I have been collecting vintage paintings and prints for many years with an unhealthy obsession for floral art. I have a gallery wall of them in my office. I have reluctantly sold many I would rather have kept, but there comes a point when a collector becomes a hoarder. Having a shop is therapy.
But I mix them up with lots of modern prints too. My moody Sasha by Sofia Bonati from Society6 to welcome visitors ... although she doesn't look that happy to see anyone.
I've always wanted an Australian tram poster and when we named our house after the suburb I lived in in Melbourne, I asked my friend Jill in Australia to commission one. It takes pride of place at the bottom of our stairs along with 'I LIKE IT WHAT IS IT' by Anthony Burrill and another favourite of Las Vegas Old Town by Keri Bevan from King & McGaw.
When our extenstion has finished, my husband has promised me a Slim Aaron. I'd have that over diamonds any day.
I am also drawn to a moody canvas. One of my favourites, mainly for the memories, is one of the Australian Bush that my friend Jana spotted on our road trip down the Great Ocean Road, on a recent trip back to Australia. You can read more about my trip HERE. I left half my clothes behind to bring back this painting, various others, some treasures and a 4kg paper dispenser that now takes pride of place on our shop counter. The lady at the check in desk wasn't amused. She was like Roz in Monsters Inc. She didn't raise an eyebrow, just said "Next time, be more careful" as I'd still exceeded my baggage allowance, despite not having any clothes to wear.
For those of you too young to know Roz, google 'Roz Monsters Inc. Paperwork'.
Another favourite is my Tarkay painting. I was at a Boot Fair with my Mum and we both noticed it from afar and picked up speed towards the stall. You can't muck about in these situations. It's huge, approx 38" x 33" and a signed limited edition. We know the artist as my Mum bought two on a cruise in Alaska back in 1998. They were around £300 and they're really small. I tentatively asked the guy on the stall how much it was. He hesitated for a moment and then said, "well, I can't sell it for any less than a tenner!" We could hardly contain ourselves. "Well OK then!" I said, handing him a £10 note and raced back to the car incase he changed his mind.
I have Instagram to thank for another. I've always wanted the 1960's print of Princess 'Saw Ohn Nyun' by Sir Gerald Kelly. British portrait painter Kelly went to Eton and studied art in Paris. Whilst travelling overseas he was inspired to create a series of paintings of Burmese dancers - of which this is one. He became a firm favourite with the royal family and has had his work displayed in the Tate. I put a message on Instagram saying if anyone knew of one for sale, please let me know. A friend locally said she'd seen one recently advertised on FB market place, so I contacted the seller straight away and drove an hour to go and get it that evening. The young guy I bought it from said they had been clearing out his Grandparents house and it was given to them as a wedding present. It's immaculate and I will treasure it.
If you get a chance to speak to sellers about when and where they purchased the pieces from, it's great to know the history. When I had my vintage hire company, I would always ask a bit about the piece of furniture and how long it had been in the family. I either named them after the owner or a family member.
I love modern artwork in equal measure and have recently purchased one from Michelle Thompson which will be hung in our new extension, along with my Slim Aaron. I'll be holding him to that promise.
House photos / Claire Naylor Photography