A chance meeting by the Murray River has led to a new Albury art business that not only streamlines the process of providing artworks to large organisations but is bringing the work of regional and other Australian artists to a broader audience.
Border Café spoke to Art Partners Australia founder, Jacinta Mirams, about the unexpected beginnings and quick growth of her business and her quest to nurture new regional talent.
Three years ago, Jacinta Mirams and her husband, Chris, were walking along the banks of the Murray when the chanced to meet a friend of Jacinta’s involved in the new Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre put the wheels in motion for the beginnings of Art Partners Australia.
“She wanted to talk to me about artworks for the new centre, noting my experience in the art environment for twenty years and my connection with artists. I was working at Albury Picture Framers at the time, was on the Philanthropic Committee for MAMA for the redevelopment of the Albury Art Gallery and the Arts Advisory Committee, so I suppose I had the reputation in the regional art world,” Jacinta said.
Jacinta purchased forty artworks from five regional artists, had them framed, delivered and helped install them, then returned to her day job.
“Two weeks after completing the cancer centre installation I received an email from the same company asking if I could supply 300 works to a new mental health unit in Sydney. I thought wow! I emailed them to say yes, and then thought where do I go from here?”
That journey involved commissioning 15 artists to complete the work over 12 – 18 months, purchasing, framing, photographing, cataloguing, reporting for the company’s asset register, delivering, curating and installing the works – tasks that would usually involve at least eight individuals.
“That was for a brand new hospital so it was a very exciting project to have a clean slate to go in and be able to represent Australian artists with original works and limited edition prints and change or educate them for buying limited edition prints, probably for not much more than the cost of the original works supplied, so that was a really exciting time.
“From that same company again – they have 230 hospitals in Australia and overseas – I have been working with five of the hospitals cataloguing their existing collections.
“We commission a lot of artwork. I don’t show work that has been exhibited or shown anywhere else. This means each client has their own unique collection whether that is five or 300 artworks,” she said.
Jacinta said it was becoming apparent that a space was needed to display artwork for corporations to see what could be supplied.
“Chris and I took on the project at 488 David Street Albury and knew we had a lot of work ahead of us for three months. We look at it today and it’s been an interesting journey,” Jacinta said.
While the doors opened in late June with a dinner showcasing local food and wines in Gallery 2’s warehouse-like space, and more than 250 people turned up on a Friday night to see what had happened in the space, Jacinta said it is only now that exhibition timing has been arrived at.
“We had a trial period of judging what people want and we’ll be changing the exhibition every four weeks. It’s a lot more work behind the scenes but from the artists’ side and the public perspective it keeps it fresh. People can walk past and there’s a very different exhibition and price range,” Jacinta said.
The first of the new exhibitions opened in Gallery 1 on 1 October with paintings including by semi-finalist in the prestigious Doug Moran National Portrait prize, Clare Leeuwin-Clark, Juju Roche, Peter Caddy and Joan Mullarvey.
Jacinta said offering a range of works at different price points was important not just for potential clients, but also for the viewing public.
“We’re moving into works on paper like Catherine Stewart, winner of the 2016 MAMA Art Prize, and Kim Pasalaqua where I am actually matting artworks and selling them unframed, so that price bracket is really good compared to the canvas or framed works.
“We also have works by Aboriginal artist, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, and ceramics by Tom Strachan and Linda Lees, and a wide-ranging research library of more than 500 reference books which artists, art history students and clients are welcome to browse,” she said.
Jacinta said while she engages with a group of 20 artists whose work she is familiar with, and who she knows she can rely on, she is always on the lookout for new and emerging artists.
“It’s not a situation where people can walk in with their artwork and I will hang it. I have 20 or so artists I already work with and have built up a strong relationship with, so when I get a brief from the client, I know I can rely on that artist to deliver.
“Recently I had a TAFE art group come in and I have made further contact with one student who hasn’t exhibited before. Some of her work is really good. That’s some of the fun part – is to work with established artists and working with emerging artists, you can see the talent there, nurturing and working with them to get them into corporate collections.”
Art Partners Australia also represents local artist Robert Kleinboonschate, whose works have featured in exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney. Visitors to the David Street gallery can also appreciate his inspirational work on display, or perhaps catch him in action.
“This gallery allows the scale of his works to be truly appreciated,” Jacinta told bordercafe.com.au
“A lot of the size of these works are 2100 X 2700mm, so not your average size in an average gallery, so we’ve been able to work with Robert’s scale of works and fill up and crate an extra space we didn’t know we were going to have.
“He’s also a prolific painter, there are some three to four hundred works he’d have available immediately.”
Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday – 10.30am – 2.30pm
Saturday, 9am – noon.
488 David Street, Albury