyone

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thomas Hope Regency Designer

V & A museum, London UK

Thomas Hope can be seen as a designer, collector and innovator he played an important role in the early nineteenth century design. Hope's household furniture and decorative style was the designers bible of the time. He was a collector on a grand scale and also an innovative designer of great genius who helped define what we understand as the Regency style. The scope of Hope's influence is shown through sculpture, painting, furniture, interior design, costume, metalwork and silver.

Thomas Hope was a visionary born in Amsterdam in 1979, Hope inherited his family tradition of collecting and also a vast fortune from his families banking wealth. For ten years between 1787 and 1797, Thomas Hope travelled widely through Europe and the Near East. His travels enriched his passion for collecting and taught him how to improve modern design of the time. Hope made numerous drawings during these extensive travels which he later used as the muse for many pieces of furniture and interior design in his two houses.

Hope's houses - Duchess Street in london and the Deepdene in Surrey played a unique role in the history of collecting, interior design and display. Hope's juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. The Thomas Hope exhibition at the V & A recreates the atmosphere of three of the key interiors - the Aurora Room, Egyptian Room and Third Vase Room.

In 1807, the year after his marriage, Hope bought the Deepdene near Dorking Surrey. Just as he had challenged conventional urban taste with his novel interiors at Duchess Street, he now rethought what a modern country house should look like. The Deepdene was a red brick Georgian mansion which he redeveloped with a loggia-topped Italianate tower on which to pivot the whole composition and added a wing shooting out at an angle of 45 degrees. There is little record of the interiors of the Deepdene but the exhibition has a few enchanting watercolors of the interior and exterior of Deepdene.

Hope's influence continued long after his death with thanks to his, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration book. Sadly Duchess Street was demolished in 1851 but many of its images remained in trade journals and books on interior design. Its contents were taken to the Deepdene and later in 1917 his collection was dispersed in a great sale at the Deepdene. The interest in Hope's design led to many pieces being bought by collectors and museums in Europe and the USA and consequently Hope's design reached a wider public. Hope's style influenced the Regency Revival of the 1920's and 30's, and Art Deco Design.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Charity shop find

Lanarkshire, Scotland UK

Everyone dreams of unique and valuable antiques lying in charity shops waiting to be snapped up. That is exactly what one Lanarkshire housewife did, when she found a late 17th century, 12 hour lantern clock. It took Rita Inch, now 79, around 40 years to realise what she had picked up in a charity shop for about £70. Her story came to light when she and her husband John decided to donate the clock to a museum. With no children to leave their possessions to, they wanted to make sure it went to a good home where it would be appreciated.

Mrs Inch later found out that the clock was made by renowned Edinburgh-based clockmaker Richard Mills. Mrs Inch said,, "I found the clock in the late 1960's so we have had it for a long time. We are happy to give it to the museum. It was made in Edinburgh, so it should go back home and be looked after there." Brian Loomes author of The Early Clockmakers Of Great Britain believes that the clock dates back to the 1670's. it is expected that the clock will go on display in Edinburgh soon.

Uses of construction waste

Sheffield, Yorkshire UK

90 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste is produced annually, of which 13 million tonnes are materials that were delivered but never used. The construction industry creates 3 times the waste of all UK households combined - 25% of all waste produced in the UK. After excavation and demolition waste, the majority of construction waste is made up of plasterboard, cardboard and timber.

Fortunately financial implications of waste have become an issue impossible to ignore by contractors and builders, with landfill costs set to treble over the next three years. More changes are set to occur with loads containing over 10% plasterboard waste now have to be landfilled separately at increased cost. In addition it is likely that in April 2008 construction projects with a value of over £250,000 will be required to produce a site waste management plan (SWMP) outlining their measures to minimise waste and increase reuse and recycling. This has lead to an number of reuse initiatives throughout the country, helping builders and other business find positive solutions to their new found responsibilities.

One such initiative, Why Waste, run by the Bradford Environmental Action Trust, offers a free Yorkshire and Humberside wide online waste exchange. This matches business with waste with those that can make use of it. the scheme has been running since March 2007 and already has 2500 registered users, all saving money on their waste disposal bills and diverting valuable materials from landfill.

