Affordable Art: Getting Started - Susanna Beaumont
Director of doggerfisher gallery, based in Edinburgh
I’m not a great fan of the term ‘affordable art’, because it suggests a lot of art is unaffordable. It adds to a perception of exclusivity that exists around buying art, when in fact instalment schemes like the Scottish Art Council’s Own Art make it easier than ever to do.
Of course, buying art is still a big commitment, but a very exciting thing to be doing. To anyone who wants to start a collection, I would say you begin by doing lots of looking. Look in galleries and at websites. Follow your tastes and find out more about what interests you. Research artists whose work you like, read books about them, ask galleries to show you more work.
Art is a visual medium, and you should allow yourself to be intrigued by it, whether you find it beautiful or disturbing. Look at how it’s made, the marks on the paper, what it’s made of if it’s a sculpture, and eventually your eye will become trained to what you like.
Degree shows are a good place to start. You can meet new artists and then possibly be invited along to their studio. It’s possible to collect via the internet these days, but there’s nothing like getting out and seeing works. And you shouldn’t just be looking at works you might be able to purchase. Go to the National Gallery, the Galleries of Modern Art, Kelvingrove, go to GI and see what’s there. Develop your tastes.
Of course, art will always be treated as a lifestyle accessory by some very rich people, and fine if they want to do that. Just as long as people who don’t have vast wealth realise that owning art is nothing to do with ostentation. It’s like anything, you have to trust in what you believe in, you have to have your own opinions and be confident in them.
I have works at home that I can look at one day and see one thing, and look at another day and see something very different. These are works that keep revealing more about themselves and exciting the eye. Art is someone’s response to the world, to a certain situation, and it should set off emotion in you when you look at it.