Every month we invite a prominent collector to recommend three pieces selected from the PROJECT PAPYROPHILIA inventory. We are delighted to introduce Mark Hinchliffe:
Hi Mark, when did you get into collecting initially and how did it come about?
From a young age I had an inquisitive mind. After finding an ammonite fossil on the beach in Whitby, a curiosity of how it was made and where it came from led me to collecting natural mineral specimens. Art for me is a fix, and many of the works I collect cross reference points of history, art history, literature and many other things. Many collectors only collect one theme - English painting, ceramics etc. - but I collect anything that takes my eye, be it shape, form, colour, painting, drawing, sculpture, figurative, abstract etc. It’s a complete compulsive disorder and I try to get an art injection every week. I think it would be easier to take drugs...it’s the soul of the mind.
You collect contemporary art as well as furniture, antiques, objects etc. Can you summarise your special interests and identify what it is that gets you going?
Recently I have been collecting a lot of pencil drawings and paintings - thinking about that real skill and discipline. Some of the works are surreal, some figurative, some abstract.
Without revealing your secrets, how do you go about sourcing such a wide range of objects? Do they come to you, or do you seek them out?
My collecting sources are incredibly wide - from galleries that I know to auction houses to artists’ studios and now with the power of the internet, online.
A lot of what you acquire goes into your beautiful bed & breakfast in North Yorkshire— The Chapel, Harrogate. Can you tell me about this incredible place?
The Chapel is built of Italianate design and dates from 1896. The 8,000 sq ft building houses not only my collection, but as a collector I share this experience with the public by way of opening The Chapel as a Boutique B&B so that people can see what I have collected, designed and curated.
And does The Chapel define what you acquire, or do you go with instinct and make it work?
I do go with instinct, shape, form and colour - for me it is totally about the object, it does not matter whether it is large or small. Somehow, I make these pieces work together with the interior.
There must also be a strong element of curating involved in this process. Do you consider yourself a curator, as I believe many collectors who have a genuine eye have excellent curatorial instincts?
Yes, I do see myself as a curator - the whole process is curated. For example, some artworks work on their own and yet other pieces work better as a collective, creating a stronger presence.
And being based in North Yorkshire, what can you tell us about the differences and similarities between the contemporary art scenes in the north and south of England?
I think the pandemic has forced more artists out of London as studio space has become more expensive. The rethinking of galleries to show work online means you no longer need a fixed gallery with large overheads. I think the pop-up curated art space is the future.
We have asked you to select your three favourite pieces from our inventory— could you expand on why you have chosen these artists? And why these pieces specifically?
'Eula, 1910' by Jo Dumpleton. I love drawing. So I was instantly intrigued by Jo’s work and her empathy for the long-forgotten subjects of antique photography. Her use of line, tone and depth suggests an interwoven pattern of storytelling and reminiscences.
'A Tame One' by Lisa Ivory. Lisa’s work has a dark, mystical narrative - her work for me is where wild beasts meet the Tales of the Unexpected!
'Study for Augur Series No. 16' by Richard Moon. Firstly, the reference is that I collect taxidermy, I also like the surreal juxtaposition of a man's head attached to a bird's body, and the historical reference to the ruff from early English painting.
And finally, a question I like to ask all our guest collectors: what advice would you give to new, aspiring collectors?
Only ever buy what you like and things that you can look at for the rest of your life.