Connecting: Collectors with Darryl de Prez

Our 5th interview is with Darryl de Prez, a collector based in Southeast London. Since 2007, he has built a collection with Victoria Thomas of artwork by early career contemporary artists, including Prem Sahib, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, and Kayode Ojo. ⠀

De Prez is currently Director of Development at London Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his career he has worked with many well-known UK institutions such as ICA, Whitechapel Gallery, Royal College of Physicians, and English National Opera.⠀

1. How has spending more time at home during the lockdown changed your relationship with or understanding of your collection/ an artwork that you own?⠀ ⠀

Working in a room surrounded by paintings, photographs, sculptures and books has made me realise what a significant impact one’s day-to-day environment can have on wellbeing. I’ve also spent much more time exploring individual works recently, gaining new perspectives on many of them - as well as realising that some of them are currently being shown to their disadvantage and need rehanging. ⠀ ⠀

2. Where are you looking to discover artists/artwork? ⠀ ⠀

The internet is my only resource at the moment. I have visited dozens of online art fairs, exhibitions and viewing rooms. I generally find it difficult to engage with new work online, however, so I tend to gravitate towards artists I already know. Video obviously works well in this format, and I really hope that artists working in time-based media become more appreciated and acquired by collectors as a result of the current move online.⠀

3. What artist(s) are you most excited about right now?⠀ ⠀

At this time of year I am usually getting excited about the summer postgraduate shows. This year, I hope art schools and colleges come up with a solution that honours the art that students have worked hard to create and that deserves to be seen. Otherwise, I am keeping up with the artists we collect and anticipating the arrival of some recent acquisitions by Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Lewis Hammond, Kayode Ojo and Prem Sahib.⠀ ⠀

4. Has this period impacted on the way you might collect in the future? If so how?

We collect on a very limited budget and take our time to get to know artists and their practices before making any acquisition decisions. I don’t think this will change significantly in the future. If anything, it will reinforce our approach to working closely with certain galleries and supporting the careers of artists at early stages, when they need it most.

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5. What do you feel needs to happen now for the visual arts to be able to weather this storm? ⠀ ⠀

The government needs to step up and support the sector, its public and commercial organisations and its people, beyond the immediate crisis and into the medium term. Galleries need to model new and more cost-effective ways of working, especially in response to reduced international travel. Collectors should consider following a more traditional model of supporting the practices of artists and developing deeper relationships with specific galleries- a return to traditional patronage.⠀ ⠀


(1) Portrait of Darryl, image copyright: Käthe Kroma, Artworks by Jack Burton ⠀

(2) Prem Sahib, Obsidian Mirror II.V, 2019. Photo courtesy Southard Reid

(3) Lewis Hammond, Untitled (Study for a male nude), 2019. Image courtesy Arcadia Missa⠀

(4) Still from Something for the Boys, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, 2018. Image courtesy the artists⠀

(5) Kayode Ojo in ’The person who is recording cannot intervene’ at Arcadia Missa. Image courtesy Arcadia Missa

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