Sarah Cottier Gallery: Artful Moves - Art Collector

Issue 10 October-December 1999

Since opening with a splash in 1993, Sarah Cottier Gallery has steadily built a reputation among collectors as one of Australia’s most internationally focused contemporary art galleries. Andrew Frost reports.

Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Redfern is one of the most handsomely appointed privately owned contemporary art galleries in the country. With three museum-quality spaces spread over two floors designed by architects Englen & Moore, the gallery offers the visitor an artfully designed yet elegantly neutral environment. When Australian Art Collector called we were greeted at the gallery doors by Sarah Cottier and taken to a back room where the gallerist makes an excellent flat white on the gallery’s in-house espresso machine. At a table, Mike Parr is signing an edition of lithographs, considering each print carefully before making his mark. Meanwhile, at the top of a short ladder, Cottier’s partner and gallery co-director Ashley Barber photographs each signature for posterity.

Born in 1963 and raised in Sydney’s suburb of Paddington, Cottier grew up in a family that actively encouraged an interest in the arts. “My father is an architect and my mother is a speech pathologist. They lived in London for a couple of years, so I think that they understood the advantages of living close to the city,” says Cottier. “There was a definite interest in art on my parents’ part. They were friends with Jeffrey Legge and Frank Watters of Watters Gallery.” Exposed to the bohemia of the inner city Sydney art scene of the 1970s, Cottier’s attitude to owning art is matter-of-fact. “A whole group of my parents’ friends borrowed paintings from Watters, which they inevitably ended up purchasing when they realised they couldn’t live without them anymore. It all seemed very normal as a child and artistic endeavour was encouraged in the family.”

Cottier studied at the College of Fine Arts, now part of the University of NSW, but then known as City Art Institute. Majoring in ‘post studio art’, a course that encompassed multimedia, installation and performance, Cottier also attended lectures at The University of Sydney’s Fine Arts department. The lecturers, Alan Cholodenko and Edward Colless, were attempting to give their students an interdisciplinary education in the theory of such influential figures as Gilles Deleuze and Jean Baudrillard. “It was just a very small step to fulfilling a need I had at the time,” says Cottier of her own crossdisciplinary education. “City Art Institute’s courses had no theory component at all. Attending lectures at Sydney Uni was an attempt to feed that need.“ Was the mix of educational approaches influential? “These disciplines were two very different and antagonistic ways of thinking about art,” says Cottier. “Juggling ideas between those two places was definitely influential and stimulating.”

After graduating, Cottier worked in a number of arts-related areas including a stint as editor of the journal Interior Design. In 1990 she volunteered as an assistant at the Yuill/Crowley Gallery. “Kerry Crowley was a very generous employer and a very generous woman, even though I was a volunteer,” says Cottier. “She’s made amazing contributions to the contemporary art scene and she’s a very focused and dedicated figure.” A mentor? “Yes,” says Cottier emphatically.

In 1993 Cottier began to plan the launch of her own gallery at a time when the Australian art world was in recession after the late 80s boom. For Cottier, however, the timing was perfect. “During the recession there were a lot of dissatisfied artists around,” she recalls. “There was a moment of flux when artists had left their galleries
and there weren’t many commercial galleries that could service their needs.” Instead of the 60-artist stables other galleries were boasting in the late 1980s-early 1990s, the Sarah Cottier Gallery would launch with just a few artists.

“We had a space that was ready to work with, it was just a matter of planning the gallery’s profile,” Cottier remembers. “The first artist she took on was Hany Armanious, who was unrepresented at the time. “I functioned as an independent agent on Hany’s behalf. Then Hany was invited to the 1993 Aperto section of the Venice Biennale.”

Italian curator Achille Bonito Oliva’s invitation to Armanious surprised many Australian commentators. Oliva’s reputation is that of an art world heavyweight, having ‘discovered’ artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat for a European audience. For Armanious, a young artist with just a few solo shows and an appearance in the Sydney Biennale to his credit, the Venice selection was an important boost to his career, but for Cottier it was major coup, signalling both the seriousness of her gallery and her dedication to artist representation.

Cottier’s start-up stable was a selection of some of the hottest names around – Armanious, Mikala Dwyer, Matthys Gerber, John Nixon and ADS Donaldson, artists whose reputations have continued to grow with the gallery.

