Art, design, literature: cultural pursuits of every type have moved out of the preserve of the highbrow and into the mainstream over the last decade.
According to Visit England, museums and art galleries are continuing to experience a significant increase in visitor numbers. The Tate Modern is the most popular modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.8 million visitors per year and some 460,000 people attending this year's Damian Hirst exhibition.
Our penchant for culture is starting to influence the interiors of our homes, too. Gone are the days of hanging a ubiquitous high-street print on our walls: original work by emerging artists or limited editions by big names are where it's at. "There's a definite trend for people to seek out and discover the cultural background of a piece, to find out more about the artist and designer and to buy something individual, unique and handmade rather than mass produced," says Peter Tullin, the co-founder of Culture Label, an online site that curates and sells art and design pieces.
The site (culturelabel.com) has 20,000 products from more than 500 museums and galleries, including the British Museum, Tate Modern and the Design Museum, and work by more than 1,000 artists ranging from big names like Tracey Emin to RCA students and emerging graduates. On the design side, designer makers from Cockpit Arts and other studios are also represented. The most popular pieces on the site are limited-edition art prints and they are relatively affordable too. "You can find limited-edition prints by well-known artists such as Sir Peter Blake from around £250," Tullin says. "They're very collectable and not that much more than a print from a high- street store."
But it's not just art that's proving popular: a David Shrigley-designed salt and pepper set is a big seller. "People want to express themselves across everyday life," Tullin says. Other sites worth a visit for limited-edition prints and original artwork include A Little Bit of Art (alboa.co.uk), Studio Salt (studiosalt.co.uk) and Studio Voltaire (studiovoltaire.org), which also has a pop-up shop, House of Voltaire, being manned by well-known artists until 15 December.