untangling the awkward relationship between art and money

Don’t miss Peter Walsh fundraising auction this weekend: Go because he was a great bloke, go because it’s a great cause, or go because there’ll be some great art to buy

Melbourne artist Peter Walsh really was one of the good guys. One of the best, truth be told. His premature and tragic death from that most evil of diseases, cancer, in January this year left the local art scene bereft. A brilliant raconteur, with a devilish sense of humour that would leave you doubled up with laughter, Pete was also a damn fine painter. One of his works, Momentary Landscape, is pictured at left (image via Mossgreen). 

In the interest of disclosure, I love Pete’s work, and bought a few pieces from him over the years.  I knew him moderately well – and treasured the acquaintance. As did most of us hardcore St. Kilda night owls who trawled the cooler-than-fuck pubs and wine bars during the ’90s. But we’ve all grown up a fair bit since then. For his part, Pete moved onto much better things. Namely, the wonderful Lisa Walker – a great chick and a brilliant photographer. And I’ve seldom seen a man so smitten by his children. I’d often bump into him outside Brew-ha-ha in Blessington Street after I’d bought my morning latte – I’d be clutching my coffee, he’d be carrying Hazel, his eldest daughter, his brown eyes sparkling. Lisa and Pete had another beautiful daughter, Alice, a few years later. By then they had extricated themselves from the seedy but delicious streets of St. Kilda, and taken up residence in the leafy, conservative climes of Malvern. To hear Pete wax lyrical about the change of scenery from inner city to affluent suburbia was hilarious. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Nor can the throngs of people who packed a Toorak cathedral to farewell him, I’ll wager. It was a send-off worthy of a man who could justifiably call thousands of people, ‘friend’.

So – a clarion call to any of you within coo-ee of Melbourne over the next few days… a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the Australian art world have donated artworks to an auction that’s to be held at Deutscher-Hackett this Sunday. Given Pete’s legendary sense of humour, the auction has the appropriately irreverent title: ‘For Pete’s Sake’. Proceeds from the auction are going into a trust account for the financial support of Pete’s daughters, who are now just three and seven.”Which artists?” you ask – think of the name, and they’ll be on the list. Mike Parr, Gareth Sansom,  Callum Morton, David Larwill, Rosslyn Piggott, Guan Wei, Lewis Miller, Imants Tiller… the list goes on. And on. It’s a shining testament to just how well-regarded Pete was in the art world.

Get on your bikes and get down to Prahran for the viewing and auction. Quickly! If not because it’s a good cause, which it is, then go along because it represents an opportunity to buy some seriously good art by most of Australia’s best living artists. Oh, and Deutscher-Hackett is waiving buyer’s premium for the auction, not to mention providing the venue, staff and running the auction. Nice work. 

What: ‘For Pete’s Sake’ auction

Where: Deutscher and Hackett, 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra 3121

When: Preview dates – Thursday 14 May to Sunday 17 May, 11.00am-6.00pm.

Auction: Sunday 17 May, 6pm, Deutscher and Hackett, 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra 3121

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