In February 1994, The Sarah Cottier Gallery opened its doors in what had been a small goods factory in Newtown. The memorable shows of that first year? “Mikala Dwyer’s first show was extraordinary,” recalls Cottier. “It was a complete takeover of the building with a million and one distractions. She touched every corner of the building. Hany Armanious’s Snake Oil show, which was four tables laden with gelatinous, abject, yet seductive blobs, was an amazing experience. Everyone had to touch them. Other, more classic, formal exercises, such as John Nixon’s first orange painting show in 1995, were very exciting. They were all memorable.”

Cottier felt an increasing need to move to a new location and eventually closed the space in December 1997. “We were looking for something on the eastern side of the city and something larger,” says Cottier. With most of 1998 lost in ‘development hell’, as Cottier ruefully describes the renovation of her new Redfern space, the gallery’s exhibition program was put on hold. Cottier spent almost a year dealing her artists’ work from home while the renovations proceeded. “In a lot of galleries, artists only show once every two years. It wasn’t a huge interruption, but exhibitions are the thing that a gallery runs on. The wait did take out the most interesting and enjoyable part. But reopening after a year generated a certain amount of attention.”

Cottier has purposefully maintained an intimate stable since the gallery’s inception. “The idea has always been to keep it small, because that’s the only way to do it properly,” she says. “I can’t really imagine servicing or handling a larger number of artists.” Since opening, artists Justene Williams, Maria Cruz, Anne-Marie May and Kerrie Poliness have joined the stable. So how does Cottier choose artists for her gallery? “Basically, it’s a fascination and enjoyment of the work of the artist, a knowledge that their commitment is thorough and ongoing, and that they are people who we will enjoy working with, because at the end of the day it’s a partnership,” says Cottier. “It’s not just me ‘choosing’, it’s the artist choosing at the same time. Both parties are involved in the decision.”

Throughout our interview Cottier alternates between using the words “we” and “I” when describing the gallery and its operation. Although the gallery bears her name, she readily acknowledges the participation of her partner Ashley Barber. Cottier confirms that, when the gallery began, it was a one-woman enterprise, but over the past five years things have changed. “Ashley has just inveigled his way in and now he’s just as much a part of the enterprise as I am,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a very lovely thing to have a partnership personally and then also professionally work so closely. It’s a lovely kind of symbiotic relationship. When you do something like this, it completely consumes your whole life. It’s very hard to draw a line where the involvement starts and stops with what we do.”

With the opening of the Redfern gallery came the addition of Mike Parr, who had left Sherman Galleries at the end of 1998. What attracted Parr to the Cottier Gallery? “Because I like the sense of vitality there,” says Parr. “I think there are a lot of good young artists showing there. I’m not exactly a young artist but it’s the sort of milieu that I think extends my own position. It’s a challenge too. The relationship between Sherman Galleries and myself remains very cordial. The show I had there last year was particularly successful because, in the end, the Queensland Art Gallery bought the entire show. But I think (Sherman Galleries) understood when I said that it was more important to be in company with artists I felt more in common with.”

Although Cottier’s artists seem to share a committed, conceptual approach to art making, Parr argues that it has more of a contemporary flavour than what he describes as ‘classic’ 1970s conceptualism. “The artists’ work at Cottier isn’t exactly ‘neo-conceptual’ because it’s not the kind of stuff that John Nixon and I pioneered in the 1970s,” says Parr. “One of the reasons that the gallery was interesting for me was that John was showing there. In a way, his position and mine could provide context for the work of these younger artists. I think that the work that is being done (at Cottier) extends the work of the 1970s in interesting ways and my view has always been that this is the cutting edge of Australian art. I think it’s important to stretch oneself and there have been some very good shows at Cottier this year. It keeps me on my toes!”

Cottier herself believes that, by definition, all art after Marcel Duchamp could be considered conceptual and does not necessarily apply as a label for her gallery. Although she admits that her overall criteria for selecting artists are difficult to summarise, Cottier is forthright when asked what kind of art attracts her. “Good art,” she says with a laugh. “When you look at the stable of artists that we work with, there’s not necessarily one overriding aesthetic or intellectual concern. There is a certain privileging of abstraction but that’s turned on its head by artists like Gerber or Armanious. Everybody takes turns at ruffling that premise.” Peter Fay, owner of works by Armanious, Dwyer, Gerber and Diena Giorgetti, believes, to a limited degree, that Cottier’s artists are conceptually based. “I don’t know what label you’d use,” says Fay. “But there is an aesthetic in the gallery and some of the artists there could be said to have a conceptual base. But what you can say is that Cottier is committed to the here and now.”

