The Great Plains at Woolley and Wallis

30th August 2018

As part of the upcoming Tribal Art and Antiquities Sale on the 19th September, we are pleased to present The Ian West Collection of Native American Art. 

Ian Morris West was born in England in 1924. As a young boy he developed an affinity with American Indians, through adventure stories and his own interest in their history and cultures. At a young age he became a friend of Edward H. Blackmore, the foremost authority of Indians in the UK at the time and some few years later Colin Taylor, a noted scholar and collector on the same subject. They remained lifelong friends and collaborators on North American Indians, sharing knowledge, publishing books and articles, displaying their collections at exhibitions and shows across the country.

Through a lifetime of collecting, Ian became an expert in his field and amassed a sizeable collection of Indian artefacts and books covering most tribal areas in North America and Canada. His sources were varied, through auctions, junk shops and acquaintances in the Hobbyist movement across the country and the US. Ian maintained meticulous records of his finds, their provenance, materials, tribal origin etc. He wrote magazine articles on the subject and contributed to books, ultimately authoring his own, ‘Portraits of Native Americans’ in the 1990s. He was also a founding member of the English Westerners Society and the Grey Owl Society in the UK which was formed in 1981 to keep alive the tradition of conservation that Grey Owl had championed. Ian travelled extensively to the US over many years, often with Colin Taylor, invariably heading to the Great Plains where his greatest passion for Indians lay, meeting with Indians, other enthusiasts and collectors.

In 1989 he acquired, ‘The Forge’ in a small village in Sussex and was able to build a museum to house his entire collection and have it all on show. The museum was open to the public and attracted a steady patronage of visitors, including schools, researchers and other visitors from around the world. In later years Ian continued to correspond on the subject and still managed the odd find at antiques markets that he frequented regularly.

Since Ian’s death at the end of 2015, his children, Alison, Martin and Paul had looked at opportunities for the collection to be retained, perhaps in a museum or other institution but given its breadth and variety of subject matter, preferred to sell it into the collectors market.

The full sale is available to view here.

If you would like further information about the Ian West Collection, or a particular lot, please contact our Specialist Will Hobbs on +44 (0)1722 339752




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