“Which one of your children do you love the most?”, I joked to a couple of people today. They knew exactly what I was talking about.
We were in Newcastle for the “internal auction” (as we called it) of Hawkesbury One, an art collection group I’ve been involved in for the last ten years.
You may have seen articles about us in the papers or may have seen the recent story about us on the Art Nation on ABC1.
Ten years ago we were a group of friends and family members. A few of us knew a fair bit about collecting before-hand; others (including myself) knew nothing.
We had heard about art collectors groups in Tasmania, and so we invited a bloke called Dick Bett to come and talk to us about setting up a group with members in Sydney and Newcastle.
Since then, we’ve collected paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, all sorts of things, from well-known contemporary Australian artists, as well as artists who are truly emerging. Over ten years, we’ve also been through a wonderful journey of getting to know more about contemporary Australian art, as well as getting to better understand the dynamics of group decision-making. There were challenges and difficulties along the way, of course.
It was always going to be a ten year plan, we knew. People’s lives change, we realised that. But when it came to the actual point of having to divide up the collection and go our separate ways, I think most of us were unprepared for that.
Most of the group has been very actively involved in a broad range of things everything from choosing the works, giving the group direction, looking after the legals, maintaining a website and so on. We were emotionally involved!
And it was transformative for many of us to see the works we had housed in our homes over a decade go on display recently at Newcastle Region Art Gallery. To see all of the works together was quite moving.
I’m so pleased we had an exhibition at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery to end things. I think if we were to have gone our separate ways without this sense of “closure” it would have been far more difficult. Like ending high school, but not having a “formal”.
But when we had to make choices about which of the “children” we wanted to keep – and to compete against each other for our favourite works – I think most of us felt a fair deal of sadness.
As with any sad occasion, we tried to laugh things off with humour. A joke here. A joke there. A round of applause when someone was able to get the work they truly loved.
It’s been a wonderful, enriching experience for me to be involved in, and I’m so truly grateful my friend Kate asked me to be a member. It’s changed my life in many ways. A wonderful experience.