John Vincent enlists the help of a York art gallery in running the rule over the cream of Northern talent.
With the first major Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary sales of the year already taking place in New York and London, now is a good time to look closer to home and take a stab at predicting which work by local artists may appreciate in value.
Ann Petherick has as good an eye as any when it comes to spotting talent, having run the Kentmere House Gallery overlooking the Knavesmire in York with husband David since 1991.
The gallery – in a Victorian house which was once home to a Methodist minister – specialises in exhibiting original work by professional living artists from Yorkshire and further afield. Some are already nationally known; others are talented newcomers being given their first break.
First rule for new collectors is to buy what you like – not because you think a painting will increase in value. But it’s still fun to back your own judgement in spotting which artists will make it to the top, rather like football scouts who scour the country looking for future Premier League hotshots.
Ann picks out Richard Pikesley, youngest ever member of the New English Art Club in the early 1980s and now its president, whose small oils she was was buying in 1984 for under £50. Now there is little to be had under £1,000 and prices could well rise. Burnley-born Liam Spencer is another example. She first bought his work in Manchester in 1989 for £60 and nowadays his paintings sell for up to £3,000 each. Again, they could go higher.
When Ann lived in Suffolk in the 1970s she got to know Tessa Newcomb, whose work was then somewhat overshadowed by that of her mother, the visionary painter Mary Newcomb, who died aged 86 in 2008. Tessa now exhibits at same Knightsbridge gallery in London as her mother... and prices are approaching similar £2,000-£3,000 levels.
Tadcaster artist Susan Bower is another whose work may make a sound investment. Ignored by the publicly-funded galleries in her native county, Kentmere House is her only gallery north of Watford and her work fetches £1,000-£3,250.
York-based Rachael Burnett, whose paintings of York Minster were exhibited two years ago, is another worth watching. North Yorkshire artist Myles Linley is also a tip for the future, along with York-born John Thornton and printmaker John Brunsdon, who died in 2014.
From my own observations, it may pay to watch out for work by local artists Walter Meegan, William Cave Day, Richard Eurich, Peter Brook, Fred Elwell and marine artist Jack Rigg. The recent closure of the UK’s last remaining deep coal mine at Kellingley has kindled nostalgia and the output of the Pitmen Painters, notably Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness, may be worth an investment.