An artful legacy

My dear friend Wendy invited me to a very special art exhibition last night.

The estate of her husband’s father, Michael Hobbs OAM (pictured below), has donated works from his extensive collection for auction to support the gallery he helped found – Artspace in Wolloomoolloo.

As the Artspace website notes: “Michael’s love for Australian art was unwavering throughout his life. He was a great supporter of the careers of many Australian artists, often providing critical support early on.

“The collection is a cross section of Michael’s diverse collecting sensibility, including modernist and contemporary works by Australian artists from Alex Seton, Susan Norrie and Koji Ryui, to Peter Kingston, Fred Williams and Kerrie Lester, as well as international artists such as Katharina Grosse, Joseph Beuys and Craigie Aitchison.”

According to Michael’s children Andrew, Neil, Christopher and Katharine, their father’s outlook was: His collection was an investment in people and life. The person behind the work was always more important than the work. What mattered was supporting the artist and sharing the work with as many people as possible. It’s one of the reasons he was such a prolific benefactor of galleries across New South Wales. We intend to do the same in his honour.

I went to a preview of the exhibition, which is on view at Artspace until March 9, from 12-5pm daily.

Wendy and Andrew asked their friends along to sip champagne and enjoy the works. I was a bit worried I’d have no one to talk to/at, so I asked the eldest to come with me.

I was completely delusional.

I’d forgotten that 50-year-old me can talk underwater to anyone and everything. I chatted to a continuous parade of strangers while the eldest lurked around eating free Bounty bars and wondering why the hell they were there.

I had such a lovely time.

Wendy (above) gave a wonderful speech about her father-in-law, which reminded me that it’s such a pity we often only learn about people’s fascinating lives after they’ve gone.

Michael’s apartment (above) was literally crammed with the works of the artists he supported and they played a part in the many social occasions he hosted in his home.

I also got to thank Wendy’s daughter Phoebe for minding my dogs while I was in Melbourne. She said they were such delightful company that she ended up sleeping with them on the couch. The dogs would have been beside themselves with excitement to have a human to cuddle all night.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces from the exhibition:


A live auction of selected works will be held at Artspace on Saturday, March 9, from 4–6pm, while an online auction is being held through Paddle8, with bids offered via

I may have placed a small bid on a strange fish sculpture.

PS The eldest and I were quite entertained by this artwork we spotted on our way out of the gallery.

Song of the day: The Angels “Am I ever gonna see you face again?”


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