What do you do?
Michael: I’m a Pōneke based artist currently completing my Master of Fine Arts in Photography at the University of Hartford in the US.
Julia: I am an event manager and am currently managing my family’s hospitality business.
What was the first artwork that made an impact on you?
Michael: Shortly after we got married almost six years ago, I bought Julia an artwork as a birthday gift. She then did the same for my birthday the following year. It’s become a tradition of ours now and has allowed our collection to slowly grow. With that, every year it becomes more of a challenge — albeit a fun one — to find works from new, different and interesting artists to add to our collection (we’ve pretty much exhausted our immediate circle of artist friends), but we always look forward to it.
Julia: The first work gifted to me from Michael was a piece from Shaun Waugh’s ‘Drop-Shadow’ series which I really love. Not only because this was the start of our collecting journey, but because the work is an interesting mix of photograph and object. We love that these gifts to each other are meaningful and will last through time. Selecting works for each other is special and gives us a balance of taste, style, and interest.
If you could own any work of art, what would it be?
Michael: It’s become very important to me over the years to support friends and the work they’re making. It’s not difficult as they’re all so incredibly talented. This has naturally grown to include artists from all over Aotearoa. But in saying that, if I could move our bed into Dia: Beacon I would happily live there forever.
What is the most enigmatic work of art in your collection?
Julia: I would say Michael’s own work. I think he would rather keep his work at his studio, where he gets to sit with it everyday and unpack the ideas behind it — but I don’t get that chance — so I always try to get him to bring work home for us to live with. This gives me time to look longer, ask more questions and try to understand the work more deeply. I enjoy seeing how his work intertwines with our collection and I think it gives our home a feeling of being a creative space in progress.
Tell us about a recent discovery?
Julia: Building a relationship with galleries is so important to expand your knowledge of other artists you might not have found on your own. Jhana Millers has been invaluable in expanding my view into different mediums, artists and ideas. She recently introduced us to Hannah Ireland’s work. Hannah paints onto the reverse side of glass leaving behind distorted faces that can often seem scary and dreamlike, yet soft and emotive. I like that it can give you a soulful connection to a fictional face.
For us it’s a personal journey that maps the relationship path we are on. The different work we collect each year will develop as we do. Our tastes will change, expand and grow together. It also feels meaningful to celebrate a birthday or other milestones with gifts that you know are supporting the artist and the art community. Collecting also encourages us to go to openings, talk with friends, artists and galleries about topical issues, ideas and form fun relationships while doing it.