Learning about art, curating a quality and cost effective collection, and female camaraderie are just some of the bonuses of being part of an art group.
When I sit down with Belinda Wiley, co-owner of Northcote Point’s iconic Sausalito Café, I’m intrigued. We’re getting together to talk about her art group. I had a picture of a group of people who got together on certain days of the week to create art, but the reality is a little bit different.
“Our art group started in 1995,” says Belinda. “We were a group of 15 women from all walks of life. We put in a certain amount of money each year to purchase pieces of art which we take turns to have in our homes, for art gallery visits, and to explore different artisans in different regions.”
Twenty years on, the women number 12 and have gone from being in their 30s to 50s to now in their 50s to 70s. They’re an eclectic bunch, and include a hotel interior designer, photographer, doctor, businesswoman, health coach and yoga teacher.
“We have a constitution, and at our AGM we vote in a chairperson, a secretary, a treasurer, and a person who allocates the pieces every three months. We set our dates for the year and members each take turns to be on the buying committee, organise gallery visits, trips away, and the annual Christmas event with partners,” says Belinda. “Our interest is in contemporary New Zealand art of which we currently have 13 pieces including works on canvas, sculpture and photographs.
“What’s great about it is the bonding and comradeship, We all get on well, which we’ve heard can be rare in large groups. I put it down to great communication, and if there is any disagreement we always refer to the constitution which has clear guidelines of the groups purpose and how decisions get made.”
The group tends to work in 10-year rounds, so they’re about to embark on their third. “The first 10 years the art world was more buoyant and we made some good investments but then the GFC hit,” says Belinda. Over a 20-year period the group have purchased works by the likes of Shane Cotton (in his early years), Ralph Hotere, Virginia King, Sarah Hughes, Neil Dawson, Lisa Reihana and Rohan Wealleans, some of which have done them proud: “The intention behind the art group initially was to collect art and build a collection which we did.
“This time around we’re starting to come from a more philanthropic angle. We’ve already made a donation to Artspace in K Road and we’ll probably look to support an artist or a group of artists. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of the times or the fact that we’ve grown into maturity, but it’s great.”