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The Conservatory, Antiquities and Eccentricities, The Drive, Hove. July 15th 2011

I find the Conservatory on the Drive in Hove fascinating. I've often cycled past the honour guard of animal replicas and thought "I really must go in there".
When I needed life size animal models for a recent photo shoot, I finally did, and met the engaging proprietor Mick who did a wonderful job on our shoot as chief animal wrangler.
Later, Mick was kind enough to let me return and go on a little photo safari around his wonderfully quirky shop. I was met at the entrance by Betty Boop, enshrined and reflecting on a vanity table guarded by lamp wielding Egyptian priestesses, a silver edged hot pink velour chaise loungue at her feet and the glittering of thousands of crystals from the forest of chandeliers above her head. So many beautiful, weird and wonderful artefacts are arrayed in this glass conservatory that it seems almost magic, as if one has developed 360 degree vision, full as it is of light and the reflection from hundreds of mirrors and crystals. Delicate art deco bather figurines whimsically share a gorgeous glass table top with a great open mouthed alligator whilst a mad Mexican with fearfully [real] hairy moustaches faces down a classical silvered male torso. And then there are the animals, whose facial expressions never fail to amuse - my favourite being the little piggy with a blissed out smile who I dubbed Buddha - never mind the sheer size of some of them like the gorgeous gorilla and life size cow. The airy curlicues of the wrought iron gazebos and wonderful range of colours in the metal garden furniture make me momentarily regret not having a garden. Then there are all the little details from door knockers to bells, weather vanes to sharks heads, the frog boot scraper, the roaring bronze lion head which shares a bench with a beautifully verdigris laughing buddha… It is a home and garden designers Aladdin's cave, from the neon harlequin colours of the 'shabby chic' silver gilt arm chairs and distressed armoires, through delicate bronze and china figurines, the whimsical leg lifting scotty dog, through to great mirrors, lamps and chandeliers, gorillas and gazebos. Whimsy, nostalgia, fantasy, and humour it may be, but also seriously good stuff. Remarkably affordable, I defy you to go and not come away with something you just can't live without. Meanwhile I'm just making a little niche for Buddha the pig to sit in;-}
And as happened whilst I was there the reply to that thorny question was answered
"Do you Deliver?…" asked a prospective customer
" I can do that for you" replies Mick
"..to Wales?" his prospective customer continued!
Unflappable Mick says "Of course that can be arranged".
I have a feeling that Mick is a bit of a Buddha himself on the quiet!

The Conservatory is on The Drive, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3PN, and is open 5 days a week [Wed - Sunday]
For more information you can phone or email Mick on 01273 820200 [email protected]

All photos ©Julia Claxton. Copies can be purchased for personal use through this website. For press and commercial use, and all other enquiries or to commission photographs please use the contact page to get in touch.
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