Collectors in Residence

Collectors in Residence

By Laura Smith

Instagram: @curatingthewall


Collectors of art aren’t particularly seen as artists themselves. Collecting art is a process of selection heavenly dependent upon research, timing, inspiration and funding. However, when you think about it that way, there are some clear parallels between those that create the ‘art,’ per say, and collectors determining their collections. Increasingly, it has become more popular to critically engage with whole collections as art pieces in it of themselves. Collectors and curators are sought out as independent agents, asked to produce creative and thoughtful exhibits for large galleries and museums. As an artist may produce a collection of pieces for a show, so may a collector and/or curator collect a selection of pieces for a show or their private holdings. Art, in a sense, now takes on a new meaning, is it the act of producing a visually and socially provoking assemblage of pieces to be shown in dialogue – a method undertaken and developed in every sense of the word artist. Collectors, and their curator counterparts, are being received and often treated in the art world as practicing artists. This includes the proverbial residences that incubate the artists creativity and production of work. 

 For years, curators have been allotted time in residencies all over the world. The purposes of these residences are to develop the curatorial practice, including exhibition, project and event management within a space designed to foster and fund their practice needs, such as any resources, tools and education. While, collectors possess some of these qualities and demands for collecting art, curators are commonly expected to provide the specialty of artistic cohesion of a collection for a specific public purpose. In a changing world, where art collection is more approachable and attainable, where you as a collector can curate your Instagram or curate your blog about your growing collection, the lines are becoming more and more blurred. Collectors are the curators of a new wave of art practice in an ever-changing post-modern industry. 

Enter: The Delphina Foundation in London, a progressive independent foundation that is paving the way in recognizing this growing demand and importance of the practice of collecting art. The Delfina Foundation runs an established artist-in-residency program that in 2017 began hosting a series of collectors-in-residence. Collectors from all over the world are selected at different intervals and for a range of time-frames (anywhere from 1-5 weeks), to develop their curatorial, research skills as well as providing private introductions to the most exclusive gallery owners, dynamic emerging artists, fellow collectors and other industry leaders. As well as this formal exchange, collectors are also encouraged to work closely with artists that are also in residence, this cohesive experience is key to setting up collective experiences and generating collaboration. This revolutionary program is currently one of a kind, but if London or the Delfina Foundation isn’t what you are looking for as collector don’t be discouraged, major residency programs all over the world are on the precipice of including collectors into their curatorial residency practices. Keep your eyes open and don’t miss this contemporary opportunity to practice collecting and living within the industry.

To reach out to The Delfina Foundation in London, please see their website:, check out their section called “Collecting-As-Practice.” They are available for showings and discussions, they also hold symposiums with current residents and studio visits.