BRIAN & EDUARDO.
GB: I have collected a number of Artists and Designers in multiple and usually after about 5 or 6 good examples I can redirect focus, however Brian Willsher Sculptures became a dominant interest verging on a serious obsession.
I was late appreciating Willsher and initially naively underestimated them and would often watch them slip through the Modern Design sale rooms without even making a bid.
I bought my first ones on eBay very reasonably, then shortly afterwards a set of six small wall plaques, all dedicated with Christmas messages on the reverse.
On arrival I immediately realised what I had been missing, so others soon followed.
I began researching his incredible story and became intrigued by his Sculptural thinking.
To take a solid block and retain 98% of its mass, cutting and pushing elements apart to add energy, vitality and dynamism by inviting space to swap places with material with such a powerful imagination makes the notion and debate about ‘the first hole in sculpture’ seem so prosaic.
I saw an opportunity, and began a serious pursuit, I was discerning and particularly interested in the rare Titled exhibition pieces, but still bought the more formulaic examples whenever available.
I love the whole story about the accident, convalescent creativity with plaster (which becomes important later) the wood, the court case, the market stalls, and even how his premature death could have been caused by decades of inhaling sawdust from in between his released forms.
Surprisingly around this time I was at Kempton Racecourse every fortnight but only ever bought three or four from there.
I did acquire a few very reasonably, however after sharing my passion and knowledge with other dealers they would often return within weeks with a good example full of glee, bought for a tenner from a local car boot sale!
I was happy spending low to mid hundreds for good examples and did so regularly, but had never managed to buy one out of context.
I was fully tuned in, laser locked, and knowledge abundant but could not get one that had gone un-recognised at source.
Then late into collecting I had the best Rush I can ever recall. I realise this sounds like the classic dealer’s story, but it is these events and episodes which get us out of bed in the early hours driving hundreds of miles, to improve success strike rates.
I set off in the rain to our local car boot sale, only ten miles down the road, which I attend every month or so, but a serious winter storm formed on the short journey and by the time I arrived, it was torrential.
I sat in the car debating about driving straight back, but thought I would just check the indoor stalls.
There were only two outdoor stalls I could see from a distance and was rushing past the very first one, when I quickly scanned the ground and could not believe my eyes.
I picked up a bundle of 2 foot long organic shaped sticks tied together with plastic tie wraps
I turned the bundle over and sure enough saw the very familiar distinctive signature, graphite illuminated by a car headlight, like a dream !
I looked up for the stall holder knowing this was going to be cheap, but I would be buying it regardless, I knew the model and thought all the pieces were there in kit form.
He wasn’t there, the lady selling burgers next door said he had gone to the toilet, so I dare not put it down, but also did not want to walk off looking for him in case someone thought I was nicking it.
So I ended up risking pneumonia standing in soggy mud and heavy rain for 20 minutes, imaging the seller and the scale of his pricing and awareness, I just wanted to beat the tenner, but would have paid 200.
Eventually a little old bloke arrived out of the darkness pulling his pants up, I shouted over ‘how much are these sticks mate?”
“Every thing is a pound My Mate” he shouted back!
My dream was complete.
I went straight to car and straight home as I wanted to get it dry.
This was at a time I had started selling the Willsher collection as prices had risen considerably, so once dry I put back together wedging the pieces in like Lego using a very similar one I already had as a guide.
It was perfect, and beautiful, I listed it at 750 the following day and accepted an offer of 625 within an hour.
The best percentage mark up of my life!