The chef and restaurateur Mark Hix first became acquainted with the “art crowd” more than 20 years ago when he lived in Shoreditch, east London, where he got to know many of the YBAs and started to collect their work. “It’s nice having that relationship with the artists, so you’ve got a bit of a story there,” he says. Art features prominently in many of his restaurants, with mobiles by the likes of Sarah Lucas, Mat Collishaw and Shezad Dawood hanging from the ceiling at Hix Soho, and a huge formaldehyde work titled Cock and Bull (2012) by Damien Hirst in his Hackney eatery Tramshed. In 2013, he launched the Hix Award to support students and recent graduates, with a top prize this year of £10,000 and a solo show at the Hix Art gallery, which is located below Tramshed.
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you bought?
Mark Hix: I think it was a couple of Bridget Rileys. One was a small edition called Ra 2 and the second one was a 1960s black and white on Perspex [Untitled (Fragment 5/8) (1965)]. They’re quite rare and you don’t see them around much now. I bought them from her directly. Karsten [Schubert], who sadly passed away recently, was her dealer for many years and I knew Karsten well. I wanted to buy a couple of Rileys and he said just go directly to Bridget, so that’s how I got to know her.
What is your most recent buy?
A couple of Henry Hudsons, who I’ve known for years. I’ve got a few of his pieces. There is one downstairs [at the Tramshed] and one at home.
Where do you keep your works?
My house in Dorset, my flat in Bermondsey and I’ve just bought a boat on the Thames—I’ve got a few pieces in there. And, of course, the restaurants.
If your house was on fire, which work would you save?
The Bridget Riley. It’s quite unusual—you don’t see many of those black and white [works].
If money were no object, what would be your dream purchase?
I don’t know really because it’s a very personal thing. I’d much rather buy simple, non-expensive stuff, which I tend to have done in the past. I never buy to sell—there’s not a financial element to it.
What is the most surprising place you have displayed a work?
The boat now I suppose. When we did the restaurant at the Frieze art fair—we did it for ten years—we had a Tracey Emin neon among the trees.
Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d probably have to have a big party because I wouldn’t want to forget anyone. [Out of the dead artists], people like Lucian Freud. I didn’t know him well, but he used to always come to the Ivy [restaurant] and he had his table that he liked. So I obviously served him along with people like Peter Blake.
What would you serve at the dinner party?
Probably bangers and mash.
What’s the best collecting advice you have been given?
Buy things that you like, as opposed to things you think can be an investment. Its potluck if you are buying for investment.
Which work do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
There was a show of Banksy’s works at Lazarides [gallery] years ago, when [Steve] first opened in Soho. There was one particular piece there… the one with the helicopter [Happy Chopper]. It wasn’t much money because no one knew who Banksy was. That’s the one piece I regret not buying because then it was not very expensive.