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Affordable Art – What Does It Mean In 2019?

Affordable art is a phrase that has a different meaning depending on whether you are in the art
industry or not. To normal art buyers, affordable art can mean original or limited edition art up to
£500. However the art industry defines it differently.

If you are attending, for example, the affordable art fair which shows all over the world the word
“affordable art” can mean anything from £100-£6,000 and this upper limit is actually not so
affordable. However at auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Philip’s their
sales start at around £1,000 and there is no limit on the upper end but you have to remember at
auction houses there is always a buyer’s premium which is added on the hammer price to every
single purchase and is around 25%. At Wychwood Art Gallery art works start at £20 and the
upper end goes up to around £10,000 however there are an array of carefully selected artworks at
all different price points to suite everyone’s budget.

Part of Wychwood Art Gallery’s stand at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London

Part of Wychwood Art Gallery’s stand at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London

The affordable art fair is a great place to start your in person search for art as at each art fair there
are around 100 different galleries from all over the world exhibiting in pop up marquees for around
5 days in different cities. Each gallery has been vetted to attend the art fair bring with them a
selection of artists to sell at the art fair and shoe on their own stand. The good news is the gallery
owners attend these art fairs so you are getting the best person to speak to about the works of art
at the art fair.

From an art buyers perspective it is like a dream as you are able to walk around an interesting,
relaxed and fun environment viewing a lot of art in a small space of time rather than visiting lots of
different galleries over a long period of time. Also visiting some art galleries can be off putting as
there are some that are unwelcoming and stuffy. ( This is not the case with Wychwood Art who are
warm and inviting!)

Whilst at the art fairs I would suggest photographing your favourite artists and then either
selecting and purchasing an artwork or artworks you would like there and then or waiting and
visiting the gallery or looking at the works online. Once you have selected the works you like
speak to the art dealer and discuss with them their thoughts on the artist as they may also be able
to suggest other artist’s you might like.

For any free advice and help with selecting artworks please email deborah@wychwoodart.com.
( Wychwood Art offer over 300 carefully selected artists taking the hard work away for you and
making it possible for you to buy art under one roof. Most art galleries that have a physical gallery
only offer up to 30 artists.)

How To Choose A Piece Of Art For Your Home

It is sometimes difficult to know where to start when choosing a work of art for your home but I suggest going room by room in order not to feel overwhelmed. People are often put off because they think prices will be prohibitive but you don’t have to spend a fortune to furnish your walls with wonderful originals.

Having worked for over a decade as Head of Sales at Christie’s and then at Bonhams before setting up my own art gallery I have seen how eye wateringly expensive art can be but it isn’t impossible to find contemporary art that is affordable and beautiful. People fear making a mistake, wasting money or getting ripped off but if you know where to look and what to look for then there is a treasure trove of art out there waiting to be discovered.

With a bit of belief in your own tastes and with research you should be able to find the perfect work of art for your home. There are a few things I keep in mind when advising clients on choosing artworks for their home.

Here are some of my top tips:

1. Think about scale

It is always interesting to walk into a room where some of the elements within it are bigger or smaller than you expect them to be as it creates drama within a room. Below is a very small original art work that could be placed within a large room for dramatic effect. Colour from the art work in a plain room can lift the room and colours within the painting can be used for accents around the room.

Hedgerow Bouquet

Paul’s Hedgerow Bouquet Elaine Kazimierczuk

2. Eye up your space

You do not have to fill every space in a room and in fact empty space is as important as the painting or sculpture. I think of it like a play where the pauses are as telling as the words and actions.

3. Be brave

Chair and artworkDon’t be afraid of making a mistake. If you have the right artwork it will work anywhere and you can experiment. The key is good framing, lighting and placement. Art doesn’t always have to be flat. See the image to the left for something a bit different with tin foil sweet wrappers used on shelves. This kind of installation makes an impact from far way and close up and it is great when the art in your home create a talking point.

4. Framing

Framing or re-framing a work of art can completely transform the work of art and this takes some bravery on behalf of my clients when I take their loved artworks or photographs away and transform them.

