The tigers, lions and elephants that strut their stuff in The Nomad’s Tent are a harmless lot – their ferocity having been harnessed for decorative ends and their forms playfully rendered across an exotic range of artefacts, from door-handles to jewellery boxes. The Nomad’s Tent has amassed a beguiling collection of animal-themed objects to complement its rather inspired exhibition title.
Sourced from India, Central Asia and Iran, and inspired by regional traditions, the objects on sale include decorative panels and statues alongside more utilitarian (yet equally good-looking) items such as inlaid cupboards and some amusing bestial doorhandles. Pride of place is afforded to traditionally-woven carpets in rich geometric patterns, featuring chunky lions or stylised, square-tailed peacocks. Yet the most charming items are often diminutive: wooden pill-boxes painted with elephants, unusual jewellery or pocket-sized metal beasts. More information about provenance would be welcome, especially given that these objects are apparently sourced directly from their countries of origin by The Nomad Tent itself. It would be interesting to know how the pieces are produced, and by whom.
This well-organised bazaar is a forest packed with friendly animals. Visitors encounter a menagerie of traditional crafts, encompassing several styles, time periods and media. Modern continuations of Mughal craftmanship rub flanks with early 20th-century antiques, including a series of wooden temple carvings. Even better, the price range means that this is truly an exhibition for everyone. Rugs are priced anywhere between £200 - £1500, but there are intrepid little animals to suit all budgets. You can pick up a reassuringly solid camel statuette for under £20, and I was sorely tempted by a leonine metal coatrack. Despite being a selling exhibition, the informative labelling and intelligent layout means that a stroll around the gallery becomes an experience in its own right. This is a treasure trove well worth investigating, whether you are a seasoned bargain-beast hunter, or just an armchair traveller in an antique land.