Talbot Rice Gallery

The £40 Art Collection

23 October - 11 December 2010

Image of Tom Alexander

Tom Alexander, who died in 2000, began regularly collecting British Modern art after moving to the Isle of Arran in 1947. Having successfully established a shop there with his brother in the village of Brodick, he joined the Officers Emergency Army Reserve in order to do something ‘public spirited’. To his surprise, the Officers Emergency Army Reserve paid him an annual sum of money - around £40. With the encouragement of his wife Catherine, he decided to use this money to buy one work of art per year.

Alexander had acquired an interest in avant-garde British art after purchasing his first piece in 1943 and visited the Tate and National Gallery whenever possible. In a fashion that would be impossible today, Alexander wrote directly to artists whose work he liked and asked them to send him a piece of their own choosing. L.S. Lowry R.A., Prunella Clough, Sir Stanley Spencer, Ivon Hitchens, Barbara Hepworth, Alan Davie R.S.A. and Victor Pasmore are just some of the names of the artists who generously responded to Tom Alexander’s direct and eloquent approach, often enjoying the idea of having works on Arran. The exhibition showcased this collection along with examples of correspondence Alexander had with the artists.

If my collection does have a special character it is that all the works in it are due to the interest, generosity and kindness of the artists.

Tom Alexander

A Passion for Painting Podcast

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Keith Alexander discussed his father’s collection with the artist Kenneth Dingwall. Here they considered the sources of Tom’s taste for the modern and the unique qualities of the collection he assembled over three decades.

To listen to the podcast of this event, click on the link below:

A Passion for Paintings Podcast