Hosting 17 dealers at Battersea Evolution from January 22-27, the event is a chance to learn about and purchase rare antique carpets, rugs and other textiles, from specialists who between them offer a wealth of stock from around the world.
For example, exhibitor Kian Hezaveh, who runs The Oriental Rug Shop in Sheffield, is a fourth-generation dealer, from an Iranian family that has been dealing in rugs since 1880. Specialising in antique and modern Persian rugs, carpets and kelims, his background allows him to access stock from overseas.
“I travel extensively to meet my contacts including to various cities in Iran where we’ve been trading for decades,” he tells ATG. “That means I can offer pieces that aren’t always available on the open market, where objects tend to have been in this country for some time.”
At LARTA Hezaveh focuses on some of his oldest offerings including a Turkoman (or Turkmen) rug, woven by the Tekke tribe c.1880. They were a major force in Central Asia until the Russians invaded Turkmenistan in the late 19th century.
Rugs of this sort were produced typically by the women of the tribe, for use in for use in the floor of a yurt. Turkmen pieces such as this, it is the pattern that identifies exactly which group made them, and some of these still inspire rug makers today.
“It’s been copied in Bokhara design, woven today in Pakistan with wonderful colours; green, pink, peach. Historically, Turkmen pieces were made in red and this has mellowed down to a beautiful terracotta,” Hezaveh says. At his stand he will be accompanied by his son, a fifth-generation dealer who has a particular interest in the antiques side of the business.
“At the upper end there are always people of taste and understanding to buy the best examples
Turkmen style is in evidence throughout the event. Another highlight is a 19th century chuval, or large woven storage bag, made by the Ersari tribe which lived on the Afghan/Persian border, which is brought by Murad Akhtar of Tribal Rugs Gallery.
On the Saturday of the fair, exhibitor Brian MacDonald will host Status, Power, Wealth and Fabulous Art, a talk on the intricate patterns and distinctive dyes that distinguish Turkmen textiles.
McDonald will also lead attendees on a tour of the fair, picking out these weaves on several stands.
Western textiles are on offer from exhibitors such as Peta Smyth, who brings a variety of European textiles from the 16th-19th centuries, including a 17th century Mortlake tapestry of Mercury and Herse.
Markus Voigt, who sells textiles from around the world, brings an example of 1580s German embroidery of Jesus and two disciples.
Attending the fair for the first time is Meg Andrews Antique Costumes & Textiles as well as London House Rugs, which has been in business for more than 40 years.
Returning after several years away is Anthony Hazledine, one of the fair’s original exhibitors.
His highlight is a pair of rare Arts & Crafts curtains, c.1910, constructed with the combination of chenille and linen, in an unusual technique.
Designed by Sidney Mawson for Alexander Morton of Darvel,
Scotland, the curtains come from Kirkton House in Montrose, where they were hung in the music room.
For textiles, as much as with any area of trading, Hazledine says “it’s the old story. There’s almost no interest across the lower and middle section but at the upper end there are always people of taste and understanding to buy the best examples.”
At LARTA, those on the hunt for such superlative examples are sure to find them at hand.