My ART | Collector: Derek Finnigan

Collector: Derek Finnigan

Collector: Derek Finnigan

Tell us about the first artwork that made an impact on you?

At a time when I was just becoming interested in art I saw Colin McCahon’s Am I Scared Boy (EH) (1976). It was reportedly painted in response to a photograph McCahon saw of two young Maori men apprehensively entering the unfamiliar environment of an art gallery. I related to that – I was feeling “scared eh” entering these bright white spaces, nervous of displaying my total lack of understanding about art and why it made an impact on me.

Why do you go to galleries?

Strangely, what I found once I had plucked up the courage to enter these spaces, were (in the main) full of nice people! People, who through their love of art were not only willing, but excited to share their thoughts, understandings and questions around artwork. I was full of what I was concerned could be silly questions… the gallerists, that I learned to love talking with, quickly showed me that ‘generally’ they weren’t silly. I have amazing memories of spending many hours talking with gallerists such as Greg Flint, Anna Bibby, Judith Anderson, and more recently Andrew Jensen, learning and gaining some sort of understanding from their passion and commitment to sharing their knowledge.

What is the most enigmatic work in your collection?

I am still trying to understand why Winston Roeth’s Apostle (1999) constantly stops me in my tracks – it catches my eye as I walk through another room and I feel the need to go and look at it. It has no narrative. Its perfect, flat colour field draws you in and you find yourself staring. I don’t know why something so seemingly simple can generate such emotion, how can the artist understand this? Again, I don’t understand it, but I love it, and I guess that is why I am a collector and not a maker.

What about the one that go away?

Where do I start! So, focus on the ones that didn’t.

Why collect?

Filling your home and surrounding yourself with beautiful art is addictive. The thrill of the hunt, justifying to yourself that you need be spending more on another piece of art, and knowing that you are the only person in the world to own this piece of work, gives me butterflies at the time. However, long after the exhilaration of the purchase is over the constant reward you get from building a relationship with the artwork is the real answer. All artwork should invoke a memory and, if chosen well, an emotion. I was told many times when I started collecting to only buy artwork that you love, there is plenty of work out there, take your time… Wait for the emotion.

May 2020
Photo: David Straight