Main Sponsor for Printfest

“We are very excited to be the first main sponsor of Printfest and support contemporary print makers producing high quality affordable art. One of the reasons we, as a species, have managed to evolve from hanging around in trees to populating the world is because we develop the ability to express ourselves through art. Good art should challenge us to think, tell a story and allow us to use our imagination.”

Karel Jacobs
Canter Holland

Administration Centre
16 Commerce Road,

Lynch Wood,

Peterborough PE2 6LR 117

Farringdon Road,
London, EC1R 3BX

Office 0845 127 1444

Hirst © Anna Dudchenko drawing from the series Under the Influence
“She produced a series of prints questioning the contemporary art scene by showing monkey’s frankly confused about what we consider art. I came back with nine of them.” Karel Jacobs

Auguste Rodin © Anna Dudchenko, drawing from the series Under the Influence
“I simply tried to create a dialogue between the viewer and the artists and raise questions about contemporary art and art of the 20th century.” Anna Duchenko

Warhole © Anna Dudchenko drawing from the series Under the Influence
“In my series, apart from creating something humorous and amazing, I also wanted to highlight some of the best and the most successful artists of the 20th and 21st century.” Anna Duchenko

Punch and Judy, 1940s, by L S Lowry Lithograph, signed in plate From The School Prints series.
“We first came across these some 15 years ago and now have a modest collection. A gallery local to me has recovered a archive of them and they are championing them and have made a video.” Karel Jacobs

Harvesting, 1940s, by John Nash, Lithograph, signed in plate From The School Prints series.
“I love the connection with children and the hope and inspiration; in a war-torn world we make room for art and try to inspire children.” Karel Jacobs

From The School Prints series. A set of 24 lithographs produced in the 1940s with the intention of bringing contemporary art to young children. Printed in England at the Baynard Press.

Future Acquisitions
In conversation with
Karel Jacobs of Canter Holland

by writer Sarah Igo

Canter Holland’s Karel Jacobs reveals his guiding principles when picking up new pieces of art, as he reflects on his past, present and future acquisitions ahead of Printfest’s 21st event.

When checking into Canter Holland’s homepage, we are swiftly told to ‘forget the jargon, rigid thinking and starchy white shirts often associated with financial services’, a sentiment backed up by joint MD Karel Jacobs when he pops up in my Zoom window, wearing a comfortable jumper and no tie.

“We never wear suits. Mostly, when we meet our clients, they’re not in suits. Why would we be? Only HMRC wear suits…” Karel responds, when I allude to their caption, instantly revealing the vein of humour that is never far from the surface in our conversation.

“We take what we do seriously, but not necessarily ourselves,” he adds with a gleam in his eye.

For previous Printfest pledges, Karel’s appreciation for humour is no surprise. First becoming involved with the Ulverston festival six years ago, Karel’s recent acquisitions have often had an element of the tongue in cheek about them, yet his love of art predates his involvement by some years.

His first ever art purchase, age 17, a drawing of Death and the Maiden, an interpretation of a common Renaissance art motif of a young woman being seized by Death personified, seems starkly serious in topic, by comparison.

Death and the Maiden, artist unknown
The text reads: String Quartet, The Minor Third (in Dutch)
Death and the Maiden (in German)

“I was a frustrated, wannabe artist,” Karel smiles. “I loved the symbolism of it impacting both visual art and music.” You could be excused for viewing this choice of sombre and somewhat cerebral subject matter as an indication of Karel, the boy, ‘putting away those childish things’ in the face of impending manhood. Well, if it weren’t for the fact that one of his more recent acquisitions, Death and the Maiden Over, a comical, quintessential English village green depiction by Printfest Patron Mychael Barratt, hangs beside it in his home.

Death and the Maiden Over, etching by Mychael Barratt
“Death playing cricket and just missing that last ball in the over. And, you know, that isn’t one of those pieces which makes money. You know sometimes we do work solely for ourselves without thinking about a possible audience for it.” Mychael Barratt

When I ask him his thoughts on art for pleasure, versus art for investment, his answer is succinct. “I despise art as an investment. I know people who have stuff on the walls that they hate but it’s about the money. Life’s too short.” So what is Karel’s strategy for purchasing art? “I look at two things. One, I need to like it. Does it talk to me? And two, is it for the office or the home.” It transpires that some of the pieces Karel likes are a little too risqué for the office.

The artworks Karel likes to select for the meeting rooms of Canter Holland certainly inspire conversation and reflection. Their placement is strategic, with photographs of a pile of Venezuelan banknotes next to an article about runaway inflation positioned in the ‘inflation room’, as a lesson on inflation as the devaluation of money.

There is also an impulsiveness to Karel’s purchases; only the previous weekend, Karel tells me, he and wife Jayne hopped on a flight to the north west highlands to attend the House of McDonald exhibition at the last minute after seeing an advert on Instagram to be able to meet the artists, and picked up four pieces. In that collection, “I like the piece ‘Lion Heart’,” Karel says with a smile. “A butch looking bloke dressed in some sort of military garb. He doesn’t seem altogether confident, but the words displayed on his helmet say it all.”

Also capturing his imagination is the fantastically titled, ‘Man Eating His Words’, depicting just that. “The words around him (which he is eating) make me smile.” “One I’ve not bought yet…I need to talk to myself about it. It has a motif that is in another piece I bought at Printfest that is hanging in a meeting room.”

The Passenger, Rory MacDonald, oil on board, 36x30cm
“I had to go so flew up to meet with the artists. The exhibition is a collaboration between father, mother and son and while they each have a different style, they follow a similar narrative.” Karel Jacobs

He tells me about another recent acquisition, work by Russian born Oman artist Anna Dudchenko, discovered in the hotel shop whilst visiting Oman – “I know – they’re normally full of tat!” – all about her take on modern and contemporary art.

“It was mainly monkeys, looking at modern art and being frankly confused. Maybe the monkeys are more intelligent than us as they’re confused as to what we consider art…”

I want to know how much influence Karel takes from the past, the lessons learned, both in art and business, but it’s clear that’s not where his eyes are set.

“It’s the future I’m most interested in. That’s where I can affect the change and push things in the right direction. Creating, and continuing to have a nice, relaxed environment for clients to come into.”

While Karel may not overly fixate on the past, he certainly has a fondness and respect for history. We discuss his collection of School Prints from the 1940s. Discovered 15 years ago at a gallery local to Karel, the prints are from an art movement inspired by Brenda Rawnsley and husband Derek with the aim of providing young children who would not otherwise have the opportunity, the chance to become familiar with, and perhaps become inspired by art.

“In the 1940s and 50s, artists were commissioned to create prints for schools. I love the connection with children and the hope and inspiration; in a war-torn world we make room for art and try to inspire children. We have seven including Moore, Lowry and John Nash.”

So, what is Karel looking forward to seeing this year at Printfest? “What I like is the turnover of new artists coming in. I’m excited for that.”

And, with impeccable comedy timing, he adds, “My problem is I’m running out of wall space. I may need to acquire more property.”