Alison Davey of AD Antiques on BADAs IWD 2016 Initiative

Posted: 2016-03-08 16:46:12

To mark International Women’s Day 2016, BADA is backing IWD 2016’s #PledgeForParity and celebrating women who have successfully challenged gender stereo types in the traditionally male dominated environment of fine art and antiques.

We continue our initiative today with the inspirational story of Alison Davey, specialist in British Art Pottery and founder of AD Antiques.

Raised near Stoke on Trent, Alison was surrounded by ceramics from an early age and attended antique fairs with her parents, who were avid collectors of fine art. She qualified with an MA from Edinburgh University in the early 1990s and practiced as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in Edinburgh Prison, undertaking risk assessments and interventions with long term prisoners.

It was during her time at Edinburgh Prison that Alison took her first steps in the antiques industry, as she explained: “I was given the contents of my Uncle’s loft to sell at my first car boot sale, to raise a little capital to furnish my flat. I was very fortunate that my uncle’s loft had rich pickings and my stall was obliterated within minutes.

“Instead of furnishing my flat I used the money to buy new stock from local auctions and used my annual leave, for several years, to tour the country standing at the Showground Fairs and sleeping in the back of my van. Starting from scratch in the industry isn’t for the feint hearted!

“I have always been very proud of being a woman in the trade although at times I have been viewed with intrigue, suspicion and at times disregarded.”

Having formed AD Antiques in 1997, Alison soon made the step up from Showground Fairs to the Vetted Fair Circuit, simultaneously helping to establishing herself and the contemporary British Art Pottery style within in the more traditional environment of the Antique Show.

Expansion brought its own problems though as single mother Alison explained: “There are very few women with young children in the trade as the anti-social hours (ranging from 5am set-ups at the trade fairs to the 10 day long-hauls of the luxury fairs) means that it is incredibly difficult to be a mum and an antiques dealer.

“As a single parent this is all the more acute and I don’t think I know of any other woman in the business who works alone as a single parent.

“Finding childcare to cover weekends, long periods away from home, or last minute trips to auctions where a very early start is required, can be very problematic and expensive. Several times I have been standing at a fair and my childcare has phoned in sick and I have had to lock my cabinets, abandon my stand for several days and head home to be a mummy.”

Alison believes that the fine art and antique community needs to adapt to provide more opportunity for women to succeed and is hopeful that things are moving in the right direction, she continued: “The industry has a responsibility to make the trade more accessible to women and work to address some of the practical challenges that prevents women from entering the industry.”

“Hopefully when finances, knowledge and opportunity allows, we will see more young women developing their academic and specialised interests in the more formal antiques industry, whilst still maintaining their flare and eye for design that the more formal antiques industry needs.”

Over her 20 years in the business, Alison has vetted at many of the country’s leading fairs as well as consulting for Museums, Auction Houses, television shows and publications such as American Vogue.

A BADA member since 2009, she has also diversified into Contemporary Ceramic Design, having founded Signed and Designed, a company which represents exceptional ceramicists. With all that success, what has been the greatest achievement of Alison’s career to date? She said: “I have had many little personal achievements, but it’s more the process that I am proud of.

“Building up a company on my own from scratch with no formal training in the field, no family business to take over or family money, pension pot or partners income to fall back on, makes me a rather unusual figure in the business and has kept me hungry for 20 years. Metaphorically and sometimes physically!”

AD Antiques will be exhibiting at BADA Fair March 9-15

For more information, on International Women’s Day 2016 visit www.internationalwomensday.com

For more information on Alison Davey and AD Antiques, visit www.adantiques.com

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