Internationally famed Harmony Kingdom is loved and collected from the UK to the USA and now Martin Perry has embarked on his new range that is set to take the collecting world by storm. “Fragile World” has all the qualities that I would expect from a collectable item – Originality, quality and craftsmanship combined with the most important ingredient – Passion!
After leaving school at the age of 14, Martin Perry started work with his film producer Uncle as a runner, then tired of the film industry at 22, moved to Snowdonia in North Wales. He adopted a little puppy that had a natural calling for sheep herding and so, taking direction from the dog, Martin embarked on his first career move as shepherd for a local farmer. This life was very secluded, so when Martin met his wife Corinna he decided to move away from North Wales and continue as a shepherd in the lowlands near Chalford in Gloucestershire.
The next step towards Martin’s success was after he injured his back sheep shearing and had to leave his working life on the farm behind. Corinna found him a position at History Craft, a locally based company that produced antique replicas for museums. Starting off in the packing department he soon progressed to producing the replicas himself. His first piece was of a Japanese Netsuke rabbit (these being intricately carved ivories used mostly for fastening Japanese Kimonos). After over a decade at History Craft it was time to move on and Martin had ambitions to set up his own business creating the carvings that he was so passionate about.
Antiquark Limited was formed in 1989 and Martin began working from his garden shed that overlooked the Chalford hillsides. He created Netsukes, animal piles (animals stacked on top of each other) and the box figurines, which are now known to collectors as Treasure Jests. The idea was to earn enough money to support his family by selling his creations at the markets and at this time he was totally unaware of just how sought after his products were about to become.
It was in 1994 that the Harmony Ball Company in the USA placed the first large order for Martin’s boxes. Noel and Lisa of HBC had seen his work at the Frankfurt Gift Fair and were keen to sell them on to shops in America. This was to be the first major step towards the company Harmony Kingdom as we know and love it today. By the end of 1994 Martin realised that he could not continue with the demand for his boxes from the garden shed and so moved the company into Griffin Mill where one third of a floor was rented out. It did not take long before the company took over the whole mill and brought the casting in-house.
Peter Calvesbert had been working for Martin since 1990 as a master carver and by 1995 was joined by David Lawrence. This proved to be the turning point for the company as they were about to unwittingly embark into the world of collectables.
Noel Wiggins of HBC met Paul Osnain at an international gift fair who immediately took an interest in Antiquark’s products. He explained how these products would be better marketed as a collectable and that some should be discontinued and newer designs introduced. Noel and Lisa put their heads together and came up with the name “Harm ony Kingdom”; the same year they introduced their first limited edition piece and produced the first HK catalogue.
Martin Perry cannot believe how rapidly the company grew and says “It seems extraordinary to me that I can be a one-man business in my shed one day, and the next day a creator of fine collectables sold throughout the world”.
Harmony Kingdom has been at the heart of the collectable world for over nine years now and there are no signs of it ever being any different as they constantly bring out new ranges and continually come up with innovative ideas. This year sees many new releases such as “Gift Wrapped” a time edition by Peter Calvesbert in the Holiday range, “Sateen” by David Winter, which is part of the Tapestry range and “A Bird in the Hand” which is a small Treasure Jest again by the artist Peter Calvesbert.
It does not all stop at Harmony Kingdom. Martin has been especially busy this year and has just launched his brand new collectable range that is already a sell out success.
“Fragile World” is the hottest thing to hit the collectables market in a long time. Working with his team of skilled artists, Martin envisaged a product that could be created with passion but was also meaningful to all involved. It became apparent that the whole team had a great love for animals and the worrying thought that the world they live in is being destroyed by so called human progress. When questioned on the name of his new range Martin’s reply was “I love the name “Fragile World”, it is the first time I have ever arrived at a name with flags flying rather than settled for one out of frustration and fatigue. I knew it was right the moment it was uttered, Corinna, my wife said it first”
Each piece is solid and has a high gloss cold enamel finish with gives the effect of feeling and looking like porcelain. The team of artists under the Fragile World umbrella include Peter Calvesbert, David Winter, David Lawrence and Monique Baldwin who all have a huge following in their own right – This adds the extra kudos to the creation of the wonderful creatures in “Fragile World”.
Each piece comes with it’s own unique, encapsulated certificate of authenticity and a great deal of attention has been paid to the packaging. Edition sizes are small with currently just 250 of each style produced – Martin explains that “The first real challenge for Fragile World will be to see whether or not we can successfully place 100 editions a year. This can never be a collectable for so-called completists. The idea that with editions of 250 we simply gather up 250 collectors and then they all buy 100 pieces a year is never going to happen, and we don’t want that to happen. So this is the challenge over the next few years: how to get the pieces out to a much wider audience when there are so few in circulation”.
The new and exciting range from Martin Perry Studios allows people to collect certain artists or concentrate on one particular animal. You do not feel like you have to purchase every one that is released, in fact I would have thought that it is impossible to collect everyone, as there are so many available. You can collect the colourful fish designs, all the frog pieces or perhaps the more wacky, innovative creations.
I believe that Harmony Kingdom and Fragile World owe much of their success to the Martin Perry Studios team having so much passion about what they create. If there is passion in the p roduct then it will shine through and touch the collector, so that they also can be passionate about the items that they buy. This is why Harmony Kingdom is one of our most successful British products and I have no doubt that Fragile World is going to have exactly the same effect and bring a lot of joy to those in the collecting world.
For information on Fragile World please contact Nick Dangar on 01453 885722
3-4 Nelson Road
The Clothes Rail
Tel: 01527 579500