Angela Legge of Legge Oriental Carpets on BADAs Inspiring Women Initiative

Posted: 2016-03-11 12:43:05 - Last updated: 2016-03-11 12:43:35

BADA is supporting IWD 2016’s #PledgeForParity campaign and Women’s History Month by celebrating inspiring women who have successfully challenged gender stereotypes in the traditionally male dominated environment of fine art and antiques.

We continue our initiative today with the story of Angela Legge, European and Oriental Carpet and textiles specialist and partner in Oxford based company Legge Carpets.

In her own words, Angela, “always had a liking for colour and bold design statements, so carpets were obviously part of that attraction of working in the fine art and antique industry. However, to start with, this didn’t feature as a career choice.”

Angela trained and worked for many years as a teacher at various grammar schools in her native Germany, and was instrumental in setting up bilingual teaching in the state where she lived.

She also became involved in teacher training, government work and the publication of teaching materials.

That early experience in education and publishing helped Angela develop skills she would later apply in the antiques trade, as she explained, “My work was in areas of expertise very much connected with communication, which is a large part of what I am doing now. Although, it wasn’t until I moved country in 2000, after the birth of my daughter, that I became involved in the carpet business.”

Angela admits that establishing herself in the antiques trade was a challenging process, she explained: “I am a confident, professional woman with a lot of experience, and I join an utterly sexist, i.e. male-dominated world, where I was widely seen (if at all) as the P.A., at best.

“How do you cope with that? Perseverance, among other things, gritting your teeth, sometimes answering rudeness with a very firm no-nonsense approach (still required occasionally, even after all these years), appearing as one of the decision-makers in a public context.”

After 16 in the industry, Angela believes her relationship with husband and business partner Christopher has been the key to Legge Carpets continued success, she continued, “Whilst there are more women dealing in textiles, which is something we do as well, women in carpets are extremely rare, it’s a man’s world. It’s been great that Christopher is such a confident man that he didn’t feel threatened by the woman at his side – we make a good team.”

“This is one of the reasons why we work so well together: mutual respect, and the fact that we bring very different things to the business. Any business and any industry will profit greatly from a more gender-balanced approach to working. In our case, for instance, I am the better communicator.”

Having built up a thriving client base of private collectors, interior designers and leading institutions, we asked Angela what element of the business has brought her the most satisfaction, she explained, “When we set up our stand at a fair and make it look good, when we manage to make the exhibits ‘talk to each other’, creating a space for art that people respond to – those are times when you feel you have achieved something.”

Finally, when asked what advice she would give to the next generation of women entering the fine art and antiques community Angela said: “Go for it, or in Jackie Ashley’s words: This Girl Can!”

Legge Carpets are currently exhibiting at BADA Fair until March 15

For more information on #PledgeForParity visit www.internationalwomensday.com

For more information on Angela Legge and Legge Carpets visit www.christopherleggeorientalcarpets.com

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