Robert Kime : The Personal Collection

"Robert spoke to us of balance. He very naturally put something very good next to something less good. He said they “helped” one another. "

Orlando Atty, MD at Robert Kime shares some personal recollections of working with Robert, ahead of the sale "Robert Kime: The Personal Collection" at Dreweatts, October 2023

"Robert used to come into the shop at Museum Street, pick up the new sale catalogues that piled up each day on my desk, sit down in a chair and start making plans about what he might buy. But one day, about eight years ago, he came in, handed me a catalogue and said, 'You do it'. To be honest, I can’t even remember which sale it was. But being asked to select what I liked, what I thought we might buy, to sell (or to keep), is something I remember very clearly. I sat down and began to turn the pages. A bit self-consciously at first I am sure, but I suppose I found a rhythm, marking various things that I liked, that appealed to me, that drew an interest. When I had finished, I handed the catalogue back to him. He opened it, read through my markings and said in his quiet unassuming way, 'Well done'. I felt a mixture of relief and also of being somehow in sync, of getting it. Realising that, amongst all else, Robert had been (and would continue to be) a teacher. If you asked him the right questions, he gave you the right answers. They were lessons by way of explanation and built a trust to discover.

Robert spoke to us of balance too. He very naturally put something very good next to something less good. He said they “helped” one another. 

This approach has become something so associated with Robert and so deeply embedded in how we worked together. But it was also a leap of the mind. He was constantly assessing what he was looking at, what he knew, and importantly, what he did not know, but might be keen to know more about. Robert’s approach to shopping for objects was very much built around finding these interesting things amongst, often, many that he found less interesting. We would speed race fairs; his eye was that quick. We’d stop each other, to discuss this or that, but there was no dawdling. He’d buy what he’d have in his own house, always, and we never wavered in that. He believed and taught us that coming into the shop should feel like being in a house, full of fascinating and wonderful things and with simple well-made things too. 

Everything has a place and a story. This sale, representing a lifetime of collecting, is made up of individual places each with their own stories and meaning to Robert. But they also represent, en masse, his belief in how a room was created. Sometimes he would buy something and it would spend a bit of time at his house, before he brought it to the shop to be sold. Sometimes he might sell something directly from his sitting room. Robert believed that he might buy something, sell it and then buy it back again, as happened recently with a painting of Stonehenge. 

But he had a long view too. Things he would never sell as they moved with him, from house to house and from room to room. They’ll go now too, off to new homes with his story of genuine passion and interest in them attached. And we’ll go on too, with all he taught us and explained to us and helped us to understand. But he leaves us, maybe with his greatest gift, an enthusiasm for the things around us, and the things still to find. "

Excerpted from the catalogue, published by Dreweatts, Robert Kime: The Personal Collection, September 2023

Read more - Robert Kime : The Personal Collection at Dreweatts, Donnington Priory on October 4th, 5th and 6th 2023.