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Lyon & Turnbull newcomer Alex Tweedy notes how “the vast majority of African and Oceanic art was produced by now anonymous artists”.

“We will never know the names of so many masters who produced some of the great works of the field,” he adds. So when he found himself on the small Pacific island of Ambrym, as you do, it was a pleasant surprise to put a name to a “remarkable hardwood atata club originating from the island, by repute, carved in the village of Neuwa”.

“After an arduous journey, I finally arrived in Neuwa,” says Tweedy. “I made my introductions and was introduced to the chief. On showing him pictures of the club, imagine my surprise when he smiled and told me that the club was undoubtedly the work of his own grandfather.

“He explained to me that he had died decades ago, but that his name was Raymond and he had been a skilled and respected carver.”

Tweedy lived and travelled widely in west and central Africa and the South Pacific for a number of years, but his latest connection nearer to home is due to running L&T’s new dedicated auctions of African & Oceanic Art and Antiquities as consultant specialist, with the inaugural sale on March 22.

Two sales a year

L&T will hold two auctions a year in this category, in the spring and autumn. Highlights can be viewed in the London gallery before the sales in Edinburgh.

“This fascinating market has seen considerable growth over the last few years, attracting increasing numbers of prominent collectors and interior designers,” says Tweedy, who has also worked with the dealers ArtAncient and Clive Loveless.

African & Oceanic Art and Antiquities is a new department at L&T, which is based in Edinburgh with branches in Glasgow and London – the London showroom was opened in September last year (see ATG No 2306).

L&T will now run 30 specialist auctions this year. Managing director Gavin Strang tells ATG: “We felt that this increasingly popular field was an area which merited an additional level of attention and investment.

“African and Oceanic Art and Classical Antiquities sit quite well together and also fit in with the modern interior. Alongside other popular categories such as modern and contemporary art and design, we felt it was beholden on us at Lyon & Turnbull to present these artefacts properly and give them the extra attention we feel they deserve.”