Colin Sheaf is Chairman of Bonhams UK & Asia, the internationally-acclaimed auction house, and has been involved with Create since 2004.
“I’ve always been fascinated by ‘pots’. I started collecting English ceramics when I was nine. After my history degree at Oxford, I joined Christie’s where I expected to specialise in English ceramics, but they encouraged me to expand into Asian ceramics, too, which is what I do now.
I was first interviewed at Christie’s when I was 13, actually. I always knew I wanted to be an auctioneer: the process is so quick and transparent, with a certain amount of competitiveness, which suits my character! I also get to handle and look at a lot more objects than if I was working in a museum, which was the other option when I graduated from Oxford. A definite high point of my career was when I organised the biggest art auction, of the ‘80s: it was called the ‘Nanking Cargo Sale’ and we auctioned off over 150,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain finally salvaged from a ship which sunk in 1752!
I first got involved with Create when Nicky [Executive Director] approached Bonhams in 2004. I took the auction at the charity’s first-ever Gala dinner with my wife Annie, and we’ve done pretty much every Create auction since. It’s a genuine pleasure to use my professional skills to raise money for a non-profit purpose. Auctions which charities hold are virtually cost-free, as most prizes are donated, and are often an incredibly important source of income. I’m happy to help because they make such a difference!
My job does not allow me to attend many Create projects, but I went to a dance performance by disabled and non-disabled participants at The Scoop at More London a while back and was full of admiration. I’m very impressed by Create – it’s my most favourite charities!
One of the qualities I admire most about Create is the single-minded dedication and drive of its founders, Nicky and Samantha – they’re both terrific. Create sets out to work with vulnerable people across the board: there is no pretension, no judgement, no glitterati obsession.. It offers, to a wide range of disadvantaged participants, a window into a world that they often have no means or incentive to get into. In my opinion, Create is delivering a very valuable service to the community, fulfilling an important function. Take Inside Stories, for example, [young offenders write and illustrate stories for their children] – I think this is a fantastic initiative, and improves the family lives of people who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
Nicky and Samantha have taken an idea and turned it into a success. There is obvious energy and initiative, but also an underlying sympathy and goodwill that makes Create work!”