Exploring the Art of Auctions | A Day of Discovery for Birchwood School

Exploring the Art of Auctions | A Day of Discovery for Birchwood School

On 25 April, in conjunction with The Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, Sworders hosted an all-day event at our Stansted Mountfitchet salerooms which saw us welcome 30 students from Birchwood, a secondary school in Bishop’s Stortford.  The day was designed to introduce pupils aged 15-17 to the realm of fine art, the mechanics of auctions, the variety of roles available within the industry and to broaden their horizons to a world that was new to them.  

23 May 2024

Our specialists were joined on the day by John Benjamin from The Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, Viv Lawes, a lecturer, curator, with over twenty years' experience in the art market and Cynthia Coleman Sparke, an author and specialist in Russian works of art.



The programme included various short talks, such as an introduction to Sworders and the international aspect of the art market, interspersed with workshops where the students gained hands on experience, as well as learning further about how auction houses function on a day to day basis.  The study groups saw students performing a variety of tasks such as handling items of jewellery and silver, using microscopes and loops, to looking at appraising paintings and seeing what is revealed when inspected under ultraviolet light. Another group focused on detailing the auction process, following the journey of an item from its consignment to its eventual sale. The marketing workshop proved particularly popular; the pupils enjoyed discussing how best to stage items for marketing photography, choosing backgrounds and drafting an Instagram post, the best of which was featured on @swordersfineart (shown below). 


Photo and Caption produced by students from Birchwood High School, Bishop's Stortford, following a recent Careers Day.⁠


Another section of the day that actively engaged the students was “basic, better, best”.  This featured three lots from the Design sale which was on view at the time and the specialist explained why the pieces were ranked in the order they were. 

The day concluded with a mock auction – this was most certainly the most captivating part of the day for our enthusiastic audience of bidders.  Each student was given a budget and they all had great fun, vigorously bidding against each other. Some decided to pool their funds to secure victory and outbid their peers, resulting in much amusement. 



This event exemplifies Sworders' eagerness to engage with the local community. The primary aim of the day was to demonstrate that a seemingly distant world is actually quite accessible, while also showcasing the wide range of roles within the fine art industry. In this aspect, the day proved immensely successful, hopefully inspiring some students to contemplate a career in this dynamic field where every day brings new experiences. We eagerly anticipate welcoming more young individuals to our salerooms in the future. 



If you're interested in holding a similar event, please get in touch events@sworder.co.uk






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