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Last month, Mary-Jane Darroll (former Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery and Corporate Collection) and Ruarc Peffers (recent Senior Art Specialist and auctioneer at Strauss & Co.) introduced their new auctioneering firm, Aspire Art Auctions, to the South African market. They are now pleased to introduce their partners; Emma Bedford and Jacqui Carney. This powerhouse of art specialists collectively offers in excess of eighty years’ experience in the art industry, and through Aspire Art Auctions intend to focus on the promotion of fine arts, both locally and abroad.

 AA Newsletter July21 AspireAuctions1LEFT TO RIGHT: Emma Bedford, Mary-Jane Darroll, Ruarc Peffers, and Jacqui Carney. All images courtesy of Aspire Art Auctions.

A well-respected name in the South African art world, Bedford, with over 25 years at the South African National Gallery, rose to become the Senior Art Curator and Head of Art Collections. As the first Director of Goodman Gallery Cape Town, Bedford has worked closely with many of the country’s top artists including Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Moshekwa Langa, Brett Murray and Sue Williamson, as well as Marlene Dumas. She has also authored and edited numerous publications and is often invited abroad to present papers and workshops.

She says of her new partnership with Aspire Art Auctions; “I am delighted to be joining the leading lights in the local auction world and look forward to developing this market together.”

AA Newsletter July21 AspireArtAuction4William Kentridge, detail of Untitled (From Deluge Series), 1990. Charcoal and pastel on paper, signed and dated, 119.5 by 83cm.

Wits Arts School graduate, Carney, has, in a relatively short time, put her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to very good use. She quickly proved her mettle and shot up to become a Fine Art Specialist. She offers a complement of skills to the Aspire Art Auctions team, including client liaison, valuation, cataloguing, clerking, telephone bidding and the production of auctions.

“With the growth and refinement in the market I am looking forward to this exciting new era,” Carney says of this new venture.

AA Newsletter July21 AspireArtAuction2Athi-Patra Ruga, detail of Convention…Procession…Elevation, 2013. Acrylic Wool and Gold Thread, signed, dated, inscribed with the title on a label on the reverse, 175 x 300 cm.

Together with Peffers, South Africa’s most skilled art auctioneer, and Darroll, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in auction and the curation of important historical and contemporary exhibitions, the Aspire team represents the longest combined secondary fine art market experience in South Africa, exceeding thirty years.

This formidable team caught the attention of renowned businessmen, Brian Joffe and Adrian Gore, who are providing the backing and support to launch this new, specialist, auctioneering firm. As enthusiastic art collectors, both Joffe and Gore, are aware of concerns that there is a lack of expertise and sustainability in the market, and have recognised the opportunity and potential impact this firm offers.

AA Newsletter July21 AspireArtAuction3Diane Victor, detail of Family Matters, 2015. Candle smoke on paper, signed, dated and inscribed with the title on the reverse, 98.5 x 151 cm.

The company also enjoys the participation of Director, Kevin Handelsman, who was instrumental in the initiation of the companys funding structures. Handelsman is passionate about art and was responsible for streamlining the financial elements of the partnership.

At the heart of this new business is the preservation and development of the art industries in Africa and, ultimately, the raised profile of African modern and contemporary art and artists abroad.

“The startup process has been very labour-intensive – running parallel to getting the core business operating – however we are enthused by the overwhelming positive response and we are excited to provide focused service for our clients, and a new vision in a new era of auction in South Africa,” says Darroll.

AA Newsletter July21 AspireArtAuction5Robert Hodgins, detail of Totems in a Desert, 1998. Oil on canvas, signed, dated and inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse, 120.5 x 90 cm.

This excitement and enthusiasm is echoed by Peffers; “We will produce world class auctions displayed in our white cube venue, The Park on 7, Hyde Park Corner, where our inaugural auction will take place on the 31 October 2016,” he says. “We are delighted to exhibit at this venue, with care given to each individual art work’s display and presentation. We are inviting entries until 19 August 2016, and look forward to giving free valuations for this purpose.”

Aspire Art Auctions launches with a live auction in Johannesburg on 31 October 2016. They will also present an online auction platform.

For further information, free valuations and consigning art for auction, contact:


Jacqui Carney          +27 71 675 2991  |  jacqui@aspireart.net

Mary-Jane Darroll     +27 82 567 1925  |  mj@aspireart.net

Ruarc Peffers          +27 84 444 8004  |  ruarc@aspireart.net


Cape Town:

Emma Bedford        +27 83 391 7235  |  emma@aspireart.net




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