My arty-farty weekend continued today with a meeting of Hawkesbury One, the art collection group of which I’m a member. I think I’ve only ever mentioned it here once or twice before, but in essence, we’re a group of friends with an interest in art who, several years ago, decided to band together to buy collectively.
One of the members of the group, Steven wrote an article for the Griffith Review a few years ago…
It started with a life and death conversation. The doctor, faced with what was surely a terminal illness that offered at best a scant few extra years of life, had another of the many intense discussions he’d enjoyed with his niece. He’d had a rich, full and complex life: professional success, built a remarkable relationship with his equally successful wife, raised four girls in a beautiful home in Sydney and seen them through the ups and downs of modern lives and relationships, gathered around him many friends with diverse interests. He’d also amassed a significant private collection of Australian art over decades. A life well lived. But he and his niece and others in his family wanted more – to make new connections with people and ideas in a world increasingly focused on the individual rather than the community.
That conversation gave birth to Hawkesbury One – a small group of the man’s family and friends who agreed on a ten-year plan to put together, over the first decade of the new century, a collection of Australia’s emerging artists. Each member would contribute a set amount of money each year, the artists and works would be chosen by mutual agreement, the art would circulate around the members’ homes and at the end of the ten years, the art would provide a snapshot of what was happening in this country politically, socially and culturally over that period. It sounds simple.
As individuals we were also interested in learning more about art, and in pooling our resources to purchase works which we, individually, couldn’t afford. We have a 10 year joint-venture agreement which involves regular payments and meetings. We’ve been together for about seven years now and today, for the first time ever, we assembled as many of the works in one place as we could.
Because the works are shared around, I’d never seen some of them before. But for a joyous afternoon, one of our houses was turned into an art gallery featuring everything from paintings, to sculpture, to photographs and video works.
We had all of the works on display except for the Cullen, the Nain, the Snowball, the Piccinini and the Bell.
It was also really terrific that a number of friends also came along, as well as Mr Wang, who my friend Kate was hosting as part of her From Mao To Now exhibition.
And in case you’re wondering why we’re called “Hawkesbury One”, it’s because the group includes members from both Newcastle and Sydney, and it’s the Hawkesbury River that provides the link.