CONNECTING with Victoria Thomas

For our first interview in the series CONNECTING: Collectors ZELDA is excited to introduce Victoria Thomas, a collector based in Southeast London. She’s been Head of Public Involvement with NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, an NHS and social care policy organisation) for 18 years. Since 2007, with Darryl de Prez, she has been committed to collecting a wide range of work by artists at the early stages of their careers, including Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Adham Faramawy, Bedwyr Williams, and Monster Chetwynd.⠀

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?⠀

It’s been a great opportunity just to spend more time with the work, and seeing it change over the course of a day. There’s also the unusual experience of being on video conferences all day long and having other people be interested by the work that’s behind your head as you’re talking to them! Work has been so busy since lockdown that it’s good to look up every so often and see the amazing art around me - it’s a real privilege. I’m also reading a lot more than usual which is wonderful.⠀

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

I find I’m not actively seeking out artists or artwork at the moment but I am really interested in how artists are responding to the lockdown; whether it’s giving impetus to their practice or compromising it in some way. Initiatives such as the Artist Support Pledge (although not universally liked) have also been great in seeing how artists are responding to restrictions on their materials and working environments, and producing work they might not otherwise have done.⠀

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

It doesn’t seem to be the time to be discovering new artists but I’m looking at artists whose work I know already in a more considered and thoughtful way. Seeing people’s posts on social media is fascinating, and I’m watching lots of online interviews with artists and collectors, and spending time speaking with artist and collector friends on Zoom. People’s enthusiasm for contemporary art doesn’t seem to be waning at all!⠀

4. Has this period impacted on the way you might collect in the future?⠀

The overall slower pace of life has been great and is something I want to hold on to. I can see how this might affect my approach to collecting by applying that sense of mindfulness and thoughtfulness and being more considered in terms of purchases. It’s also reinforced how important it is for me to have some form of relationship with the artists whose work we collect.⠀

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

I’m really not sure how to answer this! It’s highlighted the precariousness of many artists’ and galleries’ positions. However, as with lots of other industries, the lockdown has liberated the visual arts to engage with people in a different way. Things that seemed unimaginable a few months ago, like running a major art fair online, now seem almost routine. As keen as I am to see people and exhibitions again I’m also eager we don’t lose the learning and positive aspects of this experience in the rush to return to how things were before.⠀

Image 1: ‘Untitled’ collage by Monster Chetwynd, 2016⠀

Image Credit: Käthe Kroma⠀

Image 2: "Energy Saving Pool Table" and "Trocadero", Adham Faramawy, both 2013⠀

Image Credit: Käthe Kroma⠀

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