Davson ~ the $5.2m artist
by Rod Towers
Points of View
1985 painting titled Points of View by Sharon Davson recently re-sold for $5.2 million (US $5.4). It well and truly became the highest price for a painting by a living Australian artist. Davson is not necessarily a ‘household’ name. The sale even took many art dealers and auction house experts by surprise. However, the new owner has been repeatedly reported as “very happy with his new painting”, and his lawyer Boyd Nelson has publically validated the sale.
Q. Why do you think this is the case? A. Davson hasn’t been part of the usual art sales industry because she didn’t need to. She has run her professional (and staffed) studios with private galleries since the early 1980s.
Together We Can in the James Fairfax AO collection
So WHO is DAVSON and WHY is her art so valuable? I spoke with a collector and investor in her art, Tony Lawder, to gain a better insight. Q. How many works by Davson do you own? A. Five. I purchased two works in 2006 for my superannuation fund; the others since then were for my home. Q. How did you find out about her art? A. I met her through a business function, got curious, and proceeded to conduct appropriate due diligence. I discovered that the values of her art had been doubling better than within a five period for thirty years; and I looked at how and why. She is rather unique, and unique tends to pay dividends from a whole range of perspectives. It is pretty extraordinary for an artist to be successful and financially independent from any requirement to teach or have another income; AND stay out of the main-stream
Pat Farmer with Davson & Pole to Pole Run art on which she is working
sales mechanisms of commercial galleries or auction houses. Q. Why buy her art? A. For both the love of it and investment. Investment came first. Q. What would you say to someone considering acquiring art by Davson? A. I recommend a painting over other works; and ‘sit on it’ for a little while. Her art is continuing to gain momentum. Many dealers are just becoming aware of her Australian and international credentials.
Her career evolved in that way. You see, in late 1980, she set out on a journey across much of Australia with her dog in an exgovernment bus pulling a horse-float with her horse and motorbike. To help fund the venture, she met with numerous corporate leaders selling them sponsorship’ in the form of advertising on the side of the bus. So she saw the inside foyers of many buildings, and decided she wanted to create art in the method of the old masters – that is on commission - knowing then that her art would have a ‘home’ and purpose before it was created; rather than do paintings and put them in an art gallery and ‘hope’ they all sell. Working on commission also gave her financial stability. Davson set up studios with formal art galleries included to showcase her drawings, etchings and other original prints, as well the finished commissions prior to delivery. Some of these galleries also held exhibitions for other artists. By 1985, she was completely independent of the mainstream art dealer system; and through art commissions, the values of her art rose steadily. Q. What kind of prices did her early commissions achieve? A. Her first commission in 1984 was for a 9ft
DIstributed throughout Townsville Airport.