When you can use non reflective glass as this will enable you to view the works at all times of the day with none or hardly any reflection.

Think about keeping the frame simple but using a colour that is already in the painting for the frame colour. For example go dark for the frame with a colour rather than keeping the frame white.

Wall paintings

5. Hanging a work of art

It is important not to hang a work too high on a wall. This is a very common mistake. As a rule of thumb the centre of the work should be at eye height if there is no furniture in front of the work. If there is furniture in front of the work don’t feel you have to hang it to the centre of the wall from floor to ceiling as with high walls this will mean you will not be able to view the works very easily. Since you spend a lot of time in a living room , dining room and bedroom sitting or lying down, you need to be able to view and enjoy works of art from these angles as well.

6. Create a feature wall

It is fun to have a feature wall somewhere in your home and whether it’s the same artist or a number of different artists it doesn’t really matter what matters is that you love it. Here are some feature wall examples and the great thing about a feature wall is that you can start with just one work and buy them over a period of time if budget is an issue.

Dining room

7. Plan ahead

Mock up images of how the works will look before hanging them
This is a good way to see how all the art will look together in a space. It always helps to visualise things before the hammer and picture hooks come out.

8. Try mixing different mediums

Art completely changes a space and how you interact with it. Mix it up a bit and don’t stick to one medium. When filling your home with art it’s good to think abut having at least one original work of art, a few limited edition prints, photography, sculpture and something totally different. For example this ceramic wall sculpture by Emma Bell below has ceramic pots set on shelves creating drama and interest. Original art can be affordable and can start from as little as £50.

Emma-Bell-Three-Clays-III-Sculpture

5 Festive Artworks To Discover This Christmas

From Brueghel’s famous skaters to the new darling of the artworld Alfons Walde – there are plenty of snowy scenes to seek out in London’s galleries and beyond.

1. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Winter landscape with a bird trap, 1565

Brueghel the Younger Winter landscape

This serene Old Master painting of skaters on a frozen river is just one of many different versions painted by Brueghel. Don’t let its picture-postcard familiarity stop you from taking a closer look: Brueghel has laced rich symbolism into each detail. The frozen river with the ice skaters symbolises danger and the birds in a trap represent temptation and the devil. Traditionally birds throughout art history have symbolised the divine spirit descending to earth and the soul ascending to heaven.

Where can you see it? Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Belgium

2. Camille Pissarro , The Louvre under snow, 1902

Pissarro - The Louvre Under Snow 1902

Fancy a frosty winter stroll through Paris? This painting is less obviously impressionist than other famous paintings that fall into this movement. But two impressionist trade marks are still there: the main subject has been positioned slightly off-centre and all large, distracting elements are left out of the painting.

The view is from the artist’s apartment at the time and it is one of several paintings Pissarro undertook of the same scene – each painted during a different season. Pissarro has included the flat platform, railings and steps of the balcony which dominate the foreground. This large plane gives us a sense of elevation above the water as our eye is guided expertly down the river and into the folds of fog in the background.

Where can you see it? The National Gallery, London.

3. Alfons Walde, Winter sun 1919

Winter Sun

Alfons Walde: Winter sun 1919 (Credit: Kunsterverlag alfonswalde.com)

This painting is as fresh and lively as a contemporary artwork yet it was painted just under 100 years ago. Walde, an Austrian artist, painted a series of winter ski sport paintings. His approach to painting snow is fresh and energetic which contrasts nicely with the frosty stillness of Pisarro’s painting above. Walde moved in an artistic circle that included the likes of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. The painting is part of a private collection but Walde is a name to watch: just a few years ago you could pick up his pieces for a few hundred pounds and now they fetch over six figure sums at auction.

4. L.S. Lowry, The Old House, Grove Street , Salford 1948

Lowry

Nearly all of Lowry’s works depict snow. But it is not the snow itself he is interested in but its ability to simplify and brighten the objects placed on top of it, creating a naive style that is instantly recognisable. Industrial towns, especially Manchester, and crowds of people are ongoing motifs in his paintings.

