Florrie Evans has been Director at The Weiss Gallery since 2010. The Weiss Gallery was established in 1985 at 59 Jermyn St, the heart of the prestigious St James district of London, and is a leading dealer in Tudor, Stuart, and Northern European portraiture and has made several notable sales over the last three decades which now grace distinguished public and private painting collections around the world.
Prior to this, Florrie worked at Christies specializing in Early British Picture and Old Masters and has also assisted curators at Tate Britain and Dr Johnson’s House Museum. In addition to contributing to various art publications, she also appeared as an expert on portraiture for the BBC’s Stitch in Time Series. Her other love is Mudlarking on the Thames—a hobby she’s kept since the age of 4. Florrie describes the river as her ‘pleasure and obsession’ and now has the delight of taking her young daughter with her as she uncovers London’s washed up secrets. Step inside this beautiful gallery with me as Florrie’s reveals why art, London, and the Thames all play a major part in her fascinating life. This is Your London Legacy.
“I definitely grew up with an appreciation for scavenging and salvaging—and from that came a love of history as well.”[5:55]
I met with Florrie at the Weiss Gallery—a beautiful space showcasing 16th and 17th century Northern European portraiture. In the back is another gallery with all the English works displayed before a pale green silk and above it all is a striking glass ceiling to bathe the portraits in light. Florrie’s love for art and history started from a young age as she was taken Mudlarking with her parents. On top of finding artifacts in the river and imagining how they got there, Florrie’s father was a publisher and her mother a pianist—and exploring artistic sensibilities was clearly a part of her upbringing.[13:40]
Florrie finds portraiture one of the most fascinating art forms to analyze and study. You can take into account what the person commissioning the portrait wanted—juxtaposed with the artists intent. She thinks that often this was a collaboration of the subject and artist, and the intent and purpose of the painting changed some throughout the centuries as well.
“I look at it as an emotional headspace in a way—just connecting with the city in such a unique way. Hearing the sound of the water. I find it incredibly meditative.”[21:15]
You have to keep in mind that there weren’t as many bridges across the river in earlier centuries. Watermen would take people back and forth at ferry crossing points across the river, and of course, people dropped things over the edges. Everything from tobacco pipes (which can be dated in part by how large the bowl is), a mysterious amount of garnets, relics from Roman times (which Florrie was obsessed with for a time), and buttons and beads—something Florrie feels drawn to given her love of clothing and fashion and costume.
Make sure you go stop by the Weiss Gallery, and Florrie will be curating a large exhibition at Totally Thames where you can see things collected from a wide variety of Mudlarkers at the end of September.