is to remain an artist once they grow up.” We go to galleries and we view art that others have decided for us is the best, but actually it’s up to us as individuals to gauge how that art resonates for us. In the same way that my two year old paints and is very proud of her finished piece, because it means something to her. It’s her way of communicating what she’s thinking and feeling; the language of shape, form and colour can be as emotive, in fact more so, than any verbal communication. I think we all recognise now that mental illness is one of the biggest challenges we’re facing as a society today, and we’re all being told to gear up for a future that we don’t totally understand. In fact, my sister – who is an artist herself - is on the verge of completing an art therapy course. Art is the constant that has been there, as I say, from the beginning and perhaps only now are we starting to harness its full power. It’s a way of setting everything else aside, which is an extremely hard thing to do in today’s world, being as accessible and exposed as we all are these days. I’m not an artist, but I do sit and paint occasionally, and the act of putting brush to paper – or whatever it may be – takes me out of myself far more than reading an article or anything else. We love your motto: “Let’s fill this town with artists.” What does that mean to you…? It’s intentionally aspirational. The world has, over the years, put the artistic greats – like Picasso – on a pedestal, and I’m glad we do. Not because we all have to set that as the standard to reach, but because if we didn’t have the galleries
and museums lauding the likes of Picasso, I’m not sure people would hold art in quite such high esteem. We recently commissioned a survey, the results of which told us that around 65% of people we asked described themselves as creative. A lot of that is thanks to technology – we’ve all become accomplished photographers using our smartphones, and seasoned curators by virtue of our Instagram accounts. As we sit here talking, in our flagship Islington store that we opened 12 years ago, I remember people asking me back then why I would open an art shop in this increasingly digital age. Like all entrepreneurs going against the grain, it is easy to fall into the trap of questioning your decisions, but equally it motivates you to get up that little bit earlier the next day, work that little bit harder and ultimately ensure that you made the right choices. The upsurge of art as a hobby amongst professionals such as doctors, architects, lawyers etc is one of the most noticeable growth areas. Creative professionals, as we call them, are people who are very busy but feel the very keen need to find an outlet for their creativity during their precious downtime.
My own daughter, who is due to graduate as a doctor, has spent the last two years illustrating books when she’s not working or studying. It’s no different to people whose hobby is cooking; it’s working with your hands to create something which you can later enjoy. How has social media changed the landscape for artists these days…? Cass Art, much like your galleries, is built upon physical high street properties for people to visit and shop in, but like all cultural shifts are helpful in engaging new generations. My personal opinion is that standing in front of paintings derives a far different interaction with the art than viewing it online. It’s not to say that’s better than digitally curated galleries, and actually, if viewing work online is the catalyst that drives someone to want to visit a gallery or museum and view it in real life, that’s a powerful way of reaching new audiences. To me, it doesn’t matter how someone embarks on their journey with art, the important thing is that they do. Talk to us about your commitment to celebrating both artists and their art…
52 FINE ART COLLECTOR SPRING 2018
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