There are many reasons to own an original work of art, but among the best are because we love it; because it gives us joy, and because our lives are the better for being in its presence. That the art might also be a financial investment is beside the point. To look every day at a painting that uplifts us is not reducible to price; its value is diminished if we relate this to money.
Over the course of my adult life I've collected many paintings—all have a story to tell. And I'd gladly relate them, were it not that Jane has brought to my study a bowl of her homemade rhubarb crumble... so tart and delicious that I need to pause a moment...
... oh boy, that’s good...
But returning to my pictures...
The one above is by the late John Cartmel-Crossley. I commissioned it shortly after moving to Wales from Northumberland. A watercolour of the Simonside Hills as seen from the road between Rothbury and Alnwick, it's exquisitely done. If you look closely there are two tiny figures which appear in many of his works.
Nearly all of my paintings have connections with my past.
The two below are by Richard Gowland, another Northumbrian artist, but about whom I know very little: the beach is one near where I lived and the nocturne of the Tyne Bridge reminds me of the time I worked in its shadow They were framed by a distant relative, my second cousin on my mother's side. I bought them from his workshop gallery, which if memory serves me right was near to where the artist lived.
In preparing this post, it was tempting to reproduce the images more carefully: to photograph the pictures in flat light, cropping their frames in the way of a book illustration. But this is not how we view paintings in our daily lives. The seascape hangs in the kitchen, the bridge on the turn of our stairs—the glass on the moorland landscape reflects the coming and goings of our walk-through dining room.
I like it this way—for art is so much more than the works we see in galleries or the rarified way they present it. The true value of any painting—or for that matter sculpture, or music or literature—lies in inspiring us to live fuller, richer lives. That's best achieved by it being amongst us, making a difference every day, whether we notice it or not.
My son, who's an architect, said of the new office I'm currently building, 'spend money on the items you'll touch the most.' It's good advice. I've owned all three of these paintings for almost thirty years and never tire of their presence. Recently I had the Cartmel-Crossley reframed; its absence for some weeks left more than a gap on our walls.
For the art we love helps us see (and feel) the world anew. The paintings I own are each a part of my past, but they are also a spur to living; their tangible presence connects me to a world that's beyond our touching. Most of all, they give me reason to pause and savour life's delights—a sort of visual rhubarb crumble... with cream of course.