We are very pleased to announce our ultimate event of 2014! As a celebration of our successful first year, we would like to invite you round for some mulled wine and a kaleidoscopic view of a selection from the 31 Fournier Street vintage print and ephemera archive (see pics below). A fascinating collection of over three hundred historical images (engravings, original sketches, paintings, advertisements and scrapbook pages collected and curated by actor/writer Rodney Archer and artist/bookdealer Trevor Newton) will be adorning the walls - and every piece on show will be available for sale.

For the past six decades, Rodney Archer has been an avid collagist, compiling numerous colourful scrapbooks - each one an idiosyncratic blend of journal, photomontage and work of art. This album-making process has inspired our first Christmas event: for the first few weeks of December, the whole of the panelled 18th-century interior of No. 31 will be transformed into a walk-through scrapbook assemblage of loose Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian prints, advertisements and ephemera, arranged and juxtaposed in strange, enthralling and surreal groupings and displays. Hand-tinted mid-Victorian fashion plates, 1890s chromolithographs of burly Rugby players, intricate 1770s engravings of toads and walruses, and decorative Art Nouveau menu cards will flow, meld and mingle on the walls in an inviting visual journey through the past.

So please join us for a seasonal drink and a leisurely wander round this Christmas Cabinet of Curiosities. Contact Edward at 31fournierstreet@gmail.com for your invitation and further details.

                          Clare Winsten at 31 Fournier Street

Earlier this year we acquired a large portfolio of around 160 portrait drawings and sketches by the Whitechapel Group artist Clare Winsten (nee Clara Birnberg, see Biographical Note below). Dating from around 1910 until within a few years of her death in 1989 at the age of 95, the works remained in the artist’s private archive and comprise working sketches, ideas and even caricatures of a wide range of sitters; children, femmes fatales, domestic pets, Jewish subjects, village characters, and people glimpsed in the streets and Undergound air-raid shelters of wartime London. In utterly original condition, straight from a bulging portfolio, they have all the freshness and liveliness which come with being an artist’s first thoughts and lines on paper. They will be for sale from £50 to around £200, exceptionally attractive prices given that a number of Clare Winsten drawings are currently for sale in West End galleries for between £1300 and £1800. In viewing the works at No. 31, you will have a chance the to see them in the very heart of the old Jewish East End which formed the background of the Whitechapel Group artists David Bomberg, Isaac Rosenberg, Jacob Epstein and Clare Winsten.

Catalogue Note from the 2009 Whitechapel Gallery Exhibition The Whitechapel Boys:

A group of significant artists and writers emerged from the Jewish diaspora in East London at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The Whitechapel Boys were a diverse group of artists who shared an interest in the arts, a common social background and friendship. Children of Jewish immigrants, they met in east London and used the Whitechapel Library as their gathering place. Their discussions and artworks contributed to the founding of British Modernism.

Their work was frequently presented at the Whitechapel Gallery, most notably in the exhibition Twentieth Century Art: a Review of Modern Movements (1914). Bomberg, Epstein, Gertler, Kramer, Meninsky, Clare Winsten and Wolmark experimented with dynamic forms and use of colour and explored the transition from figuration to abstraction while Leftwich, Rodker, Rosenberg, and Stephen Winsten voiced their philosophical and political views with innovative prose and revealing writings. They attempted to respond to the political situation of Europe and pressing questions around Jewish identity through a progressive rejection of academicism.

Thank You.

Just a short message to thank all of those people who have supported our first season of events at No. 31 Fournier Street, and to let you know what is coming up there over the next few months. Our Inaugural Exhibition of architectural drawings and paintings by Trevor Newton, held in mid-May, saw the sale of over 150 works by the artist. Equally gratifying was Edward Firth’s show of portraits in the following month, with 65 prints and drawings sold and a series of articles and interviews in national publications.

Our third event was by way of complete contrast; a exhibition of fifty original hand painted French silk designs dating from the mid-1850s. All were sold, with a number being acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum and other specialist textile collections.

Events also moved outside into the charming, palm-fronded garden of No. 31 when it was visited by 450 people in a single day during the National Open Gardens scheme in early July. A busy contrast to its usual calm and seclusion!

