Charity Shop Art

February 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm (art) (, , , )

Because it makes sense in a recession. No one can afford to buy art anymore and because Ikea art doesn’t count.Salvation Army, Upper Street, N1

Salvation Army, Upper Street, N1

I had my reservations. Charity shops are always a gamble. Oxbridge scholars seem to like them, hipsters always look hip in what they buy from them, but I have always been disappointed by charity shops. The idea of them is lovely, but the reality is an overwhelming presence of used BHS.

I head to Highbury&Islington tube station and the Marie Curie shop – an intimidatingly large shop that turns out to be a hive of activity this Monday morning. It is the first Spring-like day in weeks, and everybody seems to have turned their thoughts to their new Spring wardrobe. Or something.

But no time to shop, on to the art section…

Marie Curie Shop

It was exciting sorting through the box. I experienced a mixture of sensations: at times like digging through undiscovered treasures. At others like trawling through the attic of someone you don’t like very much and discovering they have terrible taste in everything.

There was what looked like a 70s Clash poster, printed onto a metal sheet. It was supposed to hang on the wall and almost passed for a collectors item until I noticed at the small “2006” at the bottom.

This illustrates the danger of charity shop art nicely. There’s a lot of junk, and it is not always obvious what is worth something and what isn’t. And truth is, most of it isn’t worth very much.

After I accepted the fact that I wasn’t about to discover any lost masterpieces, I relaxed and just looked for what I liked. I found a print of Chatsworth House which was very pretty and a lovely wooden frame to go with it.

From my day of traversing charity shops, I have the following advice:

  1. Expect bad art (the horror, the horror!)
  2. Think frames – I bought two horrific pieces for the frames they were in.
  3. Prints – there was a surprising number of decent prints
  4. Watercolour – I have a few theories on why there are so many available in charity shops.
  5. Vases – if you are into them you won’t be disappointed.
My new picture

My new picture


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