To raise awareness for their scheme, Why Waste commissioned postgraduate architecture students from the University of Sheffield to design and build a striking, demountable pavilion to be erected in the centre of Sheffield and to be made from waste derived from the waste exchange. Finding and using reclaimed and recycled materials from the waste exchange set an interesting challenge for the young trainee architects, as form most definitely followed available material with interesting results.

The frames were made of short lengths of 100x 50mm reclaimed timber. These were screwed together to make 150 x 150mm posts and 150 x 150mm posts and 150 x 50mm beams. Two of the walls were made from the waste 'skeleton' sheets of birch plywood and acrylic, left over from the manufacture of children's furniture, while the others were made from bailed blocks of polythene waste and colourful polypropylene banding previously used for strapping the cardboard around flatpack furniture. The roof was made from 900 faulty carpet tiles, which were otherwise destined to be dumped. Even the buildings display boards and lighting was recycled, with chandeliers made from cylindrical perspex offcuts from a shop-display.

Dan McTiernan, Why Waste's coordinator on the build, said "We're extremely proud of this project and of its award nomination. Space of Waste clearly demonstrates that something beautiful can be made from what most of us perceive as rubbish. We hope that this will make other people aware that materials, otherwise destined for landfill, can be used to construct buildings which are low in cost and environmental impact, and high in aesthetic appeal."

Sarah Hunt, one of the architecture students involved in the project, commented that: "The construction industry is one of the UK's most wasteful. By taking an unconventional approach to the design process, we were forced to rethink the way in which materials can be used. Architects and designers have the potential to divert a lot of waste from landfill and create building and objects that are both beautiful and original." [info taken from green building magazine]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

B&Q and Bioregional

BioRegional and B&Q have begun a three year partnership to help the company become a world leading One Planet Living® business. BioRegional will help B&Q to reduce its impact on the world’s resources and make it easy for B&Q customers to have sustainable homes and gardens.

B&Q is the first retailer to join BioRegional’s One Planet Living Programme. BioRegional will set targets against each of the 10 principles using Ecological and Carbon Footprinting to allow for truly sustainable and equitable use of resources for everyone around the world. B&Q will be the first retailer to attempt to meet these demanding targets.

BioRegional will work with B&Q to develop two sustainability action plans (SAPs). The first plan will look at improving B&Q’s own operations against the ten principles of One Planet Living. The second plan will help B&Q’s customers achieve One Planet Living in their homes and gardens through products which are consistent with the ten One Planet Living principles. BioRegional will work with B&Q to extend its current range of eco-products and develop new lines to result in a substantial One Planet Living product range.

Examples of changes include using only FSC certified wood to make B & Q kitchens. Giving free growing kits and seed to 5,000 schools and phasing out patio heaters. [info taken from Bioregional website]

Environmental code for commercial buildings

Achieving zero-carbon non-domestic buildings will be a more complicated affair than homes according to The UK Green Building Council. By adopting a similar 'trajectory' to the incremental improvements proposed for homes, a deadline of 2020, which recognises the difficulties in achieving zero carbon buildings. The proposal then requires occupiers to pay for any carbon emissions over and above the level indicated.

The Good Homes Alliance has applauded the decision to introduce an environment code for commercial buildings. Chairman Neil May said recently "The first important step in reducing emissions is to measure their current level. Although it is essential that this measure is accurate and honest, which will challenge where building perform badly. The Good Homes Alliance now insists on a 70% reduction in absolute carbon and energy compared to the average property. It is initiatives such as these that will help to ensure we are reducing the carbon emissions and environmental impact of our buildings in reality, not just on paper."

Robots coming to Knebworth

Knebworth, Hertfordshire UK

There will be a fourteen feet high hex-headed steel robot at this year's Salvo Fair, made as a prototype by Peter Weldon for Walsall Council's annual illuminations. Peter will also be making some new gates for Knebworth House which he hopes to have on display, together with a 20ft long shepherd's hut - provided his trailer can cope with it all!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monuments and Carving Award winner

St George's Church, Bloomsbury London

Above: The tower of St Georges Church

St George’s posed a fundamental question in the restoration field. Are alterations as much a part of the history of a building as what was there at the start? St George’s had been dramatically altered, largely by the Victorians who shifted the entire layout of the church by 90º. However, once all the evidence had been unravelled there was little doubt that it was achievable to return the interior to Nicholas Hawksmoor’s original design.

