The Milkman – The Cheapskate Art Collector

The Management came out with a corker when we were visiting New Mills recently. She explained that she wasn’t able to buy a particular painting (the one by Lloyd Stephenson which is on the New Mills Art post) due to her current financial state. “We haven’t even got enough money to go down to the Buyers’ Day at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.” It was after she said it that she realised how pretentious it sounded.

Well, we do have three etchings by Norman Ackroyd and a Tracey Emin print which she has bought at the RA over the last few years. My favourite Ackroyd is of the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland.


The Cliffs of Moher – Norman Ackroyd

Several decades ago, we were on holiday in Ireland and decided to visit the Cliffs of Moher. As it was raining (the green must come from somewhere!), we didn’t see much. It started to rain heavily so we went back to the car. A short distance along the road there was a rock in road. I pulled over thinking I would miss it. I didn’t! One flat tyre! By this stage it was stair-rodding, as the saying has it, and I got absolutely soaked changing the wheel. I had to drive back to the hotel in little more than my underwear as everything was so wet! I wanted to put the Ackroyd print in the bathroom so I could stand under a cold power shower, remembering that wonderful day. The Management vetoed the idea.

Here is the Tracey Emin:


Print of a cat by Tracey Emin

These prints were each several hundred pounds which is the going rate for such works. My art collection is a bit more cheapskate, I’m afraid.

Yesterday, I was delighted when a parcel arrived containing four works which I had won on an ebay auction. It was to raise money for Liverpool Art Month. (This link describes the original idea and this link shows the final works produced.) These are the works I won, each of which is based on the same six inch square shape:


Train Journey I and II by Jai Chuhan


Untitled Cyanotype on Tissue Paper by Sian Hughes



A Double-Sided Print of the Late Hugo Chavez by Lee Donnelly


Wordscape Diptych (Word Collage) by Paula Tasker-Lynch

Now this is where my Yorkshire heritage comes out. I can’t help it if I was born with deep pockets and only short arms, can I? And, yes, I know artists need to eat and they shouldn’t be exploited for free, but the four works above cost me, including postage, a grand total of £35. (I hasten to add some of the works in the auction went for much more – just not to me.)

So these have been added to my cheapskate art collection along with these two drawings I bought recently in a charity shop.



These two drawings are by an artist called Barbara Elliott and the names of the sitters are on the backs. They are in, I think, charcoal pencil and chalk or white conte on buff paper. They are IMHO excellent pieces of work, mounted and framed professionally, for which I was asked £8 each in the charity shop.

The asking price for this drawing of a miner, which has a Cornish framer’s label on the back, in charcoal and ink was only £2 but, since it was in the charity shop where I work, I put a little more than that in the till. I now check that there is no original works going onto the shop floor at silly prices.


Charcoal and Ink Drawing of a Miner by an Unknown Artist

Last weekend I went to a long anticipated exhibition by Patrick ‘Daggy’ Duignan, a personal friend who I met at Rachel’s Thursday evening art class at Bolton College. He has about thirty or so drawings and paintings on display at Harwood Library in Bolton.


I recognised some of the works as ones he had done, or at least started, in Rachel’s sessions. This is one of Daggy’s paintings based on a picture given to us by Rachel:


and here’s my version. I suspect the original picture was in black and white for us to ‘colour up’ – or perhaps it’s just ‘artistic licence’!


How does this exhibition fit into the discussion of my cheapskate art collection? Well, of the works on display about a third had already been sold in the first week (it’s on for a month). As the librarian said, “He’s priced them to sell them.” How often have you been to exhibitions where nothing has sold simply because the artist was asking far too much? I bought a framed pencil drawing for £15. I know Daggy is not a poor artist living in an unheated garret. He actually repairs watches for a living and would only spend my money on ‘subs’, as he calls his alcohol intake at the weekend. So I am pleased with my purchase while also keeping an eye out for Daggy’s liver!


Hands (Pencil Drawing) by Patrick ‘Daggy’ Duignan


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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10 Responses to The Milkman – The Cheapskate Art Collector

  1. Red Hen says:

    Interesting post. I never thought of scouring charity shops for something interesting.

    Also bemused by your Cliffs of Moher experience. The puncture rate always seems higher in wet weather.

    • You just have to keep your eyes open. My finds are only occasional. Most people who work in charity shops (and I am one) do not always appreciate the difference between original art and mass reproduced copies. My daughter bought a couple of pictures a few years ago for the frames as she wanted to frame up some photographs. The frames are now on our wall, complete with the original watercolours that were in them.

  2. I love checking charity stores for original art pieces, it surprises me what people give away. I’m also an art bargain hunter…my love for art does not match my wallet’s content…so I try to support local and up-and-coming artists when I can.

    • Not everything in charity shops is given away by the original owners. We do quite a few house clearances where the inheritors often regard things that they are not interested in, often simply because they are old, as junk to be got rid of. This includes pictures.

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