Where can I see Lowry’s work? Tate Britain, London (although not currently on display but you should be able to view by appointment)

5. Everybody loves Snow, Tim Southall

Everybody Loves Snow

Tim Southall: Everybody Loves Snow, Credit: Wychwood Art Gallery

And, finally, a contemporary painting affordable enough to take home. The work takes its starting point from Dylan Thomas’s prose work ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. The artist Tim Southall is heavily influenced by Brueghel. But, whilst owning a Brueghel is only ever likely to be a pipe dream for most of us gallery-goers, this piece could be hanging on your wall in time for Christmas. It is priced at £185.

Where can I see it ? Wychwood Art Gallery, online and in Deddington, Oxfordshire.

Paintings 1,2 and 4 can be found in the public domain on Wiki commons

Affordable Art Fair Bristol 2016

Please join us at the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol from 9-11th September 2016.

We will be showing :-
Jeremy Houghton, Henry Walsh, Sally Lancaster, Bill Bate, Vicky Oldfield, Lisa Takahashi, Helen Langfield, Sally-Ann Johns, David Jones, Scott Naismith, Katie Edwards and Brian Seiffert.

For free tickets please email Deborah Allan with the day you would like to attend deborah@wychwoodart.com. Tickets are on a first come first served basis.

Please come and say hello whilst you are there.

Mumpreneur Profile: Deborah of Wychwood Art

Your name and age: Deborah Allan / 38

Tell us about your family: My husband and I have two children aged 2 and 5 years old. We moved out to the countryside in Oxfordshire after having lived in London when our first child was born.

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?

I have worked in the international art world for over 15 years, firstly at Christie’s for 11 years as Director of Impressionist, Modern Art, and subsequently at Bonhams for 4 years as European Director of Impressionist and Modern Art which gave invaluable knowledge of the art market. Selling art as an auctioneer to important art collectors has given me great insight into why people buy art and what makes a good work of art.

The transition to set up and start my own business has been fine as I have not really had any spare time to think about the enormity of what I have taken on.

When did you launch? I launched in June 2014

How did you get started?

I have always wanted to run my own business and back in 2000 I almost set up a similar business however I do not think it would have worked at that time as I would not have knowledge of art and business like I do now. After selling art masters such as Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh I wanted to find original art for people but for it to be affordable art for everyone and with prices starting at £25. Each artist and art work is carefully selected by me and several of the artists we represent have been selected for the final round of the Royal Academy summer exhibition this year. I started Wychwood Art with an online art gallery website and physical art gallery launch in June 2014.

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?

The independence and the flexibility it gives me to work around the children. Meeting and working with wonderful inspirational artists that are passionate about their work and art.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?

I enjoy all aspects of the business from travelling to meet new artists in their studio , assisting and helping people buy online through our website, meeting clients in our art gallery in Stow on the Wold in the Cotswolds and through art fairs such as the affordable art fair . Probably I would have say the least fun part is the administrational side of the business.

What has worked well about your business?

The online art gallery side is going well , the art fairs are a real buzz and I really enjoy meeting clients at our art gallery in Stow on the Wold.

What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?

I exhibited at one fair which was not an art fair without fully researching my market . I should have known better but I was on a real high with sales going so well so I thought I had nothing to lose. I had a lot to to lose as fairs are expensive! It is always a mistake if you do not know your market – like any any market you need to know what you are dealing with. It was a trial that did not work and one not to be repeated.

How do you fit in work with the family?Is your partner supportive of your business?

The children are at school and nursery and although everything is a juggling act when you work I feel I now have a bit more of a balance between my work life and my home life. My husband, my family and his family are tremendously supportive and I am not sure I would have persevered with the business if they had not been so encouraging.

Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?

I wrote a business plan before I started the business to make sure I felt the business was viable. I am very focused on achieving all of my targets and goals. I have achieved everything to date and it was an ambitious business plan so I have a lot of self inflicted pressure this year and next year to hit all of my targets.

