Whenever I see a list, particularly someone’s “favourite” or “top 10” list, curiosity gets the better of me and I have to have a peek. Sure we can — and often do — make lists, but when I see a list of, say, the 10 best cars of the 20th Century or the 15 ugliest cats of all time, I give the list more credence if the person compiling the list actually knows what he or she is talking about.
In compiling my list of the six Australian artists I would have in my home, I’m bringing a wealth of exposure to many works of art in thousands of homes, exhibitions and galleries. Some of these artists I’ve just looked at, some of their pictures I’ve hung.
Let’s begin with a very short and true story. My parents in the early 60s were school teachers. My dad taught at a one-man school on a sheep station in a town called Willala, and my mum taught at a slightly larger school in Boggabri. Both towns are in far northern New South Wales. One day the three of us, bearing in mind I was three at the time, visited a well to do local farming family. As I entered the home, I commented on the lack of paintings on the walls to my mum. And that’s my story.
In a nutshell, I have lived and breathed art in all its guises since then. I have been hanging paintings professionally for 15 years, I’ve seen a few paintings and photographs in my working life, and I know this might sound a little sad, but in my spare time, I visit art galleries for fun and relaxation.
Prior to the picture hanging business, I was an antique dealer and valuer of fine art, my point being that I reckon I have a fair right to make my own list.
My list is in no particular order.
John Brack, an Australian painter and a member of the Antipodeans group. According to one critic, Brack's early works captured the idiosyncrasies of their time "more powerfully and succinctly than any Australian artist before or since.” Born: May 10, 1920, Zürich, Switzerland Died: February 11, 1999, Melbourne
Sir George Russell Drysdale, AC, another Australian artist. He won the prestigious Wynne Prize for Sofala in 1947, and represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1954. Born: February 7, 1912, Bognor Regis, United Kingdom Died: June 29, 1981, Sydney
- Conrad Martens, an English-born landscape painter active in Australia from 1835.
Born: 1801, London, United Kingdom
Died: August 21, 1878, Sydney
- Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an Australian Aboriginal artist from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory. She is one of the most prominent and successful artists in the history of contemporary Indigenous Australian art. Born: 1910 Died: September 3, 1996, Papunya
- Tracey Moffatt, an Australian artist who primarily uses photography and video. (Harder to hang a video that a photograph, even for a professional) Born: November 12, 1960 (age 54), Brisbane
- Rosalie Gascoigne AM, a New Zealander-Australian sculptor. She showed at the Venice Biennale in 1982, becoming the first female artist to represent Australia there. Born: January 25, 1917, Auckland, New Zealand Died: October 25, 1999, Canberra
So now you know what pictures a professional picture hanger would hang. What about you? If you could afford any artist’s work to hang in your home, who would it be?