Great British Bake-Off host Prue Leith selling weaving by Peter Collingwood through Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers
A valuable wall-hanging by a pioneering weaver comes up for sale at Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers this month courtesy of Great British Bake Off host Prue Leith.
The host of the Channel 4 TV programme and restaurateur, chef and cookery writer has owned the piece by Peter Collingwood – which hung on a bedroom wall alongside a David Hockney print – for more than 40 years, but has decided to sell as part of a house move.
It has an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 as part of the Stansted auction house's design sale on Tuesday October 25.
Based in Colchester for much of his career, Collingwood (1922-2008) was at the forefront of weaving for half a century. His trademark ‘microgauze’ hangings of woven linen and steel – many of them sold at the time through Liberty’s and Heal’s – use the traditional craft to create modern visual abstractions. Today they are admired and collected worldwide.
Prue, 82, who ran Michelin-starred restaurant Leith's in Notting Hill, west London, from 1969 to 1995, received her hanging as a Christmas present in the late 1970s. Measuring 1.73m (5ft 8in) high by 42cm (16.5in) wide, it is signed and stamped 'Peter Collingwood M.199 No.2'.
"I love modern art and have collected many pieces over the years," said Prue. "I particularly like the clean, elegant lines of Collingwood."
She decided to sell the hanging after downsizing to a smaller home with less wall space. She also noted it might be a good time to sell.
"My husband, John Playfair, is an avid reader of Antiques Trade Gazette that keeps us on top of the market for many modern British artists. In the paper he saw the prices Sworders were getting for Collingwood weavings so that’s why we're selling it in Essex."
Sworders has sold several similar pieces, including, earlier this year, a large Collingwood hanging that made a record £20,000. Bought directly from Collingwood in the early 1980s by the vendor’s mother, it was sold in May to benefit the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
Specialist John Black agreed that the market for Collingwood’s distinctive work was experiencing a sweet spot.
"Collingwood was almost a forgotten figure at the turn of the 21st century, but prices have risen for his art weavings as they are rediscovered by a new generation," he said.
"It’s well deserved. He was as important to the British post-war craft revival as Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, and in the right home they look fantastic."