As promised, today I am posting the second installment of my interview with art consultant and curator Sophie McNeur, in which she offers her valuable advice for buying fine art in Melbourne. Included are Sophie’s tip-offs about the best places to view and buy ‘affordable’ artworks, and detailed information about mounting, framing and displaying works on paper and photographs once you’ve made your purchase… priceless information for any budding collector :)

Thanks again for sharing all your secrets Sophie!

What advice can you offer to newcomers who are looking at buying a piece of artwork for their home? Where is the best place to start?

Do your research!

I start by looking at what the public institutions are collecting. Starting out it is most important to visit public galleries. As you look around the National Gallery of Victoria, you get a sense of what appeals to you. Then research the style/artist which resonates with you. Find out where you can acquire their work or be directed toward artists working in a similar genre or with compatible themes.

Can you list a few galleries in Melbourne that you would recommend if people are in the market for ‘affordable’ artwork?

If you can spend a little more definitely visit Sophie Gannon Gallery in Richmond. The gallery is situated amidst a cluster a commercial galleries all worth a visit. It is near enough to Space Furniture for different kind of Art fix!

the current exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery – Nicholas Harding: on drawing and paint
May 6 – May 31 2008

The current exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery – Nicholas Harding: on drawing and paint


In the swell (red boogie board and figures)
Nicholas Harding 2008

(part of the current exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery – Nicholas Harding: on drawing and paint)


Speedos and lotion bottle
Nicholas Harding 2008

(part of the current exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery – Nicholas Harding: on drawing and paint)

Sophie Gannon Gallery
2 Albert st

Richmond 3121

Open Tues – Sat, 11am – 5pm or by appointment

Neon Parc
1/53 Bourke Street

Melbourne 3000

Open Wed – Sat, 12am – 6pm or by appointment

Recommendations for artwork under $2000:

- Art Fairs (Melbourne Art Fair is coming up soon, 30th Aug – 3rd August 2008)

Melbourne Art Fair
Royal Exhibition Building
Melbourne

- For emerging artists VCA graduate exhibitions are brilliant. It is an achievement to be in a graduate exhibition. (VCA publicise upcoming events like this on their website here)

- Metro 5 Art Award – finalists artworks are for sale + some artists do not yet have representation. (The 2008 Metro 5 award exhibition is very soon, June 10th – 6th July! More info and a list of artists here)

Natasha Bieniek
3 A.M. (2008)

(Part of the Metro 5 Gallery upcoming award show, June 10th – July 6th 2008)

David Eastwood
Gold Room (2008)

(Part of the Metro 5 Gallery upcoming award show, June 10th – July 6th 2008)

Metro 5 gallery
1214 High st
Armadale

Open Tues-Fri, 10am – 5.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm

- Until Never
2nd floor, 3-5 Hosier Lane
Melbourne
(enter from Rutledge Lane)

Open Wed-Sat, 12-6pm

When they’ve selected something to buy, what key things should buyers look out for when purchasing an artwork, ie:
- should the work always be signed and dated by the artist?

Yes – if it’s not ask if it can be.

- How should photographs/prints be numbered?

That’s up to the individual artist; some emerging photographers produce editions of 5, 6, or 10. Tracey Moffatt’s something more series of 9 images are an edition of 30. If they were not the public institutions would not be able to collect them, and an artist of her international reputation is aware of this, and will usually produce a higher number of edition works.

Two images from Tracey Moffatt’s Something More series (1989)

- What is the maximum size an edition should be? How does the size of the edition affect the price of each piece?

Some photographic galleries increase the cost of a photo as each auditioned work sells. An artist such as Tracy Moffatt needs a higher edition to create a market. When an edition is completely sold out naturally the works value increases. Auction houses can play a role at this stage.

- How should photographs/works on paper be framed/mounted to best protect the work?

I frame contemporary works in the original format of the artist. The photographs should be archival prints. Photographs are a special case because some types may be affected by alkalinity: they should not therefore come into contact with an alkaline buffered board. A pure, unbuffered cotton museum board is now commercially available. UV filtering glass should be strongly considered for conservation level. Light exposure has a pronounced effect on paper condition and pigments. The back board should be made of a stable, rigid material, such as pH neutral conservation backing board.

- Should buyers be wary of where they plan to hang their piece at home? (ie is it bad to hang original artwork in a damp place like a bathroom, or in direct sunlight etc?)

- Store photographs in a cool environment as this will help to slow deterioration.

- Avoid very damp or dry conditions, and particularly fluctuations between the two. Aim for a stable environment and if possible, a relative humidity within the range 30-40%.

- Avoid displaying photographs at high light levels or for extended periods of time. Ultraviolet filtering glazing helps protect photographs during light exposure.

- Keep handling to a minimum and avoid touching the image later. Make sure your hands are clean and dry or wear cotton gloves, and handle photographs by the edges, using a support such as a sheet of stiff paper or card to move fragile photographs.

- Keep and display photographs in good quality storage and framing materials.

Can you list any upcoming Australian artists worth keeping an eye on?

Anthony Lister
Jasper Knight
Kirra Jamison
eX de Medici
Marc de Jong

Kirra Jamison
May your wishes all come true (2007)

(image from the Sophie Gannon Gallery website)

Your personal favourite artists – either from Australia or worldwide?

Lucian Freud, Anselm Kiefer, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, David Salle, John Michel Basquiat, Balthus, Banksy and Paul Cezanne.

David Salle
Mr. Lucky (1998)

(image from the Saatchi Gallery website)

Do you have a favourite piece of artwork that you own? What is special about it to you?

Marc de Jong painted the first painting I bought – ‘Mad Max’. Marc has since done a series of these works – more info here.