Art Month Sydney: Collector's Space - Art Collector

Abdul Abdullah, photographed for Art Collector issue 75, January - March 2016. Portrait by Nikki Short.

Ever wondered what Australia's leading artists and practitioners hang on their walls? Find out at the annual Art Month Sydney event, Collector's Space, hosted by May Space in Waterloo. Art Month director Kate Britton has handpicked a selection of works from the collections of Abdul Abdullah, Tony Albert, Tess Allas, Daniel Mudie Cunningham and Emma Price. In the lead up to the opening, we quizzed Abdullah and Allas about the how they approach collecting art and how their collections inform their everyday lives.

Abdul Abdullah

Do the artworks in your everyday life inform your practice?
Absolutely. As much as I'm an artist, I'm an art lover. I like to be surrounded by the things I love, and I love experiencing art.

Can you tell us about a particularly special piece in your collection?
The pair of Vipoo sculptures holds a special place for me. In return for me doing a painting of him, he created these two fantastic portraits of my fiancée Amrita and I.

Vipoo Srivilasa, Yin and Yang (Fire and Ice), 2017. Ceramic, 50 x 20 x 20cm each. Created for the artist based on questionnaires completed by Abdul and Amrita, his fiance.
How has your taste evolved over time?
I guess when I was younger I particularly drawn to beautifully rendered painting, because I knew I wasn't capable of it. I still love that sort of thing, but as my practice has expanded, so has my taste.

Why do you think this is an important event for Art Month?
I think it's great to have a look at what artists themselves collect, as artists often have amazing collections.

How do you think the collections of contemporary practitioners reflect on the Australian art scene as a whole?
Without being too presumptuous, I think the collections of artists are probably a good indicator of what is to come. Often we're very close to the action, so to speak, and know who has the best potential.

Tess Allas
Director, Indigenous Programs, University of New South Wales

Tess Allas. Courtesy of Art Month, Sydney.

Can you tell us a little bit about your art collection?
My collection is mainly based on artists I have worked and formed relationships with. Mostly, but not always, I buy works from artists who are either emerging (regardless of age) or under-represented in the broader art world.

How the artworks in your everyday life inform your work?
I look at the works I have been gifted or have bought and I am inspired by the depth of creativity and tradition in our community. I am humbled by some of the works and grateful for the friendships these works represent.

Can you tell us about a particularly special piece in your collection?
I love the work by Garry Sibosado, Rirralb Jun-Jal Budbagoon Goolalee (North East South West), as it has given me a whole new language (quite literally) in which to view the art practice of his community – that being the Lombadina community on the west coast of the Kimberely region of Western Australia.

How has your taste evolved over time?
My tastes have now expanded from collecting work from solely Aboriginal artists to collecting work from artists from many other cultural backgrounds. But my mission to support ‘emerging’ talent still holds true.

Why do you think this is an important event for Art Month?
It is important in the fact that artists who are sometimes overlooked, can be given a platform to show their amazing talent to the broader arts community.
Left: Laurel Nannup, Yellow Taxi, 2012. Etching and aqautint from 2 plates, 61 x 71cm. PP from Cicada Press. Right: Frances Belle Parker, Ulgundahi, 2007. Lino reduction, 38.5 x 28.5cm.

Emma O'Neill

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