There’s a big difference between viewing art in a gallery and viewing it in someone’s home. The first option lends itself to detached study, while art hung on a living room wall often comes hand-in-hand with a human story and personal history. It’s an intimate experience few art lovers get to enjoy.

This Art Month, a new exhibition, Collectors’ Space, will blur the line between these two formats. Held at May Space in Waterloo, the exhibition plucks art from the homes of artists and curators and opens it up to public viewing.

When deciding whom to include in the exhibition, Art Month Sydney artistic director Kate Britton began by making a list of her personal art heroes. After reaching out to them, some invited her into their homes to tour their personal collections – a process she says involved moments of real intimacy.

“For me, it’s about looking at that personal connection between artists and their collections. The artists and curators who give a lot back [to Sydney’s art community] are the people who will end up with these beautiful collections. A lot of the stories were, ‘We did a swap after working on a project together’, or ‘They were teaching me how to do a certain thing’ rather than, ‘It’s just something I thought would look good in my house.’”

One of the people opening up his personal art stash is four-time Archibald Prize nominee and self-professed “outsider artist” Abdul Abdullah. He’ll be contributing a two-piece ceramic set made especially for him and his wife, Rita, by contemporary ceramicist Vipoo Srivilasa to the exhibition.

“Abdul acquired this as part of a swap,” explains Britton. “It was kind of a peer relationship, and the ceramics represent Abdul and his wife. Vipoo sent them quizzes about each other with questions like, ‘What is the other person’s favourite food?’ and then made the works based on their answers.”

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It was important to Britton to include people who work across diverse mediums, and who have eclectic tastes in the line-up. These include mixed-media artist Tony Albert; Indigenous art curator Tess Allas; Artbank senior curator Daniel Mudie Cunningham; and performance artist Emma Price.

While you would think these clashing collections would make curating the show tough, Britton says it was actually the opposite.

“In many shows you’re trying to create a narrative, to bring new meaning to a particular collection of pieces, whereas this is about how each of the works speaks back to the collectors. You just need to keep it to the core of the show, which is these personal relationships. They work in a very open and intimate way.”

Collectors’ Space is at May Space from March 1–17 as part of Art Month Sydney. For more information see here.

Art Month Sydney happens in various venues across Sydney from March 1–17. The full line-up is here.

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