Powell is a lecturer for Christie’s Education and its Young Collectors Club, and is also planning an exhibition based on private collections for a major national institution. For London Craft Week 2020 she is co-curating a show of Contemporary craft at a Mayfair gallery.
What is your goal with the company?
We want to provide an accessible and personal approach to collections management. Even if you only have three works of art, you’re still a collector if you’ve purposefully chosen them.
Why not consult an auction house for this sort of support?
Auction houses will offer help with storage and transportation and they might catalogue a major collection. But for smaller or less valuable collections they will not have the capacity to provide this support as it is not financially viable for them.
Who are your clients?
Mostly individuals, whether they collect for investment or for passion, but we’re also working with some businesses. It’s not all traditional art.We have worked on archives as well, including Lock and Co Hatters in St James’s. We work with companies regularly, including recently cataloguing and managing the private collection of the clothing company Patagonia. Many of our California clients are collecting Contemporary works.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Changing people’s mindset. I find it interesting that people will invest money in, say, a house and understand the importance of keeping it well maintained, but that there isn’t the same mentality around art. It can be difficult to get art owners to think of themselves as collectors and therefore custodians of precious objects with all the work that goes alongside that. It doesn’t matter how big the collection is.
How can you add value to works in your collection?
One of the best ways is by exhibiting them. I encourage our clients to lend to exhibitions and do some curating myself. Because of costs, it can be more difficult to loan out a work from a museum than from a private owner. With our network of contacts, we are able to pair these two groups.
What’s encouraging about the world of collections management at the moment?
People usually appoint us when they want to do something with their collection, whether it is estate planning or taking it to an exhibition. What we would really love is for collectors to start thinking about relevant issues from an earlier stage. Christie’s is doing good work on this with their Young Collectors Club. Also, Plowden & Smith were sponsors of Masterpiece this year, and next year the fair will focus a bit more on aspects of owning art beyond its acquisition.
Many organisations give advice on how to collect and care for your items including dealer associations BADA and LAPADA.