The Secret Lives (And Private Collections) Of Art Addicts

By Vicki Wilson, 25 March, 2020. Reposted by .M Contemporary via Habitus Living.

Art collector Nicky Townsend pictured with artworks from her private collection on exhibition at Shapiro Gallery during Art Month Sydney 2020

As part of Art Month Sydney 2020, the Collector’s Space unveils artworks from some of Sydney’s most coveted private collections. Habitus talks to the tastemakers behind them.

There are some things in life that seem to transpire to certain people, as though they are hardwired for the happenstance – addiction is one of them. And an addiction to art is no exception.

Lindsay Clement-Meehan, a corporate communications professional, was just fresh out of university when she had her first taste. “My first artwork was acquired about 12 years ago to mark my first job out of university,” she shares, “but then there was a very big break until about five years ago when I started to follow galleries on Instagram to try to acquaint myself with local artists.”

Robert and Patricia Postema confirm that this is indeed a tale as old as time. For them, “it started small with sporadic acquisitions and, as is seemly often the case, became a fully-fledged addiction over time,” the Sydney-based professional couple recalls.

“Buy what you like and don’t worry about what others think.”

Lindsay Clement-Meehan with pieces from her personal collection exhibited at Shapiro Gallery, Chippendale

For others, the addiction has its origins in the workplace. Nicki Townsend started collecting in her early twenties while working part-time for a commercial gallery in Glebe. “The first exhibition I was involved in was the first exhibition for the artist Wendy Sharpe,” she muses, “I brought a work on paper from the show which took me several months to pay off. That was the start of my addiction.”

Today, Nicki cannot fathom her life or home without art. “Art is an essential part of our day to day life. It is the soul of our home, floor to ceiling,” she professes.

Richard Perram and Stephen Cassidy have long lived, breathed, and worked in the world of art and design. As such, they take their collecting quite seriously. “[We both] have had careers intrinsically linked with the creative arts including visual arts, design and architecture,” Richard and Stephen share. The latter has spent the last 26 years working for esteemed international designer furniture and architectural design product importer, dedece, meanwhile the former’s long and varied career in the public arts sector saw him awarded with an OAM in 2014 for services to the visual arts.

Richard Perram and Stephen Cassidy have long lived, breathed, and worked in the world of art and design. As such, they take their collecting quite seriously.

Around the Corner 1 (2019), Charles Nodrum

Suffice it to say that the arts play a very big role in both Richard and Stephen’s lives. So much so that the couple’s apartment – part of the award-winning Moore Park Gardens development designed by Alan Jack + Cottier – underwent a substantial redesign about ten years ago for the sole purpose of making it a space in which their extensive art and design collection could be done justice.

Richard and Stephen aren’t the only ones to have had their home redesigned for the sake of creating the perfect backdrop for their art collection. The Postemas (Robert and Patricia) purchased a terrace in Paddington about four years ago that was in dire “need of TLC,” as they describe, but ticked their boxes in terms of having plenty of wall space for hanging art and being in a vibrant location.

While the exterior of the terrace retains the house’s heritage character, “we adopted the ‘European approach’ to modernising the interior to create a ‘white cube’ gallery feel,” Robert and Patricia describe. Like a blank canvas, the stark white interior spaces enable their collection to speak for itself.

“Bringing your passion and politics into your collecting decisions really creates a stronger affinity with the work.”

Ultrapilgrim (2012), Juan Ford

And speak for itself it does. “We are attracted to works that have something to say or convey about contemporary life,” say the Postemas “we especially like Ultrapilgrim by Juan Ford for its representation of the millions of people on the move globally and the baggage of modern life that we all carry around as a burden.” Not to mention the photorealism of Juan’s masterful use of light and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the faceless ‘self-portrait’.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to artistic preference – in fact, Robert and Patricia’s number one piece of advice for any collectors in the making is: “buy what you like and don’t worry about what others think, you are not collecting for them” – collecting pieces of social/political commentary seems to be a common thread amongst these art addicts.

“I don’t look for anything specific,” shares Nicki, yet often finds herself “drawn to works that use wit to convey social/political commentary.” Similarly, Lindsay professes, “I think bringing your passion and politics into your collecting decisions really creates a stronger affinity with the work.” Personally, Lindsay – herself the epitome of a strong, independent, successful woman – is proud to be able to say: “I have supported some really exciting women who are doing incredible things in their careers.”

ReSister (2017), Jemima Wyman

Another piece of wisdom passed from one ‘fully-fledged’ art addict to a budding one is to research, explore and discover. “Go to exhibitions on a regular basis – it will help you hone your eye to what speaks to you,” says Nicki, “when you can, listen to artists’ speak about their practice. Buy what you love. Trust yourself and enjoy the journey.”

Although much of Art Month Sydney 2020 has been called to a halt in light of the current social climate, speaking to Stephen, Richard, Nicki, Robert, Patricia and Lindsay has certainly in some less than small way given us the art dose we craved. The Collector’s Space exhibition will be on display at the Shapiro Gallery, Chippendale, until March 28.

Art Month Sydney

Images courtesy of Art Month Sydney

We think you might also like this Design Hunter profile on Studiopepe

‘It’s chaos for a lot of people’: what is the future of NFTs in Australian art?

NFTs or non-fungible tokens: The new kind of digital art that could prove a bonanza for creators

Activating Spaces – Mercer Property and .M Contemporary collaborate to renew 1930s building.

Subscribe for VIP Access & News