There was no epiphany of any kind back in 2002. Tied up with family life and grappling with a notion of a rewarding work-life balance we realised one thing we all enjoyed was looking at, and talking about, contemporary art .
Translating that in to something more full-time at home on any significant level was clearly the challenge. We had limited financial resources to buy art as individual families even if the desire and interest was there. With two arts professionals amongst us, we were not short of encouragement and ideas.
“We” were seven households back in 2002: four were related (siblings) and three long time friends spread over London from north to south. But we were all in the same City which was a good start. It was almost a “family affair” even if it didn’t have to be for the idea to work – but it certainly made meet-ups easier in the early days and with children in tow.
The idea was straight forward: we would buy art “collectively” and share it by meeting up on a regular basis and “exchanging it” between households.
A number of group conversations started to set our thoughts down on the process and build a framework for how we wanted the group to participate in art more widely and how it should be run more specifically.
It was to be a co-operative approach where each household would commit to a small sum per month and once the funds began building up we would start to purchase new contemporary art works. We shared and agreed a certain purpose around our group. The intention was not to make money or see it as an investment opportunity – but rather to enjoy art for arts sake in domestic settings from new, emerging and cutting edge artists – however challenging and unlikely it was that we may have purchased those art works on our own. We wanted to live with the art and appreciate new visual stimuli around us every day at home.
We had plenty to think about: a name, a bank account, treasurer, how to buy and share and a written model – or constitution.
So we arrived at “The Collective”. Thirteen years later we have a collection of over 50 works that we continue to grow and continue to share amongst ourselves. We are seen as viable collectors by contemporary gallerists, art fairs and Arts Council England and we are not alone as a group. The Founding group has enabled the launch of other groups across the country.
In the beginning we were just seven households who enjoyed contemporary art with lots of stories ahead of us. It is those stories that I will be sharing regularly in this blog.