Art | Need To Now

The show that makes art collecting more accessible

An easy way into the art world for would-be collectors

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The show that makes art collecting more accessible

Image: Ivon Hitchens

August 19 2011
Victoria Woodcock

Stepping off the street and into one of London’s famed commercial galleries can be a test of nerves for the initiated – let alone starting that conversation about what to buy, and at what price. Which is why Cork Street stalwart Messum’s gallery offers would-be collectors and first-time buyers a less intimidating way into the art-buying world.

Each year it runs a three-day event called Start a Collection, which since its inauguration in 2003 has become something of a London art-world highlight. The sale consists of more than 150 pieces – paintings, drawings and small sculptures – chosen for their accessibility, both in terms of subject and price.

The works span different genres and eras, from the 19th to the 21st century, landscapes to still lifes, aligned with the gallery’s typical focus on British artists. So Cornwall-based painters such as Julius Olsson (1864-1942) and John Miller (1931-2002) are well represented (third picture: Kritza Crete II, 1986 by John Miller); there’s a piece by John Piper (Corner of Bedford Square and King’s Road, Hove, 1938; £7,850) and one by his son Edward (Barcelona, 1987; £1,450).

Towards the top end of the scale, chalked up at £38,500, is the bold and eye-catching abstract White Sea Cloud (first picture) by Ivon Hitchens, who was part of The London Group of artists that also counted Henry Moore and David Hockney among its members. With equally bold lines and colours, yet expressionist in style, is The Blue Room by Catalan painter Carlos Nadal, which is £6,850, while a charming pen-and-wash drawing by Lionel Bulmer called The Railway Station (second picture) is just £985.

The collection can be viewed online, but it’s much better to get down to Cork Street in person as soon as you can, as the sale continues until end of play on Saturday August 20. The popularity of the event and its “significantly discounted prices” often means queues. But then, what could be less intimidating?

August 19, 10am-6pm. August 20, 10am-4pm.