Passionate about aesthetics, Fi Lovett has had a love for the arts from a young age. Starting her career as an actress and consequently becoming an art dealer, Lovett is now the European Gallery Director of Maddox Gallery. With a large network of influential clientele and an impressive collection to match, we explore some of Lovett’s favourite artworks.
What was the first work you purchase and do you still own it?
When I was a teenager I would eat toast for a week in order to go to degree shows and pick up little works that I liked. That need to put art ahead of everything practical, has never left me. I was lucky enough to be gifted my first serious artwork by Jack Vettriano a few years later. My maiden name is Morrison and there used to be a Morrison Portrait award run by the Scottish National Galleries. Jack painted me and gave me the study, which I still have. At that time Jack was unknown, but I had complete faith that he was heading for great things. Being self-taught he found the art establishment quite hostile and elitist, neither of which I endorse, as I believe that creative arts should be helping knock down boundaries. Owning the Vettriano gave me a taste for something a little more serious and I then purchased a nude sketch by John Duncan Ferguson, one of the Scottish Colourists, which I still have and treasure.
What was you most recent purchase and why?
I purchased a Coco Davez painting of Frida Kahlo. When an artist invests their identity in the artwork they produce, it’s palpable and you feel the energy from the canvas. Just like her art, Coco is intense and dynamic. I’ve also bought a couple of James Wedge paintings. James is better known for his iconic photography from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I hugely admire James switching to working in another discipline and evolving his creativity later on in life.
Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?
Well, there’s an artist I’m very keen to have on my wall, however I can’t tell you the name just yet, as they are joining the Maddox portfolio, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out. When you come across an artist who has something special it is beyond exciting. They paint as if possessed and it becomes a cathartic addiction that you recognise the instant you view their work. I’d love a Terry O’Neill, but I was like a child in a sweet shop at our recent exhibition at our Gstaad gallery and haven’t been able to decide which one yet. I would also love a Harland Miller, as his irreverent humour appeals. Harland’s work is either upbeat and optimistic such as Love Saves the Day or cynical and droll as in Death What’s In It For Me - it’s quite divisive as clients tend to fall into one or the other camp.
Is there a work you regret purchasing?
I can honestly say that there is nothing I own that I regret. There may be a work that is less relevant to me now, but I wouldn’t be without it as it transports me back to another time, which is very precious.
How would you describe yourself as an art collector?
I collect what I love, what makes my heart beat faster. A lot of my job is hand holding. When clients trust their instinct and go for what they have a connection with, they end up with the best collection. They collect artwork that will give them endless joy. There is no right or wrong in art and nobody should be scared to commit to what they connect with. It’s a little like when people choose an interior designer and visitors can tell immediately which designer they’ve used. Why would you want your choices to be that of someone else instead of your own? I want my clients to have a collection that they have chosen, I will assist with advice but I want it to be personal to them. I have originals hanging beside exhibition prints, photographs, sketches alongside family treasures such as my children’s first shoes. A journey I can look at that represents times throughout my life. I’d say it’s eclectic and means a great deal to me.
Is there a difference between buying and collecting art?
Buying any artwork that appeals in a random fashion differs from a more purposeful approach. There’s no right or wrong, but a collection tends to be works that group well together, so you can see a connection throughout. Your relationship with an art consultant is invaluable should you want to build a collection. Your consultant will be able to tell you of any emerging trends so that you can evaluate. Whatever you choose, always buy with conviction and be brave.
If you had to start your collection again, what would you do differently?
My collection would be twice the size and I would have snapped up all the works that made my heart beat faster but dithered over.
What advice would you give to a first-time collector?
The most valuable piece of advice I can give to someone embarking on a journey purchasing art is if you love it, don’t pontificate. If it speaks to you be brave and go for it, otherwise, I promise it will haunt you. The number of clients I have who tell me that they talked themselves out of buying a work that they had a gut instinct about only to live to regret it. An original is unique and cannot be replaced.
What is the most valuable piece of art you own?
Vettriano, and Damien Hirst works.
Is there a particular type of art that you love or tend to gravitate towards?
I gravitate towards figurative, photography, abstract and humorous work, so basically anything I can see a narrative in.
Are you a big collector of sculpture?
The only sculpture I have is a bust of a young French girl which I inherited from my great aunts. Interestingly, I have been looking to acquire more sculpture as bringing off the wall and into your space literally gives your collection another dimension. Once, many clients only started buying sculpture when they ran out of wall space, but that's changed.
Who would you recommend as the top three blue chip artists to invest in now?
Only three? Mel Bochner, Yayoi Kusama and David Hockney.