A Many Sided Coin: a review by Miriam Ruberl


On Thursday, 16th July Friends of Rotorua Museum were treated to an animated talk “The Primary and Secondary Art Market,” by Robert Eagle, Whisper Art and Object Gallery, Matamata.

Robert came to this work via being a chef for 23 years, and a member of the NZ Master Chefs Association, taking up margarine and ice sculpting and then, almost coincidentally, painting. It’s likely this seed was sown with many a visit to art and antique auctions with his mother as a child, to lie dormant yet destined to be ignited later despite his apparent lack of interest in being an artist. His interests eventually led him to the other side of the coin, valuation, and hence art history, learning about mediums, and why some artists are more recognised than others, and his own art and object gallery. Robert also provides mentoring with young artists.

He sees one of our problems as that of “being a talented country with a lot of art coming on to the market, but not a lot of buyers, with a concerning number of young artists being overlooked and falling through the cracks”. On the other hand, this is a good time for collectors and those starting collections to be buying art.

Robert’s topic was, The Primary and Secondary Art Market, and illustrated his points with a number of works by various artists he had brought along. Investment Art is quite another matter, and not touched on tonight. Primary markets basically are the galleries, brokers and dealers, selling and item the first time it is sold, directly to buyers from web sites and studios. Secondary Markets are the likes of auctions, charity auctions, sites like Trademe – generally works that have been previously sold and brought back to the market.

Robert also highlighted the problem of there not being enough ‘art speak’. Everyone has questions about relevance of the artist to the art world, who he or she is based on the values of the times, and as far as style is concerned. Robert made the point that art, and the rise of art objects, is not about fashion, although a style can be fashionable and as such is a dangerous zone to enter as an artist.

In New Zealand we have not digested our art history, nor our art, because we have moved forward so quickly. People buy what they like, and can understand. Robert gave his first hand account of learning by handling art, getting to know the artist and understand the work. His biggest regret would be that we have left a lot behind, hopefully not simply lost in the ether.

Robert discussed the importance of impact and influence, and the necessary progression of successful professional full-time artists from local to national to international exposure and rising above other artists, the importance of consistent sales, and the continued identifiable presence of the emotional content in the work.

An interesting aspect of the subject was the market for good forgeries, particularly in Europe, and some sound advice – Robert would prefer good provenance with a signature, rather than the other way round in terms of authentic originality of an item.

You can find out more about Robert’s services, and contact him on facebook and at www.nzartservices.co.nz.

Miriam Ruberl. Miriam is a Rotorua-based artist. Miriam is known for her abstract works created using locally sourced ochre.  She is the Rotorua Correspondent for ARTbop.


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