IN THE GALLERY: Chris Morgan

With nearly seventeen years of experience running galleries in an ever changing art world, Chris Morgan is a gallerist you'll want to connect with.

At Hancock Gallery, we prioritise creating a personable, inviting and relatable atmosphere. We aim for both our work environment and interactions with clients to evoke feelings of relaxation, inspiration, support and care.

With experience running galleries across the UK, advising private collections for clients from New York to Hong Kong, corporate collections like Microsoft and museum collections such as the Tate, our Gallery Manager Chris Morgan talks us through his favourite pieces of art, gives us an insight into an international artworld and offers his top tips for collecting art.

Do you collect art?

I do. Not only art but other things like furniture and old photographs. As a curator, when I’m collecting things I suppose I’m treating my house like a gallery - so I consider where I’ll hang things, and what works well together - I actually have a room full of paintings that haven't yet made their way to a wall! I just really liked them. On my walls at the moment I have work by Dan Parry - Jones, Olga Krimon, Iryna Yermolova and Kristina Chan.

How have you seen the artworld change over your time running galleries?

Certainly digital reach has increased - spurred on by a global pandemic and various lockdowns, sales of artwork via digital means have soared recently. 10 years ago it would have been inconceivable that close to 50% of a gallery’s art sales would be to clients who had never seen the piece of artwork in person! Back then the only real way to attract international clients was to travel to international art fairs such as Frieze New York, Art Basel or The Armory Show in New York which I did many times. This was where I met most clients from overseas. There is now an incredible confidence from clients buying art without physically seeing it, due to the pandemic lockdowns, online accessibility and an abundance of digital media has made it far easier to source incredible artwork.


“I’m not necessarily looking for trendy, fashionable artwork with a short shelf life, the level of quality has to be super high.”


What aspect of your role as a Gallery Manager brings you the most satisfaction or fulfilment?

Certainly hand-picking our roster of artists and then curating artwork around such a stunning Georgian building has been incredibly satisfying. As a former grand Georgian home with ornate fixtures and fittings, the gallery has a welcoming and warm domestic feel and we get to re-energise the building by hanging huge original oils on canvas by Mark Demsteader next to vibrant mixed media originals by Dan Parry-Jones. But we also allow our clients the opportunity to see work by artists who have never shown in the UK; big U.S artists such as Ron Hicks and Milt Kobyashi, as well as leading UK painters such as Vincent Kamp, Mila Alexander and Iryna Yermolova, and print makers like Rebecca Holmes.

Is there anything you’re particularly proud of?

I’m particularly proud of our Signature Collection, this is where we work with clients to re-sell artwork from their collections. Our Signature Collection brings pieces through the gallery that you would normally only expect to see in a museum - and clients can buy them! We have rare pieces by Edgar Degas, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and L.S Lowry, Pop Art giants such as Roy Lichetenstien and Peter Blake, alongside up and coming investment level artists such as David Shrigley and The Connor Brothers.

Can you highlight one of your personal favourite artworks currently on display in the gallery, and explain what draws you to it?

I’ve always loved the work of Mark Demsteader. Born in the northwest, and a former butcher, he makes really atmospheric paintings and his ability to create form through light and shade is amazing. But I’m particularly drawn to a moody original charcoal on paper titled ‘Caprana Head Study II’. There’s something timeless about it.


“Some people shy away from the term ‘collector’ - but really a collector is just someone who loves to have things around them that have meaning, be that sentimental or emotional.”


How do you choose artwork for a gallery which caters to such a diverse range of visitors and collectors?

My main aim when I’m working with artists is to identify artists who will have longevity. It’s important that any artist we represent will still be making incredible work 10-15 years down the line. My other big concern is quality. I’m not necessarily looking for trendy, fashionable artwork with a short shelf life, the level of quality has to be super high. That way, when a client asks me to source artwork for them, they know they’re going to be investing in something that will stand the test of time.

What's one valuable lesson you've learned from your experience working in the art industry?

Surround yourself with passionate people. If you buy art for passionate reasons, from people who are passionate about selling artwork and artists who are passionate about making it, you’ll never regret it, and you probably won’t go wrong.

What are your top tips for collectors?

Some people shy away from the term ‘collector’ - but really a collector is just someone who loves to have things around them that have meaning, be that sentimental or emotional, or things that speak to who they are. So I would say, embrace the idea of being a ‘collector’. A collection is always in flux so add things to your collection, edit things out, change things on your walls. When you give yourself permission to do this, the world of collecting art will open up! You’ll have fun chatting with gallerists and finding unseen treasures, undiscovered artists, other collectors and groups of people and what they find interesting.


"I think my neighbours would love that in my back garden…"


If you could own one piece of artwork from history what would it be?

Only one?! Ok I’ll give you my top five and if anyone wants to donate one to me, I’ll let them. There’s a piece by John William Waterhouse titled ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ hanging in the Manchester Art Gallery which is an incredible painting, I stop at it everytime I visit. Also on the water-lilies theme, obviously there has to be Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’, a triptych which I was lucky enough to see in New York’s MoMA. I have a print by Scottish artist Peter Doig, titled ‘Grande Riviere’, but I’d love the original! I’ve also become a huge fan of Pop Art and there’s something about David Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Splash’ which transports you to a warmer climate and is something I’d love to have on my wall. And finally Neo-Pop artist Jeff Koons created a giant sculpture titled ‘Puppy’ in 1992, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which consists of a 40 foot toy puppy created using thousands of flowers, a kind of ‘living sculpture’, so I think my neighbours would love that in my back garden.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or collections that you're particularly excited about, and why?

We’re really excited to be working with one of the UK’s most exciting figurative oil painters, filmmaker and writer, Vincent Kamp. He’s an artist highly sought after for his cinematic depictions of the dark, gritty underground world of urban subculture, in which his paintings delve beneath the surface of social class. This year we’re also working with studio and street artist Mul, someone tipped to be very big in the UK in the coming years.

Get in touch...

Whether you're considering purchasing your first collectible limited edition print, exploring financing options for an original painting, or simply wish to stay updated on your favourite artists from our portfolio, we're here to help.

Our doors are open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. We look forward to welcoming you and extending a warm invitation to explore the gallery at your own pace, with a cup of coffee ready whenever you choose to visit.

If you're not local to us, we maintain a significant digital presence and extend our attention internationally. You can reach out to us virtually, and we'll always respond promptly.

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