A Brief History
I have worked in the antiques world for over 40 years, born in Scotland, but brought up in the English countryside, I moved to Switzerland in the early 70’s, where I set up 4 shops selling English antiques, which in those days were the height of fashion. I returned to the U.K. in 1982, where I set up Talisman in Gillingham, Dorset in what was an Old Brewery. This ultimately became one of the most stylish stores in the West Country. At this time I also explored Sweden, initiating the interest in original 18th and 19th Century painted furniture, which morphed into a world-wide phenomenon. When I decided a move to London was on the cards, I instructed Sotheby’s to hold a one thousand LOT sale before eventually closing the Old Brewery. Famed auctioneer, Harry Dalmeny, said, “Locals are certainly going to miss the ritual Saturday lunches at Talisman where rained-off shooting parties and New York interior decorators would nearly come to blows over a Scandinavian commode or a cast-iron fountain.”
In 2006 when Talisman successfully expanded into London, I rescued an Art Deco garage on New Kings Road from demolition and created a unique and innovative space for my business. After closing the doors on decades of renowned success as Talisman Antiques in 2019, the former Talisman premises is now fondly known as “The Talisman Building”, leaving a lasting legacy of a much loved career and passion.
A collection of curiosities
Ken Bolan Studio is the next chapter for myself, set in a unique studio atmosphere in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of England. Although it won’t be a return to the Old Brewery, by appointment only, I look forward to welcoming private buyers and interior designers to visit me and my personal collection.
I am delighted to be sharing my inimitable style mixing modern and decorative pieces with rare antiques and continental furniture, sculptures and paintings. Offering affordable style with some truly unusual pieces thrown in to create an atmosphere that combines luxury with a homely feel.
I will continue to travel extensively to buy for my own interests, as well as for specific clients, sourcing pieces from Europe, Latin America, and not the least, the West Country itself. Many items will be available at online (view my collection), but personal viewing is also be available in the new, beautiful, West Country studio.
“I have to say that since I opened my first basement cellar store in Berne, Switzerland, it has been the most extraordinary journey. I was incredibly lucky to be taken under the wing of two very generous society ladies who appreciated the English style that was to become highly fashionable throughout Europe.
My entire career has been a constant exploration and it has been a total joy to discover and interpret different styles and ideas from around the world.
As good friends will be aware, my life has undergone dramatic changes over the years, culminating in meeting my life partner, Caryn Mandabach. Together we live in the most idyllic part of the West Country, surrounded by our ancient woods and natural pastures. Last year we purchased a stunning barn complex, which is where my studio is situated.
So now I have the joy of not needing to think in a commercial manner, but rather with the joy of buying things for the pleasure of discovery. It is simply wonderful to take on projects which inspire and excite me, and I am looking forward to the next adventure!”
– Ken Bolan