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  • Writer's pictureRichard Atkinson - Willes

A Good Guide to Buying Art

Talos Gallery owner Richard's advice to buying art that you will enjoy for many years to come.

Don't be bamboozled, trust your instinct.

The contemporary art world is notorious for trying to erode people’s confidence in their own judgement by championing the ever more extreme avant-garde at the expense of its own self respect. ‘Experts’ seem to imply, with thinly disguised disdain, that if we don’t like it, it’s somehow our fault for not understanding rather than the artist’s fault for trying to communicate with us in a language which is either incomprehensible or, more commonly, insultingly banal.

Artist and Gallery Owner, Richard Atkinson-Willes' top five tips when making the decision to add that red sticker to a piece of art.

1. It is not what you read, it is how it makes YOU feel.

Don’t be bamboozled by the pretentious notes in exhibition catalogues. However wonderful it may be, a work of art remains a thing which you share space with, and it’s your space to choose who and what you want to share it with - and why.  It’s the sort of decision based on a random mixture of practicality and intuition that we make all the time – and we’re generally quite good at it – so trust yourself.

2. Good art survives

It is ok to ‘know what you like’ and laugh when you see the emperor’s new clothes. If it helps inform your decision, remember that the art of the past survives because it has been well made, well loved and as a result sometimes well hidden, without a catalogue note in sight.

3. See how it would look in your own space

A gallery, like Talos, can help the practical side of your decision making by showing artwork in the sort of environment it will eventually call home,. Our gallery buildings are modest and domestic in scale and the gardens welcoming and intimate, giving you the opportunity to see sculptures and paintings as they would look in your own home.

4. Apply Rick Stein principle

Our Summer Exhibitions are my personal selection of work by artists whom I admire. My choice of artwork is governed by Rick Stein’s principle for buying fresh fish – fish should smell like the sea; if it smells of fish, it’s no good. Thus artwork is only good if it has been made with an honest intention to express a personal vision; art made with the sole intention of being ‘art’ is no good.  

5. Avoid trends or matching styles

Art chosen because it fits with particular interior styles or colour schemes is in danger of sharing their fates as they inevitably fall victim to the march of fashion. Good art will transcend your brief flirtation with avocado bathroom suites or mauve shag-pile carpet if you buy slightly outside your own comfort zone: set aside pre-conceived constraints about subject matter and materials and look for a friend who you will enjoy spending time with but who will challenge you and not allow you to be complacent.

6. Love is the key!

It is perhaps no surprise that the last tip sounds like advice for someone embarking on a love affair, because love is the key: just make sure that interest will endure beyond the first few weeks – and beware the new kid in town!

There is a lot of art out there to enjoy, and some of it you will want to take home with you, so go on, 'Surprise Yourself".

Art remains a thing which you share space with – and it’s your space to choose who and what you want to share it with - and why.

Interested in buying works from our Summer Exhibition?

For more advice and to get closer to the art and find out about the artist and their inspiration you are welcome to arrange a Private Viewing with Richard.

Please contact Talos and leave a message on 01249 599 069 or email

We also offer exclusive Group Tours of our Summer Exhibition every wednesday that the gallery is open (25 May until 21 July). Ideal for groups of 15+ people to enjoy exclusive access. £15 per person. Booking Essential.

Please contact Talos and leave a message on 01249 599 069 or email



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