David and I are busy assigning prices to the works to be sold in the gallery and in our online catalogue. For each item, we have to take into account what we paid for it (and works like it), the overheads of running a gallery, what we think customers will be prepared to pay, and how much we ourselves can bear to part with it.
As an example, we won this very large (7.5 cm high and 47.5 cm in diameter.) dish made by Chris Myers at last month’s Shapiro auction for a hammer price of $450. With the buyer’s premium and other charges, it actually cost us around $550. We also needed to amortise the cost of our trip to Sydney, bringing the acquisition cost to about $600. Our minimum possible selling price therefore has to be around $700 (with GST) if we are not to lose money on our investment.
The seller would have realised about $360 for the dish, highlighting the extent to which buying and selling costs contribute to the inflation of prices each time a work changes hands at auction. Whether the dish will sell at its new asking price will soon be tested. What it is worth to potential buyers will depend on a number of factors. For some, it will be just a matter of whether they like it and have a place for it in their home. Others will be interested in Myers’ standing in the history of Australian contemporary pottery and where this dish sits in his oeuvre.
David and I first encountered Myers’ work at Beaver Galleries in the mid-1990s when we bought this large (30.5 cm high) vase, liking it for the balance between its simple, elegant form and its extraordinarily complex decoration, built up by sand-blasting and/or acid-etching the previously fired glazed surface and applying low-fire lustres.
By the mid 1990s, Myers had been working as a potter for many years, setting up his first studio in 1973 after training at the Caulfield Institute of Technology. Directory entries place him at Kaligda Pottery, in Frankston, Victoria, in 1981, and at Beachside Pottery at Aspendale, Victoria, in 1996, as well as lecturing at the Caulfield Institute, then at Monash University’s Peninsula School of Art. He has a presence in Pottery in Australia, 27/1(1988):33, 28/2(1989):45 & 72; and 36/2(1997):52, and he was one of the artists represented in Skepsi’s Celebrating the Master exhibition in 2004.
Myers signs his work using an impressed ‘Cm’ seal. The second mark on the Shapiro dish is the Kaligda Pottery seal, dating it probably a decade earlier than the vase. (The Beachside Pottery seal is an impressed crab.) Although both exhibit Myers’ characteristic post-firing techniques, the two-level gilded acanthus-leaf decoration on the dish is quite different from the three-level geometric design on the vase with its half-lustred surface. The dish is more robust and open, the vase more refined and illusive, taking on different qualities in different lights. Acquiring the dish has already given us a better understanding of the scope of work of this potter, and it won’t be a bad thing if we have to keep them both with us for a while, in order to learn more.