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MUCH has been written about collecting art, especially from the investment angle. But little about how to buy the kind collectable art that you want to hang up at home.
If you're new to art buying and collecting, take a leaf from one hotel company's book, literally. The Farrer Park Company has published a 240-page coffeetable book on its art collection which has some 700 two- and three-dimensional works from artists in Singapore and greater Asia.
Since the middle of last year, One Farrer Hotel & Spa has offered guided and free tours of its art collection for those who want to have a survey of contemporary abstract Asian art. The whole exercise is a labour of love, and the Farrer Park Company is very keen to share its journey with the public. The company worked with art consultancy Sculpture Square to identify contemporary living artists, and their criteria for 90 per cent of the commissioned work was that it had to be abstract and contemporary, with no figurative images or references to religion and politics.
While One Farrer Hotel & Spa isn't the first in the game of putting art in its space, it's certainly the first to have such an extensive commissioned collection for all 20 floors of the complex called the Connexion Campus. This includes the adjoining Farrer Park hospital and Farrer Park Medical Centre as well.
"The whole 20-storey campus is like a living art museum - where the rooms are individual galleries," says Richard Helfer, chairman of the Farrer Park Company art committee. The hotel has 243 rooms with three distinct designs in a "Hotels within a Hotel" concept - Urban Hotel, Loft Apartments and Skyline Hotel & Sky Villas.
The quality of the art collection is the focus of the new book, Art.Lifestyle.Environment that will be launched and available for sale next week. The original plan was to have some 500 pieces of art but it snowballed to over 700, and like a home, it's never a completed project, says Dr Helfer, as he sees the company adding to the collection progressively.
The most valuable part of the commissioning, he points out, is that the artists knew the space they were creating their works for even before the building was completed. In the book, all the works are shown in their spatial context with the artists also sharing their creative thought processes. Curatorial statements also give better insight on how to appreciate the works. "The book's objective is for the visitor or reader to appreciate the art in relation to the space in the hotel," adds Dr Helfer.
In a bold move, the artwork also determined the decor of the rooms, explains Dr Helfer, so that only after the works were completed were the colours of soft furnishings like carpets chosen. Art, in the committee's view, also included objets d'art like sculptures, carpets and accessories.
While the permanent art collection is not for sale, the hotel came up with the idea of "vertical galleries" - where the art pieces featured in the hospital lifts are available for sale. The works are mainly by the same 68 artists whose works are already installed in the hotel.
"So if members of the public really liked a particular artist, they could enquire about the other works he or she has created for the vertical gallery," he adds.
- Guided tours of the Farrer Park Company permanent collection are given daily by the One Farrer Lifestyle Concierges beginning at 3pm in the arrival lobby of One Farrer Hotel & Spa (private tours with a minimum of 6 persons, may be arranged by appointment). There is no charge for the tour, which lasts approximately one hour
- Art. Lifestyle. Environment. will also be on sale at Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City Singapore, as well as at the Touch & Feel Shop and The One Farrer Confectionery at One Farrer Hotel & Spa. Hard cover copies are available at S$100+ per copy and softcover copies at S$75+ per copy. Softcover copies are sold only at One Farrer Hotel & Spa