See the bigger picture with Parapluie

April 2, 2018

Julia Bell, who has 20 years’ experience working within the contemporary art industry, founded Parapluie in 2017 to work with individuals and companies to source art. Here, she explains more about the business

When and why did you establish Parapluie?

I established Parapluie in 2017 after I saw a gap in the market for a client-focused service that helps people navigate the often opaque contemporary art world. Taking that first step into sourcing or commissioning art can be incredibly intimidating so I wanted to create a range of services to help.

Tell us a little about your background?

I’ve worked in the art and cultural sector for 20 years. I was curator at Middlesbrough Art Gallery (later MIMA) and head of partnerships at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, where I built partnerships with the artistic and business communities and worked with some of the most exciting contemporary artists in the world.

What services does Parapluie provide?

Parapluie guides people through the process of buying or commissioning contemporary art for their workplace or home.

A lot of North East companies want to support the cultural sector by investing in original art but the process of selecting an artist, negotiating a purchase and making sure that you’re choosing the right piece of work can be daunting. That’s where I come in.

I manage the entire process from selection, valuation and negotiations through to delivery and installation.

Which professional clients have you worked with, and how have you helped them?

I work with individuals, collectors, designers, architects and businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

I recently worked with Newcastle’s NORTH P&I, who are one of the biggest shipping liability insurers in the world, helping them to select a work by Dan Holdsworth for their newly redeveloped headquarters. Dan is locally based with an international reputation and work in major collections – fitting for a company like NORTH P&I – and the artwork creates a powerful statement, gives individuality to the space and sparks creativity and conversations in staff, clients and visitors.

What is the main piece of advice for people looking to buy/commission contemporary art for their workspace?

Art can be an investment and companies often see the value increase over time, however, the important thing is that people select something which is right for them and their business. It’s something which you’ll live with every day so make sure you choose art you love and which represents your company appropriately.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when buying art for their workspace?

Often the desire to fill spaces in the workplace quickly leads to poor decisions that do little to enhance spaces or reflect a company’s identity. Artwork needs the same consideration given to every other decision within the workplace environment. Putting aside that time and talking to professionals who can guide the process pays dividends in the long run.

Tell me about the members’ club? Who is it for and what are the benefits of getting involved?

The members’ club is for anyone who wants to learn more about buying or collecting art. It’s about helping people understand the world of contemporary art in a friendly, fun environment. Members have access to private gallery previews, studio visits and events like the world-renowned Frieze Art Fair. I organise priority viewing of new artworks and I’m looking forward to our first annual summer cocktail party.

What are your aspirations for Parapluie?

I want Parapluie to be recognised as client-focused, approachable and trusted. I want to normalise the process of buying art and connect people to internationally regarded artists, and to build a community of people who invest in contemporary artists.


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