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Lorfords talk to Chris Yeo, Curator of The Ken Stradling Collection

This interview originally appeared on Lorfords Antiques blog.

Jo James of Lorfords Antiques interviewed her colleague Chris Yeo, about his other life as the curator of the Ken Stradling Collection.

Chris talked to Jo James about about the collection, what his role as curator entails, and his lifelong love for furniture and household items.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo 

Hello, my name is Chris Yeo. In January I joined the Lorfords team, working in our Tetbury shop. If you’ve visited recently we may well have met.

When Jo asked if I would contribute something to the venerable Lorfords blog, I must admit, I was a bit stumped. “Why don’t you write about your other job?”, she said. You see, when I’m not wrapped up in the wonderful world of Lorfords, I have another life as the Curator of the Ken Stradling Collection.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

Chris Yeo, Curator of the Ken Stradling Collection

What is the Ken Stradling Collection? It’s a remarkable collection of 20th and 21st century decorative art which has been put together over the last 70 years. Ken Stradling, my boss, was for many years the Managing Director of the Bristol Guild of Applied Art, which he joined in 1948, and was one of the first people to popularise modern design in Britain.

We’re different from other museums, in fact we don’t even call ourselves a museum. We encourage people to pick things up, to look at and handle things, pick up a vase or even sit on a chair, so there are no ropes and no please do not touch signs. Keen that learning to look at something, to appreciate an object, is as important as making that object.

Where? The collection is based in a 4 storey building in central Bristol which is open to the public by appointment.

How many pieces are in the Collection? Approximately 2000 items.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

What does the job of curator entail? I have to make sure everything is cared for in the best possible way. I’m in charge of displaying the collection and making decisions about what should be on display and where. We have a programme of regularly changing exhibitions and part of my remit is to come up with ideas for exhibitions. Sometimes other museums and galleries approach us to borrow pieces and I oversee that.

My role also includes coming up with ideas to raise the profile of the Collection, so that more people know about us and visit us. Last year we worked with the fashion designer Margaret Howell, who curated an exhibition of pieces from the Collection which she then displayed in her main Wigmore Street showroom. The exhibition was a great success and generated a lot of exposure in the design press.

When I’m not doing that I have to research the pieces in the Collection, so I spend a lot of time with my head in books or on the internet. I also have to keep an eye out for anything I think we should have in the Collection, so that means regularly checking auction catalogues for things coming up for sale. We also run a programme of design-related lectures, so quite a bit of my time is spent writing, as well as delivering talks to the public.

Tell us about about some of the pieces in the Collection. The jewel in our crown is a unique group of furniture designed in 1935 by Marcel Breuer for the Bristol home of furniture manufacturer Crofton Gane. Gane played a pivotal role in introducing the Modern Movement to 1930s Britain. He and Crofton became friends shortly before Breuer arrived in England after the closure of the Bauhaus. The ten pieces of furniture we have are pivotal in the development of Marcel Breuer’s style and, for that reason, are of international significance. Ken was also one of the first people to sell Scandinavian design in the UK and the Collection has some fantastic mid-century pieces from Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

What do you most enjoy about the job? That’s easy to answer – working with Ken himself. An absolute font of knowledge and insight, who’s known and been friends with many of the giants of British design – Lucie Rie, David Mellor, Gordon Russell, Elizabeth David. Seventy years in the business and, without a doubt, the best person I know for a restaurant recommendation.

How did you get the job? Before I joined the Collection I’d worked for an auctioneers, which is where I got to know Ken as he was one of our regular buyers. Even then people knew about Ken’s collection but, as it wasn’t then open to the public, very few people had actually seen it and it had acquired an almost mythical status. Then, a few years ago, Ken started to open the collection to the public and I was one of the first visitors. On my first visit, I asked if the collection had been catalogued and when I found out it hadn’t I offered my services – sometimes it helps to be a bit cheeky. That eventually led to me being offered the job as Curator.

What got you interested in antiques? I’ve always been fascinated by the objects around me. Even before I could speak I remember being spellbound by furniture and household bits and pieces. My grandparents would take me to antiques fairs and, unlike most small children, I loved it. That led to a fascination with country houses and I would always be badgering my poor parents to take me to the nearest National Trust house. At 10 I started writing to the curator of Longleat House, who was very helpful and really supported my interest. Age 14 I started buying and selling antiques from a weekend market stall in the local village hall. I studied History at University and then in my 20s had a spell working outside the field, but the lure of antiques kept calling, so I went back to University and did a Master degree in Fine Art valuation afterwhich I worked in an auction house, which led to the Ken Stradling Collection and now to Lorfords.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo 

For more information about Lorfords and the collection, visit Lorfords Antiques and the Ken Stradling Collection.

