Linton & Kay

Posted: 05 Feb 2013  |  By: Jeremy Eccles

Australia’s two-speed economy is reflected in the arts as a microcosm of the wider picture when you discover that as commercial galleries close on the Eastern Seaboard, Linton & Kay Arts Management were charging into their third space in Perth. Mind you, as that third venue opened on 23 August in prestigious St George’s Terrace, their Contemporary Art space in Subiaco was holding its last show.

In future, their Contemporary Art will move to their strategically placed Railway Road premises — located at the Subi intersection where potential women buyers from the ritzy beachside suburbs have to await a light-change en route to the city. And Fine Art moves into Brookfield Place, once the Old Perth Technical School, one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings. “It’s right in the middle of mining central,” enthused Gary Kay, and ironically, Rio Tinto is sponsoring the opening exhibition in BHP’s West Australian home!

The dynamic team that only entered the art scene in 1998 admit they were very lucky with this site. The new go-to destination in the city couldn’t actually accommodate a bar or restaurant there because of their footprints. “Our gallery offered a smaller one,” explained Linton Partington, “though tough negotiations followed their approach to us, because there was no way we could afford CBD office rates.”

“But we can offer corporate hospitality opportunities there in our 450 to 500 square metre space,” added Kay, “giving our artists great exposure. And that will allow us to put on non-selling shows like WA’s Black Swan Portraiture Prize — maybe even the Archibald or the Moran, which have never been to Perth.”

The opening show was also a pretty fortuitous affair. Back in 2011, Aussie Brian Wallace wanted to celebrate his Beijing RedGate Gallery’s twentieth anniversary with a touring show back home. He decided on eleven of his senior Chinese artists, each choosing a more junior partner to create Two Generations. Five venues were set up by his offsider Catherine Croll, and the Chinese Government came to a party that didn’t greatly appeal to Australian government instrumentalities by funding the freight as the final act in the two-year Experience China cultural exchange.

But then Western Australia noted that it — the self-styled ‘Gateway to China’ — wasn’t getting much out of the exchange. So the Arts Ministry’s Cathy Driver and the WA Trade Commissioner in Shanghai played pander to bring RedGate together with Linton & Kay. “They’re progressive enough to take you on,” RedGate was told — with just a little help from Rio. “When I asked for $30,000,” recalls Croll, “they said that’s not enough — have $60,000 and we’ll winkle another $10,000 out of the WA Government! All of which has allowed us to bring over artists with WA connections and a curator from Kunming who really wants to take Indigenous art back to China in 2013.” Three hundred businessmen are also coming from Perth’s sister city, Chengdu — though not strictly for the art.

All of which allowed Linton & Kay to open with a bigger splash than they might have done had the building’s restoration work been completed on time, earlier this year. Premier Colin Barnett has been very happy to associate himself with all this Chinese heft, as have the local Chinese consul and art afficionado, Sam Walsh from Rio. “He’s an old mate and a client,” explained Kay. “Everyone’s owning this project.”

After that, it will be up to Linton & Kay to get by with an impressive roster of local artists and plenty from elsewhere. They represent the estates of Arthur Boyd and Pro Hart, as well as living Easterners like John Olsen, Ray Crooke and Bang Min-woo. Robert Juniper (a State Living Treasure) heads the locals along with William Boissevain.

At the Contemporary end of things, Linton & Kay represent both Eastern and overseas artists like Paul White and Kenton Parker nationally and have links to OE galleries like Agathon, Richard Martin, Wagner, Metro and Flinders Lane. From Agathon, they’ve picked up the great Pitjantjatjara artist Tommy Watson, the late Eileen Stevens and Helen McCarthy. As far as I know, Mugurel Barbulesco, Hensonesque photographer David Collins, Betty T Doll and Alia Leadabrand are all their own creations.

But the new reality of being in the middle of mining central is also expanding Linton & Kay horizons. “We have a good friend and supporter who’s Indonesian based in Perth,” explained Linton Partington, “who is tempting us to get up there and meet both artists and collectors; and the RedGate experience is a catalyst for thinking about China. One of our artists is already in residence up there, producing magnificent landscapes with just a hint of The Kimberley. From our first conversation with Kate Croll, we began some long-term thinking that would involve artist and curatorial exchanges and the possibility of not-for-profit touring shows that are too small for the West Australian Art Gallery, but too big for most commercial galleries here.” Kate Croll concurs: “They really got it that it was worth pushing into Asian market expansion. There are no signs of parochial thinking there!”

Images from top:

Linton & Kay Gallery interior.

David-Collins, She’s-not-my-girlfriend, 2011, giclée fine art print on Ilford gold fibre silk, 100 x 150cm.

Eileen Stevens, Wati-Kutjara, 2007, acrylic on linen, 149 x 203cm.

Guan Wei, Fragments of History No.8, 2012, acrylic on board, 88 x 124cm.

Linton & Kay Gallery interior.

Click here for further information on Linton & Kay Galleries .

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Issue 38