We've heard about the rise of fashion rentals over the years, but can that be the case for art? Seemingly so, as the team behind The Sunday Painter gallery have recently launched Gertrude; an art subscription service that enables more people to live with contemporary art for any period of time.

With artworks from 30 artists available to rent, subscribers have the opportunity to house a one of a kind piece without it costing the earth. Starting at £50 per month and being able to have the piece for any period of time opens the door for many who haven't been able to build a collection due to the financial costs it takes to do so, and it pioneers a necessary change within the industry. Cynthia Daignault, Hannah Knox, Ansel Krut, Helena Foster, Sara Naim and Nicholas Pope are just a few of the artist that are part of the platform, all of whom get paid a stipend of between £150 and £300, triggered by just one of their works being subscribed to. "Gertrude not only offers artists the chance to reach new audiences but also the realistic opportunity to make a secondary income," says another artist that's taking part, Victor Seaward. "In this sense it's an absolutely unique platform, and one that is very much needed."  

We asked Will Jarvis, one of the co-founders about how Gertrude was born and what he feels is the future of the art industry. 

Tyra Tingleff, 'The jokes on you I’m biding my time', 2019.

How did you come up with the idea for Gertrude?
This conversation started pre-Covid, we were having a board meeting for the gallery with all four directors discussing frustrations and inefficiencies within the current industry structure. A key experience that informed our thinking was participating in Frieze every year and spending the non VIP days at the weekend talking to people who were really interested in Art but had no chance of buying it due to its cost. That, combined with knowing what volume of art is kept in storage, unsold, unseen and unloved made the idea of bringing that supply to that demand via a subscription service a no brainer.

Why do you think it's worth renting a piece of art as opposed to buying it?
It's quite an intimidating prospect to spend thousands on a work that you've never lived with, also the difficulties with tax, installation and delivery can make buying art quite protracted and stressful. The aim of Gertrude is to hold peoples hands, to make the whole process of living with art easy and enjoyable with a transparent service that gives people the option of getting to know different artworks. Lastly, if people do want to take that next step and buy a work, then 80% of the monthly subscription fee stays on the account of the customer to be used as a discount on purchasing any work at any time.

Sara Naim, 'Spasm', 2018.

Who are the artists you currently have on board and why have you chosen them to be a part of Gertrude?
So far we have over 30 artists, all have been chosen because they produce work we think has real merit. Each artist is very different so there is a range of work but the key thing is that all the artists are committed and that their work is engaging on multiple levels. Art shouldn't always be easy, but at least with this model choosing work that is challenging comes without the pressure of having to live with that piece indefinitely, this allows room for experimentation which is great for artists and customers as it allows room for ideas to grow.

How do you think this rental model will change the art industry?
It will bring greater economic sustainability to galleries and artists, it will allow unrepresented artists a way to build their following and generate revenue and it will help galleries identify talent and grow their audiences. Our hope is to take the art market from a steep spike into a more mellow angle as money and interest are drawn from a broader demographic to a broader demographic, in turn, increasing the breadth of conversations being had in the wider culture.

Hannah Knox, 'Wednesday', 2021.

Become a subscriber to Gertrude here.

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