As an artist, I try to show my work at least two or three times a year. This past year I realised I haven't done much by way of getting out there, and my last solo exhibition was three years ago. So when the opportunity to be involved in the Hawthorn Arts Centre Art Swap cropped up, I jumped on board for this reason. I make art, I want people to collect my art, and I collect art - perfect.
The idea of blindly giving away artwork is fraught with anxiety inducing variables, and it's the sort of thing that would usually have me shaking my head with a dismissive smirk, but as this particular swap was application based, and the curator was one that I trust I was more willing to go with the idea. Still though, making the commitment to enter was a nerve-wracking experience, not knowing if what I put forward might be too valuable to me and I'd resent the experience, or even worse, if it wasn't enough and I'd be the reason for some poor other artist's disappointment. After much deliberation, I decided to enter a painting which I on one hand had worked really hard on, but on the other, I wasn't quite satisfied with. The painting had been sitting in my studio with no real purpose until I dusted it off (at the beck and call of getting involved), gave it a brutal cropping and a new frame, at which point I was extremely happy with it. It seemed like the perfect piece to present, having once been destined for the dreaded over-paint, now a resolved piece; and all due to the motivation to be in the swap. I thought I owed it that much.
How the swap worked was really quite simple and was surprisingly giddying. Once selected by the curator, all works were delivered to the gallery, several days later the artists were invited to attend and the actual swapping was to take place. The day was held in a kind of art studio / conference room at the Hawthorn Arts Centre. Only the artists and organisers attended. The room was set up with chairs in one half (like AA meetings on TV), and hidden to us with use of partitions down the centre, were the artworks. A Perfect Match jokes aside, how we managed to sit there patiently and socialise without peeking is beyond me. We all took a random number, two by two our numbers were pulled from a hat and we were permitted a couple of minutes to duck behind the partition, view the works and tag the one we wanted to claim. By the time we got to halfway the room was incredibly tense and people had begun to quietly woop or sigh as the odds lessened. Myself, I couldn't stop giggling. It was much more fun than I had expected to have in a room full of strangers.
By the time it came to my turn, I have to admit, there were a couple of pieces that I was sorry to see had already been taken, c'est la vie. Having said that, I was absolutely thrilled to bits with spying this ceramic basketball planter by ceramicist, artist, and jeweller, Kirsten Perry. I had a funny feeling that perhaps others had missed it on account of it at first glance looking like an actual rubber basketball with the top cut off. But then again, perhaps I was the first one that the work had appealed to. I'll never know.
All in all the experience was a highly entertaining and social way of obtaining a new piece for my collection, as well as some unexpected motivation to look deeper into how I value my own work and the emotional strings that are attached.
Lessons Learnt - Getting in-there and involved with contemporaries, is actually quite rewarding (why don't I do it more often??). Thinking outside the box in regard to obtaining artwork can be a good way of keeping costs low, and experiences high!
Artwork - Kirsten Perry
Price - Swap/Trade
Purchased via - Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn Arts Centre
Find out more:
Town Hall Gallery
Hawthorn Arts Centre
About the art swap
Kent Wilson, Curator
The Humble Collector.
By sharing the unique stories of how I came to own the art I do, I hope to show you that not only is buying art for your home exciting, enriching and painless, but it's undeniably rewarding for all involved.