Visitors to the gallery examine one of Hazel’s art deco powder compacts with concealed manicure set.

It was a pleasure to welcome two collectors with very interesting collections to the gallery for the final Collectors Corner.

We were pleased to see some of Harry Lyons’ collection of Christopher Dresser products and privileged to be able to listen to a short talk from Harry who is an authority on the designer. Although a contemporary of William Morris and a prolific product designer, Dresser is nowhere near as well known as Morris. Harry has been collecting Dresser products for many years, writing books on the designer and organising exhibitions of his work. He was able to give us an insight into the ethos of affordable design for all behind the designs  and it was great to see not only some of the objects, but also Dresser’s drawings for textile designs.

Meanwhile, Hazel Rochelle had been organising her display cases full of 1920s and 30s powder compacts. She showed us some of the beautifully made compacts with their crafted cases which opened to reveal shiny mirrors, traces of rouge, powder puffs and cunningly concealed accessories such as lipstick cartridges, manicure sets and, in one, even a jewelled watch-face. Hazel’s husband, Jim gave us a short talk about the history of the compacts. Apart from having his own collection of carved model soldiers, Jim also cleans and maintains Hazel’s compacts, and keeps a hand-drawn archive of the collection. He carefully records a detailed description of each compact, including details of their history and where they were acquired and and makes a drawing of each one.

Pages from Jim’s hand-drawn archive of Hazel’s collection

After the presentations and discussions about these intriguing objects, a visitor mourned the end of Collectors Corner which, he thought, had been a great success. He had experienced his first CC when Dave Valentine brought in his collection of 1980s crisp packets and had been to every session since!
Posted by Ryan Coleman on Monday 13 September 2010