Punk fashion designer’s arty manifesto to go under the hammer

2nd May 2017

With a general election looming, we’re likely to hear the word ‘manifesto’ a lot in the coming weeks.

Most parties will be publishing theirs in convenient A4 size. It’s unlikely anyone will attempt to repeat Ed Miliband’s back-firing gimmick of 2015 by reproducing a copy on a 2.6m tall slab of limestone.

But one oversized manifesto is sure to attract plenty of positive attention when it goes under the hammer at a Cotswolds antiques auction in May.

A copy of Opus: Active Resistance to Propaganda – a 'manifesto' by fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood – measures a whopping 90 cms tall by 64 cms wide, and weighs a hefty 25kg – heavy reading indeed.

The 196 pages of the coffee table book – which laid flat would cover the average coffee table – are full of stunning photographs of actors and models wearing haute couture pieces, as well as portraits of Westwood herself.

And it’s packed full of her thoughts on her pet political causes including environmentalism, disarmament, and social justice.

Opus was launched at London fashion Week in 2008 as a limited edition of 900, with nine cover designs – by Westwood herself – in a run of 100 each.

Despite retailing at £1,400 a copy, it quickly sold out and became a collectors’ item.

The version going under the hammer at More Allen & Innocent in Cirencester on Friday, May 12 is from the Foreign Policy cover print run, and is expected to achieve between £500 and £800.

The red, black and white cover features anti-establishment slogans, and references government-produced populace-controlling drugs in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Westwood came to public notice when she made clothes for Malcolm McLaren's boutique in the King's Road.

It was this boutique that became the launch pad for punk band the Sex Pistols, and for the distinctive fashion that defined the punk scene in the mid 1970s.

While the Sex Pistols were spitting and swearing their way around the UK’s music venues, an Oxfordshire lyricist was beginning her own meteoric rise to fame on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks.

Now a resident of the Cotswolds, poet Pam Ayres will be one of the celebrity guests on Antiques Road Trip, an episode of which will be filmed at the saleroom on the 12th.

Pam will be competing against Geoffrey Whitehead, who plays her husband Gordon Grant in the BBC Radio 4 situation comedy Potting On.

They’ll be accompanied by antiques experts Kate Bliss and James Braxton.

Road trip runs over five consecutive days – Monday to Friday. On Day 1 each contestant is giving £200 with which to buy antiques from fairs and shops to sell at auction – hopefully for a profit.

Each day, the profit is spent on more antiques. The contestant with the biggest surplus at the end of Day Five is declared the winner.

Pam’s star lot is likely to be a stuffed bear, believed to be by the Australian toy maker Fideston, some time between 1917 and 1942.

It’s similar to a Fideston bear sold by Moore Allen for £200 several years ago. Pam’s though is more play-worn, with wear and tear to the paw pads. It carries an estimate of £100 to £150.

Pam has also bought a Mamod TE1A model steam train. In good condition, with a box, these can make hundreds of pounds. Pam’s lacks both, but should still net her £50 to £80.

Her haul also includes a Spode cornucopia-shaped vase (£5 to £10), two circa 1850 Prattware jars printed Pegwell Bay and Mending Nets (£20 to £30)and a child’s miniature tea set (£10 to £20).

Geoffrey’s hopes lie in a vintage fan-shaped Baccarat Guerlain Shalimar perfume bottle, which should make £30 to £50 – it would have been more if the original label was still attached.

He’s also found a pair of 19th century French white painted door shutters with original ironwork (£30 to £50), an Edwardian bamboo magazine rack (£30 to £50), a Victorian brass pipe tamper in the form of Napoleon (£10 to £20) and an Edwardian silver and carved mother of pearl pocket fruit knife, to be sold along with a 1904 Singer cigar cutter with mother of pearl mounts (£20 to £30).

A full auction catalogue is available at www.mooreallen.co.uk