Bonhams, art restoration and auction terminology

  • Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University
  • University of the Arts London, East
  • University of the Arts London, South

Club members from the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University and University of the Arts London experienced a Masterclass with Bonhams, an international auction house founded in 1793, and one of the world’s largest auctioneers of fine art, antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The Masterclass was led by the Contemporary Art team, and gave National Saturday Club members an insight into, how the condition of a piece is checked and valued and how to best utilise a glossary of auction terminology, culminating in a mock auction.

Club members were talked through ‘the journey of an artwork,’ from consignment to sale. Exploring the process of cataloguing and condition checking, they saw how magnification and UV light are used to look for signs of repair, detecting the condition of a painting beneath its visible surface. The Clubs were also encouraged to consider what specific works might make them see or feel.

Considering the terminology used at an auction, for example, ‘this monumental piece,’ ‘this super rare acclaimed artist’ and ‘the phones are alive,’ Club members practised how to use performance to build excitement in order to raise bids. Members also had the opportunity to practise on a podium. With their new-found expertise, at the end of the Masterclass, members nominated six of their peers to run a mock charity auction for the National Saturday Club.

During the Masterclass, Club members also all had the opportunity to interview the Bonhams auction house Contemporary Art team to better understand their different roles and find out what it’s like to work for a global art business.

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