The most visible part of the restoration was not inside the church. It was the new Lion and Unicorn carvings, and this is what they won the Monuments & Carving Award for. Our scheme called for the reinstallation of four massive heraldic beasts, two lions and two unicorns, that were part of the original design. The sculptures were intended as a symbolic comment on the Hanoverian succession, with the lions representing England and the unicorns Scotland fighting for the crown of England. Considered to be too frivolous for Victorian taste as well as being potentially unsafe, the ‘beasts’ were removed from the tower in the 1870s and lost. Only the weathered statue of George I dressed as a Roman Emperor was still in residence.

We were determined to re-create these fantastical beasts and, in October 2002, we held an architectural competition. The winner Tim Crawley (of Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey craftsmen) had previously carved the acclaimed “Modern Martyrs” for the front of Westminster Abbey, and was charged with bringing the lions and unicorns back to life from contemporary drawings. His sculptures are dramatic to say the least. Each of the four creatures is over ten feet tall and weighs eight tons. Clearly visible from the ground, they form a dramatic and playful part of Bloomsbury once more.

Answer to 10% recycled materials law in Scotland?

A Scottish firm are creating blocks from glass. A partnership between Viridor and brand & Rae has lead to one million breeze blocks produced in 18 months using recycled glass. Crushed glass from Viridor's Bonnyrigg facility is said to comprise the same composition as the silica sand primary aggregate it replaces.

Jamie McBride, operations manager of Viridor Glass Recycling, said: "with one of Brand & Rae's factories next to our site we are helping to make a big difference to the carbon footprint of this essential building material. Together we are saving on energy, transport, and emissions, and by using this material there is less damage to the countryside through quarrying."

Netted with a fishing rod

Peter Wilson Fine art Auctioneers of Nantwich, Cheshire UK

It is believed that thieves used fishing rods to catch six paintings and reel them in via the barred windows of an auctioneer's viewing gallery. The thieves got round the auctioneer's sophisticated alarm system by smashing windows before "fishing" the paintings from the viewing gallery.

The paintings are supposed to have been stolen to order. The haul includes three signed paintings by Arthur Delaney valued between £3500 and £4500 each.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Houses of the future

Arco2 architects are developing houses that can be erected in less than 4 days made of timber and straw rather than concrete and polystyrene. They are affordable and have virtually no impact on the environment. Aesthetically, there is little or no difference. The walls are 61cm thick and therefore do not require insulation, the building naturally stays warm in the winter and cool in the winter. When questioned about the added increase in fire Penk ,who have just completed one such home for a customer said "Timber is misunderstood. Steel and concrete warps and breaks whilst timber chars in fire. there are two layers of plasterboard in front of the bales which is 60 minutes of protection in itself. It ties up carbon dioxide for a lifetime in building". Since a conventional house constructed today emits 3.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, this model could become mainstream within the next decade. [extracts taken from London Metro]

Crazy Architecture

All over the world there are hundreds of architects, builders, carpenters, laborers and designers working on a single build project. However, there are exceptions to this including these five excentric individuals who primarily work on bizarre buildings by themselves and in many cases they take decades or even lifetimes to construct. Despite having this essential factor in common the ultimate build outcomes range significantly in style, execution, materiality and purpose.

Above: Mr Cheval's Palais Ideal

Facteur Cheval lived in Hauterives in France, he was a mild-mannered mailman by day and a pseudo-architect and builder by night, he had no formal design or construction training. His Palais Ideal (Perfect Palace) took him decades to construct.

Above: Nikolai Sutyagin's wooden skyscrapper

In Archangeisk, Russia Nikolai Sutyagin
took what he had learnt from running a small construction business and built a wooden skyscraper in 13 stories (114ft). Sadly he later went to jail for supposedly imprisoning a worker and his building went to pieces and all that is left is the strange wooden skyscraper.

