High upfront costs, fear of buyer’s remorse, and an often intimidating marketplace; when it comes to investing in art, access is limited, and the stakes are high. Enter Interrupted Art. Developed by former Tate buyer Stephanie Crosland-Goss through the pandemic and launched in September last year, this subscription service allows members to enjoy and swap pieces in their homes every ten weeks. All you need is a nail in the wall.
Frustrated after years spent observing the impenetrable exclusivity of the art world, Crosland-Goss has set herself the task of tearing down the barriers to living with, owning and collecting exceptional works. ‘I want to change the way people experience art,’ she says. ‘I want to create an opportunity for them to have access to it on their own terms without it costing the earth. People should be able to encounter new artists and new artworks with no pressure to buy. Live with it, see if you like it. If you do, you can buy it. If you don’t, that’s fine. That’s our business model.’
Therein lies the beauty of the concept; the draw comes as much from the interruption as it does the art. Not only does the 10-week rotation allow members to explore their artistic tastes, styles and preferences in the comfort of their own homes with no expectation of a purchase, but it also gives them the opportunity to refresh entire spaces. ‘Every time I bring a new piece, I take the last artwork down, put the new one up and it completely changes the space,’ says Crosland-Goss. ‘When you go from a really dark, moody abstract to a bright flower photograph or a punchy collage, it is totally transformational. It refreshes the eyes too. I know some people who own a lot of art, and they can’t tell me where a certain piece is because it has been up for so long they have stopped seeing it. There is a lot to be said for appreciating novelty. Art doesn’t have to be a 10-year commitment.’
For a £66 a month subscription fee – ‘reasonably affordable to have artworks worth up to £5,000 in your home,’ says Crosland-Goss – members get more than just the pieces. They also have access to a podcast, quarterly events and, perhaps the biggest draw of all, a personal curator. Not just a founder, Crosland-Goss handles every initial consultation and subsequent swap personally. She liaises between the members and her 11 founding artists and picks three works for members to choose from before delivering and hanging the final selection. It is about as IRL as you can get at the point of delivery. So much so that the launch of Interrupted Art was deliberately delayed until the world had opened up post-covid.
‘We had to wait until we were able to do our events and get into people’s houses,’ says Crosland-Goss. ‘Buying art online is risky. You can browse websites where there are thousands of artists and even more works, but ultimately, you are just staring at a screen. How can something really speak to you like that?’ While the journey for Interrupted Art members starts online, the opportunity to live with their pieces and see them in the flesh is what sets it apart. ‘The option to buy is there if you fall in love,’ says Crosland-Goss.
Such a personal touch means that, for now, Interrupted Art will be focussed on London. Plans to expand would target cities rather than a blanket nationwide roll-out. ‘I can’t see how the model would work so well doing deliveries outside of bigger cities,” says Crosland-Goss. ‘I don’t want location to be a barrier for our members either,’ she adds. “Our events at the moment are in central London and would continue to be held in big cities if we were to expand. I don’t want to offer members something as part of their subscription that they can’t easily get to, and the events are such a key part of what we are doing and the community we are trying to build.’
That community, she adds, is one she hopes will be very different from the exclusive world Interrupted Art has been set up to counteract. ‘I want it to be inclusive and accessible,’ she says. ‘Art is decoration for your interior. It doesn’t have to be this pompous, intellectual thing. It can just be something beautiful that you look at and think, “I love that.”‘
Interrupted Art’s next show, UNMUTE: Artist’s stories heard, will take place on 8 June 2023 at Somerset House. In an immersive experience, artworks will have accompanying commentary recorded by the artist and accessed by QR code.