An Interview with Sarah Monk, Director of the London Art Fair

By Paul Joseph

The London Art Fair kicks off the 2020 international art calendar later this month, once again promising to connect seasoned and aspiring collectors with the best galleries from around the world through a world class display of modern and contemporary art.

At the helm of the show once again this year will be Sarah Monk, the event’s director, whose wealth of experience makes her a leading authority within the global art scene.

We caught up with Ms Monk to hear her thoughts on modern British art, current art market trends, and investing in artwork for superyachts.

SY: What would you say are some of the current trends being seen in the art world?

SM: “As director of London Art Fair, I’ve noticed a consistent interest in collecting Modern British art and a rising demand for contemporary art from all over the world. Although there will always be a thirst for traditional forms of art, such as painting, prints and sculpture, collecting in recent years has diversified and expanded to include non-traditional media like textiles and moving image.”

SY: What have been your experiences when it comes to superyacht owners wanting to buy art for their boats?

“Over the course of the last decade, superyachts have become an increasingly popular settings for the display of private art collections. Naturally, there are certain logistical considerations that need to be thought about before investing in artwork for your boat. Factors like installation, lighting, climate, insurance, tax and security are important concerns if you’re looking to invest in high-value works of art. There’s no need to manage these practical considerations alone, as there are a great number of specialist firms available to assist on this front.”

SY: What tips would you give to yacht owners considering buying art for their vessel?

“When buying art for your yacht, it is very important that you do your research. If you are new to investing in art, then take some time to develop your taste and knowledge by visiting art fairs, museums, galleries and auction houses before taking the plunge. At London Art Fair, we encourage collectors to visit our website in advance to get a flavour of the galleries who are exhibiting and the artwork they will be showing. If you come across an artist you like, make sure to find out basic information about them, including their biography, a list of galleries, museums or institutions where the artist has exhibited and any awards they have won. This information will help you to understand more about who the artist is.

“One of the benefits of the art fair setting is that it allows you to take a more reactive approach to art buying by allowing particular pieces to leave their impression on you as you browse. Often the artists themselves are present to speak about their work, which can give such rich insight into their creative process. Buying work from an emerging artist can be a great way to start investing in art and building a collection for your boat.”

SY: And what would you say to yacht owners attending the London Art Fair for inspiration?

“It is essential that you choose artworks that are perfectly suited to you as a collector and to the interior of your yacht. Whether you’re a first-time investor or an established collector, art fairs are unique opportunities to build your collection because they connect you with a host of specialist art dealers who can help you find the perfect pieces - all under one roof.

“The result is a creative exchange and collaboration that can be lost in other contexts for buying art. The thoughtful selection process and careful curation of the art also means that quality is assured and maintained at as high a level as possible. In the case of London Art Fair it is a well-shared view between galleries and collectors to reconnect with existing clients and establish exciting new relationships.”

SY: Finally, other than financial incentives, what would you say are some of the main benefits gleaned from buying investment-quality art?

“While it helps to be aware of art market trends, it is really important that you make up your own mind and trust your gut when it comes to art buying. While the investment aspect is important, ultimately you should buy a work of art because you love it. That way, not only will you feel proud to display it in the setting of your yacht, but the artwork will have enduring value to you.”

By Paul Joseph