Art Month Collector’s Space: Meet the Collectors - Art Collector

Art Month 2016 Collector's Space featuring works from the collections of Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Courtney Gibson, Danny Goldberg, and Jasper Knight. Photo: Patrick Stevenson

The hotly anticipated Collector’s Space returns to Art Month Sydney this year, allowing visitors et up close and personal with some of the most impressive private art collections in Australia. 2016 sees the show staged an unoccupied inner city house on Australia Street in Camperdown and will exhibit works from the collections of Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Courtney Gibson, Danny Goldberg, and Jasper Knight.

We spoke to Dan-Cuthbert and Knight for a little insight in to their personal collecting habits.

Jasper Knight

Australian artist Jasper Knight has built an extensive collection acquired through not only buying but also swapping works with other artists. His collection boasts over 300 works of leading Australian talents.

What was the very first piece you swapped with another artist?
The very first swapped piece was no doubt with Oliver Watts, who has been painting, writing, curating and talking about art with me every day now for a good 20 years (we still run Chalk Horse Gallery in its 10th year this year). Also interesting to note that Lindy Lee gifted the work seen in the collectors space for my 21st birthday in 1999. I should point out though that Lindy is my Aunt and is a powerhouse in the art world. I have turned to for guidance frequently.

What was the most recent piece you swapped with another artist?
The most recent swapped pieces were my two amazing Michael Lindeman's. I have wanted one of his works since his Sherman Gallery days.

Your collection boasts more than 300 works from leading Australian artists – are there any particularly special works you can tell us about?
Yes the collection is 300 works strong. Two particularly special works (and one I regret to have sold) are the 1-The spray cans that Marley Dawson made for myself and [my wife] Isabelle. The large can was gifted in 2008 for our wedding and the small one for the birth of our first child in 2010. Both have working ball bearings so you can shake them like a real spray can!

The other is Mclean Edwards’ three painted Sake boxes. Mclean painted green bottles on the lid and sides of three sake boxes belonging to his late father just weeks after his passing. Isabelle and I love these works.

The third is Adam Cullen’s Uncle Jasper. After visiting Adam up at Angel Street in Wentworth Falls we did a painting session together at his studio down in the wastelands. He had painted a large picture of Uncle Sam (the "we want you" for the army image) and he named it Uncle Jasper. Adam, one of my art heroes, named a work after me and I sold it to my friend Jason. It’s the biggest regret to date but sometimes real life gets in the way of collecting. You live and you learn.

Whose work are you most proud to own?
I am most proud to own a Howard Arkley and Rosalie Gasgoine. I feel like his treatment of urban landscape and her assemblage work has greatly shaped my practice. Sadly they don't own my work because a: they are dead, b: their work is worth way more than mine so swapping would be awkward, and c: they probably wouldn't like my work, haha!

Which artists are you most proud to be owned by?
I couldn't narrow down one artist who I am most proud to be owned by but one of my proudest moments was when I was having dinner with Jeffrey Smart at a collectors house – Jeffrey is one of my absolute art heroes – he looked at a large work of mine and said that I used a mid blue in a similar way to Picasso. It was the best ever moment as an artist for sure, so I didn't have the heart to tell him the mid blue was an enormous Perspex printed secure car parking sign. But then again he was clearly pumping up my tires anyway!

Sally Dan Cuthbert

Sally Dan-Cuthbert has been an art specialist for more than 28 years, working for The Blaxland Gallery, Christie’s Auctioneers and for the past 22 years for herself as a fine art consultant. Her collection features work artists including Janet Laurence, Susan Norrie, Bronwyn Oliver and John Firth-Smith, Emily Floyd, Justine Varga and Todd McMillan. Sally’s approach pays particular importance to marrying the artwork with its environment.

What was the very first piece you ever collected?
Janet Laurence, from the 'Memory Matter' series.

What was the most recent piece you collected?
Remembering #17 from Accumulate by Justine Varga.

Whose work do you have your eye on right now?
Jim Lambie, Sarah Mosca and Brendan Van Hek.

How important is it to marry an artwork with the environment in which it’s displayed?
I believe very important – you could hang the most important artwork in the wrong environment and ruin the artwork's magic.

People are disparaged for trying to buy an artwork to "match" their sofa - are you in a sense matching the sofa to the artwork? Or how is your approach different?
I'm more concerned about the architectural details and lighting where the work will be placed. The colour of the wall, architectural mouldings, window placement, whether the work is to be viewed predominately during the day or at night, standing or sitting. When all the surrounding structural elements are worked out, then I look at what furniture is or going to be placed around the work. I try and ensure that both the artwork and its surrounds sing, never so the artwork and sofa match. They should play off and complement each other.

Do you get invited to view work before the exhibition opening? Who by? How did you get on those lists?
Yes, by the gallery exhibiting the work. By visiting the gallery regularly and starting up a relationship with the gallery staff and letting them know which artists I'm interested in.

As an art specialist with more than 28 years experience in the industry, what’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to other collectors?
Look, listen, read and take advice but only buy what you love. The work which when you have left the gallery you can't stop thinking about.

Camilla Wagstaff

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