Art buying made easy thanks to Cork curator

Art buying made easy thanks to Cork curator

Carol O’Callaghan catches up with a Cork-based art curator who has launched a service making art buying easy and how to slot it into the interior design of your home.

WHEN it comes to buying art, whether it’s a painting or a fine art print, there are three questions you should ask yourself according to art consultant Sheelah Moloney of 2020 Curates, in her buyers’ guide e-book Buying Art: A Short Need To Know Guide.

The questions are: How do I know what to look for? What should I pay? How do I know I have found the one?

Additionally, she makes the point that her buyers’ guide is focused on purchasing what you love for your home and your surroundings, not on art as an investment.

“I’ve always sold art because it’s worth having in your life and can enhance it a lot. For me, it’s not a commodity,” says Sheelah.

With considerable experience over 15 years, including working at some of our most well-known galleries such as the Glucksman and Fenton, plus organising over 50 exhibitions, Sheelah also ran her own commercial gallery, which opened 10 years ago in the midst of deepest, darkest recession.

“I was selling art and keeping prices accessible by working with up-and-coming artists, but I wanted to do something else that was useful to the new landscape for buying art,” she says.

This has always been done traditionally through two institutions, auctions or galleries, and now it’s even in your local café. But there are still lots of questions about buying art; how to do it the right way, and how to display it.

“I’ve always wanted to make art accessible and be relaxed and break down the barriers, so I’m coming at it from adding something to the life of your home, and helping curate the options for the client so they don’t have to trawl through what’s out there.”

Her starting point is to provide the client with a questionnaire to give her a sense of their taste, what sort of feeling they want to create with the art in their home; the size of work they’d like ideally, and their budget. She then sources a number of artworks to match and presents them to the client for consideration.

Surprisingly, the process doesn’t take long.

“Expect an average of two weeks from initial contact and filling out the questionnaire, to delivery of the art and hanging, but it’s sometimes as much as three weeks if framing is involved,” she says.

To help take any residual feeling of intimidation out of art buying if you’re still iffy, Sheelah’s e-book, which retails at €5.34 from her website, is easy to read and full of common sense, covering topics such as how to buy online, and how to deal directly with an artist.

The other part of her package is a follow-on service for her clients who, having already chosen their art, which could be a painting, prints or photography, now needs help in how best to display it, sometimes with more than one artwork to consider.

This is where Sheelah designs a layout to maximise the impact and the feeling having art around you can foster.

In this instance, the client might already have their art before they approach Sheelah so she will review the piece. Or maybe it’s a collection of artworks and photography gathered over time for which she will design a display, providing simple installation instructions.

Sometimes, too, a client might have tired of what they have, but Sheelah casts a fresh eye over the collection to renew a client’s appreciation of it when hung in a different room and light.

As an illustration, she cites an anecdote.

I’ve just redecorated my own hallway and brought down a painting from upstairs to hang there. I had actually intended selling it but now it really works well in the newly painted hall.

Again, the art-interior design service takes less time than you’d imagine at about two to three hours, while the sourcing of the artwork takes about the same.

Added to her consultancy fee is a percentage of the final cost of the artwork, so with Christmas fast approaching, and the risk of being stuck in a gift-buying quandary for a loved one who is passionate about art or interiors, or both, this could be the gift that keeps on giving long after other gifting choices have gone to the charity shop.

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