The award-winning British jewellery designer describes the stories behind the favourite pieces from her personal art collection.
Entrepreneur Annoushka Ducas is known for launching two successful jewellery brands: Links of London and Annoushka. She also has an eclectic art collection, from Russian Impressionist pieces she inherited from her grandfather, to modern British works that she and her husband have bought (John Piper, Peter Blake, Craigie Aitchison and YBA artists such as Gavin Turk), as well as large sculptures that she keeps in the garden.
Gazing Woman by Colin Self
Gazing Woman is one of a number of works I have by Colin Self. Colin is now something of a recluse, but in the 1960s he was part of the Pop Art movement. I met Colin in 2008 when the Pallant House Gallery showcased a fantastic retrospective of his work called ‘Art in the Nuclear Age’.
He draws beautifully, pressing hard onto the paper and heavily reworking each part of the image. His highly personal and distinctive style of drawing led the artist Richard Hamilton to call him “the best draughtsman in England since William Blake”. I love images of strong, contemplative women and I was drawn to the elegance and intensity of Gazing Woman.
Hammerhead by Tony Cragg
My husband John Ayton visited Tony Cragg’s studio and sculpture park in 2015 in Wuppertal. Cragg has lived in Germany since 1977, and I find his perspective on the UK, as both outsider and insider, intriguing.
I love the muscular form and the texture of this piece. It’s made from corten steel, and sits in our house in London, too heavy to move. I like to think that it has taken root.
Large Red Fright Wig by Gavin Turk
Gavin Turk studied at the Slade with my sister-in-law Susan Ayton and is a friend. This is a large piece, 2 x 2m, and is an early work in his ‘After Warhol’ series. I bought the work from a Christie’s sale, bidding online late at night from Dubai where I was on business.
Over the last three decades, Turk has relentlessly challenged notions of value, authorship and identity in his work, confidently referencing both modern masters and himself. This is him posing in Andy Warhol’s famous wig. I love its boldness, vibrancy and wit.
Tattooed Man by Peter Blake
John gave me this watercolour painting by Peter Blake for my 50th birthday. It was exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery London in late 2015 as part of a series of tattooed men and women.
I have always loved Blake’s portraits, in particular, the Tate’s Self-Portrait with Badges, 1961, and for this series Blake returned to habitual themes. The colourful, heavily inked body art features the crucifixion.
When I visited Blake’s studio, we discussed collaborating. Sadly, nothing has yet materialised, but I can picture a fabulous Annoushka X Peter Blake charm bracelet.
Trust by Anna Gillespie
John and I bought this work to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in 2015 when we saw it exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show. It now stands (at nearly 2m tall) in the walled garden in our house in West Sussex. It is of a father and child, each of them holding and being held, and I love its tenderness and reciprocity. We have four children (now all grown-up) and it reminds me of the trust and physicality of those early child-rearing years.
The figures are formed from bronze acorns, which also struck a chord with me. My jewellery design is heavily influenced by nature, and I love the fusion of the human and natural forms. My acorns are rather more bling — fashioned from 18-carat yellow gold and white diamonds — but their consonance with the wearer is every bit as beguiling.
Two Horses and Jockeys by Emmanuel Frémiet
I was brought up around horses. My mother trained point-to-pointers from our farm in Kent. Her sudden death when I was 22 was devastating. This sculpture reminds me of her, and of her life.
I love the litheness and the inter-connectedness of the horses and riders. It sits by the window in my drawing room in West Sussex. I can see beyond it to my own horses grazing in their paddock and there is comfort and continuity in that.
I bought it at auction in 2007, encouraged by my friend Edward Horswell, who is co-owner of the Sladmore Gallery. It’s a very good 19th century cast and a wonderful subject.
This article originally appeared in Billionaire's Health Issue, December 2019. To subscribe contact
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