Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Best Thing That Ever Happened to You

The past week saw the opening of two new exhibitions at the Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, “Cream”, a touring exhibition of works owned by the Rockhampton Art Gallery and “Feeling for Place”, an exhibition of recent acquisitions to the Moreton Bay Regional Council’s art collection. Both exhibitions are being shown side by side, filling the combined spaces that make up the gallery. Amongst the councils recent acquisitions are works by notable contemporary Australian artists including Lindy Lee, Vernon Ah Kee and Simon Degroot. My work, “Rainbow Glitter Bombs” is also on show as part of the exhibition.

The purchase of “Rainbow Glitter Bombs” by Moreton Bay Regional Council marked my first entry into an institutional art collection and currently, it’s my only work that’s owned by a public institution. MBRC added it to their collection around May this year and to say I thought it was a big deal when they first approached me would be something of an understatement. For it to get a showing so soon and amongst such a high calibre of work adds a whole new twist to a story which hopefully has many more lines to write.

The touring exhibition from Rockhampton Art Gallery however resides on a whole other level of Australian Art Celebrity. Included in that exhibition are names like Jeffery Smart, Margaret Olley, John Brack, Nolan, Boyd, Drysdale, Pugh. A veritable who’s who of Australian modernism. Director of the Rockhampton Art Gallery, Tracy Cooper-Lavery speaks of the assembling of RAG’s collection in the mid 70’s as an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary person, former Mayor Rex Pilbean who, with a little help and a dollar for dollar guarantee from the federal government, secured funding by doorknocking local residents to the tune of five hundred thousand dollars, nearly three and half million in today’s money. Remember also, this is before the silly money figures auction houses started achieving in the 80’s so that half a million really did go a long way. To have my work showing in a gallery amongst these assembled icons is positively surreal.

At a discussion night held in the gallery during the week, I had the chance to meet and chat with several of the other exhibiting artists, visitors and the gallery team. One gentleman, introduced as Don, a collector, spoke effusively about the quality of work on display and the world class facility the Caboolture gallery represents, “This could be the best thing that ever happens to you.” he exclaimed. Thanks Don, while I get your meaning, I really do hope you’re wrong in that regard.

Stories of artist’s struggles with self-doubt and the inevitable rejections litter the web. Focus on the work and stay true to your goals is the most recurring and freely offered advice. The result is a kind of numbness born of self-defence designed to blunt the sting of the lows. Unfortunately, a fostered indifference can make the highs seem a little less shiny too. It’s worth remembering that growing a thicker skin needn’t be accompanied by a hardening of the heart. So give yourself a pat on the back. We all deserve one every now and again.

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