‘The Art of Collecting’ invites you into the homes and hearts of Australian artists

‘The Art of Collecting’ is a short documentary from artist and film-maker Kate Blackmore that explores the lifelong obsessions of five leading Australian artists who covet and collect things that speak to them, from discarded plastic bottles to amateur portraits of Presidents. We hear intimate stories from David Capra, Sarah Goffman, Karla Dickens, Nell and Raquel Cabellero about how their collections have both comforted them and propelled their creativity.

Karla Dickens’ shelf at home, still from ‘The Art of Collecting’

The program’s tender and uplifting message is that engaging in the world around you can be sustaining, even in times of pain.

While we can understand so much from art, the habit (urge, desire) of collecting offers new insight into the inner worlds of the artists as they talk about their lives and art with touching and relatable vulnerability. ‘The Art of Collecting’ is a unique lens to understand the special position an artist can take to transmute negativity into new narratives, joy, escapism and fantasy; the film shows it is a skill that doesn’t rely on riches but the will to see potential.

Sarah Goffman, I wish this were bigger, 2018, Considering pattern in the works of Sarah Goffman and Raafat Ishak, True Estate Gallery, Melbourne

Blackmore’s film emphasises the possibility of finding splendour in the ordinary, as one of the artists Sarah Goffman affirms ‘Art is around us and beauty is around us, if you have the eyes to look at it.’

The connection between trauma and collecting is referred to a few times. The artists process intergenerational pain, their own experiences and empathy for the environment by creating a bower in which they feel safe and also, with such grace, offering these moments of contemplation to us, the viewer, with their artwork.

Watch the program here on ABC iView