Artist Paul ventures into the antiques trade
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
FROM set designing for Strictly Come Dancing to setting up his own contemporary antiques shop, award-winning artist Paul Helliwell’s career path is as eclectic as the object d’art he now sells at Antiques Affair.
Brightly painted fairground paraphernalia, including a Dragon Chariot from a 1930s Speedwell ride [the precursor to the Waltzers] definitely draws attention at the newly-opened shop at 51 The Bank, in Barnard Castle.
Modernist paintings and elaborate mirrors sit comfortably alongside collectible automaton toys and once plush Victorian nursing chairs with just the right amount of theatrical flair.
Mr Helliwell, from Darlington, said: “It’s my first foray into antiques, but as an artist I have always been interested in fine art objects. I’m keen to encourage people to be brave about their choices of antiques.”
He decided to “take the plunge” and open the shop after being made redundant from Northumbria University, earlier in the year.
He added: “My background is fine art and when I got made redundant the shop became available.
“The way I see the items here in the shop are as a curated collection.
“The pieces here are ones I like and I want to show people it’s possible for items to form a dialogue.
“For example, placing a 17th century chair alongside a modernist painting or mid-century bookcase, rather than just recreating an accurate period interior.”
The overall look in the shop is complemented with pieces from a fellow antiques collector, who specialises in Bob Jefferson ceramics.
“The pieces from Eva just soften the more brutalist items I have,” he added.
Prior to teaching Mr Helliwell spent a number of years in the television industry.
He said: “I spent 15 years in television doing sets and scenery designs.
“I was with Strictly Come Dancing from the start and did things from sitcoms like Little Britain as well as Big Brother. As an artist you realise early on you need to do things to survive and that was one of them.
“I’ve had such brilliant responses from everyone since I opened and Barnard Castle does have a wealth of antiques and craft shops that represent a broad spectrum of interests. I hope Antiques Affair can contribute and further enrich this already vibrant hub.”