CHARLIE ROPER: JEWELLERY FOR THE HOME



THERE’S A FAMOUS STORY of a woman who approached Picasso in a restaurant, asked him to scribble something on a napkin, and said she would be happy to pay whatever he felt it was worth. Picasso complied and then said, “That will be $10,000.” “But you did that in thirty seconds,” the astonished woman replied. “No,” Picasso said, “It has taken me forty years to do that.” The same principle could be said of almost all painters, designers, writers… the value of the work they produce today is based on the culmination of years of trial and error, personal ups and downs, frustration and heartache – the spiritual path of a true artisan, which leads us to our next subject…


After studying garden design and taking a foundation course in architecture, Charlie Roper became a successful property developer, first working on family owned building and refurbishment projects in South Africa then undertaking his own in New York and the central London areas of Knightsbridge and Chelsea. Over the years, his extraordinary attention to the most minute details of his projects led him to create bespoke pieces to furnish his properties – artworks now considered to be ‘jewellery for the home’. Charlie’s work has been inspired by a combination of travel, history, contemporary art, music and his own spiritual journey that led him to the personal depths and back. His most recent pieces are two drawn stretched glass mirrors titled ‘Day & Night’ which are framed by quartz crystals mounted in a casing of sterling silver and backlit from within. In this conversation, Charlie gives an insight into his work and inspirations…



C&B: “Charlie, what first inspired you to create the mirrors?”

CR: “I was remodelling a home in Chelsea, London and was mixing the styles of Georgian and Deco. I’d recently been to see a Stubbs exhibition at The National Gallery and, in particular, the William Kent frame on one of my favourite paintings ‘Whistlejacket’ took my fancy. Somehow, in my mind I combined the two styles and came up with what I’d call a ‘deco take’ on a Kent frame – overly exaggerating the corners. The prototype mirrors were a much simpler version of what I’ve created today, with no silver embellishments or lit crystal quartz, but they worked well as a form. After a stint in rehab, and a difficult time adjusting to a new perspective on life, I was very much looking into alternative healing and it was only natural that my gaze took me to the beauty of crystals – I do believe they have healing properties, but they are also such fascinating and beautiful objects – I had to use them. To me it seemed only logical that by backlighting crystal I would be amplifying their energetic and healing properties…”



C&B: “What makes your mirrors particularly unique and classifies them as investment pieces?”

CR: “The combination of bold lines, the subtle distortion of the reflection created by using the highest quality materials and the fact that they are self lit, I believe, sets them apart. I’m combining art with function and I like to think of my mirrors as ‘Jewellery for the Home’. If you’re a ‘believer’ too, then you’re going to get one hell of a vibrational kick from these pieces! Each pair is unique and I emphasise this by personally signing and numbering each piece on an inlaid silver plaque together with the collector’s name…”



C&B: “What materials do you use to produce the mirrors?”

CR: “I wanted these mirrors to exude luxury, glamour and beauty. Searching high and low for quality handmade antiqued glass, I came across Dominic Schuster and on seeing his portfolio, I took a shine to what he calls a ‘drawn stretched’ glass. It beautifully distorts the reflection, adding a subtlety to the light. I thought the contrast of this glass, with the bold lines of a silver deco style frame, would be a beautiful combination. With a strong trend in the art and design world for producing oversized pictures and statement pieces, I had long been thinking of lighting my pieces from within, and obviously therefore, to be diffused by crystals. For this pair of mirrors, I chose a natural clear quartz to enhance spiritual receptiveness; it does also emit a stunning and romantic quality of light…”


C&B: “How long did it take to create Day & Night?”

CR: “I work only with the finest craftsmen in their field and, with these two being the first pieces combining the backlit quartz into the mirror, they took a good year and a half from drawing board to completion. Certainly each and every element had its own set of challenges; the scale of the pieces added numerous obstacles that were overcome purely through perseverance and a lot of patience… quartz, in particular, due to it’s density and propensity to shatter proved to be very challenging indeed;  I’m unaware of anyone else using it in its natural form in this way. The entire process was a steep learning curve for me but I am confident that I can now produce bespoke pieces within a six month time frame…”


C&B: “You can create special pieces to the precise specification of the client?”

