James Elwes has been our Gallery Director since 2019, and the clients who’ve known us for years might be surprised to see abstract art, classical sculpture and even x-ray-ists in our portfolio today.
James is particularly adept at finding cool emerging artists. He writes art reviews for Country Life magazine, having spent the last 15 years working variously with Messums, the Belgravia Gallery and Sir John Soane’s Museum.
But the reason he’s here, and that McKay Williamson is expanding our Art Advisory with James is the focus of my Daydream this week, below.
I started this company because I saw a disconnect in the art/creative world.
On one side, there was this cultural expectation that ‘personal art’ has to be a bit crap, creatively. It’s the first thing we’d save in a fire, but our standards for it are lower than ‘real art’. I wanted to produce personal work that was creatively amazing.
On the other side, I find the approach that Art Galleries take a little wrong-footed. The basic premise is artist-centred – ‘you should buy this art because this artist is remarkable’. But I find the pieces of art people love are those with a personal meaning for them, even if that meaning is contrived. I can’t count the times I’ve heard someone say, ‘this piece of art reminds me of _____’.
This is what makes our Art Advisory unique. When we work with a client, we sit down and ask them questions about the important places, preferences, and experiences of their lives. We also ask about style and budget.
We then find and propose art that harmonises with who they are. The key is being open to symbolism and metaphor. Artists just love a good metaphor. For instance, I would guess that 1/3 of people I know find rivers, lakes, and/or seas to be places of solace and refuge (not me – I prefer the mountains). So we might recommend art inspired either literally or abstractly by water to them (maybe something from Peter, Michael, Bernhard, Lucy, Rupert or Jessica, depending on style and budget).
The upshot is that we’ve been getting a lot of feedback from couples who never agree on art, that we’ve helped them finally find pieces on which they can both agree.
Whether we’re making the personal into art, or making art personal, this Art Advisory is the natural evolution of why I started the business, and who we are.
Have a great weekend,