Reply to Mr Ashley Marchent
I received this interesting and well written response from Mr. Ashley Marchent.
I deemed it worth passing on to you.
I feel that I need to respond to one or two things Ashley brings up in his
letter, and they are that even though the corporate sector are the biggest
potential buyers of art works there is so much wrong with the process that
most artists do not even bear them in mind when marketing their work.
1) The corporate sector has been hugely politicised and so many feel they
are obliged to buy what is often referred to as 'Ethnic'. Large corporations
have in fact crated (boxed) wonderful collections bought over many years and
replaced with 'Ethnic' This is fact!
2) Interior decorators are often left to select the 'ART' that goes into
corporate collections. That is like asking a gardener to select your motor
car. Few of these decorators have any real knowledge of art and approach it
as furniture and fittings. The result is few corporations/businesses are
properly informed, and the result is often rather a décor collection then an
3) At a meeting hosted by BASA (Business ART SA) in Durban about two years
ago certain statistics were presented to us, and one of those was that all
the Corporates on their books, which in fact is a very small proportion of
Businesses in SA; only 2% were from KZN. So it seems very few businesses buy
art or support art, and of those that do only 2% are from KZN. Very worrying
and very sad. If we could somehow encourage corporate SA and corporate KZN
to get behind our art and artists, and not only do so to score political
points it would make such a huge difference.
If only we could learn what makes them tick.
I went to Cape Town City Ballet's Giselle on Saturday night and it was
packed to the bilges. We have art exhibitions and there is not only a couple
of dozen people attending but not a businessman in sight. Why? Is that poor
marketing by the galleries or a weakness in the SA character?
The second point I want to respond to is about artists 'hating to sell and
hating to talk money.'
I find they ALL want to sell and ALL want to make lots of money. I have had
a person phone me and say. "How long will it take me to learn to paint?"
When I said it would take years she was horrified and said that she only had
six weeks as she was moving overseas and was hoping to make her living from
painting. This is a true case and it makes one wonder what people really
think what art is all about? I also have had students who from the word go
are only interested in selling their work, even though they are unlikely to
ever be professionals.
At a talk I gave once on 'Selling and Marketing' art, I asked how many of
the audience of 70 or so were professionals. Four responded. I asked what
the rest were there for? There was a huge response and they said they wanted
to know how to sell their work. The reason was it seems that they wanted to
recover all the money they spent on painting. I asked how many played golf?
A huge number of hands went up. "How much do you get paid for doing that?"
My point was lost.
Why is it that so many who are essentially now, and always will be amateurs
are paranoid about selling? Compared to other hobby activities painting is
The galleries must take some blame for some of this, as standards have come
down and a large proportion of work seen in galleries is not up to what
should be gallery standards. It appears that now anything goes and there is
little in the way of quality control. How can the public and corporate
buyers ever learn to trust what is presented to them. Thank goodness there
are still galleries who will say NO!
Please read Ashley Marchent's letter attached. It really is worth reading.
N.B! Please note that within a week or so my new website will be up and
running, and my 'Thoughts' articles will be posted and be very much easier
to respond to than with the current method. Everyone will then be able to
read responses and even responses to responses.
I will let everyone know when it's available.