We spent the day yesterday in Bruton, in Somerset, with our artist Sandra James to help install “Internal Dialogue” (pictured in the series of images below) an outdoor sculpture, commissioned by one of our clients following our Somerset Art Weeks show in September of last year. Read on to find out more and discover our top tips on commissioning artwork.
Cavaliero Finn has been working with Sandra James since her graduation in 2015 when, in conjunction with Somerset Art Works we offered her a bursary to develop a body of work for our Somerset Show that year. Working in plaster and aggregate and jesmonite and aggregate (for external sculptures), these seemingly incompatible materials are chosen by the artist intentionally to suggest levels of human interaction and experience.
We love the elegant forms of her sculptures, the juxtaposition of materials used, the simplicity of form and the dialogue she creates between harmony and tension.
“Working to commission is very different to creating work to my own brief,” said Sandra.
“Typically in the studio my starting point is a word or phrase. I bring that word or phrase alive by working intuitively translating the form, immediately responding to the shape that emerges; a piece may undergo many changes in this process.
“But working to commission in this case saw me responding to`place’. It brought about different set of rules to making – practical points such as space, light and access being primary considerations.
“Listening to the clients intentions for the use of the garden and being able to deliver a sculpture that subtly expressed these was a real pleasure. I really enjoyed the experience.”
We are often approached by our clients to arrange the commission of an artwork. Here are a few of our top tips if you are considering commissioning an artist to create a work for you.
Last year Sandra was one of ten finalists in the National Sculpture Prize 2017 exhibition which ran throughout the summer at the Broomhill Art and Sculpture Gardens in Devon.
Do’s and don’ts of commissioning artwork
Make sure you know the artist’s work and be confident that whatever they create you will like.
Ensure you have seen a variety of different works by the artist and that you understand the full scope of their work.
Meet with the artist and discuss what you are looking for in as much detail as possible. Be clear and concise and let the artist know your reasons for commissioning the work.
Make a list of the artist’s work and split them into works that you love, those you like and those you are not keen on and share this with the artist.
Expect to pay a non-refundable deposit of around 50% of the total price of the finished commission.
Get something in writing from the gallery or artist confirming your requirements and make sure you know when the commission will be completed.
Stay in contact with the artist or gallery you’ve commissioned the work through to ensure that you are happy with the progress being made on your commission. Most artists will contact you half way through the commission to ensure that the work is going in the right direction for approval.
Be prepared to wait for your commission, many artists have a programme of shows to provide work for and will fit commissions around these.
Don’t expect to be able to commission an exact replica of a work that has already been sold.
Don’t ask an artist to create a work in a stye they wouldn’t normally do.
Don’t be too prescriptive, you are commissioning a work that is the artist’s creation, not yours.