Above: Simon Rodin's Watts Towers

Simon Rodin was an Italian immigrant who moved to LA and started an architectural masterpiece known as Watts Towers. This comprised of shells, scrap metal, pottery shards, rocks, glass and pretty much any other random material he could find.

Justo Gallego was a Spanish monk in Mejorado del Campo before he was forced to leave because of ill health. He created a radically individualistic catedral. He used all sorts of donated and recycled building materials.

Above: Tom Avery Foreverton

Tom Avery from Baraboo, Wisconsin is responsible for the world's largest scrap-metal architectural sculpture known as Foreverton. Weighing over 300 tonnes, climbing 50 feet in the air and reaches 60 to 120 feet in either direction.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Green Houses

The drive towards creating 'greener' housing is gathering pace. In May all new-build homes in england must be rated against the Code for Sustainable Homes. It will be compulsory for house builders to give new homes a star rating between one and six or issue a nil-rating certificate. This measures nine categories of sustainable design, including how the new building uses energy and water and how waste is dealt with.

The aim is to make as many new homes as possible 'zero carbon' which means they will generate sufficient energy and waste very few resources. New home buyers will be able to find out how sustainable they are before they buy. the star rating has been designed to make the code easy to understand. the government hope that the new system will encourage home buyers to choose energy efficient homes and make all new homes zero carbon by 2016.

It is estimated that Britain's homes produce 30 per cent of the country's CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. It is hoped that many more properties will be built with less polluting and recyclable materials. Barratt's Hanham Hall site near Bristol aims to be the first zero carbon development in England, meeting level six of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The site will have 200 homes and it is thought that it will cut a families carbon footprint by up to 60 per cent. One way they will do this is by slashing water usage by recycling rainwater run off from the roofs so that it can bbe used in toilets, washing machienes and gardens.

Changes for employers

From 29 February 2008, the penalty scheme for employing illegal workers will be tougher. Employers who employ illegal migrant workers are liable to a new civil penalty. The Act makes it unlawful to employ an adult subject to immigration control if they do not have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK and who doesn't have permission to do the work offered. Employers who engage illegal immigrant workers face a maximum penalty of £10,000 for each illegal worker (previously £5,000 under the Asylum & Immigration Act 1996). The employer in breach may be served with a civil penalty notice requiring payment and must pay unless he can show that he has complied with the "statutory excuse". If the employer can show that he checked the validity of the documents produced by the immigrant and that he retained a copy of such documents for no les than two years, the "statutory excuse" will apply. Of course the employer must come with clean hands − if it can be shown that he knew that the employment was illegal, he will not be excused. The Act creates a new responsibility for employers to check the ongoing entitlement for certain migrant workers to work in the UK at least once every 12 months.

If your businesses is one where live music is played in the workplace or in which recorded music is played. From April 6th, there are new rules which protect workers from exposure to excessive levels of noise. Employers in the music and entertainment sectors may have to take new steps to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work.

From 6 April 2008, employees in firms with 50 or more employees will have the right to be informed and consulted on a regular basis about issues in the business for which they work.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Second Chance

Carroll Camden Urban Renewal Area, Baltimore Harbor USA

An 11 acre site in the Camden Urban Renewal Area of Southeast Baltimore has just been sold to the Baltimore Development Corporation, for $1.7M. The property is home to Second Change Inc. A nonprofit architectural salvage and antiques seller that runs work force development programs for former prison inmates. Along with this the BDC have approved plans to develop a mixed-use development that would use Lewis' Ray of Light Centre - an athletic facility for at-risk youth, and is to become known as the Gateway to the South. The project is planned to be as green as possible and include features such as rainwater recycling systems, tinted windows, green roofs and highly energy efficient HVAC systems.

M. J Brodie president of BDC said that " It is very important to recycle old industrial land into vibrant, mixed-use developments". Foster added that he expects that Second Chance will move to an even bigger location in about three years. The organisation has proposed a plan for a green village, including its own location and the headquarters and several other environmentally friendly business, on the site of the old Potee-Garrett landfill in South Baltimore.

