It is not uncommon to hear people responsible for large collections of arts and crafts to refer to themselves as custodians of everything entrusted to them. Descendants from wealthy and regal families sometimes remark that they are ‘mere custodians’ of the land, properties and art collections acquired by their ancestors. It is almost an apology for the opulence of all that surrounds them. Well let’s be honest, good arts and crafts look really great, whenever they were made. Unfortunately, the debate can quickly get embroiled in origins of arts and artifacts. Or in extreme wealth being obscene. When did something so wonderful as art and design become sullied by big money? The makers were rarely overpaid. Some would even have been grateful for some cold soup straight from the can. OK, maybe not Van Gogh.
It’s all about the money
That the arts cost money to make and that this is generally the reserve of the rich has been a longstanding convention. But it is not strictly true; not all arts and crafts are unaffordable. There are many more great artists and artisans in the world making beautiful objects and art that is relevant. They would make more if they received more requests. But not selling enough work holds them back.
At the other end of the scale, work that has, by luck more than anything, become popular commands huge sums of money in exclusive galleries and at auction. This is unfortunate for everyone except for the seller or auction house. Oh yes and for the traditional custodians. Custodians add to their collections and so maintain the status quo of investing in art to salt away fortunes. But only a handful of living artists actually benefit.
So beg, borrow or…
So beg or borrow (but don’t steal), so you too can buy or commission original works from artists or artisans. It is simpler for you than for a traditional custodian, who can only purchase work that their friends and advisers have approved. An original piece from a little known artist or artisan is truly within anyone’s reach. And once you have amassed your collection, you can join the echelons of those trying to decide upon whom to bestow their curated treasures.
Yes, then you can count yourself, if you wish, among the ranks of the vexed custodians.