Why Collect Art?


Why should we collect art? 

For the autumn issue of STYLE, we asked art industry insiders for their tips on starting an art collection. Three of the experts share why they believe collecting art is beneficial.

Tim Melville

Owner, Tim Melville Gallery

Gallery owner Tim Melville believes that art helps us to make sense of our lives and to consider the way in which we look at the world. “It’s to show us who we are, and to make us think about the lives of others,” he says. Another reason is to surround ourselves with things that give us a flash of joy. “Certain artworks become wallpaper; you don’t even notice them anymore. But the potent ones – and we all know the ones in our own houses – are ones that give you a flash every time,” he says. “It’s worth having those around.”

Melville also sees the social scene of the art world as being a reason to collect. “The art world’s built on lots of social interaction,” he says. “People who look around at galleries get to have a great social life.” Melville points to a rising trend of art collecting groups, in which people come together to pool their money and buy a work collectively with the intention of selling it once it has risen in value. “And that’s not just about the profit; it’s about what they’ve learnt along the way,” he says.

Stephanie Post at the Gow Langsford Gallery stand, featuring paintings by Grace Wright, at the 2021 Auckland Art Fair. Photo: Luke Foley-Martin.

Stephanie Post

Co-founder, ArtNow.NZ

Co-director, Auckland Art Fair

Through website ArtNow.NZ and the Auckland Art Fair, Stephanie Post aims to make art more accessible. “Our belief is that art should be part of everyday life; it should be something you live with, something you look at, something you read about,” she says. “If everyone sees art as something that’s in a major museum that you’re never going to be able to live with and that you go and visit once or twice a year, that puts art into a very specific experiential moment; whereas art is about the world we live in, about our everyday lives, and should be a part of those everyday lives.”

Visiting ArtNow.NZ or attending Auckland Art Fair are ways to learn about your local galleries and what’s happening at those spaces. “We’re trying to encourage people to get to know the galleries, to go and see them more often, to see art more often, but also to live with art in their homes, whether it’s buying an art book or an edition or a unique piece of work.” Post says for her and Hayley White, also co-founder of ArtNow.NZ and co-director of Auckland Art Fair, their initiatives are about creating bigger audiences for art. “And that doesn’t mean bigger audiences just to go into the big galleries, but people who just live with art all the time, who understand it, who are more articulate about it,” Post says.

Glenn and Sonja Hawkins. Photo: David Straight.

Sonja Hawkins 

Founder, My ART

The pleasure that Sonja Hawkins has found from her own art collecting, and a desire to give back to the art community, prompted her and husband Glenn to found My ART, a non-profit that offers collectors interest-free loans to buy art from New Zealand and Australian galleries. “We’ve just had so much joy from our art and living with it and sharing it with other people,” she says, adding that she gets a thrill seeing that same reaction from other people when they buy art.

For Hawkins, a benefit of collecting art is being able to add personality to home spaces. “I love homes that display art because they’re unique and they’re personal to the owners and I think it shows character and passion,” she says. She also derives satisfaction from following an artist’s career trajectory, particularly when presented with the opportunity to meet them. “We can’t always buy the art we want, but following an artist’s practice, seeing their next body of work and how that practice develops, is something I find fascinating,” she says. “Getting involved with galleries and institutions and going to an artist’s studio and meeting artists is part of the joy of owning art, and of being part of the wider art community.”

Now that you know why you should collect art, you can find out how to get started in the autumn issue of STYLE, on sale now.

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