For readers that haven’t heard of it before can you tell us a bit about Heart & Sold?
Yes of course. Heart & Sold is an innovative art project that supports and promotes the work of some of the finest contemporary artists, who just happen to have Down Syndrome.
We currently represent 34 painters, illustrators and photographers – all of whom create the most amazing work. The fact that they have Down Syndrome is an aside – we don’t want (or need) a fanfare or special concessions because our awesome artists have an extra chromosome.
That’s not to say, we don’t celebrate our artists having Down’s syndrome or that we’re not incredibly proud of what they may have had to overcome to produce their beautiful work. But we don’t want to pigeon-hole them into a ‘disability’ art niche, instead Heart & Sold has always hoped simply to level the playing field in terms of getting the artists’ work out there and giving them a platform for their creativity.
What inspired you to setup Heart & Sold?
In essence, it was the birth of my second child Max, who was born with Down Syndrome in 2007. His diagnosis was a shock initially and like any parenting journey, my husband, Paul, and I went through all sorts of highs and lows.
I have a background in art and design, and some knowledge of art psychotherapy, and while researching the condition, I became quite fascinated by the creative nature of people with Down Syndrome. The variety, power and creativity of the work I discovered while looking at artists with the condition was just amazing – and I really felt that it was art that the world had to see. That’s when Heart & Sold began to take shape.
All the artists featuring in Heart & Sold have Down Syndrome, would you say the art they create is quite unique?
You only have to look at the work of our artists to see that like all other artists, the work of those with Down Syndrome is absolutely diverse in both style and character.
That said, I do feel our artists share more than that extra chromosome. There is a real unbridled creativity among the Heart & Sold team, they don’t hold anything back – their pieces seem so unrestricted. I’ve also noticed that they find the beauty in places that others just wouldn’t see it.
What do you look for in an artist and in their work?
Aside from talent and creativity, we’re looking for artists who live for their art and have a real passion for creating new works. Obviously, we’re a commercial venture so I do need work that I think we can sell and it’s always good if they bring a style that complements our other artists. Are the artists that you represent mainly local or are they from further afield?
We are based in Macclesfield but have artists from all around the world, which makes for a really interesting mix of styles and influences. Around 60% of the Heart & Sold collective are from the UK, and then we’ve got 6 in the US and Canada, plus artists in Germany, Morocco, Nigeria and Australia. We’re an eclectic lot!
You are appearing at Buy Art Fair this weekend could you tell us about the event?
Oh, we are so excited. The Buy Art Fair is one of the UK’s leading arts festivals and such a treat for art lovers. As well as some fabulous work available from artists and galleries across the UK, there are events and talks and all kinds of great stuff to get involved with.
Personally, it’s a great opportunity to get the Heart & Sold name out there alongside ‘typical’ artists and let the public judge the work of our guys on its own merits. The fact that the Fair is celebrating its tenth anniversary makes our first time there even more special – it feels truly momentous.
Could you tell us about some of your favourite works that are appearing in your exhibition at the fair?
I think it’s fair to say that each and every piece we’re selling is one that is very close to my heart and I genuinely would struggle to single any one out.
What I can promise is that we have something to suit all tastes – from the cheeky wit of Lester Magoogan, our surreal line artist, to the beautiful abstracts from the likes of Andrew Weatherly, Charlie French and Anthony Childs, and some really stunning photography from photographers including Oliver Hellowell, Rachel Handlin and Mohammed Dalloul.
Do you have an art background yourself, have you ever been inspired to pick up the brush?
I worked more as a designer and project manager than an artist, but have always loved art – especially sculpture – and chose it throughout school up until foundation level. I eventually chose to do study Museum and Exhibition Design at the University of Humberside, which gave me an understanding of the spatial awareness and elements of design required to bring certain art pieces to life.
I’d love to pick up sculpture again when life is a little less hectic.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
Tazia Fawley, an amazing artist of ours based down in Somerset, is taking part in an exhibition, 4 Plus 1 at the Avondale Gallery, North London, on 18 – 19 November (www.frontroomart.co.uk) so we’ll be actively supporting that.
We’ve also some exciting new pieces to get live on our website, www.heartandsold.org.uk, and we’ll be having a push for some Christmas sales, while also of course planning for another exciting year.
For further information about Heart & Sold, please visit www.heartandsold.org.uk.
Meanwhile, The Buy Art Fair is delighted to offer fans of Artistic Echoes free weekend tickets for Saturday and Sunday, 28 – 29 October 2017. Simply enter the code ‘sapphire’ to claim your tickets. Book online at www.buyartfair.co.uk/tickets.
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