Australia and New Zealand have many things in common. We share a monarchy for a start. But our similarities don’t stop with the Crown. We both enjoy amazing landscapes and isolated borders. We both have rich indigenous cultures and successful sporting histories. We share a proud military past and a hopeful commercial future. However when it comes to art, we don’t seem to share much at all. We remain isolated and somewhat insular. And that’s a pity.
When the team first began working on artFido, they saw a future where art was bought and sold freely across the Tasman. Where art lovers in Wellington could connect with artists in Wagga Wagga, and vice versa. However the realities of establishing this connection have proven to be difficult. It became evident very early on that it was going to take time and patience to bring New Zealand galleries on board. Whether reeling from previous misadventures online or fearful of upsetting a traditional market, galleries showed real reluctance to the idea. Whereas galleries in Australia showed their support early and signed up enthusiastically prior to launch, it was only after two personal trips across the Tasman that the artFido had any luck with New Zealand galleries. Even then, only with a small handful of them.
In contrast, New Zealand artists embraced artFido from the onset. Shelley Simpson was the first artist to list work on the site, and has already sold two pieces, one of which to an Australian collector. Interestingly, Shelley’s art relates directly to social media and the future of communication.
‘I am interested in how this new form of communicating and connecting
affects our emotional relationships with others – does the digital
environment enhance or restrict our communication? Are we closer to
each other or more distant? Are our communications more real or less
real? Are we expanding or narrowing our lives?’
Shelley continues to sell enthusiastically through artFido and currently has 5 pieces up for auction.
Another New Zealand artist that has embraced the new platform is Bee Doughty-Pratt. Bee was recently annouced as a regional winner in the prestigious Cliftons Art Prize, with her piece the ‘First Light at the Floodgates’ taking out the 2012 Wellington Prize, and was an early supporter of artFido. With artFido creating an open and honest line of communication with an Australian buyer, Bee was able to reach a buyer whom may never have otherwise seen her work, let alone purchased it. Bee’s was not the first piece of New Zealand art to sell across artFido, but it does remain the most valuable.
Why the contrast in experiences? Why are New Zealand artists happily embracing artFido whilst New Zealand galleries remain so reluctant to do so? Who knows. All we know is that the more art that is available for sale between the two countries, the better off artists, art lovers and the art industry will eventually be.