She's one of the most well-known art historians in Singapore, and Anna Layard is not stopping there. As she sets her sights on conquering further shores, the consultant shares her tips on why Indonesia is set to be the 'next big thing'.
When did you first know you had an interest in art?
I have always had a close affinity with art. Growing up in a very creative household, meant being surrounded by an interesting mix of pieces, and frequently visiting galleries. In fact, I spent my 18th birthday in Florence, transfixed by the art of the Renaissance and the extraordinary architecture.
After studying A-level Art History under an incredibly inspiring teacher called Kate Mason, who ignited what would be my lifelong passion with the phrase “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life!”, I went on to graduate as an Art Historian from Manchester University, and then curated and managed galleries in London and Sydney prior to moving to Singapore in 2009.
Coincidentally, my journey has come full circle, as both my A-level and University studies focused on Indonesian Arts. I never dreamt I would one day be living in South East Asia, let alone being able to share my passion by leading Bespoke Art Collector Tours across Indonesia.
HOW HAS WORKING WITH BRANDS LIKE LEND LEASE AND NANDA\HOBBS CONTEMPORARY AND HAVING YOUR OWN ART CONSULTANCY, HELPED PAVE THE WAY TO START ART TOURS?
All of these experiences have been very important factors. They have given me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients and budgets across the years, to have had exposure to a vast array of global artists, and most importantly given me an insight as to how I can offer a service that is unique within the art scene in Singapore.
I am committed to helping my clients find new and exciting pieces as they create truly global collections across a variety of mediums, and especially including works which resonate within the environment in which they live. My clients tend to like works that have significance as well as being objects of beauty and interest. The work I saw in Yogya was some of the most exciting and diverse I have seen in recent years and the entry point incredibly accessible for established artists.
The work I saw in Yogya was some of the most exciting and diverse I have seen in recent years and the entry point incredibly accessible for established artists.
You strongly believe that Indonesian arts will be “the next big thing”. Why is that?
I believe many markets in Asia have become saturated and can be cost prohibitive. Price tags do not necessarily reflect the experience and resumes of the artists, and we often see artists losing their originality to become more commercially viable.
In Yogya (Yogyakarta) I see an integrity, creativity and dialogue within a strong and cohesive collective community. I see amazing artist collectives, initiatives and spaces, supported by incredible art patrons, collectors and philanthropists, all having an impact on the international market. It is a vibrant and inspiring scene with huge potential for the next generation of artists.
Events such as the Biennale, Art Jog, and Art Stage Jakarta (launched in August 2016 and firmly placing Indonesia on the international map) all provide stand out examples of the dynamic energy and diversity that Indonesian Arts are contributing to the world stage.
What excites you the most about the art in Yogyakarta?
The range of creativity across multiple disciplines in Yogya, more than any other Indonesian city, has a quiet creativity which honours the traditional and celebrates the avant-garde, progressive, and more controversial arts.
What would you like to see change with regard to consumers’ perception and consumption of art?
Art can be an intimidating arena for many and education is key. In Singapore, many haven’t had the fortune of growing up as gallery goers. I would like to see a greater exposure to a more diverse range of arts. As the government has also acknowledged the necessity to make art more accessible, I am excited that the upcoming generation will have an appreciation for art in many forms, as well as a desire to acquire pieces that they enjoy and build collections that are diverse. Hopefully, this will create a market here where boundaries can be pushed thus broadening our enjoyment and acceptance of a wider range of art practices, conservative to cutting edge and controversial! We can only grow as consumers if our exposure across the board is broadened.
Could you tell us about your sources of inspiration?
Travel has always been my main source of inspiration. Interacting with artists and discovering their motivation behind the works they create, gives us the opportunity to understand cultural meaning and significance, as well as anchoring a piece of art to a place and time in my life.
I am inspired to run art tours because I particularly love helping clients enjoy that experience too.
Having lived in the UK, Australia and now Singapore, how does art appreciation (and preferences) differ from country to country?
In Europe, we are incredibly fortunate to have a wealth of significant art collections that span the ages.
Australian artists, not surprisingly, took great insight from Europe, but geographical isolation also played a part. However, I believe particularly since the 1960’s practices, styles and inspirations for Australian artists have expanded on a global scale and they are creating world class art.
I was amazed to read that in comparison Singapore’s first art museum SAM was only established in 1996. Focus until relatively recently was placed on different areas of academia, and inspiration limited to more SE Asian references Art appreciation isn’t as established and prevalent here yet, but it is catching up fast. It is a very exciting time for SEA Arts, especially in Singapore where the government is reinforcing its importance at a national level.
Describe your personal art collection in three words.
Eclectic, diverse, meaningful
Contact Anna to join the forthcoming Guided Art Tour in Yogyakarta with Henny Scott, an Indonesian Art Consultant, on November 15-18 2016