By David Hulme & Brigitte Banziger, on 14-Jun-2012

Although Australian galleries are not featured in the hallowed halls of Art Basel, there is one presence not to be ignored, write David Hulme and Brigitte Banziger. Sydney gallery Sullivan & Strumpf are making an impact at Volta 8, the satellite fair with 81 galleries from around the world representing strong emerging contemporary talent.

Ursula Sullivan of Sullivan & Strumpf with artist Sam Leach at the satellite fair Volta 8 in Basel.

In many ways this is a more manageable event to absorb all the art on display, and it complements Art Basel well, providing similar quality although with a lot lower price points. Telling from the large number of chauffeur-driven limousines rolling up from Art Basel to Volta 8, VIP visitors also seem to want to pick up a bargain piece of quality contemporary art before the artist and gallery make it into Art Basel proper.

Ursula Sullivan of Sullivan & Strumpf spoke about the sometimes rigorous schedule of art fairs, especially when you have young children, as both she and her business partner Joanna Strumpf do. This doesn’t stop them from taking their artists far and wide to the Korean International Art Fair in September 2011, and this year to Art Stage Singapore, Art Hong Kong and now Volta 8 in Basel,  an exhausting and expensive exercise, especially when a hotel room comes in at over $600 as it does in Basel during the fair.

But it is clearly worth it, as Sullivan comments. "Art fairs are working very well for us, and our artists are keen to be part of the international conversation. It is really about how can we take our artists to the next level."

What does she think of Art Basel taking a majority stake in Art Hong Kong? "Magnus Renfrew has done an amazing job in taking Art Hong Kong to its current position, and Art Basel will supply a lot of knowledge, expertise and of course prestige to this already great event on the art fair calendar."

Sullivan continues: "This was our first application to a fair at Basel and we are of course very pleased to be accepted straight away.“ As with Art Basel, exhibitors for Volta are selected by a curatorial board, comprising of four members.

"Our show here with Sam Leach is proving to be very successful, with a great deal of additional interest in his work, just as we had with his sell-out show in Hong Kong in 2011." The show is titled The Civilising Process and uses a juxtaposition of modern form on to a background after Dutch 16th century artist Cornelius van Dalem.

Sullivan & Strumpf was founded in 2005, and since then, these art market veterans have built an impressive stable of Australian contemporary artists, including Juan Ford, Sam Jinks, Darren Sylvester, eX de Medici, Australian abstraction pioneer Sydney Ball, and sculptor Alex Seton who had his own sell-out show at Art Hong Kong this year in May.

About The Author

David Hulme is a fine art appraiser and an approved valuer for the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program. He and Brigitte Banziger are principals of Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants, Manly, NSW and are members of the Art Consulting Association of Australia.