A Modern Grand TourSPECIAL FEATURE
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A MODERN GRAND TOUR
As many good stories, this one started from an interest kindled from youth, and gradually ‘fanned’ until it became the flame you see today. James Perkins’ journey with art began at age 15 when his mother took him to a restorer’s workshop in Cheltenham, where he witnessed first hand a freshly cast bust of Apollo as it was drawn from a mould. Fast-forward several months, and that very bust would be found in the hands of a young James Perkins. His fervent need to own that bust saw him save his pocket money to fund its purchase; hence his art fixation began. This bust now sits as an inaugural piece in what has become one of the largest collections of classical plaster works to be in private ownership.
In a manner resembling the Grand Tourists of the 1800’s, Perkins’ made it his personal vigil to amass a variety of art, from classical plaster and traditional taxidermy to more ‘eccentric’ objects and architectural masterpieces. However arguably his greatest victory came in 2005, when he acquired and restored the perfect stage to showcase his collection, Aynhoe Park.
The neo-classical interiors of this grand palladian Oxfordshire home – the vision of the great Sir John Soane – provide the ideal backdrop to the theatrical display of art and artefacts that James has skilfully and imaginatively arranged around his home. Somewhat a homage to Soane, the collection housed at Aynhoe Park includes significant additions acquired from the victoria and albert museum, the metropolitan museum of art and the royal house of Hanover.
It was in October 2012 that Perkins’ decided to hold an auction with auctioneers Christie’s – aptly entitled ‘A Modern Grand tour’ – where a number of his own artworks along historical plaster collections.
Walk through the transformed space of Aynhoe estate and you get a sense of exactly what he means by that name, with a combination of historically accurate features and design coupled with objects ranging from the fantastical to the vintage. The space some how combines Unicorn and disco balls in the same space – and actually makes it work.
This coming October 2016, Perkins’ will once again be inviting the public to discover his collection, as well as the unique creations of his studio, embarking on a modern grand tour of their own, and perhaps bringing a piece of his journey home with them.