ARTS - IN Gisborne last year to visit local gallery owner Matt Nache, the director of the Sydney Contem-porary art fair pronounced himself perplexed.
“While it seems you are in the middle of nowhere, you are right in the thick of things on the global stage,” Barry Keldoulis said. “How on earth do you get artists and patrons to follow you from where you are?”
Big question that, and one Nache has been working to answer since he first opened his PaulNache gallery more than a decade ago.
And it is one he will get the chance to answer when he next week takes part in the Sydney Contemporary panel discussion From The Edge: Art From The Pacific Rim.
Joining four other gallery directors — two from major Sydney institutions, one from Chile and one from Jakarta — Nache will be part of next Friday’s dialogue about how artists and art enthusiasts on the geographical fringes can feel connected to the “global engine of creativity”.
He says he’s excited about the opportunity to step on an international stage to talk about the challenges he faces every day in his little corner on the world.
But art fair attendees may want to look rather than listen: when Nache lands in Sydney on Sunday his entourage will not only include exhibiting artists and their crew.
Also on board will be gallery supporters, among them high-profile New Zealand arts patrons Sir James Wallace, Chris Parkin and Fiona Campbell.
And the day before the four-day event opens, Sydney gallery M Contemporary will host a breakfast to bring together the PaulNache/M Contemporary artists and supporters.
“That’s actually how you do it,” he says in reference to the PaulNache entourage of workers and supporters.
“Everything you do has to be about relationships — with artists, with patrons, with other arts professionals — to ensure your artists get the best opportunity for career development and international profile.
“But for us it’s actually more than that. These are people whose company I genuinely enjoy, and who I really look forward to introducing to new things.”
Even once those relationships have been established, it is hard for small galleries like PaulNache to get noticed among their larger, richer contemporaries who will be jockeying for attention among the 30,000 art lovers and collectors that turn up to see Sydney Contemporary’s 90 galleries from 13 countries.
So Nache says he’s committed to working smarter, going into events like Sydney Contemporary and next year’s Hong Kong Art Central with both great art, and a strategic plan of attack.
In terms of the art, he’s showing performance, painting, installation and photographic works by Matt Couper, Peter Adsett, Glen Hayward and Sanjay Theodore, with Couper’s live printing demonstrations — which he’ll do dressed as classic vampire Nosferatu — tipped to be an attention getter.
In terms of the plan, he’s applying the techniques he has developed operating from the isolated East Coast of New Zealand.
Social media is a big part of that, and not just a few tweets and Facebook updates. PaulNache invests heavily in professional video and still photography to ensure its posts look as good as its art.
“But research shows that many visitors engage more readily with physical material so for this we’re providing printed material like catalogues and postcards, as well as promotion through international art magazines.”
Getting the attention of the arts and mainstream media is important and Nache has already scored a coup by getting Hayward’s unnervingly realistic installation (I Don’t Want You to Worry About Me, I Have Met Some Beautiful People) profiled by Blouin ArtInfo, which has an on-line readership of millions.
Sydney Contemporary is not Matt Nache’s first big art fair — he sees them as a key part of ensuring his artists get seen on the global stage — but it’s the first one he’s attended with Creative New Zealand support “and that’s massive”.
“I was told getting that funding was really difficult and my application was made with that knowledge, so to have succeeded in getting Creative NZ support feels like a really important form of validation,” he says. “It’s pretty nerve-racking having your work come under that kind of scrutiny so to have them say that what I am doing from Gisborne is right is a really huge thing.”
- PaulNache is exhibiting at Sydney Contemporary, September 10-13
- Upon returning to Gisborne, the gallery team on September 18 (6pm) opens the new exhibition Nosferatu & the Spider Woman, works by Matthew Couper and JK Russ.