Sandra Higgins is an Independent Art Advisor and Insider with Rise Art with more than 20 years of experience in the London art world. Our very own Charlotte sat down with Sandra to ask her about collecting artwork and photography and invited her to share her tips on how to start your very own photography collection.
Charlotte Broomfield: Thanks for spending time with us Sandra. Tell us a bit about the first artwork your bought?
Sandra Higgins: The first real piece of artwork I bought was at an art fair in Chicago, my home town, when I was an art student (printmaker) doing my BA. It reflected my love of all things Spanish and Latin America which I am going to be concentrating on in the future with my gallery. It is a colour photograph of a Peruvian family traveling in an extremely old train. There is a beautiful antique quality to the photo and an air of mystery and adventure typical of far away places, or places that seemed very far away to me then. The signature says David Rose, but to be honest I can’t remember him. The image gives me pleasure every day I pass by it. It gave me my first rule of thumb. Buy art you love - You'll have to live with it, and even if it is a great investment, living with work you don't fall in love with is a real chore.
CB: What was the first gallery you walked into?
SH: Again this would be in Chicago, I would say the Richard Gray Gallery which probably influenced my art taste in future years: Albers, Dine, Hoffman, Calder, Cornell all many of my heroes were there. It was this gallery that informed a lot of perspectives on art, and also photography. For new collectors, I recommend finding a space to learn about works. Rise Art for example allows you to get art picks from myself and the other insiders or speak with advisors through the platform or phone. Take advantage of this and have their team help you identify art you really love.
CB: What's hanging on your living room wall at the moment?
SH: Since my living room is the Gallery Petit now (an area deemed as a 'small but perfectly formed space', which I like very much) I am lucky enough to have an ongoing display of art, which is currently the New York artist Marc Blane, 'Financial Statements'. Personally, in the hallway I have some of my favourites. A collection of African masks I got in Paris, a Piranesi print, a photo of Salvador Dali by Dan Farson, a collage by my dear, old friend Conroy's Maddox who sadly passed away a few years ago, a screen print by Bert Irvin and a pochoir print by Sonia Delaunay. I actually have art in every single room so there are many, many things to look at whilst so much in storage as well. I can't resist collecting myself you see and of course I encourage everyone to think this way, as art is essential in almost all environments, both public and private.
CB: In your opinion, for new collectors, what is the most accessible type of Art?
SH: For me as I have said and as as you can see by my own collection...collect what you like, however, personally I am still drawn to Latin American art and photography and see it as becoming very 'collectable' in the future.
For new collectors, I think photography can be a very accessible medium to collect. Often photography can be a great entry level purchse, as most photographic worsk come in editions which allows the artist to price them affordibly.
CB: What is the best advice you can give to a prospective Art Collector?
SH: Buy what you like and build a collection which gives you great pleasure. If purchasing editioned work, make sure you check the total edition size when you purchase the work, so you know how many editions might be on the market. Often people will buy an edition of 5, but the artist will actually do multiple sizes, making the total edition quite large.
CB: What artists are you working with an at Rise Art are you fond of at the moment?
SH: I am currently a big fan of Jeanne Masoero, and Joe Hesketh an amazing expressionist painter who has just finished a series of paintings informed by the poems of Sylvia Plath. From a photographic standpoint, I really the work of Ori Gersht and Simon Norfolk that are represented on Rise Art via through the excellent collection of The Photographers Gallery.
CB: Are there any emerging Photographers on Rise Art that have caught your eye?
SH: I love the still life work of Photoghapher Ting-Ting Cheng. The delicate gold leaf photography of Robert Hind also really stands out. I love the way the gold refracts in different lights and the etching and glazing the artist uses gives it an incredible finish. Finally, the work of Gina Soden really stands out.
CB: What's the worst advice you've ever been given regarding starting an Art collection?
SH: The worst advice about starting a collection I've been given I suppose was to purchase the most popular artists and works. This is what I like to call a sort of a lemming attitude. To choose by provenance and someone else's opinion...this is seen as 'art as an investment' which sometimes does not work out, so I choose art that I like and hope it will be a good investment, which it many times is, and thus very exciting.
CB: What is the worst artwork investment you have made?
SH: The worst artwork investment I made was probably an art student, who shall remain nameless. I did not really understand their work nor completely warm to it but was advised that they would 'go places' by an art critic...they never did.
CB: Artwork you'd love to own?
SH: That's easy a huge Kandinsky! And if I get two a David Smith sculpture. Abstract art has always been a passion with me and I focused on this type of work when I had my gallery in Mayfair in the early 90's.
CB: Describe your Art preference?
SH: I think that is probably clear by now...but if in categories, abstract art, surreal images, steel sculptures, photography and specifically black and white reportage photography.