At Art Partners, we’re fans of BIG Kids Magazine. The theme for their upcoming issue is ‘collections.’
That got us thinking about how we might be able to contribute and spread the word. Not only are we running a few mini-workshops for our younger people and their bigger people friends, but we thought we’d focus this month’s blog post on the art of collecting.
Collecting has been going on for centuries, and there’s a large body of literature about why people collect. The reasons why vary with the collectors. In our research, we gravitated toward the thinking of Kurt Kuersteiner. In his article “Collecting Collections,” he says, quite simply, “I believe the main reason people collect something is a basic interest in the topic.”
We were introduced to protégé Tracey Bastian by long-time Art Partners mentor Billie Griffiths. We soon caught a glimpse of Tracey’s penchant for collecting, and we boldly asked if we could visit her home, interview her and photograph aspects of her collections.
We were elated when we received a resounding ‘yes.’ It was honouring to be able to linger over someone’s objects, their prized possessions. Her reasons for collecting are consistent with the thinking of Kuersteiner.
Her collectibles include objects from garage sales as well as gifts from her grandparents and her son Steven.
Before we venture forth, we offer a special word of thanks to photographer Carensa Watts for documenting Tracey’s collections. We should add, as well, that Tracey is camera shy.
A Main Feature
Dishes and cutlery figure prominently. Particularly charming is an egg cup and spoon with the word Singapore cut in relief.
Candles, Clock and Boxes
We could see that thoughtful placement of items definitely enhances the presentation of one’s collections. This was certainly true of the candles, clock and boxes. A note on the candles: Tracey told us they came from a garage sale, but they are reminiscent of the highly decorative candles that are hand-made in the small African Kingdom of Swaziland.
The Sea, The Sea
Tracey has a strong connection to the sea, and collecting nautical memorabilia is a definite interest. It was her dad who taught her to snorkel, she told us.
The focus of Tracey’s collections is the photo wall. There are pictures of family, but also a collection of war memorabilia which is a tribute to her grandfather who fought in both World Wars. In the top right of the photo are the framed words of “The Ode” (“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.…”) which come from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon written in the early days of World War I.
Collections of Art
Along with her treasures and memorabilia, Tracey is also collecting – lucky for us – her artwork in an expanding portfolio.
Session with Helen Seiver
One of Tracey’s early experiences with Art Partners was through a workshop with South West artist Helen Seiver. Tracey completed two still life works inspired by pears.
In Studio with Simon Hemsley
We then introduced Tracey to watercolorist Simon Hemsley. With Simon’s encouragement, Tracey experimented with different mediums and sizes. It was interesting to see how the vase of flowers took on a different look in the bright light of day.
9 x 5 Inch Works
Simon also suggested that Tracey try her hand at creating a number of 9 x 5 inch panels in the lead up to the panel exhibition at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries (BRAG) and fundraising auction for Art Partners at Edith Cowan University. Of these four works, the possum and the faces are on exhibition at BRAG (until August 19), and the four panels will be auctioned on August 23. More information on the auction is available here.
In a Regular Weekly Class
Tracey is now in Coleen Clifton’s watercolour class alongside mentor Edy Rees at the Stirling Street Arts Centre. Tracey is rising to the challenge of working with watercolours, a relatively new medium for her.
What we Discovered
When we first met Tracey, she shared with us a number of completed works in her portfolio.
A Prolific Artist
Tracey is actively engaged with her arts practice, and has created these new works in the short time we’ve known her.
Work in Progress
Tracey can usually be found working on several pieces at the same time. Pictured here is a work she’s identified as being ‘in progress.’
A Final Word
We felt privileged to be taken on a personal tour of Tracey Bastian’s collections. We hope this has inspired you to think about your own collections, and how they’re displayed. Perhaps you’ll consider having a look at a collection you’ve stashed away, and bring it into the light of day for you and others to enjoy.