31/03/2011 - 00:00

Satterleys’ Smart offer something special

31/03/2011 - 00:00

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NIGEL and Denise Satterley’s art purchases may have started off as an investment but there’s no doubt that the couple has evolved into bona fide aficionados.

Satterleys’ Smart offer something special

NIGEL and Denise Satterley’s art purchases may have started off as an investment but there’s no doubt that the couple has evolved into bona fide aficionados.

Their well-secured home is testament to their focus, with the walls crowded with paintings by Australia’s leading contemporary artists and many a flat surface devoted to some form of sculpture.

In fact, the Satterleys will soon appoint a near full-time curator to look after their art interests and are proposing to incorporate a gallery into a new home they are planning.

And, no doubt, occupying a prime space within that gallery will be works by Jeffrey Smart, a favourite of the real estate developer and his wife.

The Satterleys own eight canvasses by Mr Smart who, at 90, is regarded as one of Australia’s most influential living artists.

But their love of Mr Smart’s work goes beyond hanging his paintings on their walls.

The pair is funding a major exhibition of the artist’s work, supported by his Australian agent Stuart Purves, to be held in May at in the conference room of Hawaiian Group’s headquarters at Bishop’s See.

They hope a contemporary, New York-style gallery space will inspire interest in Mr Smart’s work among the public and encourage wealthier Western Australians to purchase some of the works on offer.

While dozens of privately owned works from collections including those of the Satterleys, Kerry Stokes and Wesfarmers will on display, as many as 40 canvasses and studies will be available for sale.

The 10-day exhibition will host schools, be open to the public and cater for the corporate crowds through various evening events.

Collectors are expected to come to Perth to view the works, which are rarely seen together, let alone offered for sale.

“Perth has never seen anything like this,” said Mr Satterley, who has clearly learned the art of creating excitement around an event from decades of real estate development and charity fund-raisers.

“You can never get them [Mr Smart’s paintings] except in the secondary market.”

Mr Satterley said the canvasses being offered for sale would range from $80,000 to $700,000, though some of Mr Smart’s previous works have sold above $1 million in the secondary market.

Studies and etchings will be offered for between $5,000 and $18,000 at the exhibition.

He said the catalyst for the exhibition was the failing health of Mr Smart, who has decided to put his affairs in order and ensure his estate is properly funded by selling numerous works that have been on loan or in his own collection.

Mr Satterley said he hoped the exhibition would also highlight the importance of Australian art as well as promoting Mr Smart’s art in WA, where it was less well known than in the eastern states.

Denise Satterley recalls the moment when the pair’s art collecting started getting serious.

Prompted by big art collector Kerry Stokes, the couple had already decided to take some high level advice from Melbourne curator Dr Joseph Brown in the early 1990s.

Carrying a few catalogues on the flight east they decided to start marking the art they liked on the way – it was like a point of no return.

Mrs Satterley said that the pair never looked back from that decision nearly two decades ago, especially with their art purchases providing an investment return as much as something to ponder.

“We are used to living with art and we love it,” she said.

Mrs Satterley said their personal taste remained an important element of deciding what to buy, within the investment framework they established.

While the Satterleys had dabbled in some art purchases prior to this, the advice of Dr Brown was to jettison much of what they had and concentrate of the cream of the crop.

“He set us up,” Mr Satterley said.

“He said only deal with Australia’s top 25 artists.”

While the decision to acquire one of Mr Smart’s works fits into that framework, it didn’t happen until about decade later, in 2002.

They have since bought numerous painting from him and struck up a friendship with the artist, who has lived in Italy since the 1960s.

“Every 18 months he is here and we buy a painting from him,” Mr Satterley said.

Mr Smart’s works are modernist views of urban and industrial landscapes, which have a haunting or grim feel despite the bright colours.

Speaking from his home in Italy, Mr Smart told WA Business News that he has a good feel for Perth from his recent visits and felt that Western Australian would take to his art.

“I like the people very much in Perth and I like the city, I was so moved by the Batavia exhibition in Fremantle,” Mr Smart said.

He said the big market for his work was in Australia.

“Any picture of mine which comes for auction in London or France or anywhere they send it out to Australia where they know it will get a higher price,” Mr Smart said.

 

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