How to Build a Collection with £7,500 | An interview with Marcelle Joseph

April 12, 2024
How to Build a Collection with £7,500 | An interview with Marcelle Joseph

For the third edition of our series "How to Build a Collection", we spoke with Marcelle Joseph - a curator and collector - about her commitment to supporting emerging artists' practices. Her collection includes works by Cecilia Fiona, Ludovica Gioscia, Ayla Dmyterko, and she has curated the exhibition 'Material Girls and their Muses' at VITRINE Fitzrovia, March 2024.

VITRINE: What is one of your favourite works that you have purchased under £7,500, and why?

Marcelle Joseph: I recently acquired a large painting by Danish artist Cecilia Fiona from VITRINE and have installed it in my drawing room where it has lively exchanges with neighbouring artworks by Alexi Marshall, Natalia Gonzalez Martin, Ayla Dmyterko, Athena Papadopoulos, Holly Stevenson and Amalia Ulman among others. There are a lot of female protagonists in these artworks, and I love how the two centrally depicted female figures in the Cecilia Fiona painting are entwined together in a sea of feathery plants and flowers under a brilliant sun. With references to Danish folklore, the cosmos and our own microbiome, this artwork shares many commonalities with other works in my collection, in particular, embodied female experience and an interest in mythology, spirituality and folklore.

Left: Cecilia Fiona, Curled branches, gates unlocked, 2023. Rabbit skin glue and pigments on canvas. 170 x 100 cm.
Right: Cecilia Fiona, From her shell, 2023. Rabbit skin glue and pigments on canvas. 170 x 100 cm.
Cecilia Fiona, Weaving time, spinning spine, 2024. Installation view. VITRINE Fitzrovia. Photographer: Jonathan Bassett.

V: What is most important to you when buying an artwork?

M: My focus is on supporting artists who have been marginalised by the white, straight male patriarchy so I am collecting almost exclusively work by female-identifying and queer artists. And I am most attracted to artists with material-led practices so the lion’s share of my collection consists of paintings and sculptures with a particular emphasis on textile and ceramic works. So when I buy a new artwork, I need to make sure that it fits within the philosophy of my collection.

V: How does the role of a gallery assist in your research before buying an artwork?

M: I collect mostly artworks by artists I already know or have worked with as a curator. But sometimes I acquire works by artists that are not known by me. For example, I did not know Cecilia Fiona before I bought her work. I did meet her at the private view of her exhibition at VITRINE in January 2024, but I already knew about her practice from VITRINE and had been following her career since VITRINE showed her work at Independent New York in 2023, garnering a New York Times mention for her performance and solo booth there. In this situation, the gallery plays an important role in providing more context about the artist in terms of exhibition history, research interests, process and information about any upcoming developments in their career.

V: How does your collecting inform your curatorial practice?

M: Actually, my curatorial practice informs my collecting. I started producing and curating exhibitions before I caught the collecting bug. I call my collection ‘a collection of conversations’ as I have worked with, written about or visited the studio of the vast majority of the artists in my collection. My curatorial work focuses on gender and the performative construction of identity, and thus my collection follows along the same lines of enquiry.

Material Girls and their Muses, 2024. Curated by Marcelle Joseph. Installation view. VITRINE Fitzrovia. Photographer: Jonathan Bassett.

V: Where is an unexpected or surprising place that you have installed an artwork?

M: In 2014, I commissioned London-based Italian artist Ludovica Gioscia to produce and install one of her Giant Decollage wallpaper installations in the cloakroom of my house in Ascot. Ludovica is another artist represented by VITRINE but I have been exhibiting her work as a curator since 2013.

V: If a work is beyond your budget, what are your tips for working towards that purchase?

M: My modus operandi as a collector is to support artists at a time in their career when they need it the most. So I have set a maximum amount per artwork of £7,500 to force myself to support only early career artists. Once the artwork goes above £7,500, I am out of the market. In terms of cash flow, I often structure an instalment purchase with trusted galleries to allow myself the flexibility to acquire several works at one time.

V: What is your advice for someone who is new to collecting artwork?

M: See as much art as possible at galleries, museums and degree shows. Train your eye to identify what attracts you most to a work of art or an artist’s practice. Identify those qualities and restrict your collecting efforts to artworks that fit within those parameters in order to create a cogent collecting philosophy.

Once you find an artwork you love, do your research on the artist and gallery and if you are still thinking about that one artwork after seven days, push the button and buy it. I often wake up in the morning, thinking about artworks I have seen recently but have not yet decided to purchase. This is when I know that the work should enter my collection if the timing and cash flow is right.

Lead Image: Marcelle Joseph with Ludovica Gioscia's installation in her home.

The selection of images below are available works from VITRINE within a budget up to £7,500:

Ludovica Gioscia, Lunar Coincubation, 2022. Metal pole, fabric and thread. 143 x 103 cm. Unique.

Ludovica Gioscia, New Beginnings, 2023. Screen printed wallpaper, acrylic paint, glue, fake silver leaf, glitter, mica, paper and varnish. 50 x 40 x 6 cm. Unique.

Cecilia Fiona, Eye of the Earth, 2023. Rabbit skin glue and pigments on canvas. 60 x 50 cm. Unique.

Mamali Shafahi, Heirloom Velvet, 2023. Flocked epoxy. 70 x 50 x 20 cm. Unique.

Sacha Ingber, Water Files (One Direction), 2022. Glazed earthenware, urethane, aqua resin, inkjet transfer, pigment, acrylic paint, wood, 3-ring binder mechanisms. 68 x 95 x 15 cm. Unique.

Milly Peck, Shadow Play (Birdhouse), 2024. Emulsion on board. 92 x 72 x 5 cm. Unique.

Hannah Lim, Ghost Orchid Snuff Bottle, 2023. Jesmonite, polymer clay, chalk, acrylic paint, resin gloss. 18 x 16 x 12 cm. Unique.

For additional information regarding the artworks in this story or others at this price point, please contact:

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