Would it be more accurate to say that the thirty-something Cottier and her artists share a generational attitude to art? “Definitely,” she agrees. “I see a huge strength in that approach. The stable has developed in consultation with the artists. From the beginning it has been important to construct a gallery where all the artists respect each others work, where a lively ‘conversation’ between the artists and their work can take place, where a context for the artist’s work can be consolidated. As a result, the gallery’s stable is inherently generational but creates a focused picture of a generation as opposed to a broad, general sweep.”

Cottier’s gallery has maintained an international presence since its inception. “The very first thing that the gallery did even before we opened in Sydney was go to the Cologne Art Fair,” says Cottier. “It was a good description of
our intention that we weren’t going to be just a Sydney or Australian based gallery. We’ve built on that first appearance at Cologne, so that we attend an international fair every year. We’ve done that because it extends our vision beyond an immediate geographical position. And the artists that we’re working with operate in a context that’s not just wholly Australian.” Cottier also exhibits European artists such Sylvie Fleury, John Amleder and Olivier Mosset from Switzerland, the Austrian Andreas Reiter Raabe and the New Zealander Julian Daspher. “The philosophy is to broaden the possibilities of what audiences here can see,” explains Cottier. “Showing international artists serves to contextualise the (Australian) artists we already show as belonging to and working in an international context. There’s also the fact of bringing information into the country, rather than just reading about it in magazines and seeing photographs but not experiencing it.” Amanda Love, a Sydneybased private art consultant and collector who owns works by five of Cottier’s artists, believes that it’s this international context which makes the gallery’s artists interesting. “I’m very much aware of the gallery’s international presence,” says Love. “It’s because the Australian artists who interest me are those who are providing their international input into, and engaging with, an international dialogue.”

As much as commercial galleries would like to present themselves as quasi-public institutions or museums, their existence depends on sales. Cottier’s artists have been feted by critics, won major prizes and have been collected by leading public galleries around the country. The stable includes the winners of such coveted prizes as the Moët & Chandon Fellowship, the Clemenger Art Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award, and the Samstag scholarship and boasts finalists in the Contempora5 competition. “There’s been a certain amount of institutional support for most of the artists who show at the gallery,” says Cottier modestly. Is it one section of the market she’s attempted to cultivate? “You definitely attempt to cultivate it. It’s something that I always think could be better than it is. We actively try to encourage that kind of involvement, but it’s the same with a private audience as well. Our private collectors, on the other hand, are the most eccentrically diverse set of people you can possibly imagine. From students to teachers, to art consultants and graphic designers and architects. It would be a funny group portrait.”

Are collectors aware of the stature of the gallery’s artists? Marita Leuver, a Sydneybased graphic designer and the owner of “a small but tightly focused contemporary collection,” that includes works by Nixon, Armanious and Dwyer, makes no distinctions between the artists’ CVs and simply goes with what she likes. “I actually didn’t have much of an idea of John Nixon’s history. I first saw the Nixon piece I bought at a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art and I thought, ‘My God that’s gorgeous’ but I had no idea who he was. I was quite naive about his history and his agenda. Then I saw the work again at Sarah’s gallery and it really haunted me. I decided to take the plunge and the gallery was incredibly patient in letting me pay it off over four and a half long years. If I like something I like it. It’s not necessarily the history of the person, or what awards they’ve won or their notoriety … if I like it I like it, if I don’t I don’t.” How would Leuver describe the gallery’s aesthetic? “I think it is an incredibly clean, contemporary and very focused gallery,” she says. “I always find things there that I like.”

Amanda Love believes that describing Cottier’s aesthetic is practically impossible. “Having a style, “ she says, “is a very difficult and problematic concept. If pushed to catalogue it, then ‘Ironic Concrete’ would be my label.”

Given Cottier’s artists are considered ‘difficult’ by some, are the collectors who buy from the gallery different ? “No, I don’t think so,” says Cottier. “The art audience in Australia is relatively small. They visit all the other galleries. There are few clients that are exclusive to one gallery. We’ve managed to develop a younger clientele, the next generation of collectors in Australia. That’s a goal and it is taking shape.” For Peter Fay, the appeal of Cottier’s gallery is her selection of artists and the work they produce. “Most people like to live in a society where everything is packaged, thrown at you and you’ve got 10 seconds to respond and that’s it,” says Fay. “I think Cottier’s artists take a long time to grab you. It’s not art for an instant fix or that you hang on your wall for a dinner party. It’s not that sort of art. It has longevity.”

Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Redfern is one of the most handsomely appointed privately owned contemporary art galleries in the country. With three museum-quality spaces spread over two floors designed by architects Englen & Moore, the gallery offers the visitor an artfully designed yet elegantly neutral environment. When Australian Art Collector called we were greeted at the gallery doors by Sarah Cottier and taken to a back room where the gallerist makes an excellent flat white on the gallery’s in-house espresso machine. At a table, Mike Parr is signing an edition of lithographs, considering each print carefully before making his mark. Meanwhile, at the top of a short ladder, Cottier’s partner and gallery co-director Ashley Barber photographs each signature for posterity.

Born in 1963 and raised in Sydney’s suburb of Paddington, Cottier grew up in a family that actively encouraged an interest in the arts. “My father is an architect and my mother is a speech pathologist. They lived in London for a couple of years, so I think that they understood the advantages of living close to the city,” says Cottier. “There was a definite interest in art on my parents’ part. They were friends with Jeffrey Legge and Frank Watters of Watters Gallery.” Exposed to the bohemia of the inner city Sydney art scene of the 1970s, Cottier’s attitude to owning art is matter-of-fact. “A whole group of my parents’ friends borrowed paintings from Watters, which they inevitably ended up purchasing when they realised they couldn’t live without them anymore. It all seemed very normal as a child and artistic endeavour was encouraged in the family.”

Cottier studied at the College of Fine Arts, now part of the University of NSW, but then known as City Art Institute. Majoring in ‘post studio art’, a course that encompassed multimedia, installation and performance, Cottier also attended lectures at The University of Sydney’s Fine Arts department. The lecturers, Alan Cholodenko and Edward Colless, were attempting to give their students an interdisciplinary education in the theory of such influential figures as Gilles Deleuze and Jean Baudrillard. “It was just a very small step to fulfilling a need I had at the time,” says Cottier of her own crossdisciplinary education. “City Art Institute’s courses had no theory component at all. Attending lectures at Sydney Uni was an attempt to feed that need.“ Was the mix of educational approaches influential? “These disciplines were two very different and antagonistic ways of thinking about art,” says Cottier. “Juggling ideas between those two places was definitely influential and stimulating.”

After graduating, Cottier worked in a number of arts-related areas including a stint as editor of the journal Interior Design. In 1990 she volunteered as an assistant at the Yuill/Crowley Gallery. “Kerry Crowley was a very generous employer and a very generous woman, even though I was a volunteer,” says Cottier. “She’s made amazing contributions to the contemporary art scene and she’s a very focused and dedicated figure.” A mentor? “Yes,” says Cottier emphatically.

In 1993 Cottier began to plan the launch of her own gallery at a time when the Australian art world was in recession after the late 80s boom. For Cottier, however, the timing was perfect. “During the recession there were a lot of dissatisfied artists around,” she recalls. “There was a moment of flux when artists had left their galleries
and there weren’t many commercial galleries that could service their needs.” Instead of the 60-artist stables other galleries were boasting in the late 1980s-early 1990s, the Sarah Cottier Gallery would launch with just a few artists.

“We had a space that was ready to work with, it was just a matter of planning the gallery’s profile,” Cottier remembers. “The first artist she took on was Hany Armanious, who was unrepresented at the time. “I functioned as an independent agent on Hany’s behalf. Then Hany was invited to the 1993 Aperto section of the Venice Biennale.”

Italian curator Achille Bonito Oliva’s invitation to Armanious surprised many Australian commentators. Oliva’s reputation is that of an art world heavyweight, having ‘discovered’ artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat for a European audience. For Armanious, a young artist with just a few solo shows and an appearance in the Sydney Biennale to his credit, the Venice selection was an important boost to his career, but for Cottier it was major coup, signalling both the seriousness of her gallery and her dedication to artist representation.

Cottier’s start-up stable was a selection of some of the hottest names around – Armanious, Mikala Dwyer, Matthys Gerber, John Nixon and ADS Donaldson, artists whose reputations have continued to grow with the gallery.