In our exhibitions we aim to use the distinctive 18th-century interiors of No. 31 to the full, displaying works - with surprisingly effective results - against the striking original Georgian panelling which runs throughout the entire house. Where possible, we try to keep the impedimenta of mounts and frames - quite literally - out of the picture, displaying pieces very directly so that potential purchasers can experience their textural quality at very close quarters. This also has the advantage of enabling us to sell items at very reasonable prices while giving buyers a completely free choice of mount and frame when they have acquired a picture.

This approach will be especially interesting in our next exhibition of the sketches of Whitechapel Group painter Clare Winsten, which starts in the first week of February.

Then later in the year, we will be staging a highly individual event, one which attempts to fuse biography, interior design and literary history. Provisionally entitled ‘Number 31 - At Home with Rodney Archer’, the invitation-only presentation will consist of readings from the actor/writer’s Spitalfields Journals - a rich and fascinating account of the comings and goings of East End Bohemia over the past thirty years - together with extracts from the works of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (to be performed in front of Wilde’s very own Tite Street chimneypiece, now incorporated centre-stage in the grand silver-leaf-panelled first-floor drawing room on No. 31. Exhibits from Rodney’s superb collection of Art Nouveau ceramics and 20th-century male portraiture will enhance the mood, and appropriate drinks (hock and seltzer?) and canapés will ease the flow of conversation as guests mix, mingle and meet in what must surely be one of London’s most enticingly eccentric domestic interiors…

As of November 1st, No. 31 is now available to hire for your next event! The distinctive staircase and beautifully silver-panelled first-floor rooms of the house (and in summer, the garden), are available at extremely competitive prices. Situated on the edge of the City and adjacent to fashionable Spitalfields Market and bustling Brick Lane, the house makes a perfect, highly convenient and intriguing venue for evening drinks parties, book launches, wine tastings, exhibitions, recitals etc. For further information, please contact Edward Firth at 31fournierstreet@gmail.com

Photo by Paul Godfrey.

Introducing the latest addition to No. 31 - a handpainted lacquered wood screen with gold leaf detail, acquired from Spitalfields Market on Thursday morning.

Thankyou to everyone who stopped by for the silk patterns exhibition (sold out!) and attic sale (not sold out yet!), both of which ended on Saturday after a breathless few weeks.

French silk velour patterns from the 1850s. These intricate hand-painted artefacts are on display and available to buy on Thursday 17th and Saturday 20th July 2014 along with a selection of other embroidery, fashion and sewing curios. Just let us know when you’re coming - we’re open 10-4pm both days. In the gallery space we’re holding an Attic Sale of all the books, ceramics, pottery, posters, vintage fabrics and other bric á brac that Rodney Archer is ready to share from his collection.

The 2014 Huguenot Threads Festival starts on July 9th, celebrating the silk-weaving roots of Spitalfields with a week of tours, discussions and events. No. 31 will be opening its doors to the curious on the 12th, 15th and 17th of July; unveiling an archive of beautifully detailed Rouen silk velour patterns for the first time. These are original antique documents from the 1850s, and they’re available for purchase at £30-£40 each.

This exhibition runs parallel to Edward Firth’s solo show, which will continue throughout on the first floor.

Our profile on Spitalfields Life:http://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/03/28/at-31-fournier-st/

See you soon…

Volume 1 of Trevor Newton’s Australia travel diaries are published on Monday through Fournier Street Books. 24 pages of beautifully rendered watercolour sketches of the unseen Victorian architecture of little-visited corners of Australia, from ramshackle Outback pubs and train stations to verandahs and grain silos by a modern master of topographical art. Pick yours up at the link below or at the exhibition…

From the introduction:

"Over the past twenty years, I have travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometres around rural and Outback Australia, recording what I see in a series of illustrated travel journals. These now run to twelve volumes of text and around eight hundred sketches and drawings.

The following small selection of notes and sketches is taken from a journal kept during a three-month journey around New South Wales in 2002 . The entries reproduced here cover half of that journey, which took me south and west of Sydney, down the coast, and inland across the Great Dividing Range into the Riverina area.”