What attracted you to Banksy, in the first place?
Banksy was the first art I was ever attracted to. I remember seeing it on the walls, around the streets of London and in the UK.
He did a piece that started as a white line on the ground. I followed it, it eventually lead to a policeman, leaning down snorting the white line, like it was cocaine. I remember my reaction…ironic laughter and recognition.
At that time, I was pretty broke, but I saw his work everywhere. When I first bought a piece and then started collecting them I didn’t consider it as a financial thing. I related to him, he’s a normal bloke, you wouldn’t recognize him on the street. He has a huge support network and he is incredibly driven. He has a passion for the underdog. I see his work Dismal-Land as his midlife crisis. He’s obviously a family man now. I feel I understand him as a person, a father. I see his angst. He made a fairground out of his angst, all that stuff rang true with me.
How do you feel about the artists’ anonymity factor?
Its not that important. Its important to the gutter press. To a real Banksy fan, it’s a non-factor. He doesn’t have that sort of character, the showman, the performer. He keeps himself in the background, he doesn’t exploit himself. His challenge nowadays is not to get caught on camera. Nowadays he uses scaffolding and a high-vis jacket…so because he looks official, because he can afford to, no one questions him. If a property owner asks ‘what the hell are you doing to my building’ he tells them who he is. He’s just added 100,000 pounds to the building. His anonymity is part of the myth.
His fans see him as a sellout, but in reality, he’s simply a product of the myth.
Where did/do you find the works you collect?
I became pretty good friends with parts of Banksy’s team, the artists around him, the connected gallery owners and then the old school collectors. I’d ask him about what they were doing, where they were, what things that were going on. It developed over time. Then I met an Australian girl, moved to Australia, married her and began doing all of this remotely. I lost touch, to a certain extent.
Do you consider your Banksy collection primarily an investment or is this about something else, for you?
The investment thing is interesting. It certainly didn’t start that way. It was a passion. For a time the money made me feel like my passion had sold out. I’m over that now. My wife, when I first met her, saw the debt I had created on my credit card. She injected funds into my passion. That’s paid off for both of us, in the long run. SoI bought the right art AND married the right woman.
How do you choose a frame for a work that was intended as street art?'
The Banksy prints aren’t really street art; they are intended to be framed. I made the common mistake initially, of making the frames far too flamboyant, of using brightly coloured matts, that sort of thing. The framing detracted from the work, on the wall. I don’t do that at all, any more, I keep the framing elegant and simple, but extremely high quality. I select black or white frames with black or white matting.
Why do you choose to have your collection framed at ARTIS PURA?
Erin is the best framer in Brisbane it’s that simple and definitely the best I’ve used in all my time collecting, not the cheapest, but for quality you need to pay. I’ve used many different framers in the UK and a couple in Sydney. Sheer luck took me to ARTIS PURA. I asked her the difficult questions, as I usually do, expecting to get the same blank stare and lack of understanding. Erin really gets it. She’s legitimate. I’ve always asked for museum glass. Unlike most, Erin knows the difference. Some of the glass I’ve been sold in the past is not what I was told it was. She also has great connections to other top-notch professionals, like her conservator. A tiny crease in an artwork can decrease the value by thousands…but if a confident conservator fixes it, it only costs a few hundred to repair. The trouble is finding someone with the skill and confidence to tackle the problem. Erin has a great network around her.