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Save



Antiques News Blog

Lorfords talk to Chris Yeo, Curator of The Ken Stradling Collection

This interview originally appeared on Lorfords Antiques blog.

Jo James of Lorfords Antiques interviewed her colleague Chris Yeo, about his other life as the curator of the Ken Stradling Collection.

Chris talked to Jo James about about the collection, what his role as curator entails, and his lifelong love for furniture and household items.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo 

Hello, my name is Chris Yeo. In January I joined the Lorfords team, working in our Tetbury shop. If you’ve visited recently we may well have met.

When Jo asked if I would contribute something to the venerable Lorfords blog, I must admit, I was a bit stumped. “Why don’t you write about your other job?”, she said. You see, when I’m not wrapped up in the wonderful world of Lorfords, I have another life as the Curator of the Ken Stradling Collection.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

Chris Yeo, Curator of the Ken Stradling Collection

What is the Ken Stradling Collection? It’s a remarkable collection of 20th and 21st century decorative art which has been put together over the last 70 years. Ken Stradling, my boss, was for many years the Managing Director of the Bristol Guild of Applied Art, which he joined in 1948, and was one of the first people to popularise modern design in Britain.

We’re different from other museums, in fact we don’t even call ourselves a museum. We encourage people to pick things up, to look at and handle things, pick up a vase or even sit on a chair, so there are no ropes and no please do not touch signs. Keen that learning to look at something, to appreciate an object, is as important as making that object.

Where? The collection is based in a 4 storey building in central Bristol which is open to the public by appointment.

How many pieces are in the Collection? Approximately 2000 items.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

What does the job of curator entail? I have to make sure everything is cared for in the best possible way. I’m in charge of displaying the collection and making decisions about what should be on display and where. We have a programme of regularly changing exhibitions and part of my remit is to come up with ideas for exhibitions. Sometimes other museums and galleries approach us to borrow pieces and I oversee that.

My role also includes coming up with ideas to raise the profile of the Collection, so that more people know about us and visit us. Last year we worked with the fashion designer Margaret Howell, who curated an exhibition of pieces from the Collection which she then displayed in her main Wigmore Street showroom. The exhibition was a great success and generated a lot of exposure in the design press.

When I’m not doing that I have to research the pieces in the Collection, so I spend a lot of time with my head in books or on the internet. I also have to keep an eye out for anything I think we should have in the Collection, so that means regularly checking auction catalogues for things coming up for sale. We also run a programme of design-related lectures, so quite a bit of my time is spent writing, as well as delivering talks to the public.

Tell us about about some of the pieces in the Collection. The jewel in our crown is a unique group of furniture designed in 1935 by Marcel Breuer for the Bristol home of furniture manufacturer Crofton Gane. Gane played a pivotal role in introducing the Modern Movement to 1930s Britain. He and Crofton became friends shortly before Breuer arrived in England after the closure of the Bauhaus. The ten pieces of furniture we have are pivotal in the development of Marcel Breuer’s style and, for that reason, are of international significance. Ken was also one of the first people to sell Scandinavian design in the UK and the Collection has some fantastic mid-century pieces from Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo

What do you most enjoy about the job? That’s easy to answer – working with Ken himself. An absolute font of knowledge and insight, who’s known and been friends with many of the giants of British design – Lucie Rie, David Mellor, Gordon Russell, Elizabeth David. Seventy years in the business and, without a doubt, the best person I know for a restaurant recommendation.

How did you get the job? Before I joined the Collection I’d worked for an auctioneers, which is where I got to know Ken as he was one of our regular buyers. Even then people knew about Ken’s collection but, as it wasn’t then open to the public, very few people had actually seen it and it had acquired an almost mythical status. Then, a few years ago, Ken started to open the collection to the public and I was one of the first visitors. On my first visit, I asked if the collection had been catalogued and when I found out it hadn’t I offered my services – sometimes it helps to be a bit cheeky. That eventually led to me being offered the job as Curator.

What got you interested in antiques? I’ve always been fascinated by the objects around me. Even before I could speak I remember being spellbound by furniture and household bits and pieces. My grandparents would take me to antiques fairs and, unlike most small children, I loved it. That led to a fascination with country houses and I would always be badgering my poor parents to take me to the nearest National Trust house. At 10 I started writing to the curator of Longleat House, who was very helpful and really supported my interest. Age 14 I started buying and selling antiques from a weekend market stall in the local village hall. I studied History at University and then in my 20s had a spell working outside the field, but the lure of antiques kept calling, so I went back to University and did a Master degree in Fine Art valuation afterwhich I worked in an auction house, which led to the Ken Stradling Collection and now to Lorfords.

Antiques News & Fairs - Interview with Chris Yeo 

For more information about Lorfords and the collection, visit Lorfords Antiques and the Ken Stradling Collection.

Save

Save