The official theme of Art Month Sydney 2014 is ‘Intersections And Parallels’, but ‘collecting’ is a hot topic for this year’s event and the cornerstone for one of the month’s highlight exhibitions. Collector’s Spaces is an urban space filled with museum quality artworks never before seen in public, which is playing host to an array of collecting-focused talks and events. One of the most anticipated is Trend Watch, a panel discussion promising to reveal the inside track with tips, predictions and anecdotes to prepare Australian collectors, both aspiring and established, for the 2014 market. The event boasts a dynamic panel of charismatic, distinguished industry insiders Alexie Glass-Kantor, Artspace Executive Director and acclaimed international curator; Dick Quan, a pioneering medical practitioner and avid collector of contemporary Australian and international art; and Barry Keldoulis, CEO and Group Fairs Director of Art Fairs Australia.

The discussion promises to be informative and engaging for first time buyers and established collectors alike. “The landscape of contemporary art and collecting has changed,” says Glass-Kantor. “The past 20 years have seen an increase in confidence in collecting and there is an incredible level of curiosity and ambition.”

Contemporary art has expanded into the realms of cross-disciplinary, multimedia, site-specific and performance work. Glass-Kantor sees this development as “a very exciting moment in collecting, as people are thinking about expanded ways to incorporate art into their living environment.” The discussion will undoubtably touch on how collectors can consider a more diverse range of acquisitions by taking an interest into studio practice, investigating the commissioning of site specific works and exploring places in the broader context of the home for multimedia and moving image works.

An increasingly asked question is not only what to buy, but where to buy? Australian contemporary art has seen a greater engagement with the Asian region, specifically Hong Kong and Singapore with a profusion of fairs – Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong Affordable Art Fair and Art Stage Singapore – as well as project platforms such as Singapore-based Future Perfect, with Australian art specialist establishing their practice and expertise in the Pacific-Rim region. Glass-Kantor will also be looking towards New Zealand; “[There is] a convergence between New Zealand and Asia, where there is a strong generation coming through”, traces of which are already evident as Sydney Galleries mark New Zealand artists such as Elizabeth Thomson, Abby McCulloch and Jake Walker on their exhibition calendars for 2014.

With the expansion of multimedia and digital practice, stepping into the world of art collecting and taking the leap of acquisition can be daunting. Australian art audiences now have a plethora of trading platforms before them; not only galleries, fairs, museums, forums and pop up spaces, but the profusion of digital media, websites, blogs and social media create an expanded opportunity for collectors to see and engage with as much creativity as possible. “Diversity enables individuals to make their own choices and find their own meaning,” says Glass-Kantor.

Collector’s Space: Trend Watch, and its exhilarating panel of Australian contemporary art experts promises to unravel the secrets behind empowered, enabled, inquisitive and innovative collecting in Australia in 2014. “Collecting is a highly personal engagement,” says Glass-Kantor, who has a self-proclaimed “eclectic approach to Asian art” in her personal collection. Over time, collectors develop an in depth knowledge and learn to trust themselves, but until then it’s about engaging, exploring learning what you want to achieve and asking the right questions.

Collector’s Space: Trend Watch is part of Art Month Sydney 2014 and is on Sunday March 23 at Collector’s Space, 101 William Street, Darlinghurst.

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