This piece was one of the very first and only pieces I've ever bought from a gallery in a traditional sense. I'd gone along to the opening of a friend's exhibition at Fortyfive Downstairs in Melbourne's Flinders Lane, and while not expecting more than a wine or two, I ended up not only purchasing an artwork, but a work by a completely different artist to the one I'd gone to support (sorry friend!). As many multi-space galleries do when exhibiting more than one artist, there was a joint opening and Christine Larsen's just happened to coincide with the one I was attending.
As Larsen's first solo exhibition, it was pretty polished and was thematically strong under the title Encrusted. I was immediately attracted to this piece (pictured) but it didn't really enter my mind that I could own it.
At this stage, in 2011, I had exhibited a couple of times as an artist myself but I hadn't yet experienced what buying 'off the wall' felt like or how it actually worked for that matter. I picked up the room-sheet to check the titles etc, and lo and behold at around $400, the prices were less than half of what I had anticipated they would be. Initially I had thought the works must be prints, the blacks were so black and so consistent, and the prices seemed low, but now that I knew (thanks to the room-sheet, always read the room-sheet) that they were original works and they were in my price range, a whole new world opened up before me.
I said a shy hello to the gallery attendant and asked her if I could buy it. She said I could. No surprises there, although a big part of me thought maybe I had misread the price and that I would be laughed out of the gallery thinking that I could even afford to be there. After agreeing I'd pay it off over a month or so I walked away thinking "What even happened? I'm a buyer? I buy art? I can do that??!"
Looking back after a few years of handling the gallery end of things, I have to remind myself of how intimidating the gallery situation can be. When people sidle up to me clutching their sheet of paper like an urgent piece of evidence and nervously ask "how does this work?", I remember the feeling; an unknown social situation, not knowing if it's even happening, not knowing if you're getting yourself into something you can't carry through. But more importantly I also remember the air gathering under my feet and the feeling I was becoming part of the artist, a true form of support, and I focus on this, this is the part of the experience the buyer should remember.
Lessons learnt - Always read the room-sheet. The gallery attendant is your friend.
Artwork - Christine Larsen
Price - $400 (approx) including frame.
Purchased via - Fortyfive Downstairs
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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.