Friday, August 24, 2012

Mr Art and Mr GST

This starts off as an art tattoo story and ends up all over the place. The tattoo belongs to Ken Fehily. He's an art collector and now chair of the Melbourne Art Foundation which runs the biennial Melbourne Art Fair. He was also a tax guy at PricewaterhouseCoopers and helped bring GST to Australia. All this is why he has a ‘Mr GST’ tat on one arm and ‘Mr Art’ on the other.
Fehily comes to the Melbourne Art Fair at a tough time. Fourteen offshore galleries exhibited in 2008 but only 11 fronted up this year with 70 percent of them from NZ, and that thanks to a baby-brother-discount from the Art Fair and Creative NZ grants.
Anyway, Fehily has now arranged for Tim Etchells (who started the popular Hong Kong Art Fair) to manage the MelbourneArt Fair for the next eight years. Etchells has also recently launched a SydneyArt Fair (…getting the picture?). Our own very successful Auckland Art Fair is no doubt keeping a nervous eye on all of this manoeuvring.
Mr Art was also involved in a big auction last week in which he and his wife (she runs the dealer gallery FehilyContemporary in Melbourne which includes a handful of NZ artists) put up 72 works from their own collection. It was a disappointment. Just 25 lots sold at an average price of $11,000 apparently putting the skids under their hopes for funding a charitable foundation and putting some money back into the gallery. You can read all this and other stuff about Mr Art in a more coherent form in the Financial Review.
Image: Top, Mr GST with his Mr Art tat on the right arm. Bottom Mr Art with his Mr GST tat on the left arm. (photo of Ken Fehily by Arsineh Houspian for the Financial Review). And thanks to tipster H for the tip off.