Why art can be the perfect gift that says something special

Buying art as a Christmas gift offers options for all ages and tastes, and something of lasting value which won’t be thrown away, writes Carol O’Callaghan.

Do you know that feeling of guilt on Christmas morning when presents are denuded of their fancy wrapping, and you’re left scooping up crumpled handfuls of this non-recyclable material for dispatch to the general rubbish bin?

A gift for family or friends living abroad. Carolyn Walsh’s ‘Cork City 3’ depicts some of the city’s best know streets, made in paint and collage on paper (€360 at 2020 Gallery.

Channelling my inner conscientious objector, I’ve gone in search of virtuous, sustainable alternatives, and with little effort found videos on the theme circulating on social media, offering worthy alternatives to feeding the great Pacific garbage patch.

Good old-fashioned brown paper tied up with string and interwoven with ribbon is all the rage, as it speaks of our love of all things vintage and oldie worldie. For the fashion conscious who want to demonstrate eco-worthiness, it also offers style and virtue together.

However, it’s not much good if it’s wrapped around a plastic gift, a thought which then prompted research for sustainable, long-lasting gifts.

Etchings create texture and an added dimension in an artwork, as in Julie Beckett’s three-plate colour ‘Poppy’ (€240 at 2020 Gallery).

Have you ever thought about buying art, or does it speak to you of large amounts of money being doled out? According to Sheelah Moloney, owner and curator of the 2020 Gallery on Cork’s North Mall, art is a more affordable option than it may seem.

“Limited reproduction prints, that is a digital duplicate of an original painting, start at €50 and go up to, roughly, €350, depending on the artist,” she says.

If you prefer to buy original art, screen prints and etchings start at €100 and go all the way to €650, with traditional paintings from €250.

To help, many galleries offer payment plans. Sheelah’s own purchase of her very first artwork was achieved on a payment scheme.

“I know how great it is to have one available,” she says. “Once you choose your favourite artwork, you can secure it with a deposit and pay the remainder off over a number of weeks. I can tailor the plan for each customer to suit their individual needs.”

Away from the practicalities of affordable expenditure, there’s the warm and fuzzy aspect of choosing such a personal gift.

“I have found from helping people choose gifts, and from the feedback from recipients of the art, that it always expresses something special about the relationship between the giver and receiver.

It can be a memory of a shared experience or a common past-time, or it can reveal a perspective that the giver has of the receiver that neither was aware of, which adds to the level of surprise.

Cork Printmakers on Wandesford Quay also offers an extensive collection of affordable art, unframed, for €75 and under. These are small works, in the main, made by some of the 120 artists who use the in-house facilities to make print art.

Bear in mind, these are not reproductions of an original artwork, but individually made prints using a variety of printing processes which makes each one an original.

“We’re here to give advice,” says deputy director, Frances O’Connor.

“Come in and look, take a photo and even go away and think about it and come back. As a starting point, I would say go with your instinct when choosing. It’s like buying clothes — colours and a theme will speak to you.”

Artist David Lilburn’s ‘An Island in the Atlantic Ocean, Further South II’ is made with drypoint and watercolour (€490 at Cork Printmakers).

She particularly emphasises the idea of buying art for children as a way of starting a collection and fostering an interest in art.

“Some of our smaller pieces measuring 20cm x 20cm are an ideal way of building up a collection for a god-child for Christmas and birthdays. Think about what they are interested in, maybe animals, stars and planets.”

From December 6-21, the gallery will show a comprehensive selection of print art, especially for the Christmas gift buying public.

Just prior to that, 2020 Gallery launches ‘The Art of Surprise’ series of events with five mini exhibitions during November, right up to Christmas.

Citing Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, Jackie Edwards’ ‘Girl with Skull Tattoo’ is a limited edition print (no. 74/150), mounted and signed (€80 at 2020 Gallery).

In keeping with modern shopping methods, Sheelah has developed a novel retail experience for the time-pressed shopper.

“Our 2020curates.com website offers a service where you fill out a simple form telling me a little about who you are buying for and your budget.

I will then curate a personal selection and send a mini art gallery to your inbox. You can then choose to purchase by phone or make an appointment to view it in the gallery.

"It’s art shopping made easy and fun and saves crucial time over the busy festive season.”

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