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Ashtrays for Africa

Ashtrays for Africa

Self-taught artisan and cigar lover Patrick Mavros has turned his stunning, wildlife-themed silver creations into a top luxury brand.

Here are some quotes from the article by Andrew Nagy and portraits by Matt Furman.

“Seated on the other side of the table, Patrick Mavros exudes an aura of the African savanna, as if he just strode from the golden sands of his native Zimbabwe, straight into the dining room of New York City’s Club Macanudo.

He appears to be more of a seasoned big- game hunter, ripped from the pages of a Hemingway story, than the preeminent master silversmith to the world’s aristocracy. As it turns out, he’s both, as well as many other things, including raconteur, polio survivor, retired baker, conservationist.”

“Most important, the majority of Mpata Farm is a wildlife sanctuary, an undisturbed area where hundreds of species of birds, lions, hippopotamuses, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, zebras and, yes, snakes, live among tall baobab trees and various other indigenous ora. It’s precisely these images that have inspired and influenced Mavros’s silversmith art. The artisan says he often sits on the veranda of his house atop a hill, sketchpad in hand, puffing a cigar and drinking English breakfast tea while studying the animals in the valley below. Ultimately, his clientele is buying into his chic-bushman lifestyle, and some even trek to his estate to view it first-hand. They come not only to witness how Mavros creates his exquisitely lifelike, naturalistic silver wares, but to experience a part of the world many only read about in books or see in films.”

“My housemaster, who we called E.J., was a gentleman who taught biology, and instead of giving us prayers in the evening at the end of school, he would often recite poetry to us,” recalls Mavros. One night, E.J. recited Rudyard Kipling’s widely known song “The Betrothed,” and the words tantalised young Patrick. He managed to get his hands on a friend’s father’s cigar—“a cheapo Villiger”—and hustled far away from the school grounds to light up. Only he didn’t take into account that the smoke might linger on him afterwards. Caught, young Patrick was summoned to his schoolmaster’s study.

“Mavros, do you know what the punishment is for smoking at this school?” Mavros says, clenching a st and imitating his schoolmaster’s voice. “Yes, sir. Six of the best,” his voice rising to sound like a young boy. “It’s six lashings for cigarettes, Mavros! Thin, lady cigarettes would get you seven! But seeing as this is the gentlemanly affair of smoking a cigar, I will only beat you five. Now bend!”

 

“I like fresh air to smoke a cigar. I like going on safari, sitting on a tribal stool, picking some coals out of the re and just watching them make that cigar glow red. I puff it, as Kipling said, and watch the ‘soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.’

“Every now and again I’ll smoke a cigar in my studio. Sometimes I have to. I could sit on two or three projects, and I’ll turn around and say ‘I have to have a cup of tea and smoke a cigar.’ Realign myself. And the soothing effect of that cigar on me now is vast. It absolutely tranquillises me.”

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