Art in changing times: commercial galleries and collector groups

artists, spaces

31 July 2013

Melbourne has a busy and interesting arts scene all year round, but, during winter, it takes effort to step out into the cold nights and head to a forum or opening. This month the focus seemed to be on the commercial gallery and collector groups.

On 21 July I attended The Local Collection public forum at Fehily Contemporary, in Collingwood. Then, on 24 July, the night of Nite Art (when more than 20 commercial, independent and artist run spaces in the CBD and North Melbourne welcomed the public), I went to a forum at West Space titled "Is the Gallery Space Dead?"

Both events were interesting with panels consisting of collectors, art dealers, online galleries, artists and curators. In both forums participants highlighted the fact that the art world in Australia and selling art has changed and has been changing over the past 5 years or more.

  • Art spaces no longer can rely on the exhibitions or even the stock room.
  • Commercial spaces are sharing resources, joining forces and also including project spaces.
  • Art fairs have become another expense, but also another platform to a wider international audience and source of income.

Art fairs such as Auckland Art Fair (7 to 11 August 2013), Sydney Contemporary (19 to 22 September 2013) and Hong Kong Art Basel (15 to 18 May 2014) are a fun way to explore and visually learn.

A collector group is also a great way to learn, and to purchase art if you don't wish to do it alone.

  • A collector group is a group of 12 to 15 people who have an interest in art.
  • Each member contributes dollars at the start and continues to contribute over a period of 7 to 10 years.
  • The group meets around 4 times a year with a few events in between.
  • The work is rotated every 6 months between each member's home.
  • When the group concludes everyone gets to share in the collection.
Ambassador Beard (2011), by Abdul Abdullah

Interested in being part of a collector group? Contact with Fehily Contemporary. They recently exhibited "Celebrating A Collection Half-Finished", showcasing the art acquired by The Local Collection so far, an example of what a collector group can accomplish. "Ambassador Beard", by Abdul Abdullah, was among the artworks.