'It's not a shopping trip and it's not about making money,' says former Masterton art teacher Barbara Roydhouse, explaining the modus operandi of local art collecting group Waisculpt which she chaired for the past six years. The heady days of 1980s inflation fuelled art groups are long gone, and now it's all about learning, connecting with artists and developing a shared passion together, she says. Waisculpt's purchases are currently on show at Aratoi, alongside those of another local group called Et Alia.
Art collecting groups can also be a relatively cost effective hobby because they rely on the power of the collective. In Waisculpt's case, 16 people contributed a set amount each year, enabling the group to make agreed purchases of New Zealand sculpture. The pieces were owned collectively and rotated around the various homes for all to enjoy.
Thanks to a local maths teacher's 'magic square system', everyone was teamed with different group members for each buying session. Waisculpt decided to focus on NZ artists with formal art training, and researching artists and achieving a consensus on what to buy was part of the challenge.
'Collecting is harder than it looks ,'says Roydhouse. 'Some groups spent all their funds on one piece, others bought two pieces and in one case the group had to ask for more than their allowance.' More questions arose as their collection grew: 'What else is out there, who have we not found yet?'
During their six years together, Waisculpt members had trips to artists' studios, gallery tours and attended talks to further their understanding of the art scene. They also commissioned a Whanganui glass artist to create a Wairarapa Moana-themed work.
Predictably, they developed favourites, sometimes warming to a piece once they'd lived with it for a while. For the exhibition - which also marks the winding down of the group - members have the chance to buy works for keeps. Next week we'll feature the Et Alia group, which focused on collecting paintings.
Waisculpt and Et Alia: Two Collections Six Years, until 24 February. Aratoi is open Tues-Sun 10am - 4.30pm during January.
Caption: Works by Gregor Kregar, Kim Michaela Henderson and Harry Watson feature in the Waisculpt collection, now on show at Aratoi.