I’m not sure what this position description might entail but I do know I could come up with the goods.
Lately like Banksy has pointed out, we exit through the gift shop after the exhibition. This is a prime opportunity to nicely pilfer some extra funds from unsuspecting exhibition goers. The connection to the exhibition is becoming more abstract in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love a souvenir and if the galleries make extra that’s great. I’ve been pilfered myself and really don’t mind.
I read a wonderful article by the buyer for the Chinese Warrior exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW where they went to China to source wonderful garden statues. Wow! I thought to myself. That is fun and interesting. I guess it’s like all jobs there are sure to be downfalls, like excess baggage.
The recent visit to the NGA for the Renaissance had me lining up with my feeble few postcards. Ahead of me a middle-aged couple had a Costco-type accumulation of framed print, pasta sauce and jewellery. Behind me parents excitedly grabbed junior pizza making gifts. I was tempted by a gilded gnome stool,the type you sit on,not the sort you would see at Mona.
As I stood in line I began to feel like a pretentious twat-was I deliberately looking like an artist by not having some sort of token in addition? Would I purchase a catalogue? No, I did however like one book on Titian but it wasn’t a Titian exhibition, I couldn’t physically reach the gilded gnome without toppling the arrangement of Vespa riding dachshunds amid jars of olives from the old country- Queanbyan, so I picked up a tea towel. It was black and gold and looked the part. I could be taking it as a gift for Nanna (if I had one). In fact it would go quite nicely with my other gift shop purchases over the years.
I have thought about a concentrated effort to purchase one consistent item at each exhibition, a snowglobe? Fiona Hall had a howler in the MCA gift shop. Maybe fridge magnets? Or rulers? I gathered together a few odds and ends I’ve picked up and realised they are quite different so it may be better to be open. You never know when you can get a gilded gnome stool.