As you know, I buy art. In fact in the last two years or so I've spent £4,545 on pictures (mainly paintings) and £710 on sculptures (all of them animal figures), a total of £5,255. And this excludes smaller things like prints and ornamental glassware and books on art and artists.
At least £50 a week then. That sounds a lot, but it's about the same as my weekly half a tank of diesel for Fiona. And I have beautiful things for this money that I can keep forever; things that give me pleasure to look at, and make my home an even nicer place to be.
I suppose £5,255 would have bought me a new nose, and that might have been beautiful, and of course it too would be with me forever. But it may turn out that spending the cash on artworks instead has done me a favour. Surgical outcomes are not precisely predictable, and if I'd had the money and rushed in to fix my nose, I might not now like the result - quite apart from the intense discomfort I'd have endured while the thing healed and settled down. In fact getting facial surgery has fallen to a low position on my list of priorities, certainly behind giving my home decor a makeover, fitting an electric mover to my caravan, and saving up for another trip to New Zealand. By the time I can afford any more surgery, I might well decide that tinkering with my face is quite unnecessary.
Back to the point of this post. Jo Pryor is a rising artist who lives in Great Torrington in North Devon. I discovered her two years back. She has a website (http://www.jopryor.net/). I bought one of her paintings ('A Field of Dreams') in July 2009. You've seen it in the background of many shots of me taken at home:
Jo Pryor finished it in 2009, and I bought it at the Burton Art Gallery in Bideford. It cost me £340. It's a beautiful painting, and must have taken the artist ages to paint, because the decorative detail on the women's clothes is so intricate, as intricate as patterns in celtic or islamic art. It remains my favourite. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
But now I've come back from North Devon with two more of her paintings, to keep this one company. This is 'Sister' which she completed in 2010:
Sorry for the oblique angle - it was hard to avoid reflections when I took the shot. I bought 'Sister' at Gallery Three Nine in Barnstaple, and it cost £400.
The third painting, which she completed this year, is 'Russia', was on exhibition at The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington:
Again, apologies for the reflections! 'Russia' cost me £550.
When I attended the Private View at this year's exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery in Bideford, I noticed that her painting there 'Umblemead' was going for £600. Now all these paintings are roughly the same size and in the same consistent style, with developments in technique and experimentation in colour of course, but basically similar to each other, and comparable. It seems to me - and I wasn't the only person to notice it - that as she is getting better-known, and becoming something of a 'name', Jo Pryor is quite rightly able to ask more for her work. You can see an upward trend in the asking prices, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her first £1,000 painting next year. Already she is getting beyond the financial reach of many local people. I have chatted to one or two. Women especially like her subject and style. But the man who owned the gallery in Barnstaple said he liked her work too, and had one of her paintings at home. I rather think that the £1,290 I've so far spent on my Jo Pryor collection will not be money wasted!
The sunset light in my lounge at home sends golden streaks across these paintings, making the colours sing:
And here is the happy art-collector:
My study is now the new home for most of the wildlife pictures. I'm leaving the remaining wallspace in the lounge for any further Jo Pryors that I can afford. The hall is a hotch-potch of different pictures at the moment, and ripe for wholesale redevelopment as a miniature gallery. And my bedroom is bereft of artworks: that'll have to be put right!