In February 1994, The Sarah Cottier Gallery opened its doors in what had been a small goods factory in Newtown. The memorable shows of that first year? “Mikala Dwyer’s first show was extraordinary,” recalls Cottier. “It was a complete takeover of the building with a million and one distractions. She touched every corner of the building. Hany Armanious’s Snake Oil show, which was four tables laden with gelatinous, abject, yet seductive blobs, was an amazing experience. Everyone had to touch them. Other, more classic, formal exercises, such as John Nixon’s first orange painting show in 1995, were very exciting. They were all memorable.”

Cottier felt an increasing need to move to a new location and eventually closed the space in December 1997. “We were looking for something on the eastern side of the city and something larger,” says Cottier. With most of 1998 lost in ‘development hell’, as Cottier ruefully describes the renovation of her new Redfern space, the gallery’s exhibition program was put on hold. Cottier spent almost a year dealing her artists’ work from home while the renovations proceeded. “In a lot of galleries, artists only show once every two years. It wasn’t a huge interruption, but exhibitions are the thing that a gallery runs on. The wait did take out the most interesting and enjoyable part. But reopening after a year generated a certain amount of attention.”

Cottier has purposefully maintained an intimate stable since the gallery’s inception. “The idea has always been to keep it small, because that’s the only way to do it properly,” she says. “I can’t really imagine servicing or handling a larger number of artists.” Since opening, artists Justene Williams, Maria Cruz, Anne-Marie May and Kerrie Poliness have joined the stable. So how does Cottier choose artists for her gallery? “Basically, it’s a fascination and enjoyment of the work of the artist, a knowledge that their commitment is thorough and ongoing, and that they are people who we will enjoy working with, because at the end of the day it’s a partnership,” says Cottier. “It’s not just me ‘choosing’, it’s the artist choosing at the same time. Both parties are involved in the decision.”

Throughout our interview Cottier alternates between using the words “we” and “I” when describing the gallery and its operation. Although the gallery bears her name, she readily acknowledges the participation of her partner Ashley Barber. Cottier confirms that, when the gallery began, it was a one-woman enterprise, but over the past five years things have changed. “Ashley has just inveigled his way in and now he’s just as much a part of the enterprise as I am,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a very lovely thing to have a partnership personally and then also professionally work so closely. It’s a lovely kind of symbiotic relationship. When you do something like this, it completely consumes your whole life. It’s very hard to draw a line where the involvement starts and stops with what we do.”

With the opening of the Redfern gallery came the addition of Mike Parr, who had left Sherman Galleries at the end of 1998. What attracted Parr to the Cottier Gallery? “Because I like the sense of vitality there,” says Parr. “I think there are a lot of good young artists showing there. I’m not exactly a young artist but it’s the sort of milieu that I think extends my own position. It’s a challenge too. The relationship between Sherman Galleries and myself remains very cordial. The show I had there last year was particularly successful because, in the end, the Queensland Art Gallery bought the entire show. But I think (Sherman Galleries) understood when I said that it was more important to be in company with artists I felt more in common with.”

Although Cottier’s artists seem to share a committed, conceptual approach to art making, Parr argues that it has more of a contemporary flavour than what he describes as ‘classic’ 1970s conceptualism. “The artists’ work at Cottier isn’t exactly ‘neo-conceptual’ because it’s not the kind of stuff that John Nixon and I pioneered in the 1970s,” says Parr. “One of the reasons that the gallery was interesting for me was that John was showing there. In a way, his position and mine could provide context for the work of these younger artists. I think that the work that is being done (at Cottier) extends the work of the 1970s in interesting ways and my view has always been that this is the cutting edge of Australian art. I think it’s important to stretch oneself and there have been some very good shows at Cottier this year. It keeps me on my toes!”

Cottier herself believes that, by definition, all art after Marcel Duchamp could be considered conceptual and does not necessarily apply as a label for her gallery. Although she admits that her overall criteria for selecting artists are difficult to summarise, Cottier is forthright when asked what kind of art attracts her. “Good art,” she says with a laugh. “When you look at the stable of artists that we work with, there’s not necessarily one overriding aesthetic or intellectual concern. There is a certain privileging of abstraction but that’s turned on its head by artists like Gerber or Armanious. Everybody takes turns at ruffling that premise.” Peter Fay, owner of works by Armanious, Dwyer, Gerber and Diena Giorgetti, believes, to a limited degree, that Cottier’s artists are conceptually based. “I don’t know what label you’d use,” says Fay. “But there is an aesthetic in the gallery and some of the artists there could be said to have a conceptual base. But what you can say is that Cottier is committed to the here and now.”

