My ART | Gallerist: Laree Payne

Gallerist: Laree Payne

Gallerist: Laree Payne

Why did you open your gallery?

I was half way through a masters in arts management through Whitecliffe College in Auckland when I seriously began thinking about where I would like to work when I completed my studies. I was living in Hamilton at the time and commuting between Hamilton and Auckland for classes. Of course I was very aware of the differences between the art offerings of the two cities. I was looking online frequently to see what was on offer and it was clear early on that there were very few opportunities in the Waikato that would interest me. Despite this, Hamilton had and has a rapidly growing population with shifting demographics as the radius of Auckland expands. A desire to stay put, to contribute to my own cultural milieu and to seize opportunity prompted me to open Weasel Gallery.

Are you a gallerist or an art dealer?

You would not hear me call myself a gallerist or a dealer, rather I would say I run a contemporary gallery. The term ‘dealer’ is based around sales, and negates the most important part of my role which is to work with people who love art. Be they artists or collectors, relationship is of utmost importance to me and is something which I believe is key to longevity. The meaning of gallerist as a title resonates more with me however I feel it is clearer to non-industry people to explain that I own and run a contemporary art gallery.

If you could own any work of art, what would it be?

It would certainly change every time! I have always loved the work of Egon Schiele – psychological, intense and raw. His self portraits are incredible, as are the paintings of his lovers. I don’t think I can pick one.

Identify a common misconception about collecting, and help us set the record straight?

A number of my colleagues have already mentioned the misconception of having to be wealthy – which is what I hear the most. Second to that however might be that art is esoteric. You don’t have to have a degree in art history, or be exceptionally intelligent, or be from a family of collectors, to enjoy art and start a collection of your own. Your knowledge will increase over time, you will become more comfortable with your own taste, and you will learn new things about yourself along the way. Collecting is a journey.

We are currently in lockdown for COVID-19, what are you reading/watching/listening to?

Albeit a very difficult time for many (for a wide range of reasons), the lockdown provided a breather unlike anything many of us would have experienced since perhaps high school. From what I heard/conversations I had, there was a feeling which permeated the creative sector about utilising the time and not letting it slip through our fingers, but also and conversely, not to feel guilty about not being our most productive selves. Since completing my masters and launching the gallery a few short months thereafter, it had been some time since I had really rested. I didn’t put much (any?!) pressure on myself and instead picked up a single book by Ceasar Milan in an effort to train our puppy, Louie. After many, many hours outside I think it is fair to say, and many of our neighbours would agree, he hasn’t learnt a thing.

April 2020
Laree Payne is the owner and director of Weasel Gallery, Hamilton.