AN interview with our West Coast client services director, Jacqui Dixon
In anticipation of our upcoming Vancouver-based auction, Waddington’s West: Canadian Art from Private Collections, we sat down with Jacqui Dixon, our Director of Client Services in Vancouver, to discuss her favourites from the auction, why she moved from Sydney to the West Coast of Canada, the words of wisdom she uses to guide her in business and more…
How did you end up working in the arts?
Was it something you always knew you wanted to DO?
Originally hailing from Australia, I graduated with a degree in Art History from Sydney University. At that time, my aspiration was to open a small art gallery. I knew that I wanted to combine my love of art with business, a choice that was in part inspired by my father, an entrepreneur. After doing some volunteer work with art museums, I suspected that I needed a role within the art world that was more fast-paced and business oriented. After a few twists and turns, I began working in business development in several different industries. After moving to Vancouver, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Waddington’s and re-enter a field that I was so passionate about.
What brought you to Vancouver?
I was one of the many Aussies who worked at Whistler in the 1990s, and fell in love with the beauty of the West Coast. Vancouver’s proximity to mountains, rainforest and ocean just blows you away. Little wonder that the landscape has inspired so many amazing artists. When my family had the chance to move here in 2003 on a three-year contract, we jumped at the chance. Seventeen years later, we’ve never looked back.
Tell us what we should look forward to in the Vancouver auction in September.
It truly displays the diversity of art from across the country, though there is an emphasis on West Coast art. Artists in the auction include Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, Toni Onley, Roy Arden, Stephen Waddell, Graham Gillmore, Karin Bubas, Attila Lukacs, Robert Genn, Beau Dick, Bill Reid and Robert Davidson. The Rockies and Prairies are represented by some fine works by Dorothy Knowles, Alfred and Barbara Leighton. Look for some Inuit art too! We have work by Kenojuak Ashevak, Tim Pitseolak, Sheouak Petaulassie, and Toonoo Sharkey. For anyone looking to start a collection, this sale has some great pieces at accessible price points. There is a lot of great work to see, but because we are not having public previews at this time, Vancouver buyers should arrange a private appointment to view specific artworks in person.
What are three of your favourite pieces from the auction?
If you could own any piece of art sold by Waddington’s over the years what would it be?
I discovered a passion for Inuit Art since moving in Canada, so I would have to say Kenojuak Ashevak’s “Enchanted Owl.” It is truly a masterpiece. Coincidentally, Waddington’s will be auctioning another print in the series during our live Inuit Art auction on September 16.
What is your favourite part about the auction business and/or your role in it?
I truly love my job and think that every position I held in the past prepared me for this. First and foremost, I love building relationships with collectors to discuss their interests and learn more about them and their passions. I also enjoy assisting people to downsize their collections and
then getting to see the work move into other spaces to be loved again. And the art! I am lucky to be able to temporarily enjoy the artwork when they are consigned. It really satisfies the soul.
Tell us something that the general public wouldn’t know about your job
People think the artworld is so glamorous, but really, there is a lot of heavy lifting, travel and administrative work. However, I get to see some extraordinary collections and pieces—think woolly mammoth bones, ancient Egyptian artifacts, and valuable works of art hidden in the back of closets.
If you could sit down with one person in the artworld who would it be and why?
Gordon Appelbe Smith, a superb Vancouver artist and mentor to many younger artists. Unfortunately, he passed away in January of this year, and I was not fortunate enough meet him in person. He had an outstanding career and lived to 100!
Best art exhibition that you have seen?
Too many to choose from, but I was fortunate enough to attend the Venice Biennale last summer. The winner of the festival’s top award, the Golden Lion, was called “Sun and Sea (Marina)” from the Lithuanian pavilion. Set on a faux beach, it was more of a performance piece, a live modern “opera” on global warming. It gave me one of those rare out-of-body experiences. You can watch clips of it on YouTube.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received?
“Sell with noble purpose.” Always sell with the client’s best interest at heart. All business must be seen as a long game, a life’s work. The relationships forged with clients are the most important thing.
What is the best advice you could give to someone wanting to enter the art world or auction business?
Like any industry, be prepared to work hard and stay determined, ask lots of questions and never pretend that you are an expert in anything that you’re not!
Favourite book about art?
“Seven Days in the Art World” by Sarah Thornton.
Favourite movie about art?
I love documentaries, so it would be a toss up between Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” and “Gerhard Richter Painting.”
Who are a few of your favourite contemporary artists?
Vancouver is small and tightly knit, making for a supportive and defined art scene. Many Vancouver artists have gained worldwide attention, particularly in the field of photo-conceptualism: Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ian Wallace, Ken Lum, Roy Arden, Stephen Waddell, Stan Douglas to name a few. However, my favourite artists working today would be three Indigenous Canadians: Brian Jungen, Sonny Assu and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Each combines traditional motifs with popular culture in their own unique way so as to challenge social and historical values.
Favourite places to eat in Vancouver and abroad?
I have been spoiled by the culinary riches of the Sydney restaurant scene. When I go back to visit, I always like to dine in any restaurant by Justin Hemmes or Neil Perry. Vancouver has the best salmon in the world, so I like to eat sushi at least once a week. Zen in West Vancouver is a favourite. I also like to explore Richmond for great Chinese food.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’ve turned into a total Vancouverite – hiking, yoga, daytrips to the beach and skiing in the winter.
Describe yourself in three words
Passionate, determined and curious.
Thank you, Jacqui!
About the Auction
Waddington’s West: Canadian Art from Private Collections, will be offered online September 19-24. The full gallery can be viewed by clicking here.
Please contact Jacqui at [email protected] for condition reports or to book a preview appointment. Health and safety protocols are in place.
All artworks are located in Vancouver and shipping is the responsibility of the successful bidder.