If we accept that art is a common cultural entity, it follows that, as a community, we hold a degree of collective responsibility towards its advancement and appreciation. In this spirit, it is not surprising that the appeal of art-buying collectives has grown steadily over the past two decades. These collectives have proven the efficacy of a collaborative and community-based approach to art.
One such buying collective, Art Capers, was formed in Auckland in 2007. The group was motivated by a common desire to learn more about contemporary New Zealand practice and broaden the artistic horizons and experiences of its members. At the time of the group’s foundation, it comprised what it described as “an eclectic mix of 15 couples with diverse personalities and artistic tastes”.
At its core, the concept of a buying collective is governed by the same principles of cultural collaboration as those which underpin artist collectives. In addition to the financial liberty afforded by pooled resources, there is immense value in the experience of being able to draw on the support of, and be challenged by, like-minded individuals. Seeking to maximise its discovery and appreciation of contemporary art, Art Capers established a social committee, which shared the task of exploring galleries, institutions and public art around the region, in addition to organising and attending a diverse number of art-related talks and events.
As a result, the group has accrued significant educational value to the development of the members’ own personal tastes, as well as to the purchasing of art for the collective. One member describes how “as the years went by, the tastes of the group matured as we educated and exposed ourselves to more styles. A common sentiment in the group was that first perspectives of an artwork can easily change once you’ve lived with it on your wall for a few months.”
One standout work that members of Art Capers have been fortunate to appreciate from the walls of their own homes is a painting by Michael Harrison, Mistress of the Hounds. This is an exquisitely rendered scene: a dream-like portrait whose compositional grace and delicate handling of line and colour represent the very finest of the artist’s practice.
Sam Mitchell’s Glam is another iconic work to have been acquired by the group. It is painted onto the surface of Mitchell’s signature perspex medium, and the artist has woven a tapestry of pop-cultural and art-historical references to make for an alluringly psychedelic, charming and witty portrait of Cher.
A painting by Gavin Hurley, His Brains, captures the playful seriosity of the artist’s approximated tradition of portraiture. Herein, the tension between crispness of form, Hurley’s collage-like composition and the texturality of linen plays out wonderfully.
A number of well-established names from within our contemporary narrative are also represented across the Art Capers collection; Max Gimblett’s Enso is a classic work by the artist which embodies ideals of perfection and enlightenment through the zen-like expression of the calligraphic circle. These stand alongside other notable works, including Peter Madden’s beautiful collage on perspex, The Disappearing, a confectionary-like, collapsed and puffed canvas by Miranda Parkes, two interiors showing Oceanic and tribal arts by Graham Fletcher and a three part work on aluminium by Sara Hughes