Willem Dolphyn

Passing the time with Willem Dolphyn

A trip to Antwerp is always a highlight for me and particularly so last weekend.

The city was buzzing with students starting term and up to high jinks the last tourists were taking in the Autumn colours and Gladwell & Patterson were visiting Willem in his studio.

He has an amazing set of rooms with wonderful northern light falling onto his easel. Willem has painted here for fifty years. The floor is splattered with paint, almost a composition in itself. In front of him folded high are the embroidered tapestries and silks, shining gold threads glint in the light.  The rich, baroque fabrics which underpin many of his large canvases.

Shelves and cupboards are packed full of the treasure trove that go into his compositions.  The earthenware jugs, ewers, cups and silver vessels shine out waiting for their next selection by his artistic eye. The room is hard to take in through one visit, almost too staggering in how a passion for collecting and accumulating can take up a space. Of course when it comes to rendering those objects into stunning still life painting, Willem knows where each and every valued item can be located.

His most recent noble works were finished for collection to join those of his son in the gallery ready for their upcoming exhibition; “On Top of the World.”  The show previews on 13 November and closes on 28 November.

Of course no visit to Belgium is complete without taking some time to enjoy a good beer. Several “pinchers” down and my friend Robin was taking on some flights of whisky to taste. (I suppose we were in the Highlander bar and he is Scottish!) Later at dinner that night we put together a comprehensive guest list for the Dolphyn preview evening on 13 November which included amongst many other people Tina Turner, Helen Baxendale and Kate Bush. Willem certainly has a famous following.

The visit also meant we had time to also see Ronny Moortgat and visit Pieter Wagemans in his studio. A wonderful collection of floral paintings are being prepared for the gallery and a few have returned for valued clients to preview. (More on this next week!)

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