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Arts & Antiques: Under the spotlight

Our nation is brimming with talented artists and fascinating auction houses. So, we’ve put some top auctioneers and gallery owners under the spotlight and asked them for their ‘most unusual’ and ‘most expensive’ sale items. Here are some of our favourites…

David Reid
Owner of Ballater Gallery

The first part of David’s business life was largely spent buying and selling hotels, pubs and restaurants throughout the UK as a Partner with leading commercial estate agents Knight Frank and Christie & Co. He always had a passion for art and, over the years had gradually built up an interesting and varied personal collection of paintings and sculpture. When premises came up in the beautiful town of Ballater on Royal Deeside, David knew that it would make an excellent venue for a high-quality gallery selling works by many of the established artists he had become familiar with. The gallery has been open for over four years now and David has built an excellent customer base across the UK and abroad.

Most expensive
‘At the Ballater Gallery we try to cater for a wide variety of tastes and budgets and we represent some of the best contemporary artists currently living or working in the UK. Nearly all of our artists have a Scottish connection of some sort – some are native Scots, many have studied at our excellent art schools, while others have simply moved to Scotland, lured by the beauty and ever-changing weather and light conditions we have here. Painters including Jack Morrocco, Colin Fraser and Glen Scouller, who also sell their works in London and internationally, attract great interest and we recently sold a stunning Jack Morrocco to a leading Scottish collector for £57,000.’

Most unusual
‘I’ve continued to help charities with their fundraising work for some great causes, including the JEllie Foundation, which works with charities supporting children and young people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. At a recent event, we sold a magnificent deer sculpture by well-known sculptor, David Meredith. It’s a wonderful bronze of over 6ft and weighs around 175kg . The Monarch of the Glen attracted huge interest and is now resplendent in the grounds of one of the most renowned country houses in Scotland.’


Anita Manning
Managing Director of The Great Western Auctions

Anita Manning, The Great Western Auctions.

The sheer variety of objects coming to auction is always a joy for Anita. Every day presents surprises, with objects weird and wonderful as well as beautiful and rare. For the Managing Director of The Great Western Auctions, the story behind the object and its history, is always fascinating. She has chosen two very different objects with great stories and surprising results.

Most Unusual
‘Today’s market for watches is vibrant but the pre-sale interest in one of our lots, a WW2 military wristwatch, was remarkable. This Panerai Type D model 3646 military wristwatch had lain neglected in a drawer in a Glasgow house for over seventy years. These watches had been issued to German frogmen during WW2. In highly dangerous manoeuvres which required split-second timing, these demolition frogmen rode astride manned torpedoes to attach and destroy Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. Because of its rarity and history there was fierce global competition for the Panerai watch which sold for £44,000.’

Most Expensive
‘Condition can often be a factor in desirability of an item, but not always. Destined for the bonfire and riddled with woodworm, an unsigned oil sketch attributed to John William Waterhouse attracted a surprising amount of attention. This hidden treasure was rescued by our valuer Paul Howard during a house visit in Argyll. Despite the dreadful condition, it achieved £54,000.’

Sybelle Thomson
Auctioneer and Managing Director of Thomson Roddick Callan Auctioneers

Sybelle Thomson is a fifth-generation auctioneer and managing director of Thomson Roddick Callan auctioneers, who have salerooms in Ayr, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Carlisle. She has sold fascinating lots in her career, but two stick out in recent memory.

Most Unusual
‘The only gun to come to the market from HMS Bounty, the ship under the command of William Bligh and subject of the famous mutiny of 1789. The ship was burned at Pitcairn Island and this gun was gifted by the Islanders to a British captain in 1898, who brought it back to the United Kingdom. I sold it in 2018 for £17,000, after which it made its way back to Pitcairn, where it is now displayed with other relics from that famed vessel.’

Most expensive
‘In 2015 I sold a terrific collection of medals that were awarded to Bertram Sidney Thomas OBE CMG (1892 – 1950) for his outstanding work in the crossing and exploration of the Rub’ Al Khali and his extensive research in Southern Arabia as well as his OBE, CMG, WWI, WWII and important medals from the American Geographical Society, Royal Asiatic Society, Royal Geographic Society and other global societies. The collection garnered worldwide interest and the hammer fell at £29,000.’


Mark David Hatwood
Owner of The Harbour Gallery

Mark David Hatwood studied art and media at Bristol. He went on to follow his first love, music, by joining Les Gray’s Mud as drummer in 1983. He toured with them for three years before working for many well-known acts both as drummer and musical director, including The New Seekers and Johnny Hates Jazz. Returning to his artistic roots, Mark took over The Harbour Gallery in April 2012 and in four years, increased its turnover by 500%. It has forged some exciting relationships with award-winning hotels and in 2016 expanded by 150% to now exhibit over 35 artists from Cornwall, the UK and internationally.

Most Expensive
‘Every one of Ilric Shetland’s works are meticulously painted over months, creating a visual feast for everyone who is lucky enough to see their astonishing detail before they’re sold. The buyers themselves often write to say how drawn they are to them, even years later. His ‘Sea Study’ sold for around £12,000.’

Most Unusual
‘Jamel Akib is a master of colour and every single piece is unmistakably vibrant and awe inspiring. His mastery of making the ordinary specular is simply sublime. Steps down to Porthbean Beach (pictured below) sold for £1,195.’


Gavin Gardiner
Managing Director for Gavin Gardiner Auctioneers

Gavin Gardiner has over 40 years’ experience in this field. Coming from a traditional background, he was brought up with guns and shooting and has been involved with the Gun Trade from an early age. He first worked for Sotheby’s in 1982 helping with weekend viewing of a Sporting Gun auction, while still at School. From that moment he was hooked and has been involved in almost every Sotheby’s Sporting Gun auction since. His passion became a full time job in 1987 when he joined Sotheby’s initially on a one day a week assignment to the Gun Department, this soon became five days and he never looked back.

Most unusual
‘Possibly the most unusual gun that I have sold, was the “Crocodile Gun”. This was a classic 12-bore round action by Scotland’s leading gunmaker, David McKay Brown, that had been engraved by the renowned engraver Malcolm Appleby with all of the sculptural form and detail of a crocodile. The textures of crocodile skin were engraved over every detail and surface of the gun, with the crocodiles bulbous eyes forming the breaches of the barrels. It was built in 1981 and had remained unused. It sold for £40,000 at Gleneagles in 2009.’

Most expensive
‘In 1991, I was involved in the sale of the sale of King Edward VIII’s pair of Purdey sidelock ejector guns. They had been built for him while he was Prince of Wales, and he had exchanged them for another pair of guns the same weekend that he was introduced to the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Ultimately the King chose love over duty, and abdicated so he could marry, changing the course of history. This pair of guns were a unique part of that story and sold at auction in Geneva for the equivalent of £246,000 at todays exchange rate.’