The art of the perfect fit

Working in the Arts: Nick Hall

Posted by Emma Restall in Interviews · June 2024

This week for our ongoing Working in the Arts profile, we talk to Nick Hall who is Director – Head of Fine Art at Henry Adam’s Fine Art Auctioneers in Chichester, West Sussex.

So, where do you work?

I work at Henry Adams Fine Art Auctioneers in Chichester, West Sussex, as well as a BBC TV antiques expert.

What is your job title?

My job title is Director – Head of Fine Art.

What time did you wake up? What are you usual working hours?

I usually wake up at 7.00am, the saleroom’s opening hours are 9.00 – 5.00, although we get in around 8.30 to discuss the day ahead and more importantly get the kettle on!

What are your key tasks?

My key task is to run the department, to navigate its development and grow its presence and profitability, but I also spend a lot of time on the road visiting clients and assessing consignments as well hosting talks and valuation events.

What was your career path to this role?

My career path has always been in the auction industry, from a 17 year old Porter, to Head Porter, to Cataloguer/Valuer, to Auctioneer, to Head of Department, to Senior Auctioneer, and to Director in charge of the saleroom, a fascinating journey across several auction houses picking up invaluable experience at all levels, from assessing the contents of a castle to correctly packing a van.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

There are so many wonderful parts to this job that it’s hard to choose just one, but close contenders are discovering a rare object that the owners had no idea was valuable, the wonderful characters that I get to meet and incredible homes I visit, and of course being on the rostrum wielding the gavel for a major sale.

Worst part of the job, there’s not much that springs to mind, but I think the most frustrating thing is the decline in interest and values of a lot of traditional antiques, wonderful objects beautifully made by true craftsmen sadly now selling for a fraction of their values 20-30 years ago!

What careers advice would you give to your 18 year old self with the benefit of hindsight?

Enjoy the journey it takes as long as it takes, ask older knowledgeable colleagues/collectors/dealers lots of questions they are fonts of knowledge you’ll look back on in awe, visit major auctions / museums / galleries to study up close rare objects so that when you are lucky enough to come across one you don’t let it slip through your fingers, they rarely look so obvious and glamorous under a layer of dust laying unloved in an attic.

Have you had a secret job that is not on your CV?

As a teenager I had a few part time jobs to earn a bit of cash, from mowing lawns, taking horses their morning hay before the school bus arrived, hospital porter, cleaning cars, and in my early 20’s I had two years in the British Territorial Army, in an Infantry Regiment, splitting my time between the barracks and the saleroom, great fun, hard graft, character building, installed a ‘can do’ attitude.

Thank you to Nick for sharing his insights into the auction world.

Notes from DRAW · 17.06.2024

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