The vivid hues and exuberant forms of 20th century glass are the perfect way to introduce colour into the neutral interiors of our 21st century homes. But truffling out the best of the modern masters can mean a trek out of town. So rejoice, glass fanciers of London, because, on Sunday 27 April, the best dealers will be gathered in one place for a fantastic fair at Dulwich College.
'This is only the second Art Glass Fair, but it is attracting exhibitors that would be hard to better'
Nigel Benson - 20th century glass
Nigel Benson’s 20th century glass embraces the most stylish of English, European and Scandinavian makers. Pieces by Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus (‘Gray-Stan’), made in Battersea in the 1920s and 1930s, are sought-after for their elegant shapes and beautiful, restrained colour palette. Benson offers Gray-Stan vases, bowls and candlesticks in opaque, cloudy greens, blues and ochres for £200 to £500. Similar in style but lower in price are his small Nazeing posy bowls for about £20.
Pretty 1930s pieces designed by Harry Powell, made for Whitefriars, priced between £150 and £400, include simple, limpid vases and bowls in subtle colours: amber, sapphire and sea green.
Whitefriars’ long and venerable history dates back to the 18th century, when the firm had a glassworks in Fleet Street. The most sought-after Whitefriars pieces at present, however, are those made in the second half of the 20th century, after the Festival of Britain. This was when the brand was rejuvenated by an influx of young designers, including Geoffrey Baxter, who favoured vibrant colour and eccentric textures and shapes.
Pips Trips, purveyor of the funkiest mid-century modern and retro glass, offers Whitefriars vases designed by Baxter for less than £50, along with some attractively chunky 1960s candlesticks, designed by Ronald Stennett-Wilson for Wedgwood, in vibrant amber and deep amethyst (£45).
Burgh Le Marsh Furnishings
For intensity of colour coupled with elegance of hand-blown form, Mdina is the label to look out for. Burgh Le Marsh Furnishings will be exhibiting some cracking pieces of Mdina, from the early years of production, when Michael Harris was at the helm of the art glass manufactory. The vivid Mediterranean turquoises and blues, ochres and yellows of Mdina glassware reflect its sunny seaside location.
Harris left the Royal College of Art, where he was a lecturer, to set up Mdina Glass on the island of Malta in 1968. His most famous design, the Fish vase, is a gorgeously mottled, streaked and striped vessel: a brown example, signed by Harris will be £1,200.
If you should tire of the fair’s wealth of tabletop attractions, search for the stall marked Roast Designs. Its distinctive contemporary chandeliers are constructed from clear and coloured glass balls, ranging from carpet bowl-size to goldfish bowl-size. These decorative spheres can be bought individually for £24.99; a whole light fitting can be ordered bespoke from £1,250.
27 April, The Art Glass Fair, Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, London, SE21 7LD; www.artglassfair.co.uk.