Lawrie Gatehouse (1943 - 2020)
was an avid collector of Art Deco and posters, drawn to the printed medium through his primary love of the golden age of steam and travel.
In his professional life, Lawrie was a mechanical engineer who founded Process Systems International, a successful engineering firm in Northampton in 1992. Another of his lifelong passions was drag racing, after getting hooked at the Blackbushe DragFest in 1964. He consequently spent over 50 years committed to the sport.
He loved the innovative streamlined style, the bright colours and the flamboyance of the age. But, above all, he admired the skill and exquisite craftsmanship - the like of which he felt would not be seen again.
Lawrie’s collection of 1920’s posters showed his engineering background and his enjoyment of travel. He had an extensive knowledge of cars, boats and planes but his love for anything with an engine came second to his love of Art Deco.
Lawrie was an avid reader and he studied countless books about the leading designers of that time.
was originally founded in East London by Polish immigrants in the 1890s. The firm passed to brothers Harry and Lou Epstein and the pair turned their attention to the production of Art Deco forms from the 1930s until the 1950s.
Finished to high standards, most pieces were custom-made in veneers of burr maple, sycamore or walnut. The design of the famous ‘cloud’ seat furniture is credited to Epstein and the company also popularized the uniquely British taste in suite furniture.
Following World War II, Epstein had showrooms in London, Manchester and Glasgow. A conservative Art Deco style became the company`s trademark after the war and most pieces were made from bleached walnut. Art Deco pieces are not signed.
From the 1960s, some pieces were labelled ‘H. & L. Epstein’ or ‘Epstein & Goldman’.
Art Deco or Deco,
is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s.
It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Ageimagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation.
Deco emerged from the Interwar period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau.
Historian Bevis Hillier defined Art Deco as "an assertively modern style...[that] ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material...[and] the requirements of mass production".
During its heyday Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.