Art high on investment list

AN exhibition of David Larwill’s work at Greenhill Galleries in Perth has attracted interest from around the country, as nervous investors turn their backs on the share market in favour of art.

Greenhill Galleries owner Paul Swain said Mr Larwill’s naïve-style paintings with their tribal icons are some of the most highly collected works in Australia, appealing to investors from as far afield as Hong Kong and Singapore.

The works on canvas cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Mr Swain has already sold three of the 16 works and people are calling every day inquiring about the collection.

The interest is mainly driven by private investors, including individuals interested to add art to their superannuation funds.

While many small businesses struggle to operate in the soft local economy, Greenhill Galleries has had the best six-month period in many years.

“Larwill is probably one of the best investments in Australian contemporary art today,” Mr Swain said.

The value of Mr Larwill’s work has increased significantly during the past year with a work from the 1980s selling for $40,000.

“There are lists of people waiting to buy works in Sydney and Melbourne … and we’ve been inundated since we sent out the invitations,” Mr Swain said.

The colourful, engaging work borrows heavily from the visual icons of the indigenous artists Mr Larwill has spent time with.

The artist’s popularity has been driven by major acquisitions at the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery in Canberra.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, commercial art galleries around Australia in 1999-2000 recorded sales of artworks worth $218 million.

The total income for commercial galleries over the same period was $132 million, compared with just $87 million in 1996-1997, an increase of 51 per cent.

Gross sales of artworks in WA are recorded at $5.9 million, a significant part of which is derived from works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists

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