WHY BUY ART?
DAVID ROE, DIRECTOR OF SWANSEA’S ATTIC GALLERY, SAYS THAT A WALL WITHOUT PICTURES IS LIKE A BOOKCASE WITHOUT BOOKS. HERE HE EXPLAINS THE VALUE OF COLLECTING ART
Picture this: you are redecorating your home, or have bought a new one. You have your colour swatch board at the ready for the room colours, carpets and curtains. You are aware of the latest designs and fashions in furniture and fittings. But how much attention have you given to the pictures you will put on the walls?
“Pictures will be one of the first things people see when they walk in the room; they will create focal points and give a room a unique and personal feel,” says David Roe, director of Swansea’s Attic Gallery.
“One should resist the temptation to rehang the rather tired and faded prints that were there before.”
But why buy a piece of original art, especially in this era of mass reproduction? David says it is for that very reason: the chance to own something unique that isn’t found in many thousands of homes.
An original work of art is something that is conceived and created by an artist as a unique piece. An artist may paint a particular view only once in his life. Alternatively, he may return time and time again but on each return the weather, tides, light and mood will have changed, so the artist will be able to say something new about that subject with each painting.
“One might ask how long a painting took to paint,” says David. “This is a question an artist will never appreciate: it’s as if the person is trying to evaluate the painting in terms of the artist’s hourly rate. The painting he has just completed is a result of a lifetime’s experience and experimentation – the use of perspective, how to mix the colours, how to use tone to give atmosphere, most of all how to convert his feelings on a subject into paint.”
While collecting art can be a fascinating journey that teaches you a lot about paintings and how to appreciate them, David is keen to challenge the idea that collecting art is only for the well-off or the art connoisseur. It can be a surprise to learn just how affordable original art can be.
“Art is not just for the rich,” he says. “For the price of a set of tyres for your car you could buy an original painting by a recognised artist that would give pleasure for many years and indeed be part of your inheritance to the next generation. This is more than can be said of a set of tyres!”
To make purchases easier, the Attic Gallery is part of the ‘Collectorplan’ scheme, an interest-free credit service run by the Arts Council of Wales to help people buy contemporary art and craft. Using this scheme, you could buy a painting you love and repay the cost over 12 months, interest free.
A great start
If a painting feels too expensive for your first art purchase, it is worth buying an original print instead. These are very different from mass produced prints:
“Most mass produced prints are only reproductions and the frame probably has a higher value than what it contains,” says David. “One can buy prints signed by the artist but unless they are printed by hand, they will just be copies of original work and again usually have little value despite the signature, no matter how famous the artist.
“Original prints are quite a different matter. They will be hand printed by the artist using skilled techniques that are often centuries old, so it is important to distinguish them from ‘ordinary’ prints. Original prints are more accessible to younger buyers; you are getting an original artwork at a very reasonable price, so it’s a good way to start your collection.”
Other than price, how should you choose what to buy? David says the best rule of thumb is to choose what you love. Whatever you buy will be with you for a long time – probably your whole life – so it is important to pick something you feel is really special.
“If it’s a good work of art then you’ll continue to get pleasure from it over many years. It will stand the test of time. It will be inherited by your children and passed down through the family – so it will become part of your inheritance. Oil paintings, for example can potentially last hundreds of years. While art is not a guaranteed investment, one might be pleasantly surprised after a few years if you bought well.”
IN HIS NEXT ARTICLE DAVID DISCUSSES WHAT SORT OF ART TO BUY, WHERE TO BUY IT AND ALSO THE PITFALLS TO AVOID.
ATTIC GALLERY, Pocketts Wharf, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3XL.
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