The Auction Gallery Exhibition: Behind The Scenes With Elizabeth Pook

January 28, 2022

With the resumption of live sales at Pook & Pook comes the return of a favorite pastime, the auction preview. People gather to wander through the exhibition, admiring and engaging with the antiques on display. Old friends, multigenerational families, young couples, antique hounds and renowned experts roam the building. Banter is exchanged. On preview evenings, glasses of wine in attendees’ hands, there is a distinct note of festivity in the air.
Auction previews at Pook & Pook are experiences. A great deal of care and forethought goes into exhibiting the antiques. Respect for the objects and their owners comes first. In our building, an original 1765 coaching inn with a dramatic addition, the antiques are displayed to advantage. Auctioneer James Pook creates a museum of furniture in the main hall. Sunlight from windows 50 feet above illuminate this American furniture holy of holies. It is a bit like stepping back in time, or on time, on carpets of antique and exotic origin.
Upstairs on the sunlit balcony are more intimate areas done by exhibition designer Elizabeth Pook. Something of a secret weapon, Elizabeth is a former Exhibitor Magazine Tradeshow Manager of the Year, an award won during her tenure as a marketing executive at Mars/M&M. Having a pro in the house is indispensable, helping the company to deliver results far beyond simply lining lots up on shelves or tables. In each exhibition, Elizabeth’s creativity and aesthetics are called into play. She is charged with displaying hundreds of assorted objects that are by nature of their creation highly individualistic. “To have such a wonderful, eclectic mix of things to create a display with, I love the challenge. Every auction is different,” she says. No matter how eclectic or diverse the antiques displayed, Elizabeth’s execution honors the objects, their collectors and creators, and conveys their historical value. What Elizabeth finds most rewarding is when an owner arrives and exclaims with delight. “I’ll never forget the time I re-created a country store for a client. When she arrived and viewed it, it brought tears to her eyes and brought back memories of her collection,” Elizabeth reminisces, and those moments are important to her.
It is no small feat to fill 16 showcases and never present a sterile display. Elizabeth admits, “The hardest thing is to look over a sea of items and put together a mental jigsaw puzzle of how the showcases can fit a juxtaposition of styles that go well together and in an interesting way.” Elizabeth’s bag of magic tricks is evident: her use of line and perspective to lead the eye, placing opposites in such a way that their interplay complements, the constant variety of texture and shape, the touches of whimsy, all come together to make the displays come alive.


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