Buying art for ourselves is often a challenge, mainly because what we choose is based on our emotions, our life journeys and what resonates with us at a particular time. Buying for someone else can be even more difficult. These tips may help with your quest …
1. It’s Not About You
Catherine O’Riordan, owner of SO Fine Art Editions, Dublin 2 says, “It’s important to remove yourself and your passions from the decision and instead try to get inside the head of the person you are buying for. Getting the help from an impartial gallerist can help to keep your own personal taste out of the decision.”
2. Do Your Homework
When buying artwork as a gift for a friend Sarah McAuliffe, curator at the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts, suggests taking into consideration the art they already own, especially its themes, styles and genre. “Ask yourself what are the recipient’s likes/dislikes? What interests them? Is there something about the occasion that you could symbolise through the piece?” Sarah points out that not all gifts need to be a surprise: “If you’re not sure what kind of artwork a friend would like, show them works by the same artist to gauge their response. More often than not, if they like the artists’ other works, they would probably like the piece you have chosen for them.”
3. Consider The Recipient’s Home
The potential setting for any artwork is an important consideration. “Would a free-standing or wall-based piece, for example, be most suitable? Try to choose an artwork that would complement the room and space in which it would be placed,” advises Sarah McAuliffe. If the recipient has a minimalist or monochromatic interiors aesthetic they may appreciate a black and white photograph by Irish photographer Giles Norman, whose extensive body of work ranges from dramatic landscapes to bold abstracts and delicate florals with prices starting from €85. I’ve received several unexpected gifts from Norman’s Kinsale store and they come beautifully framed in luxurious wrapping.
4. Avail Of A Consultancy Service
Like many gallerists, Deirdre Carroll of The Doorway Gallery, Dublin 2 offers a special art consultancy service to existing and new clients. “If we see the recipient’s interiors we can then advise on colour, size, medium and budget. It’s all part of our bespoke consultancy service which includes a ‘Try before you buy’ initiative where we deliver paintings to homeowners to try out before they commit to purchasing and give advice on hanging too.”
5. Visit Galleries
Mandy Williams of The Oriel Gallery, Dublin suggests making a date in your diary to look around galleries or art fairs to familiarise yourself with what’s on offer. This weekend is a key opportunity for perusing galleries during the inaugural Dublin Gallery Weekend which takes place across the city and includes galleries such as Olivier Cornet Gallery, Kerlin Gallery, Molesworth, Oliver Sears and Taylor Galleries among others. They will all be hosting special exhibitions, guided tours and artist talks. One free event which may help with art acquisition is a panel discussion on collecting art chaired by Sean Rainbird, former director of the National Gallery of Ireland. This takes place on Saturday November 11, from 2–5pm in the Auditorium at ‘Making it Work’, Magennis Court, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. Sean will be talking to artists as well as private collectors. www.caga.ie
Kelvin Mann, Flying East, Intaglio and woodblock with Gold Leaf, Edition of 50, SO Fine Art Editions, €440 unframed.
“Remember too that galleries know what artworks are popular and can guide you on the emerging or established artists to consider – the artists that are defining contemporary styes and mediums,” says Catherine O’Riordan. “They are happy to show you lots of samples until you find something befitting. There is also a lot of artwork that is not on display at that particular moment, but is in the gallery backroom or in drawers so the perfect piece might be alluding you.”
‘Andy Warhol,’ Irish artist Orla Walsh will be bringing a new collection of iconic Brown Thomas bags to Art Source.
6. Set a Budget
Setting a budget may determine the type of artwork you buy. A must-visit for inspiration is Art Source, which runs at the RDS Dublin from November 10-12. As Dublin’s biggest art fair, visitors have the chance to buy hundreds of pieces of original artwork for €100 each on a first-come, first-served basis on the opening morning of the show on Friday, November 10. www.artsource.ie
‘Molly on her Way,’ by Anthony Murphy at The Oriel Gallery, part of his Pandora’s Box exhibition
6. Always Try to Buy An Original Piece
“Always try to buy an original work of art. Whether it’s an oil painting, watercolour or mixed media, try to purchase an artwork that was created by the artists’ own hands,” says Mandy Williams. “Some artists work in two different mediums, oil and pastel or oil and watercolour. You can get a beautiful Victor Richardson pastel for under €1,000 whereas an oil painting can cost upwards of €8,000.” A must visit for affordable original artworks is The Doorway Gallery’s popular “Stocking Fillers” Christmas show which includes over 100 artists creating artworks on 20x 25cm canvases, all under €500.
7. Consider Framing
“If your budget allows and the artwork requires it, it can be a nice idea to mount and frame the artwork so that it is ready to hang,” says Sarah McAuliffe. “There is nothing more satisfying than the recipient being able to put up an artwork immediately!”
8. Think Outside of The Box
Check out the Gallery Shop of the National Gallery of Ireland which is filled with inspiration for Christmas gifts, from arty stocking fillers to exhibition tickets. Giving the gift of membership to the National Gallery of Ireland could be the perfect solution. Membership for a year starts from €35 and includes countless benefits including free unlimited entry to Gallery exhibitions; lectures and tours exclusive to members; a ten per cent discount in the Gallery Shop and Café year round; and early-bird booking for some events. The year of membership is activated by the recipient on the date of their choice and is valid for up to five years before activation.
For the art lover who wants to learn more, a series of online art appreciation courses go on sale in December. These eight-week courses are hugely popular and can be taken from the comfort of home – in Ireland or further afield. Next year’s courses begin in January, March and October and cover topics including art in the Age of Decadence and European Masters of the Baroque. Tickets are €150 per course with a ten per cent discount if all three courses are booked together. www.nationalgallery.ie
9. Remember The Allure of the Arty Book
Everyone loves a chic monograph to add to their carefully curated coffee table and while we lust over these glossy books, we rarely buy them for ourselves. An under-the-radar source for excellent titles covering all interests is the Photo Museum Dublin, one of which is the box set Women Photographers by Photofile, €42, which brings together 190 women photographers from all over the world working in all styles and genres. www.photomuseumireland.ie
10. Don’t Underestimate the Joy of a Voucher
Lastly, if after looking around galleries you have not found something that has leapt out at you for the person you have in mind, then maybe a gift voucher is the answer to let them choose for themselves. Most art galleries will offer vouchers according to your budget, which can go towards buying an investment piece or starting a collection. As Catherine O’Riordan says, “Artwork speaks to our emotions, our memories and captures a moment in time.” Perhaps art then is the most precious of gifts to give and receive …