The first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen more people than ever being given the opportunity to fall in love with, and collect, art. Investing in art was previously seen solely as the domain of the super-wealthy, confidently waving away millions in auction houses. However, the global explosion of art fairs and opportunities to discover work online, has presented a plethora of exciting new ways for art lovers, regardless of budget and background, to dip their toes into the market and purchase pieces for their homes.
Providing people with the opportunity to become an art collector is at the heart of the Affordable Art Fair ethos. We’ve been chatting to some of our wonderful galleries and visitors to discover why collecting art has become such a popular activity, and to find out why having original art in your home provides such a unique pleasure …
Bath-based Rostra Gallery are well known for offering accessible original artworks, and are firm Affordable Art Fair favourites. For Gallery Manager Rebecca Darch it is the potential to personalize a home with art that makes collecting so appealing.
Rebecca introduced us to one customer, Isabel Morley, whose collection holds an intensely personal significance. Having bought three pieces from Rostra Gallery, Isabel recalls, ‘the first, by Trevor Price, reminds me of my youth – dancing around and having fun – and I see it as soon as I wake up in the morning, which instantly puts me in a good mood.’ Of the other works she says: ‘The second piece is a beautiful screen print by Graham Carter. It reminds me of the Scottish Highlands where I spent a long time working and soaking up the scenery; I could get lost in the detail of this work for hours. The third work is by Clare Halifax, of the gorgeous city of Bath where I live now. I couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by such amazing artworks every day.’
"[It] reminds me of my youth – dancing around and having fun – and I see it as soon as I wake up in the morning, which instantly puts me in a good mood"
For another fair visitor, Honor Stanley, the process of buying the work was an integral, and exciting, part of becoming a collector. She recalls, ‘my husband and I bought our first piece of art at the Affordable Art Fair, having just moved in to our new home together in Battersea. We spent the whole evening at the fair, champagne in hand, going up and down the aisles looking for the perfect picture. She continues, ‘inevitably we found it on the last stand, as we were about to leave! The large abstract oil painting now hangs in our living room. I love it because it was the first picture (of many!) that we chose and bought together.’
"I love it because it was the first picture (of many!) that we chose and bought together"
Sally Coelho, founder of Cotswold-based gallery Hadfield Fine Art, agrees that collecting art can serve as a beautiful, personal reminder of a particular time in our lives. Sally says: ‘It goes without saying that art can visually transform the appearance and atmosphere of a home, but one cannot assume that art is merely decoration. There is something far more subliminal in our choices. Art is more like a personal treasure that transcends the constraints of our four walls. It can be a marker in the passage of time following us from house to house; lifting the humble surroundings of our first flat, through to our family home, then on to our later years. It can be a reflection of our personality, tastes and memories.’ Sally concludes, ‘if we surround ourselves with these treasures, we transform our houses into environments in which we feel intensely comfortable, relaxed and, really truly, at home’.