Thought Leadership

Works of art

By Colin Walls

A while ago, we were on vacation in the West of England. My wife’s family have a vacation house in that area and we use it from time to time. As a result, we know all the local attractions: walking on the moor, visiting the quaint little villages, going to the coast to towns or beaches. But we are always on the lookout for local events. On this particular occasion, we had gone down to attend a music festival and stayed on for a couple of days.

We spotted a local arts and crafts show …

Although I am not an artist myself – if you do not count photography, which certainly has an artistic element – I do enjoy seeing the work of creative people. In my house, there a lots of pictures hung on the walls. Some are prints – often limited editions. There also original paintings, many by people we know [including my daughter and my father – a watercolor of his hangs right outside my office], but also some by professional artists. I have nothing that has been acquired as an investment – though some pieces probably are increasing in value. The pictures have to bring us pleasure to earn their place.

Dad painting

The arts and crafts show was quite a surprise. A lot of the work on sale was actually very good. So often, I have been to such events and seen many items on sale, none of which would earn a place in our house. I have discussed prices with people and a common response is that it takes a long time to make the artifact; often the implied question from me would be “Why did you bother?” But this event was different. I bought a couple of prints and then came across a stall manned by a young man with a particularly enthusiastic look on his face.

His name was James Yarde and he was a student of Art and Design at a nearby college. He had had the initiative to rent a stall in order to try to sell some of his work and get a little experience of business. He was showing a few examples of his work, which he offered on a “build to order” basis. I was particularly interested in a decorative table-light. He explained that its industrial look was inspired by vacuum tube guitar amplifiers. I decided to make a purchase and we exchanged email addresses. A few days later, he contacted me. I paid a small deposit and, in due course, my lamp arrived. It now has pride of place on a shelf in my office.


It is an inspiration to meet young artists and designers who have original ideas and novel approaches. I was pleased, in this case, that I could offer some encouragement by buying something that genuinely gives me pleasure. I understand that there is good news about James: he completed his degree. The bad news is that he now sells BMW motorcycles. Making a living as an artist is tough, at best, so I am not surprised that he has sought a “real job”. I hope that he pursues art and design as a hobby, at least.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at