Would you ever give up your business to do something else?

Not if I can help it!

Do you have an exit strategy?

No I am hoping I do not need one.

Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not, when do you think it will come?

I am not sure I will ever feel like this as I always think I should be doing better. However I hope if things continue in the same vain as they are now then I hope my ‘I’ve made it’ moment will come.

Where do you hope to be in five years time?

I hope to be employing a number of people within 5 years and for international sales to be as high as the UK sales. There are are number of other goals but they are so ambitious I cannot share those yet unless I achieve them.

Work Life: Auctioneer

Deborah Allan, 34, is head of the Impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s South Kensington. She lives in Battersea with her husband, Ash, a marketing consultant and their 9-month-old daughter, Camilla.

There’s a lot more to being an auctioneer than people think. I had to compete against 40 colleagues to be trained by Hugh Edmeades (Guru of the auction world) and I’m still regularly observed and tested on my performance. I call it ‘Auction Idol’ because it’s so intense. I used to practice my patter on an ironing board, banging down a wood spoon and testing my voice across the kitchen!

My day begins at 6.30am when Camilla starts crying. Breakfast is a bowl of Alpen and a mug of boiling water. I always pick what I’m going to wear the night before so I don’t have to rush. Being an auctioneer is like being a performer so I have to look my best. My wardrobe is full of Diane Von Furstenberg, Massimo Dutti and LK Bennett skirt suits.

I drop Camilla at nursery at 8.30am and am at my desk for 9am. I’m a compulsive list writer (I have one for what I need to achieve that week, and one for that day) so I’ll dig out the one I wrote the night before sitting down for a half-hour catch up with my team.

Auctions start at 10.30am. We only have about four a year but each one involves so much work. I do all the original valuations for the lots, sometimes months before the sale and then a week before the auction they are collected in the sale room so I can prepare my notes. You can learn so much from the back of a painting –who’s owned it and when, what countries it’s been to… its whole lifetime.

On the day of a sale I leave my office at 10am and go to the sale room. With butterflies in my stomach, I sit alone with the lots and rehearse all the possible outcomes for the sale ahead. I have to work out the figures in my head: starting with how much it’s worth and working backwards to see where I should start.

The minute I put on my microphone and step onto the rostrum I’m in character. The atmosphere is electric and I get so excited, looking at the expectant faces of the bidders and wondering which piece will sell for the highest price.

Some clients are very subtle when they’re bidding so I’m constantly looking for any sign of movement. When I first started auctioneering it was more difficult to know if someone was moving in their chair but it’s instinctive now, particularly with regular clients. I’ve got a little black book of clients, from private buyers to high profile dealers who I meet at least twice a month to discuss what works are coming up. They are fiercely private though. Some of them prefer to bid in a separate room to avoid being seen.

I have a bowl of soup at my desk while I check my emails after the sale. Then I might go to see a client about a work they want to sell. I fly all over Europe seeing private collections. I could be in Paris one week, Geneva the next, seeing some of the greatest works of art of the 20th century and speaking to collectors who have met Dali or were good friends with Picasso.

If I’m in the UK then I spend the afternoon assessing sale items, writing estimates and giving valuations. These can take months as, after I’ve assessed the work it will have to be tested and verified and then I’ll make a judgement based on previous sales, experience and the wider market.

The highest bid I have ever taken was for a work Francis Bacon, Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light. The hammer finally went down at just over £8 million. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.

After work I either go home and spend the night with Ash and Camilla or head out to a charity auction. As the auctioneer you have to be the main event so I re-do my make-up and put on my fail-safe cocktail dress (a royal blue silk number I had made a few years ago). I have to meet all the big bidders and work the room before stepping up, banging my gavel and getting things started.

I’m usually woken up a few times in the night by Camilla so I try and get to bed by 11pm. Sometimes it’s hard though, I’m on such a high after an auction the last thing I want to do is sleep.

Reproduced with kind permission of Stylist magazine.

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