Our house looks like it’s been burgled. It’s not standard family mess this time, no. There’s an empty TV bracket on the wall opposite the sofa and empty picture hooks above the fireplace. It’s gloomy, unloved and stark, it’s not a good look! Well, we haven’t been burgled but there’s a bit of a tale here.
The easier one to explain is the empty TV bracket. One quiet evening last week an acrid burning smell came from the TV. We quickly switched it off and googled it. No, we didn’t grab a fire blanket or even an air freshener, we hit the interweb. Such is modern life.
Within minutes we had established that our TV had been subject to a Sony recall six years ago. We rang Sony, they promised action within 24 hours, and only a mere six days later (a-hem) the set was picked up and whisked away for a grand audience with an Approved Sony Engineer. The collection guy said it would take “AAAAAges!” We have a shiny receipt in its place. It’s not much to look at on an evening.
Leeds Picture Library
The empty picture hooks are the former home of a fine work of art which we really loved. It was loaned to us for a year from the Leeds Picture Library at Leeds Art Gallery. We never paid much attention to the name of the artist and I never took a note of it, but the picture grabbed us and we didn’t want to change it during our year of membership. The landscape brought the outside in and brightened our sitting area.
The problem with the painting was the fact we became so attached to it, and we knew we couldn’t keep it. Membership of the library was about £50 per year. We could have renewed our loan of this painting but the fact we couldn’t own it was starting to really grate on us. We couldn’t find another large painting that we liked in the library because there was a bit too much of abstract art and that’s not our style. Another problem was the glass in the library picture frames which was normal glass and not anti-glare, this posed a problem with our light fitting which reflected in it really badly.
So my search for a new painting has begun. I want a lovely landscape by a local artist and I want an original. I want to see brush strokes and light reflecting off texture. OK, you think it’s an expensive dream but I’ve been inspired by the fabulous story of Tim Sayer, an art collector who breaks the stereotype of art collectors. He’s no millionaire with a yacht and six houses. He’s closer to my strata of society because on a humble BBC salary he collected thousands of original artworks for his own enjoyment. He’s now donating the whole collection to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. But for me the interesting part of the story is how he afforded it. He said he either asked for a discount or he paid in instalments, sometimes both. (He also doesn’t have children but I won’t sell mine to pay for a painting, despite the temptation).
With a little research I found that the Arts Council have an interest-free loan scheme called “Own Art”. Some galleries are very good at promoting this scheme. And the artists themselves do not price unreasonably. You don’t just pay for skill and beauty, you pay for reputation. The more exhibitions in grander galleries that an artist has shown in, the more their paintings are worth.
I’m starting my picture search by getting to know the work of artists through the annual event North Yorkshire Open Studios. Every few years, over two weekends in the spring, it’s possible to visit artists in their own studios, meet them and see their work and their ongoing projects. Entry is free. You’ll be surprised to find how thick on the ground professional artists are. We found half a dozen only two streets away from our home! Not all are painters. Last time we also visited paper cutters, ceramic sculptors, wire sculptors, wood turners and stained glass artists. The next NYOS event will be June 2017 but I’m planning on finding other galleries to visit before then.
The search is on! What’s the story behind the pictures on your wall? Let me know in the comments.