A Private View with Jerwood Collection
A Private View with Jerwood Collection
"I don't think you can underestimate the value in looking very carefully, and as a rule, always buy what you love."
For our next instalment of A Private View with.., we asked Director of Jerwood, Lara Wardle, to share her joy in collecting and curating for Jerwood Collection, a privately-owned collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art which is open to the public.
Jerwood is a family of philanthropic organisations dedicated to supporting the arts in the UK which is directed by Lara. With over 25 years' experience in the field of British art, she has acquired several works from Cristea Roberts Gallery for the organisation, which include those by Patrick Caulfield, Ian Davenport, Ben Nicholson, Vicken Parsons, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Barbara Walker, and Clare Woods. She has selected several of her favourite works below and discusses how each artist inspires her, whilst also giving advice on how to collect art.
Can you begin by telling us about Jerwood Collection and your role?
Jerwood Collection's primary focus is to collect and display works that will enhance people's enjoyment and understanding of twentieth- and twenty-first century art, with the emphasis very much on enjoyment. My role is focused on curating and collecting and I love hunting out the perfect work of art to join the collection; however, I'm happiest in a library, ideally the V&A National Art Library, doing the behind-the-scenes research.
You have acquired paintings and drawings from Cristea Roberts Gallery, as well as several prints. What is appeal of collecting the medium of prints?
I find collecting prints completely fascinating and, if I am allowed to say it, it appeals to my nerdy side, as it can be academic. At home I have a few prints and, for me personally, it is also a brilliant way of being able to acquire works of art by artists whose paintings might be out of reach financially.
Is it important for you to meet the artist behind the work?
Good question, to which I don't think there is a straightforward answer. Sometimes it feels important to meet the artist: it can give you an insight into their work and direction of travel; but, on other occasions, it is best to take the work on its own merits and not let your personal impression of someone get in the way of your gut reaction.
How have the type of works you collect for Jerwood changed over the years?
During the last twenty-five years my interests have become much broader and I now have a greater knowledge of contemporary art. Collecting art, particularly for a collection on public display, has had to become more thoughtful, nuanced and relevant.
What is your advice for collecting art?
There's a brilliant Peggy Guggenheim quote: 'I took advice from none but the best. I listened, how I listened! That's how I finally became my own expert'. As well as listening to people with expertise, I don't think you can underestimate the value in looking very carefully, and as a rule, always buy what you love.
Please view works selected by Lara below and contact [email protected] if you would like to receive prices, organise a viewing at the gallery or virtually, or require any further information.
"Patrick Caulfield was my gateway artist into the medium of prints and his works from the 1960s hold a very particular place in my addiction to art. Speakers now are a bit different, small, smart and hidden away, but I know the type of speaker that Caulfield signifies in this print - slightly furry to the touch and vibrating with the base. Definitely one on my 'fantasy collection' list."
"I am fascinated by Michael Craig-Martin’s work and his representation of everyday items: I love the fact that each object he depicts seems to be absolutely that thing. You look at this print and you think ‘yup – headphones’. Of course, he has made lots of decisions along the way about how to represent a pair of headphones, but his drawings appear to be almost effortless as if the object has always been portrayed in that particular way."
"This is one of a set of four etchings (of which we have a set in the Jerwood Collection) and it was tricky to pick one from the set – they all feel very different, depending on the colours used and their placement next to each other. There’s something endlessly fascinating about how the colours are poured down the surface and their implied movement, some more markedly one way, and others another, however they all remain part of the whole."
"This work pulses with new life and regeneration: May is a time of hope, gone are April showers (apart from in 2021) and colours burst from seemingly previously dead land and vegetation. We think of orange and yellow as being autumnal colours but this work is spot on: there’s an ancient oak tree just outside my office and I can see all these colours in its leaves that appear in May. "
"I love this small-scale oil painting by Vicken Parsons, which is a perfect reminder that art doesn’t need to be large and loud to be powerful. The diminutive size of this painting demands that you get very close to it: it is like a tiny window or doorway into another world. "
"For me the Mayflower, in this print, is a vessel that has become a symbol of hope and a coming together of cultures. It is a reminder that none of us are one thing or another, that life is nuanced and complex but not perfect."
"Barbara Walker’s exquisitely executed drawings on embossed paper raise questions about what is seen and what is unseen: about how different people have been portrayed in paintings and about how narratives have been told to us. She brings to the forefront characters and people who have been marginalised and often ignored, and asks us to look again and think about what we might have missed before."
"This is a magical and mysterious print, apparently upbeat with brightly coloured flowers on display, but with an undercurrent of foreboding suggested by the long shadows and harsh lighting. What a great title too: ‘unfunny’ is a peculiar word, with passive aggressive undertones."
Clare Woods in conversation with Lara Wardle
About Lara Wardle
Lara Wardle is Director of Jerwood, a family of philanthropic organisations dedicated to supporting the arts in the UK, and also Director of Jerwood Collection, a privately-owned collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art for public display. Lara has over 25 years’ experience in the field of twentieth-century British art, having worked at Christie’s and Phillips auction houses prior to joining Jerwood. Alongside her current work for Jerwood, Lara is an expert advisor to Arts Council England and a freelance curator.