The collector: John Hall, Birmingham (UK).
The collection: Holmegaard cased art glass.
The story behind the collection...
I have always been interested in surface, I think this is why I studied fine art and specialised in paint. I was really interested in minimalist work at University and paint as a subject in its own right. This was driven by a love of the physical qualities of paint. I used to work a lot with household gloss and pearlescent paints because of the way they react with light. My love of glass, which came later on (particularly cased glass where a colour is blown over a solid white to create a solid colour) was in line with this. I love the richness of colour of Holmegaard glass, in particular the carnaby series.
I bought my first piece from eBay. I’m addicted to trawling for incorrectly listed items in the hope that I’ll get them for a steal. I knew a bit about Holmegaard glass at this point and this piece was listed without any of the key words that collectors might search for in its listing title. I was convinced that I would be getting the piece for a low price. This wasn’t the case and the bids just kept going up and up, but I was hooked by that point and had to have the vase, so overpaid, and won it. I’ve collected carnaby vases and other cased Holmegaard glass ever since.
Why collect these?
Each piece is uniquely different in an understated way. I collect mainly the red pieces but do have a few green vases. There are 5 different colourways. The vases range in tonality and have a subtle hand made feel.
What is it you like about them?
I like the architectural presence the vases have. They are striking and remind me of inflated balloons. I really like the way the necks flair out to a flat plane and the contrast of the white against the red.
How long have you been collecting them?
How big is your collection?
16 and growing.
How do you display them?
I rotate the display of the glass around my house. I get quite anxious moving them because I’m quite clumsy and have been known to smash pieces.
The thrill of the hunt...
I remember speaking to an antique dealer about my collection a few years ago. He had run a stall in London in the 70s and told me that the carnaby glass range had always been highly sought after and commanded high prices. He also said that in all his years he hadn’t ever found a piece of Holmegaard carnaby glass on a market stall or in a charity shop.
I was really lucky to have found a piece of carnaby glass in a charity shop recently. I will no doubt be visiting the shop on a weekly basis from now on.
My heart starts racing when I spot a piece, if it’s on a stall I lose all sense of what’s around me and I can’t move quick enough. When I see a piece on an auction website I get an overwhelming sense that it has to be mine.
Is there anything missing from your collection that you would really love to get hold of?
Holmegaard did a number of trial pieces and there are a few visual examples of these on the internet. Often these might be oversized versions of the standard range (perhaps for merchandising purposes) or trial runs. They go for hundreds but I would consider taking a loan if one came up for sale
Do you collect anything else?
Yes, but this is my favourite collection.
Is your collection out of control?
It was, but I feel in control again (at the moment). I may move on to a new colour.
Are you obsessed?
John's blog - 20th Century Design
Images © John Hall and used with his kind permission.