Thursday, July 12, 2012
Ties That Bind
I have few friends. I have acquaintances in the art world – curators, auctioneers, dealers, other artists – but they know little about me outside of art. Few have met me in person. None has been to my studio or home. I keep most people at a distance. My relationships with my collectors are different. I have known some since my first self-produced exhibition in 1997. Most I have met since 2005, when I turned my back on the traditional gallery system and set about developing direct contact with those who had a genuine interest in my work.All my collectors have my home phone number. I take calls from them any time between 6am to midnight, seven days a week. I call most of them myself at least once a month. When I lived in Sydney, on a high cliff top directly above the Pacific Ocean, I opened my home and studio to them, prepared sumptious lunches, and hung out for hours with them and talked. I've visited many in their own homes. My largest collectors know as much about me as my own family – and I trust them more. When I was in a psychiatric hospital in Sydney, collectors were among my few visitors. At my lowest ebbs (and there have been too many these past couple of years), their belief in me sustained me and helped me to re-build. Most have a good understanding of what I am doing, and why. Even when they don't, they have faith in my choices.I make art as a way to process my perceptions and experiences. However, I have learned that the artwork itself – and the experience of it – belong to someone else. And that can bind me closer to them than any conventional friendship.