For Love and Money – Investing in Irish Art

By Daisy Downes, editor of Accountancy Ireland

“We all need images. We live with imagery everywhere we look – television, advertising, magazines – but when do we really choose the images that stimulate our thoughts and emotions, images we can identify and identify with?”

Well, that’s the question posed by artselect, one of Dublin’s newer and more progressive art galleries. I went in search of the answer and met Yvanna Greene (30), a Chartered Accountant who invested her redundancy money in artselect 18 months ago and hasn’t looked back since.

Having completed a Business Studies degree at Trinity College, Yvanna did the Masters in Accounting at UCD and spent four years with KMPG before packing her bags to do a bit of world travelling in 2000. In a year away from the rat race she travelled to Australia and New Zealand and spent some time in South America. Thanks to good contacts through a school friend she managed to make some money along the way selling her travel diary to the women’s online magazine.

Back home in Dublin she joined Cisco, the Internet people, where she worked in finance for a while before the cyber bubble burst and she was faced with redundancy.

Wanting to use her business skills which she gets from her father, a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, but also her creative talents which she gets from her mother, an artist and sculptor, Yvanna found the perfect solution when she decided to invest in a city centre gallery.

Located in Temple Bar, artselect is open from 10 to 6 Monday to Saturday and Yvanna commutes by Dart from her new home on Dublin’s southside.

Asked to describe her role at the gallery she explains that she handles the financial side of the business as well as getting out and about identifying new artists, arranging exhibitions, and doing the marketing and promotional work for the gallery which has established itself as one of the most progressive outlets for new talent in Dublin. Its mission is to nurture and promote the work of upcoming artists and it is running a series of four Emerging Artists Exhibitions this year showing works from two selected artists in each. It is also organising a number of group shows.

Exhibiting when I visited the gallery were the young Irish artists Miriam McConnon and Marty Kelly.

McConnon completed her degree with NCAD in 1999 and then studied in the Cyprus College of Art during 2000. The evidence of Cypriot sun and architecture is evident in works like her Tombs of the Kings Series.

Much of Marty Kelly’s work has been inspired by his travels in Italy and France. He describes his work in his own words:

“Unstable shapes and figures occupy the space – more often emerging from and merging with the surfaces, their existence incessantly revealed and veiled through the physicality of painting. Frequently the figures derive from the humaness of landscape features; in utopian, often Mediterranean environments and in the landscape of the imagination. Others are the embodiment of memories, lives spent, contemplative symbols of escapism in transient times”.

The price list for works in this exhibition ran from â‚ ¬225 to â‚ ¬3000. In the current difficult economic climate I asked Yvanna what the market is like – whether people have the money to invest in work by young Irish artists?

“A lot of younger people are starting to treat art in the same way they treat buying their furniture. It’s an investment but it is part and parcel of putting your home together. You’d expect to spend a couple of grand on a suite of furniture so why not spend a bit on what you hang on your walls? You’ll probably still be looking at it long after you’ve traded in the suite”, says Yvanna.

Asked who we should be buying and what we should expect to pay if we wanted to invest, Yvanna says “the most important thing is to buy what you love yourself”, cautioning that there are no guarantees when it comes to spotting tomorrow’s big names today.
And, as to the spend? “Expect to pay anywhere from about â‚ ¬150 up to a couple of thousand”.

Asked who the buyers for art are, Yvanna says the gallery deals with a lot of individual buyers. She also has customers like architects and interior designers who are choosing works for show houses, as well as some corporate buyers making investment purchases.

“It’s becoming common to buy art for wedding presents, birthday presents and so on”, explains Yvanna adding that many purchasers opt for vouchers so that the intended recipient can choose a piece that fits their own taste. And, as with many other major purchases, you can pay for more expensive works in monthly installments.

Yvanna Greene, ACA, was interviewed by Daisy Downes, editor of Accountancy Ireland magazine.

artselect is located at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar in Dublin.