Page last updated at 01:46 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 02:46 UK

Loans for art trigger 10m sales

Iwona Blazwick
Ms Blaswick's gallery recently re-opened with a 13.5m new extension.

A scheme offering art lovers interest-free loans to buy original works has helped generate sales worth £10m.

The Arts Council England's Own Art programme offers loans of up to £2,000 to be paid back over 10 months.

The council said 12,500 loans had been taken out since the scheme was launched five years ago and it has helped artists earn £6.5m.

About 80% of the work sold was fine art such as paintings and sculpture, followed by ceramics and jewellery.

Galleries and first-time buyers on lower incomes have all benefited from the government-backed Own Art initiative, the council said.

Abstract artist Sarah Morris is among those whose work has been sold under the programme, which has been running for five years.

One of Ms Morris' contemporary pieces sold at the Whitechapel Gallery for £395.

Director of London's Whitechapel Gallery Iwona Blazwick said: "The Own Art initiative is a simple and effective way of enabling people to start their own contemporary art collection.

"The Whitechapel Gallery has always been about making great art accessible to everyone and Own Art helps make our beautiful artworks and editions by leading artists even more affordable, enabling everyone to invest in great art."

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