I’m really pleased to announce that this weekend I’ll be showing at this year’s Secret Art Sale in Twickenham. It’s an annual show run by, and raising money for, The Environment Trust. This amazing organisation is a nature and heritage conservation charity based in the south east of Britain.
Now in it’s fourth year, this is an exhibition with a twist. All artworks are for sale and are only £40 each. All the money goes directly to the charity and the artist receives nothing. So you can imagine having a quiet time at the show and seeing something you like and getting it for cheap? Well sort of. In reality, it ends up a little less relaxed and a little more frenetic.
The show has been attracting some big names since its inception and this year is no exception. Celebrities and renowned artists show side by side with locals and students. The art is sold anonymously and you only find out who the artist is after purchase. This means you can bag something potentially worth thousands for only pennies. In previous years there have been queues of buyers waiting to get in. This year’s names include Emma Thompson, Roger McGough, Ken Howard, Peter Davison, and Quentin Blake.
In 2016, in the first ever Secret Art Sale, one of my sketches ended up shown next to Mr Blake’s work. I’m not sure where my art will be this year and I definitely can’t tell you what art I submitted. You’ll have to flick through the catalogue of artworks yourself HERE and try and match what you see to the artists’ biographies HERE.
If you’re in the Twickenham area this weekend then it’s worth having a look. Best arrive early though. The queues of collectors and lucky visitors might beat you to a Melanie Honebone picture before you blink!
Obviously I can’t show you the art I’ve submitted so instead here’s a screengrab of four pieces from the Secret Art Sale catalogue. I think I’ve guessed two of the artists featured here but I’m not sure I should tell you…
Last month I carried out a residency at the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. I asked the question What is it Worth? to try and place a value on my art and the worth of artists. You can read more about that HERE.
Now this artwork is on sale at the gallery for an unspecified amount. This isn’t one of those ‘Price on Application’ deals that is designed to make you feel small. Really, I haven’t put a price on the artwork because I want you to decide on how much you would buy it for.
Let me explain…
Many years ago I asked a gallery if I could exhibit with them. They agreed but there was a very strange clause in the contract. This was a provision that the price set for the art would not change if this art was shown in a different gallery at a later date. I’m not entirely sure what their reasoning was. Perhaps they were thinking that to show the art cheaper elsewhere at a later date would undercut their business. I figured this price rigging was just unfair because different areas of the world have different markets. A pint of milk isn’t even the same price across one town so why should my art be any different? Needless to say, I walked away from the contract.
It got me thinking about fairness and cost. I know what I believe to be a fair price for work done. Minimum wage x hours taken + cost of materials = the very least you should get; but this doesn’t always equate to a realistic price for the buyer. A month making one piece should equal a month’s wages for me, but is there anyone out there prepared to give me a month of their wages in return?
Just who is your buyer and how will you match your craft to their walls? How do you make sure that nobody along the way is exploited? I’ve been to galleries so many times with the aim to buy and the price just isn’t quite right. Is it worse to walk away or to haggle? What makes me a good and fair buyer? I’m not sure if anyone knows the answers to any of these questions because the economics of art is so complicated. Here is an unregulated and unchecked industry run by lots of independent businesses. It’s a fluid landscape full of options and opportunities. Everyone looking to match up location of gallery, a buyer, and a good price, with the subjective craft and skill of the artist. Nobody seems to know the answer as to how they can make this happen so that everyone profits.
So, I am asking visitors to the Workers Gallery to offer a price for my art that they are willing to pay. It’s on the walls now and the price you pay is up to you. Just contact the gallery staff and tell them how much you want to buy it for. Naturally, whoever offers the highest price gets the art. It’s A2 sized, ready framed, and you can read a full artist’s description of how it was made HERE.
I don’t know how long this will be hanging around for. It might be after a few weeks nobody has made an offer beyond a few pennies, in which case this is what my craft is worth. Or it might be that between now and Christmas a steady trickle of offers drives the price up beyond my wildest dreams…
Over to you. What am I worth?
Visit Workers Gallery now at 99 Ynyshir Road, Ynyshir, CF39 0EN