Q&A with Dr Terry Wu

This month we interview Dr Terry Wu, collector, an indefatigable advocate for the arts, and NAVA Board Member, Terry endeavours to contribute to the wellbeing of artists and visual art in Australia. Terry serves as a Board Director of Heide Museum of Modern Art and supports institutions and events including the National Gallery of Victoria, The Melbourne Festival, Sydney Biennale and the new Australian Pavilion for Venice Biennale.

You are part of a circle of collectors who are also major advocates for the arts. Beyond acquiring artwork, what role can collectors play in advocating for the visual arts and why do think this is important?

I believe collectors have the privilege and responsibility to act as advocates for the visual arts community. This can be achieved in various ways depending on the financial means and time available. It is always a joy to share the collection with as wide an audience as possible. Whilst lending works to shows at public institutions is the most obvious deed, by simply showing and talking about the artworks to family, friends and work associates can also have a wide-reaching ripple effect.

You are described as part of a new breed of collectors who engage in understanding the process of artists and who support the artists’ journey through their career. As your understanding evolves how has this affected the work you collect?

The key result is the desire to collect in-depth and to acquire works throughout the artist's career. I have gained a deeper understanding of a particular artist's oeuvre by following and collecting over the long haul.

As an ambassador for Melbourne Art Fair last year, how do you think the rise of the art fair encourages greater dialogue between artists, commercial galleries, and the public?

The rise of art fairs are, thankfully, beyond just commercial success. Melbourne Art Fair is overseen by the non-profit organisation Melbourne Art Foundation. By commissioning artworks, devising innovative shows of varying media, participating in public art projects, staging informative panel talks, art fairs provide the perfect counterpoint to public institutions.

Last year you launched 12 affordable studio spaces for artists and designers, John Street Studios in Brunswick East, Melbourne. What propelled you to set up this initiative and how has the experience been so far?

The lack of quality and affordable studio spaces for artists is a topic that has often come up in conversations I have had with the Melbourne arts community. The rent has become as prohibitive as house prices. I felt that this situation needed attention as quality studio spaces are most essential for an artist's practice. I wanted to set up an example of where people can invest in the arts community in the most immediate and effective fashion. So far John Street Studios has proven to be successful beyond my expectations. The studio artists have settled in well and produced artworks that have been shown in ARIs, commercial galleries and institutions, some for the first time. I am heartened that the studios have assisted in launching some of the artists' careers.

Above image: John Street Studios, Brunswick East, Melbourne

Dr Terry Wu

Dr Terry Wu