“The thing I love about my career, apart from the actual painting which is a given, is the way my artwork becomes part of the long-term story of people’s lives”
A friend sent me this photo yesterday of the artwork she’d bought a year or so ago, finally framed. It’s a fine-art reproduction of a painting of the original house on her family’s property near Armidale. The painting was part of a collection of about forty artworks I created of the various buildings on the property. It was exhibited at a family event over Easter of that year, celebrating the family’s 100 years on the place.
As part of the celebrations, the family decided to publish two of the artworks as giclée prints – only a small edition of 10, just enough so everyone had a chance to have something from this series. This is the one my friend took back to Adelaide. It’s hanging at her house as we speak – a small part of the New England living 1500km from where it was created.
Most of the paintings from this series have sold, many to family members that weekend. Some were amongst my favourites. There’s a page on my website – not often visited – called Curating Memory which is an archive page for paintings that have sold, but too important to relegate to history’s desktop. The paintings starting at “From the back door” to the end of the page are from this series. go to page
Time may be linear but people’s art collections aren’t.
Personal collectors are different from those people in charge of public collections, who differ again from private or corporate collectors who layer cultural or financial considerations into their purchases.
The lounge-room collector is collecting stories.
Long-term lounge-room collectors have rooms full of stories.
Newbies have a few select stories, valued for the thrill of the purchase as well as for what it represents.
See for yourself. Next time you’re in someone’s house ask them about their artwork. Listen to the type of stories they tell.
It goes with the sofa
The personal collector curates and displays his or her collection as seriously as any Career Curator. Unlike professional curators who may be constructing a time-line narrative about an artist’s work, I do not know of one personal collector who displays chronologically. More often than not they are grouped by subject or (shock horror) colour. I know artists who are offended by someone buying artwork to home-decorate. Of course it would be nice if every carefully crafted concept in an artwork was read and acknowledged, but in the end how people relate to my artwork is not for me to decide.
Receptionist theory aside (*1), the ownership of the painting stops when it leaves my studio.
Of course I have certain legal and moral rights to the way my artwork is attributed, displayed and reproduced, but I can’t tell you how respond to my artwork, nor how to hang it.
The way your curate your life is up to you.
I collect artwork – it’s personal
Like many artists I collect Other People’s Art.
My own collection is eclectic.
Each piece has been chosen for a personal reason that complements the aesthetic. It’s as much about the artist as their artwork. Laid end to end, these pictures chronicle my life.
This small video is of just one wall of my collection. It’s deliberately silent to reinforce the the visual nature of the situation (just the birdsong that’s always here). Many of these artists’ mark-making has evolved and they are telling different sorts of stories now, but that doesn’t preclude those works being an important part of the way my own life is described.
If artists are in a constant state of creating about episodes in their life, and collectors are continually acquiring in response to episodes in their life, then a collection is the intersection of those two time lines. How joyous it is when artists and collectors meet more than once along the way.
The honour is mine
It’s a great honour to have an artwork curated into someone’s collection, be it private, corporate or public. But there’s something extra special about being chosen to be part of a personal collection.
To those of you who curate my artwork onto your lounge-room wall and then into your family’s history: thank you. Thank you for taking our shared experience of a place and time, and valuing it. Thank you for believing that what I have to say is important enough to keep close.
*1 Roland Barthes “Death of the Author” 1967 Read Article