Would it be more accurate to say that the thirty-something Cottier and her artists share a generational attitude to art? “Definitely,” she agrees. “I see a huge strength in that approach. The stable has developed in consultation with the artists. From the beginning it has been important to construct a gallery where all the artists respect each others work, where a lively ‘conversation’ between the artists and their work can take place, where a context for the artist’s work can be consolidated. As a result, the gallery’s stable is inherently generational but creates a focused picture of a generation as opposed to a broad, general sweep.”

Cottier’s gallery has maintained an international presence since its inception. “The very first thing that the gallery did even before we opened in Sydney was go to the Cologne Art Fair,” says Cottier. “It was a good description of
our intention that we weren’t going to be just a Sydney or Australian based gallery. We’ve built on that first appearance at Cologne, so that we attend an international fair every year. We’ve done that because it extends our vision beyond an immediate geographical position. And the artists that we’re working with operate in a context that’s not just wholly Australian.” Cottier also exhibits European artists such Sylvie Fleury, John Amleder and Olivier Mosset from Switzerland, the Austrian Andreas Reiter Raabe and the New Zealander Julian Daspher. “The philosophy is to broaden the possibilities of what audiences here can see,” explains Cottier. “Showing international artists serves to contextualise the (Australian) artists we already show as belonging to and working in an international context. There’s also the fact of bringing information into the country, rather than just reading about it in magazines and seeing photographs but not experiencing it.” Amanda Love, a Sydneybased private art consultant and collector who owns works by five of Cottier’s artists, believes that it’s this international context which makes the gallery’s artists interesting. “I’m very much aware of the gallery’s international presence,” says Love. “It’s because the Australian artists who interest me are those who are providing their international input into, and engaging with, an international dialogue.”

As much as commercial galleries would like to present themselves as quasi-public institutions or museums, their existence depends on sales. Cottier’s artists have been feted by critics, won major prizes and have been collected by leading public galleries around the country. The stable includes the winners of such coveted prizes as the Moët & Chandon Fellowship, the Clemenger Art Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award, and the Samstag scholarship and boasts finalists in the Contempora5 competition. “There’s been a certain amount of institutional support for most of the artists who show at the gallery,” says Cottier modestly. Is it one section of the market she’s attempted to cultivate? “You definitely attempt to cultivate it. It’s something that I always think could be better than it is. We actively try to encourage that kind of involvement, but it’s the same with a private audience as well. Our private collectors, on the other hand, are the most eccentrically diverse set of people you can possibly imagine. From students to teachers, to art consultants and graphic designers and architects. It would be a funny group portrait.”

Are collectors aware of the stature of the gallery’s artists? Marita Leuver, a Sydneybased graphic designer and the owner of “a small but tightly focused contemporary collection,” that includes works by Nixon, Armanious and Dwyer, makes no distinctions between the artists’ CVs and simply goes with what she likes. “I actually didn’t have much of an idea of John Nixon’s history. I first saw the Nixon piece I bought at a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art and I thought, ‘My God that’s gorgeous’ but I had no idea who he was. I was quite naive about his history and his agenda. Then I saw the work again at Sarah’s gallery and it really haunted me. I decided to take the plunge and the gallery was incredibly patient in letting me pay it off over four and a half long years. If I like something I like it. It’s not necessarily the history of the person, or what awards they’ve won or their notoriety … if I like it I like it, if I don’t I don’t.” How would Leuver describe the gallery’s aesthetic? “I think it is an incredibly clean, contemporary and very focused gallery,” she says. “I always find things there that I like.”

Amanda Love believes that describing Cottier’s aesthetic is practically impossible. “Having a style, “ she says, “is a very difficult and problematic concept. If pushed to catalogue it, then ‘Ironic Concrete’ would be my label.”

Given Cottier’s artists are considered ‘difficult’ by some, are the collectors who buy from the gallery different ? “No, I don’t think so,” says Cottier. “The art audience in Australia is relatively small. They visit all the other galleries. There are few clients that are exclusive to one gallery. We’ve managed to develop a younger clientele, the next generation of collectors in Australia. That’s a goal and it is taking shape.” For Peter Fay, the appeal of Cottier’s gallery is her selection of artists and the work they produce. “Most people like to live in a society where everything is packaged, thrown at you and you’ve got 10 seconds to respond and that’s it,” says Fay. “I think Cottier’s artists take a long time to grab you. It’s not art for an instant fix or that you hang on your wall for a dinner party. It’s not that sort of art. It has longevity.”



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