SAM showcases the art of collecting

By John Lewis

When is a brown pot not just another brown pot?

Answer: when it's dusted off and presented with other brown pots, turquoise dishes, blue bowls and round earth-red cups.

The humble brown pot then acquires the status of a collector's piece.

Shepparton Art Museum's new summer show presents a fresh look at the art of collecting — from op-shop discoveries to retail studio pottery and on to serious collections of art.

Complementing the new exhibition Collector/Collected, Shepparton residents will get a chance to have their own collection pieces valued at a Collector Roadshow in February.

SAM director Rebecca Coates said the new exhibition reflected a growing trend towards appreciating one-off everyday items.

“There's a massive following of people who make ‘wonky pots’ on Instagram, and handmade cups and plates are being used in restaurants,” Dr Coates said. "It's about slowing down and focusing on the little things that give you joy.”

She said Collector/Collected was an exhibition in three parts: more than 200 items collected from op-shops and secondhand stores by contemporary artist John Dixon from the 1960s and 70s are presented alongside 150 pieces from the SAM collection from the same period.

The third element is a showcase of collections from four Australian contemporary artists: Tony Albert, Kate Daw, Geoff Newton and David Sequeira.

Their work ranges from Albert's collection of pottery pieces reflecting kitsch images of Indigenous culture from the 1940s and 50s, to Newton's collection of the exteriors of regional art galleries, which he photographed and then sent to China to be turned into hyper-realist paintings by artists at a manufacturing company.

Dr Coates said each artist's project revealed the variety of reasons why people collect things — from obsession and compulsion to plain delight in the beauty of the object.

“Whatever the motivation for collecting, all collections reflect a curiosity with the world,” she said.

Collector/Collected opens at SAM tonight from 5pm and continues until March 1, 2020.

The SAM Collector's Roadshow is at Riverlinks Eastbank on Sunday, February 23, from noon to 4pm. People can bring along items to be valued by professionals from Melbourne-based auction house Leonard Joel.

Entry is $10, with all proceeds supporting the SAM collection and new acquisitions.

Spectators are free.

More information at www.sheppartonartmuseum.com.au