Australian Art Collector at Auckland Art Fair - Art Collector

15 August 2011 | In his foreword to the Auckland Art Fair catalogue, critic Mark Amery says you can always spot the dealers at art fairs because they’ll be the ones “blinking in the light like insects transferred from garden to cardboard box”.

It turned out to be an apt description given the lighting in the new Viaduct Events Centre. The Auckland Art Fair, which ran from 4 to 8 August 2011, was the first event held in the events centre, an impressively airy building with views over the marina. During the day sunlight streamed in (gallerists showing photo prints were especially nervous) and at night the lighting was equally as stark.

It was one of only a handful of relatively minor teething issues for the fair’s new home.

On the upside, gallerists and visitors enjoyed the space. Aisles were wide and booths spacious by art fair standards (“as nice a place to spend four days of a fair as any we have seen,” according to Sydney dealer Martin Browne)

A global financial crunch at the beginning of the fair shook the confidence of dealers but strong results were still reported.

“Friday’s ‘mayhem in the markets’ (thanks, the New Zealand Herald) had an impact on us to the extent that several reserves fell though on Saturday,” reports Browne. “But the interest was strong and I am confident that at least some of those sales will be resurrected over the coming days.”

Andrew Jensen, representing Fox Jensen in Auckland and Jensen Gallery in Sydney, said the gallery was “pleased to make a number of sales” but quipped it was “nothing to retire on”.

That sentiment was echoed throughout the fair with both Australian and New Zealand galleries reporting sales but mostly at the lower end of the spectrum.

This is probably reflected in the fact that most galleries chose to present group exhibitions of smaller pieces.

Australian galleries were also pleased to be forging new relationships. Adelaide’s Paul Greenaway says: “Sally Smart is now represented in the Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and will now be represented by Gow Langsford Gallery in New Zealand. Imants Tillers's work was purchased by a private collection in Auckland and we negotiated representation for Adam Cullen with Bath Street Gallery. Altogether a very positive outcome.”

Jane O'Sullivan

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