London’s commercial galleries—150 of which are throwing open their doors for the second London Gallery Weekend from 13 to 15 May—rely on art collectors for their business. But how can collectors act in the most ethical fashion when they make their art purchases?
We asked five people from different parts of the art world: a private collector, an institutional collector, a gallerist and an artist duo.
Artist Louise Wilson draws the difference between an engaged collector and someone who merely buys work: “A collector supports a whole ecosystem, which is essential to the art world.” She says that an artist’s work being flipped at auction by a collector can be devastating for them.
Gallerist Niru Ratnam however warns of enforcing too strict ethical guidelines on buyers: “If they are going to buy a work of art and see themselves as collector, they’re a collector.”
Collector David Roberts turns the question back, and wonders whether collectors should be wary of artists’ own ethical standpoint, especially in the context of so-called “cancel culture”.
The panel is moderated by Louisa Buck, The Art Newspaper’s contemporary art correspondent.
Register here to watch the whole talk online.
Meet the panellists:
Jane and Louise Wilson, artists
Jane and Louise Wilson, RA (born 1967, Newcastle, UK) have been working together for over 30 years. They were joint coordinators for the 252nd Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and in 1999 they were nominated for The Turner Prize for their multi-screen installation Gamma. Their works are currently included in the two-part exhibition The Toxic Camera at Maureen Paley and Studio M, London, until 5 June 2022.
Deborah Smith, director, Arts Council Collection
Deborah Smith is the director of the Arts Council Collection, the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art. She has worked as curator for a number of decades, working with organisations including Hayward Touring, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Camden Arts Centre, Chapter, the Contemporary Art Society, Birmingham Museums Trust and the Serpentine Galleries.
David Roberts, collector
David Roberts is a collector of contemporary art and Founder of the Roberts Institute of Art (RIA), a non-profit contemporary arts organisation that commissions performance art, collaborates with national partners on exhibitions and works to research and share the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. He is married to artist Indrė Šerpytytė and they live between London and Scotland. Roberts is the co-Founder and Chief Executive of Edinburgh House Estates, a commercial property investment and asset management company.
Niru Ratnam is a gallerist based in Soho, London. He used to be a writer.
Talk sponsored by Crozier
The Art Newspaper is an official media partner of London Gallery Weekend