programmes, the Academy supports candidates from the preliminary stages through to becoming professional; enabling artists both to practice fulltime and, through Spier’s facilitation, to find a ready market for their work. Blignaut described Spier’s role in this regard as a ‘custodian’ of local contemporary art; of a next generation of artists who can ‘afford to spend time in a studio doing what they do best’, which she identified as ‘pioneering our culture’. Critical imperatives that this custodianship seeks to achieve include significantly changing people’s lives by ‘creating opportunities for their success’ – within which their need for financial stability is acknowledged and respected; being involved in vulnerable communities to put energy behind socio-political change; and to archive that local heritage. Similar concerns about the imperative to develop artists were echoed by several of the other panelists as points of impetus towards how and why they collect or encourage the collection of work. The idea of creating a type of cultural archive resonates with Kenneth Montague, a Torontobased dentist and art collector, and the founder and director of the nonprofit Wedge Curatorial Projects (www.wedgecuratorialprojects.org). Montague has been exhibiting photo-based work with a strong focus on work that explores black identity and the African diaspora since 1997, when he began collecting and showing work exploring black subjectivity and cultural representation. Exploring his own Jamaican-Canadian heritage, he described his shift into curating as a desire to tell stories through the work of artists, whom he called the ‘chroniclers of daily life’,and as a collector his inclination to acquire work that speaks to others. He spoke about collecting being, for him, about his desire to share the experience of, and the narratives embedded in, artworks with others, as much as it being for his own private experience and pleasure. From his perspective there is always a public/private duality in that process, driven by a mindfulness of collecting with a sense of inclusiveness and sharing – something he encouraged other collectors to consider in their respective processes.
that awareness of, and demand for, work from or relating to Africa. The Internet, she argued, has also massively expanded the range of sourcing work beyond going to galleries and artists’ studios. The global accessibility of such work ‘joins the dots’ between Africa and the diaspora, and educates more widely. Samallie Kiyingi, a Ugandan-Australian lawyer, banker and art collector based in London concurred on the significance of art fairs as being a key means of introducing an artist to an international audience. She spoke about the art economy, particularly in Africa, being about finding new markets. Her interest in getting more people on the continent to collect African art leads her to prompt people she knows or that follow her to engage art as a means of understanding one’s world and identity.
it is perceived – that in effect critical discourse creates a legacy of art. He proposed that collectors be understood as conceptual rather than just practical market entities who have the ability to bring awareness, insight and a vision of greatness to a work of art. Siebrits further argued that there needs to be an evolution of a personal consciousness by the collector in terms of his/her own process of collecting: from Siebrits’s perspective, price should not become a factor in one’s decision to collect. Instead, he suggested, a collector should consciously slow down the process of selecting work in which s/he wishes to invest – to be discerning rather than collecting too easily; to make decisions in the course of time so as to identify works of art that are ‘going to remain great in the future’. He urged collectors to consider acquiring work that, even if haphazard in their thematics, style, and consistency (or lack of it) with the rest of the collection, nevertheless speak specifically to them. In other words, that collecting involves conscious and thoughtful discernment rather than just accumulation, and collectors would thus be well advised to develop a strategy for collecting that goes against the status quo.