Hello. Thank you for visiting my website and for wanting to know a bit more about me.
My name is Karen van Hoey Smith* (Pronunciation guide at the bottom) and I would like to give you some information about me so that you can decide if I am the right person for you.
As we all work in different ways, if you would prefer the statistical bullet points then CLICK HERE. Prefer to talk on the phone? – call me on 0770 822 9871 or read on from here and go to CONTACT ME for the next step.
I am passionate and motivated by art, antiques and the social historical context of these objects, their creators, patrons and collectors. Whilst I am sure that these interests crept in slowly over my life, I do have a defining memory when a piece of art moved me** – although in truth it froze me to the spot, and some water may have leaked out of my eyes. As a teenager in the Pompidou centre in Paris I had a mixture of emotions ranging from total embarrassment that I cried over a piece of art in public to the powerful feeling that this would change the course of my life. I knew that I needed to try and understand how an object had made me feel this way and I also wanted to feel it again. Since then I have been lucky enough to orchestrate situations where this has happened to others and through witnessing this I can relive my own experience.
I studied Fine Art Valuation at university covering a vast array of subjects from 2000 BC Persian glassware to Matthew Hilton furniture, pre-Giotto to post-Cezanne as well as professional practice, law and economics, which were all accredited by RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). After being awarded a 2:1 with honours and a prize from the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers (NAVA) I began my career as an Valuer.
Starting as a Junior Valuer at an auction house in Staffordshire I quickly understood that absolutely anything could come through those doors on any day (including hand grenades) and how to react, research and find the best way possible to offer these for sale. During this time I featured on BBC’s Bargain Hunt until I was convinced to become a paid consultant on the show (often known as the ‘Expert’ for the teams). This is where I learnt that I am much more comfortable being a facilitator than a front woman but happy to have had my 15 minutes of Warhol.
An opportunity to follow a life long dream of visiting Japan turned into a nearly 5 year experience and I am incredibly fortunate to have been welcomed into the country by so many interesting people. I lived with an antique dealing family, I taught English, helped to import antiques into Japan from the UK, worked with a phenomenal contemporary ceramicist and met many artists, collectors and antique experts as well as travelling the length and breadth of the country.
On my return to the UK I worked at a contemporary art gallery in central London as an art sales consultant and then moved to Bristol where I managed some galleries before I decided that it was time to take a leap of faith and work for myself, and I haven’t looked back since.
There are a number of ways that I can offer to help you.
Brokerage: If you are looking for a specific item, artist, maker or style you can register your interest with me and I can either actively search for you to a deadline or keep you informed when I come across something relevant or am offered something which may be of interest to you.
(The same is relevant if you are looking to sell something)
Consultation: I offer a consultation service on collections and interiors. This can be from thinning out your porcelain collection (collected or inherited) to developing a post war British art collection or buying the first piece of your dreams.
I work closely with qualified and experienced valuers and can provide valuations for Current Market Value, Insurance and Probate.
Artist Management and Advice: I work with a selection of contemporary artists; communicating with and developing them, promoting and selling through private and public exhibitions and commissions.
In addition I put together exhibitions to showcase new and existing artists in my portfolio as well as having the opportunity to offer some brokerage items and all of this in an interesting and stimulating environment.
Please don’t worry if it feels difficult to pronounce my name, you are not the first and most certainly not the last. Karen (CAR-en) van Hoey Smith (van Who-E Smith).
** It was Constantin Brancusi’s ‘Bird into Space’ sculpture.
- Studied Fine Arts Valuation and obtained a 2:1 with honours from university.
- Began work as a junior valuer at auction house in Staffordshire. Became an auctioneer and valuer and in charge of my own department as well as heading up speciality subjects of Toys and Modern Design.
- Expert on BBC’s Bargain Hunt for 4 episodes in 2004.
- Emigrated to Japan for nearly 5 years. Lived with antiques dealing family, worked in their shop and helped at famous Azabu market. Taught English and helped to import antiques into Japan.
- Taught English and helped to import antiques into Japan.
- Got to know many Japanese contemporary artists and creative people, met many collectors and antique experts as well as travelling the length and breadth of the country.
- Art Sales Consultant at West End gallery in London.
- Managed two contemporary art galleries in Bristol.
- Became self-employed, trading as KvH Artbroker.