Annual Antiques Forum to feature behind-the-scenes tour of craftsmen
Published 12:04 am Sunday, October 25, 2015
Hidden throughout Natchez are clues that point to the city’s past.
These clues take the form of a meticulous carving engraved in an antique armchair or the distinct pattern adorning curtains inside an antebellum mansion.
“They’re everywhere,” said Marsha Colson, chairman of this year’s Natchez Antiques Forum, which begins Thursday, Nov. 5.
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The annual forum, Colson said, is meant to spotlight local antiques and their importance in telling Natchez’s cultural story.
Proceeds from the forum benefit the restoration of Stanton Hall and maintenance of Longwood, both owned by the Pilgrimage Garden Club,which supports the club’s charitable arm — the Pilgrimage Historical Association — in hosting gthe forum.
The theme of this year’s forum is “At Home and Abroad: Natchezians on the Grand Tour.”
“It will largely focus on how European influences affected our local tastes and culture,” Colson said.
The Grand Tour, Colson said, refers to a tradition that began centuries ago in Europe in which young-upper class men would be exposed to European art, history and culture through taking a tour of the continent.
“For a soon-to-be educated young person with financial means, it was considered something very important for them to go on,” Colson said.
As the Grand Tour gained popularity globally, Americans began traveling overseas to take the tour too, Colson said.
The forum will specifically spotlight Natchez’s involvement in the European tradition.
Several speakers, including Natchezians and visiting experts, will give lectures during the forum about Natchez’s involvement in the Grand Tour.
Some lecture topics include “A Leisurely Affair: Natchezians and the Grand Tour,” “A Feel for Marble: Collecting Sculpture on the Grand Tour” and “From Manchester to Montgomery: A Textile Conservator’s Journey from the U.K. to the U.S.”
All forum lectures will be hosted at the Hotel Vue, located at 130 John R. Junkin Drive.
Colson said in years past, the forum would feature a tour of Natchez’s most opulent historic houses.
This year, however, Colson said participants would get a behind-the-scenes look into three local artisans’ workshops instead.
On the last day of the forum — Saturday, Nov. 7 — participants will get to tour the workshops of craft smiths Richard Branyan, Adam Gwin and Steve Huber.
Gwin, who restores antique furniture and also builds reproduction pieces, said an appreciation for antiques and understanding Natchez’s history often go hand in hand.
“The thing I like about antiques is the connection I feel with the past when I work on them,” Gwin said.” It’s that connection that helps me as I restore period antiques. It’s an integral part in what I do.”
Colson said those who attend the forum could expect a full itinerary of educational opportunities — all geared toward telling Natchez’s rich cultural history through appreciation of antiques.
“(The antiques) are beautiful, and so is the history behind them,” she said.
Tickets for the full three-day forum cost $275 per person. Tickets for individual days and specific events are also available.
Registration information and a full schedule can be found at natchezantiquesforum.org.