Postage and Packing not included

In 1819, in the wake of the Battle of the Nile and restoration of control of Egypt to the Turks, Mehemet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, offered Britain a token of thanks. In the form of a 200 ton obelisk of rose pink granite marking the victories of Thothmes III from a site at Alexandria. Know it better as Cleopatra's Needle. Although, this did not include postage and packing, so it was originally erected with its sister obelisk in Central park, New York.

In 1301 an earthquake had brought "Britain's' obelisk to the ground, where it remained for over five and a half centuries. None of the proposed plans to take the obelisk to England came to fruition until Sir Erasmus Wilson's proposal in 1876. He put up £10,000 to take the obelisk to Nelson on the Thames, and commissioned John Dixon, an engineer to arrange its passage. Dixon offered the help of his brother Waynman, a fellow engineer turned Egyptologist, who proved to play a key role on the project.

Dixon's plan was to encase the obelisk in a huge floating iron cylinder, 92ft (28m) long and 15ft (4.57m) in diameter. Cleopatra had a vertical stem and stern, a rudder, two bilge keels, a mast for balancing sails and a deckhouse for the crew. Progress was good until the 20th day of the journey when the Olga encountered a violent storm in the Bay of Biscay. In a desperate attempt to save Cleopatra's crew, six men were drowned and cargo cut loose.

However, the case with the obelisk inside was spotted five days later floating of the Northern coast of Spain. This set back cost £8000 in salvage fees. It finally made its triumphal journey up the Thames to the Embankment on September 12, 1878. One secret was never divulged; it has been alleged that Dixon discovered three sacred objects in the chamber, which he removed and gave to his brother John for safe passage to England. Legend has it they were placed within the pedestal on which Cleopatra's Needle now stands.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The problem of plant thefts

"Its about time equipment manufacturers and plant workers took theft seriously," said Tim Purbrick the managing director of plant security specialists TER. Recently on one site in London thieves took a telehandler and put it, and £100,000 of other stolen equipment in to a auction in Holland.

A few weeks later they went back for the replacement. That was recovered in Harwich Docks, with £250,000 of other stolen equipment. The thieves look finally ran out when the police caught them going back to the same site.

New wildlife legislation for contruction sites

Last year saw significant changes to the Habits Regulations. European protected species (EPS) saw that the most commonly encountered species on construction sites included bats, otters, dormice and great crested newts. It is an offense to damage or destroy the 'breeding site' or 'resting place' of an EPS even if the species are not there but there is a high probability they will return. The contractor could be prosecuted even if the damages occur accidentally.

When it is reasonably likely that an EPS offence will occur, a license must be obtained after planning permission has been granded and before construction work starts. A 'method statement' will accompany the application and normally is drafted by the consultant ecologist. Before a license can be granted a number of legal tests need to be satisfied. The operation must be needed "for imperative reasons of over riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature. Evidence and analysis is needed to satisfy these tests, which will usually require imput from a lawyer or economic expert. The maximum penalty for the main EPS offence''s is not £5,000 and/or six month custodial sentance.

Workforce levels rise

Britains construction industry workforce rose by 40,000 last year according to the Office of National Statistics labour market figures. The figures for September 2007 show that 2,229,000 were employed in the sector, up from 2,189,000 in September 2006. This is the highest level since 1981.

Trade gets first pickings at Bath Fair

The Pavilion, Bath UK

Bath Decorative and Antique Fair will be held from March 6 to 8 at The Pavilion, North Parade Road. One of the main developments is that the fair is now owned by and organised by Somerset dealer Robin Coleman.

The popular Berkshire dealer and more recently fairs organiser Jan Hicks is among this years seven newcomers. Others making their debut include Apollo from Ashburton, Devon, and Miller's Antiques from Hampshire. However, the core of the fair remains unchanged and all the stands were fully booked by early December.

The Trade day which, for the first time, is this year on a Thursday, as the fair is compressed into three days instead of four. Trade day is strictly for professionals only on production of a card, giving the trade the pick of the bunch on the first day. The remaining two days are open to the public with £2.50 admission and they can take advantage of the low prices encouraged by this beiing a non profitmaking event, and the varied stock of highly decorative and novel items