In May last year, Christie’s became the first auction house to sell more than US$1 billion of art in a single week – buoyed by the sale of a 1955 Picasso for a touch over US$179 million. Nice for some, isn’t it? But let’s say you don’t have a spare $100 million to throw at the wall (literally) – is there anything between an original Whiteley and that Audrey Hepburn IKEA print every woman under 30 owns? Turns out, yes. All you need to do is BYO frame – and yep, that can be from IKEA.
Affordable art is on the rise in Australia, with burgeoning websites and even bricks-and-mortar stores championing the works of local emerging and established artists, while keeping costs low for the consumer. Everybody wins – regular Joes get to start collections without having to win Powerball, artists sell their works and get paid for their trouble. Here are six of the best.
“Dreams in the Rain” by Tony Wu, $130
Their motto is “we make it easier to be an art lover” and it’s true, with a whole section dedicated to pieces under $250. There are some expensive works here, but there’s also dozens of sub-$250 illustrations, paintings and photographs. There’s a diverse range of Aboriginal art, too, and even a seven-day money back guarantee.
“7-sided” by Joe Kievitt, $24
This isn’t an Australian site, but it’s hugely popular and for good reason – it showcases thousands of high-quality art from emerging and established artists, ranging from $20 right up to $10,000. Most of the works here are sold in various sizes, so if your budget doesn’t stretch to $500, you can pick up a smaller version of the work you want for under $100. The site also sells high-resolution prints of vintage photographs from the likes of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. There’s also an awesome selection of art for kids, and none of it includes saccharine pastel alphabets or watercolours of owls. We love this photograph, available from $60.
“The Valhalla Cinema in Glebe” by John Debono-Cullen and Emma Simmons, $70
This super-cute Summer Hill shop is run by husband and wife team John Debono-Cullen and Emma Simmons, both artists themselves. The shop is a treasure trove of goodies – original, limited edition prints, one-of-a-kind paintings, illustrations and photography from local artists and even sculpture, pillows and cards that are way cheaper than Hallmark and a helluva lot cooler. Pieces start from just $20, and there are plenty of nostalgic limited edition prints, like these.
“Big Marble Paper Sculpture” by Rachel Castle, $69
Much-loved painter and illustrator Rachel Castle is whimsy personified. Her bright, sunny works pop with colour and verve – like a Rainbow Paddlepop in art form. And while many of her paintings hover around the $3500 mark, her hand screen-printed, limited edition prints are much more affordable (and just as cool) from $130. There’s also her Instagram-worthy typographical embroidery – guaranteed to get some double-taps. And if you prefer to keep your art functional, Castle also sells bedspreads, cushions, bags and towels. We love the newest addition to Castle’s collection, too – quirky paper sculptures (like the one below) that retail for under $100.
5. Art Pharmacy
“Australian Bush Flowers” by Haejin Yoo, $90
For founder Emilya Colliver, who has worked at The British Museum and with private collector James Birch (who owns works by the likes of Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon), Art Pharmacy is a place where anyone can become an art collector. There are original prints, oils, watercolours, photographs and etchings, and many are less than $100. If you’re looking to make a gallery wall of original black-and-white illustrations, this is the place – they’re affordable and fantastic. Colliver is also the director of The Other Art Fair, which ran in Sydney last September and championed the work of up-and-coming artists.
“Chameleon” by Jodi Hugo, $120
When owner Victoria McGregor came to Melbourne a few years ago from South Africa, she couldn’t find a gallery or website that sold graduate artists – so she started an Australian branch of SA website State of the Art. Works sell for as little as $90, and as much as $2500. You can search by price, size and subject, and there’s a healthy range of nudes, abstract pieces and portraits. Each piece is selected by a “curatorial panel” who are all artists themselves.
Written by Lauren Sams. First appeared on Domain.com.au.