How & When Non-Rich People Should Buy Art


  • Buy art for investment
  • Buy art at auction or at cool fairs
  • Buy art direct from collectors
  • Sell art at a profit to buy more art
  • Buy art ’cause you already have six cars and five holidays a year.


  • Buy art that makes your heart sing

It doesn’t need to be an original painting. It doesn’t need to even be a limited edition print. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be from the high street or an online shop. It can be something you pick up on holiday, or something you saw in someone else’s house. It can be from a charity shop. It can be something you paint yourself.

It just, quite simply, has to make you smile and full you with a sense of joy when  gazed upon.

In recent weeks I’ve chatted to someone who slapped a bit of paint on a canvas because they had some sample pots left over, someone who fell in love whilst on hols with a painting in a small art gallery in Spain and then had to manhandle it on the plane home (clearly in the days pre-baggage limitations and probably in the days when you could smoke on planes at the back like naughty kids) and someone who treasures a vintage Ikea print which most other people have long since upgraded.

I’m neither going to Spain nor about to crack open the tester pots, but I still bagged myself some art this weekend. Let me tell you a lovely story.

Maria Rivans room, Artist Residence BrightonWork is taking me all over the country at the moment, with lots of long car journeys and sitting in one position. Travel mean hotels and hotels mean BATHS (said as someone who three years into a reno still hasn’t plumbed in her giant bargain tub). A bad back also means a bath after long journeys is a bit of an essential. When we rocked up in Brighton last weekend, my booking was for a night in the gorgeous Artist Residence, after seeing Mrs MadAboutTheHouse and MrsGirlWithTheGreenSofa showcase the gaff in their Stories recently. I’m a sucker for a pretty Story shot. Fate.

Fail: our room didn’t have a bath.

Bonus: there was a room which did. So we switched. Fate.img_7630Call me lax if you will, be I’d not actually clocked that each room in this fabulous hotel is individually decorated by a different artist, invited in by the hugely inventive owners to showcase their work and creatively personalise each space. Finding myself in the Maria Rivans’ room, I immediately lusted over her intricate collages, flowing over surfaces, into corners and over sockets. Fate.img_7634.jpgGlamorous, strong women are surrounded with flora and fauna, detail, colour, shape and humour. Years ago I used to make collages with images cut out of magazines, though nothing as creative and spectacular as Maria’s, so the artwork really spoke to me. Fate.img_7635I enjoyed my room, my bath and my stay, then left.

One week later, let’s move across the country to Shropshire. I found myself in another hotel, the Northey Arms near Box, visiting two more of our Reno Babies for this new TV show next year. I’m helping out behind the scenes getting the projects moving and there’s a lot of travel involved, hence all the hotel stays. Sensible this time, checked ahead on the bath situation 😉

Waiting for Mr M to come down from the room for brekkie with a few moments to spare, I had a leaf through ‘Bath Life’ on the table in the bar area. Fate.img_7891There, in the What To Do in Bath when you’re in between building site appointments section, was a Maria Rivans image! I did a double take and scanned the page. Lo and behold, her work was not only featured in the magazine, coincidence enough, but was being exhibited a couple of miles up the road in Bath, with the closing date for the pop-up noted as the 16th. That very day. Fate.

Did I have an option? No. Was this the gods talking, nay, shouting at me? Yes.

Him: So what’s the postcode of the next stop?

Me: Blah blah letters and numbers

Him, continuing his love affair with Google Maps: That’s ten minutes away. I thought we were going to Shrewsbury?

Me: Think again Parker and set your cap to warp speed, we’re going on an adventure.img_7872.jpgDashing through the streets of Bath on a Sunday is a challenge – it’s packed! No parking spaces (half way up a very steep hill), skipping through tourists and elbowing aside the hoards taking photos of a flower bedecked Ivy. Glowing with effort, I found it. In a subterranean hallway, beneath a shopping centre. Fate.img_7873The gallery owner, Jessica, was just so lovely, eminently knowledgeable but also friendly and helpful without being pushy or pressurising in any way. Art galleries have a bit of a rep for being snooty and exclusive, but there was nothing of the nose in the air about this Modern Art Buyer pop up experience.

Now stupidly, because everything was a bit of a blur by that point plus Mr Mr was reminding me every 8 seconds that we had to GET ON THE ROAD, I didn’t get a photo of all six Maria Rivans prints lined up against the wall as I gazed in wonder at them. Not only Audrey Heburn, as in the artwork in Brighton, but also several other gloriously strong women, surrounded by playful and intricate ephemera. Women like these beauts…Maria Rivans artwork.jpgWith all of these stars aligning, the Brighton hotel, the room change, the waiting in the lobby in Shropshire, the Bath Life casual flick, the location and timing of the pop up…. how could I not? It was like it was meant to be.img_7871 Scrub that, it was meant to be. And now it is. I know I should be spending my hard earned pennies on my bedroom floor, ensuite and finishing the garden but sometimes, just sometimes, something is so meant to be that it has to be.

And this is what I think about art. If an image, a drawing, a painting, a piece of sculpture just makes your heart sing, then it doesn’t matter if it’s an original or a print, if it’s a million quid or a tenner.

You guys already know that I don’t buy art regularly, all our cash has gone on Moregeous HQ, but I’m starting to think about the hallways, which have been designed to showcase pictures against the bare brick. I wanted to find some show stopping artwork, not realising that a little like cats, show stopping artwork actually finds you. I’m working full on at the moment and can’t treat myself to a holiday, so am treating myself to this!

I can’t wait to show “Persia” off to you, after she’s been properly and rightly framed of course 🙂

You can see more of Maria’s work on the Modern Art Buyer website and Jessica tells me that twice a year she and husband Adam hold an open house event in their home where guests can browse art work in a relaxed environment. With Prosecco. That’s dangerous isn’t it. My credit card gets itchy after several proseccos. I was once known to buy a full size fibre glass cow at an auction. But that’s another story.

Thank you Maria, pictured below, for creating something which makes my heart sing!rivans_mug_shot_dec_13

*This post is not sponsored, an advert or gifted in any way

5 thoughts on “How & When Non-Rich People Should Buy Art

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    1. Ah thanks so much Kimberly! I though of you yesterday, we were down in Shrewsbury on a flying visit. Next time I must message you properly and you can show us the sights 🙂

    2. Thanks so much for reading Kimberly, it was such an extraordinary chain of events that I wanted to share it! Maria’s work, oh my goodness, I just adore everything about it. Lots of gold & colour – right up your street too! Xx

  1. Absolutely loved this post and following your adventure to Persia! Look forward to seeing her up on your wall. And I totally agree about art speaking to you – I have some pretty odd things I have collected over the years that I love. And some pretty odd things I have painted that make me happy too (so guilty of the sample pots, but I also bought some acrylics recently to mess around with for some art for our bathroom and I kind of love how it turned out). I think art is such an integral part of interiors that even if you should be focusing on the major reno work, if you find something that belongs with you, you take it home. 🙂 Fate. xx

    1. It was you!! I couldn’t recall who it was who’d painted their own artwork but now I remember talking to you at our Experience Day about it!! Maybe I need to do some of that myself too :))))

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