Sep 09 2011

New Albion Gallery

by Michael Young

Interior of the New Albion Gallery at at 55 Oxford Street. Courtesy New Albion Gallery.

The commercial art scene in Sydney will receive a boost when the New Albion Gallery opens its doors, on September 15, to its temporary premises on edgy Oxford Street before moving to its permanent location in nearby Paddington, when it takes over the space currently occupied by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in January 2013.

SCAF will relocate to the new Sherman Family Gallery, part of the University of New South Wales College Of Fine Arts’ ambitious AUD 48 million refurbishment program, vacating in the process of what New Albion associate director Adam Sims describes as “the most pre-eminent commercial gallery space in Australia.”

New Albion aims to become the premier commercial gallery in the region showing a stable of “top tier” artists as well as inviting guest curators to curate shows. “We want to show the very best of contemporary art by modern masters as well as modern international classics,” Sims told AAP.

Sixty percent of the gallery’s stable will be top Australian artists, with the remainder drawn from the international arena. “We are currently talking to a number of Asia-Pacific artists as well as artists in the UK and America,” Sims said.

While not in a position to announce any signings yet, Sims, who at one time was manager of the now defunct Kaliman Gallery in Sydney, is confident that New Albion will quickly establish itself as the premier location for collectors looking for blue-chip art.

New Albion is owned by the backers of the eponymous Deutscher and Hackett—Chris Deutscher, Damian Hackett and Melbourne businessman Ian Hicks—which has become one of the country’s leading auction houses since it began trading in 2007, and will share its sister company’s considerable resources while remaining separate business entities.

Speaking exclusively to AAP Damian Hackett said, “An auction house always has plenty of buyers but is always searching for stock. A gallery has plenty of stock but is always searching for buyers. Our shared resources will help bring the two together.”

Doug Hall, former director of Queensland Gallery of Art and founding director of the Asia Pacific Triennial, one of the most respected exhibitions devoted exclusively to art from the Asia-Pacific region, has joined New Albion as consultant curator. “What we are trying to do will be different than regular galleries with an emphasis on international art. We will cater for Australian collectors who don’t necessarily want to travel to art fairs.”

Hall’s vast global network of both artists and collectors will add a distinctive profile and credibility to New Albion that would be hard to quantify.

Temporarily housed in the subterranean viewing rooms of Deutscher and Hackett, New Albion’s inaugural show will feature hyperrealist sculptures by young Melbourne artist Sam Jinks, described recently by one local newspaper as one of Australia’s most recession-proof artists.

New Albion’s second show, opening mid-October, will be work from the estate of British sculptor Lynn Chadwick. With two works valued north of AUD 1 million each, Sims expects all 26 Chadwick pieces on offer to reach, “somewhere in the region of $4 million,” appealing to collectors with deep pockets.

As for the New Albion Gallery name, Damian Hackett dismisses any concern that his gallery will be linked in people’s minds with the Albion Gallery in London, the grand and hi-tech museum-style commercial gallery space in Battersea, designed by Norman Foster, which collapsed in June 2009 owing a reported GBP 5.8 million to creditors.