Liz Anderson

The art of collecting

Passion was in the air in the rooms of the Wallace Collection last week — or at least the word was at the inaugural Apollo seminar sponsored by specialist art broker Stackhouse Poland with AXA Art Insurance. ‘How do you collect art and antiques in today’s market?’ was the question and the panel, chaired by Apollo’s editor Oscar Humphries, was unanimous that passion played an essential part when starting a collection.

James Stourton, chairman of Sotheby’s, believed that to start a collection one had to be energetic, assiduous, knowledgeable and to be at the right place at the right time because supply was always short. And he advised always to buy the best one can afford. Ah, money.

Yes, Robert Devereux, founder of the African Arts Trust, agreed, money certainly helps but the two most important things were time and, of course, passion. Never buy a work of art solely as an investment, he warned. And if you find you have too much stuff, he had an easy answer: lend — to friends, to pubs, wherever. AXA Art’s Andrew Davies rather surprisingly agreed: insurers did not always insist on laser beams and fancy alarms, though window locks were essential.

There were no surprises what The Museum of Everything’s James Brett recommended collecting: anything. The artist Peter Blake, for example, is almost incapable of passing a bric-à-brac stall without buying something. The Fine Art Society’s Patrick Bourne, however, warned that collecting modern art was risky, and advised building a relationship of trust between dealer and collector.

There are now more people in more countries collecting art, Susan Moore, saleroom columnist, confirmed, and buyers from emerging markets are pushing up prices.

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