Buying work from Altered States
This section is intended to provide information for prospective purchasers of sculpture. It details procedures at exhibitions, taking delivery of sculpture from an artist,
and procedures for buying direct from an artist. The price list for 2023 can be viewed here.
NB: These notes are provided, and any sizes or weights are given, as a guide only .
The notes generally apply to sculpture sold to customers who reside on the UK mainland.
Overseas purchasers MUST negotiate individual arrangements related to their location.
Most Exhibitions adopt the common practice that “The Artist is responsible for the delivery of the purchased work, directly to the customer”.
In most cases, work seen at an exhibition is not normally available for delivery until the end of the exhibition. Exceptions must be agreed by the curator Jim Crockatt.
For a customer it is important to determine delivery terms & conditions before purchase to avoid any misunderstanding.
Any special agreement to purchase the plinth must also be negotiated at the time of purchase.
Stewards at an exhibition may not have the ability to make delivery arrangements and will contact the artist to clarify the position on behalf of the customer.
Payment should normally be made before delivery. If a substantial deposit has been paid then this condition can be negotiated with the artist.
An agreement with the customer as to the date and time of the delivery must be agreed.
Some artists use couriers for some work, and this normally involves the artist being responsible for the packing and direct cost of courier/carrier services, and advising the customer of the date of delivery, to receive and sign for the package. Any damage caused by this method must be reported immediately to the artist and/or courier immediately.
Some items may also be marked as being part of a Series. These are similar to editions, but each piece will be similar, but not identical to each other.
Large Pieces [over 2M or 20 kg]
Sculpture in this category often necessitates special transport. This will sometimes involve additional cost for transport and/or installation. An agreement between the artist and customer as to the costs, date, time and any special unloading requirements is very important at the time of purchase.
Medium Pieces [over 1M or 10 kg]
For medium sized pieces, delivery is normally accommodated by the artist with his own transport (e.g. estate car or small van). An agreement with the customer as to the date, time and any special unloading requirements, must be clearly made before delivery takes place. In some cases the customer will be able to collect work at the end of the exhibition; this must be clearly agreed between the artist and the customer.
Small Pieces [under 1M or 10 kg]
Small pieces can vary considerably. Some can be quite heavy [e.g. Bronzes].
Stone: Many different types of stone may be carved to make sculpture. Stone carvings are unique pieces of work requiring skill and hard work to produce.
Wood: Woods vary in colour, density and texture. Some are easier to work than others and skill is required to bring out the unique characteristics of both the wood and the design.
Metal: Each metal has different characteristics and requires varying techniques to work. Some sculptors combine various metals into a single sculpture.
Foundry Bronze: This is molten bronze metal (an alloy of copper and tin). It is poured into a specially prepared mould by skilled foundry workers. The artist will have made the original sculpture in a different material eg, clay or plaster and the mould will have been made on that original.
Bronze resin: An alternative to expensive foundry bronze, resin is a mixture of real powdered bronze and polyester resin.
Other resins: Polyester and other resin can be used to bind many types of inert material.Clear resins may be used to create works with the appearance of glass.
Clay: There are many different types of clay, a most versatile sculptural material. It can be used to model the original from which a mould is to be made for casting. It is also used to make original works for firing to high temperatures in a kiln to produce: terracotta, generally as an unglazed item; stoneware, which is fired to a much higher temperature thus making it stronger and harder; ceramic, glazed earthenware or stoneware and porcelain, a very fine clay with other additives, sometimes becoming translucent after firing to stoneware temperature. There are many other types of fired clay.
Plaster: Plaster of Paris is most commonly used for sculpture, a strong pure white, fine textured powder mixed with water, which is fast setting and can be coloured as desired. It may be used to make original works of art, or as a construction material for the making of moulds. It is not waterproof and therefore not suitable for outdoor sculpture.
Cement: Cement is a weatherproof material often used for outdoor sculpture. It can be cast in a mould or modelled directly on to a supporting structure. It can be coloured by including pigments into the wet mixture or patinated by application of paints etc. to the finished surface.
The Dictionary defines sculpture as:
1. The art of making figures or designs in relief or in the round by carving, modelling etc. or casting metals etc.
2. Works, or a work made in this way.
3. Ridges or indentations, as on a shell, made by natural processes.
Sculpture can be anything that is three-dimensional which has been made for the purpose of observation and/or tactile sensation. Here is a brief guide to some of the methods commonly used:
Carving: the cutting away of wood, stone etc. to produce a shape which is unique in its original material.
Modelling: The building up of a shape in clay, plaster, wax, papier-mache etc to make a work which may then require other processes (eg firing or casting) to turn it into a stable material.
Moulding: Making a mould on a piece of original art so that it can be duplicated in various materials to make copies.
Casting: The process of making a copy of a work in a mould, either in a foundry (for molten metals) or in the studio, by the use of resins, cements, plasters etc.
Firing: Heating clay in a kiln to produce a permanent material.
Patination: Treatment of the surface of a finished work with chemicals, waxes etc. for colouration and texture.
Mixed media: A sculpture made up of two or more different materials (eg, wood and stone).
Collage and construction: An assemblage of joined ‘found items’.