Buying and collecting “art”

AS somebody who spent more than 40 years working on regional newspapers large and small, I am interested in the growth of community magazines. I pick them up wherever I go, in the way I once made a point of buying the local newspaper.

I recently picked up a copy of the Gower Magazine, and my eye was caught by an article headlined Why Buy Art? I know why I have started collecting in retirement, and was interested in what the article author, Rhiannon Thomas (, had to say.

“I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own an original piece of art. Something that inspires emotion, sparks memories or ideas and becomes a central point for positivity, pride and conversation.”

I cannot see the point of buying something that doesn’t stimulate ideas. I also realise that inspiration can be purely subjective and personal. The Current Mrs Feeney and I were at an exhibition on Friday; I was very taken with a small oil painting of two youths on an evening beach in West Wales.

I explained to Mrs F how it had a Beach Boys “Surf’s Up” feel; lengthening shadows, a darkening sky and sea, end of summer, end of youth.

“You see more in it than me,” Mrs F said. Precisely – and vice versa. Which is why some of our acquisitions have certainly stimulated marital conversation: Normally along the lines of “What, you like that?” Each to their own, I say. Buying something because you like it seems to me the best reason for a purchase.

Trying to work out why I like a particular piece isn’t always straightforward, and isn’t that important for me. Enjoyment is the thing; but at what cost?

Rhiannon tackles the thorny topic of art prices. “Though many people buy works with thousands on the price tag, most art is and will always be affordable. ..there are artists, crafters and designers that create because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Look for these people who love what they do and know why they do it.

“It’s not for the money…but for the simple reason that they need you to see, feel and be a part of their work just as much as they are.” I like that idea.

I’d never go as far as to say art is cheap; we all have our budget, of course. My eyes start watering around the £250 mark (though I have paid more than that for a few pieces recently). I have friends, however, who will happily pay multiples of that, and others who hunt out cheaper bargains.

It’s not what you pay, it’s what you get out of it, that matters to me.


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