Firstdraft Auction - Art Collector

Ham Darroch, Tonal star, 2015. Gouache on table tennis bat, 16 x 26.5cm. Image courtesy the artist.

This Friday on 1 September 2017, Firsdraft will hold its annual fundraising auction for the ninth year. We talk to the directors about the forthcoming event, which is a rare opportunity for collectors to bring home works by some of Australia’s finest practitioners and support an institution that will give rise to the next generation of emerging artists.

This year marks the ninth iteration of the inaugural Firstdraft auction. As an event, how has it grown over the years?

Since our first auction in 2009, we have seen a huge increase in the number of artworks donated. This year we will have over 120 works for sale.

We have also seen a huge growth in the number of collectors attending, many saying it has become a highlight in their art calendar as it has proven to be a really viable way to collect work by emerging and established artists at a great price, and a wonderful way to support the gallery.

This growth was been stemmed partly by our relocation to Woolloomooloo in 2014, as we suddenly had a much bigger gallery space to display works and host our audience. Last year was also our 30th birthday, and I think many artists who had been part of Firstdraft's exhibition program over our 30 year history felt compelled to donate.

We are so grateful for the artists that support us. They are part of the Firstdraft family, having exhibited, attended, volunteered or been past directors. Several artists have donated every year, and some may donate as a one-off, especially if they’ve been involved in our program that year. Either way, their generosity and ongoing support is hugely important to our organisation.

Lynda Draper, Green Meanie, 2016. Ceramic and various glazes, 33 x 20 x 12cm. Image courtesy the artist.

What are some of the highlight pieces of this year’s auction?

This year, we have an incredible line up of artists including Abdul Abdullah, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Tony Albert, Nick Collerson, Leo Coyte, Chris Dolman, Lynda Draper, Marc Etherington, Will French, Greg Hodge, Samuel Hodge, Natalya Hughes, Emily Hunt, Deborah Kelly, Mason Kimber, Belem Lett, Noel McKenna, Todd McMillan, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Tara Marynowsky, TV Moore, Claudia Nicholson, Jason Phu, Tom Polo, Joan Ross, Huseyin Sami, Marilyn Schneider, Alex Seton, Nicola Smith and many more.

Narelle Jubelin is including a particularly special work from the late 1990s, which references the East Timorese crisis and independence referendum and we’re delighted that Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro are donating a work from their Daddy Danse Macabre series of resin skulls (2016).

We also have a work by
Philjames, who has just has three consecutive solo exhibitions at Galerie pompom, Sydney; Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide as well as works by Sarah Contos, winner of the inaugural $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize at the Art Gallery of South Australia and Mitch Cairns, who has just won the 2017 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Alex Seton, Oil Can 01, 2015. Bianco Carrara, tarp, oil, 40 x 27 x 10cm. Image courtesy the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney.

Are there any up-and-coming artists in the auction who you think our readers should have their eyes on?

We are thrilled to be able to exhibit the work of some of Australia’s most talented emerging artists, many of whom have donated this year, so this is a hard question to answer! However, Tyza Stewart a recent graduate from the Queensland College of Art, who showed at Firstdraft in June, has donated one of their amazing portraits, which all the Firstdraft team really love. Alair Pambegan, an emerging Indigenous artist from Aurukun who exhibited with us in March has generously donated a beautiful work on canvas. In 2014 Pambegan was a finalist in both The Churchie National Emerging Art Prize and The John Fries Award.

What price points can art buyers expect for works in the show?

This year we have a wide range works being donated by both emerging and established artists. Collectors can expect artworks to sell for between $50 and $5,000, with the majority going for around $200-$500. We try and ensure there are opportunities for collectors at all levels to buy!

Is there any theme or connection between the selection of works available this year?

We haven't wanted to add a theme or curatorial premise to the auction, which would preclude an artist donating, but as the event grows and develops this may be something we consider in the future.

Nathan Beard, Agnosia, 2015. Lenticular print, 55 x 30cm. Image courtesy of the City of Joondalup 2015 Community Invitation Art Award.

How do the funds raised by supporters go to help Firstdraft as an organisation?

The funds essentially allow us to run free shows, meaning that artists don’t have to pay anything to have a show with us. We also offer artists a 25 per cent commission (which some artists choose to take, and some donate to Firstdraft), so in many cases buyers are also supporting the artist.

Emily Grant

>> The Firstdraft auction will take place on 1 September 2017 at 13-17 Riley St, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, NSW. Find a link to the auction catalogue here.

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