Secrets and scribbles


I took part once again in the Secret Art Sale, a fund raising initiative for St Wilfrid’s Hospice and the Towner. My three little pieces raised just under £100 – the total raised was over £26,000, not as much as last year, but a  fantastic sum. I have contributed work to several fund raising art events and sometimes a picture goes for a song which can dent the confidence, sometimes it stays unsold which is far more worrying, and there are times when my picture is sold for much more than I have ever achieved in a non-charity situation so I’m left wondering if I’ve been undervaluing my work or if the buyer was just keen to donate to the charity. It all comes down to the promotion of the event.

Perhaps the financial success of the first Secret Art Sale can never be repeated as both contributors and buyers are wiser: is the work that is so obviously by a well known artist/personality ACTUALLY by that artist or by someone trying to make you THINK it is?; is the fact that lots of bids have been placed on a piece an indication that someone KNOWS it’s going to be of value or just bid pushing? If you contribute a piece in your own recognisable style is that negating the ‘secret’ element of the art sale?

Personally I think the overall quality of work in this year’s sale was much better than last year and many deserved much higher prices than they achieved but the ‘names’ weren’t quite as generally popular so the mass bids didn’t happen. That’s the fickle nature of the art market. All the contributors and bidders last year knew there were some pieces by Tracey Emin being donated so there were a lot of simple and, in my opinion, unworthy Emin-like sketches receiving bids. So did the bidders actually LIKE the work or were they simply prepared to buy a bad scribble because they thought it was going to be an ‘investment;? Does the fact that it was bought in the same auction as an Emin MAKE it worth something more?

If I’m honest, if someone were to buy any old scribble by me for thousands of pounds purely because it’s a Tipler, I wouldn’t be complaining too much!

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