CR: “Absolutely; I think it’s only natural that “one of a kind’ pairs such as these mirrors reflect the whims and characters of their owners. I think the production should be a collaboration of sorts, in which I fulfil the clients requirements and get to know which materials they are drawn to and then create a work around that. I’m currently working on a portfolio of mirrors and tables for which the materials can be interchanged so that each pair has its own unique characteristics. With luxury items such as these the sky’s the limit according to the specified materials and I’d welcome any challenge when it comes to creating a bespoke piece…”


C&B: “Are your pieces produced in London?”

CR: “Currently, I work from wherever I am…due to the artisanal nature of these pieces they require individual craftsmen who have their own specialist equipment in their own workshops. However, at some point I think it would be an organic progression to have a London based studio where I can meet clients to display my portfolio alongside the precious metals and crystals that can be used in each piece…”


C&B: “What’s the profile of your typical client and where do you visualise your recent work being installed?”

CR: “My artworks are extremely costly to create and therefore Im aiming to attract a very discerning investors such private collectors through to museums, galleries and hoteliers. Personally, I believe these particular pieces, ‘Day & Night’, would best compliment a tasteful and beautiful private residence, a super-yacht or the grand entrance to a luxury hotel or spa resort…”



C&B: “Do cultural factors inspire you and your work i.e. travel, music, art and the day-to-day?”

CR: “In my era of recovery I’ve become somewhat of a hermit in the evenings when I’m not working. I love good cooking and, if I do go out, it tends to be a decision made solely around food. This did get a little bit more challenging when, as part of my spiritual journey, I also decided to give up meat…now I’m generally at my most relaxed curled up with my dogs on the sofa. When it comes to travel, Egypt would have to be top of the list, to date. I was blown over by the sheer scale and proportion of sites I visited on a trip to Egypt some two and a half years ago. It beggars belief to see what an ancient civilisation could build, and, in my mind it questions the true timeline of our history and knowledge of our ancestors. Alongside such gargantuan monoliths there is also such attention to alignment and detail. These people were way more sophisticated and knew far more about the cosmos and energy fields than they’ve been given credit for; truly astounding. It’s definitely high on my priority list to visit the likes of Machu Picchu and Gobekli Tepe, where I’m sure more inspiration will follow. I also spend much of my time in South Africa where I’m regularly on the hunt for crystals…”


C&B: “Which genre of music do you listen to when you’re working?”

CR: “My taste in music is very mood dependent. Some days I love to listen to good heart wrenching ballads by, say, Annie Lennox… you might find me chilling to Ella Fitzgerald or seeing if I can still Vogue to Madonna – these mirrors are, after all, extremely flattering and youth giving…”



CR: “On art, my all time favourite artist from a young age has to be Caravaggio – I do admire his work and am intrigued with his personal life, and of course, the prolific use of chiaroscuro in his paintings; I’ve always liked the fact that behind every one of his paintings there is also another story… Modern artists such as Jeff Koons, Grayson Perry and Anish Kapoor tickle my fancy; my own home is an eclectic mix of pieces that have caught my varying moods on my travels so they remind me of a certain time in my life and what journey I was on. As with the pieces I produce, I like art to speak to me…” CHARLIE ROPER


CHARLIE’S INSPIRATIONS:


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ‘Whistlejacket’ by Stubbs; a detail from a Charlie Roper mirror; Annie Lennox; art by Jeff Koons In Venezia; Ella Fitzgerald; stretched mirror sample by Dominic Schuster; quartz crystal; piece by Anish Kapoor.


SPEC: The ‘DAY & NIGHT’ artworks each consist of three frames of Sterling silver, 40 x hand polished pieces of natural crystal quartz, backlit by LED lighting controlled by a remote dimmer. The drawn mirrored glass subtly distorts the reflection and offers a warm and romantic characteristic. The mirrors are a limited edition of two, sold separately or as a pair. Dimensions: 1400mm (h) x 1200mm (w) x 85mm (d)


CONTACT CHARLIE ROPER: info@charlieroperdesign.com

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