Katie Mergelas works in our Appraisals and Consignments department. Katie earned her master’s degree in Art History from Queen’s University where she focused on the depiction of Canadian identity in funerary monuments after the First World War and developed an affinity for early 20th century Canadian art. She comes to Waddington’s after working with a Toronto-based conservation studio, where she assisted with a number of high-profile projects including the restoration of Michael Snow’s iconic Flight Stop, prominently displayed in the Eaton Centre.
As Katie recently joined the Waddington’s team, we’re delighted to introduce her to you in more depth. We sat down to talk about how she came to work in the arts, how to consign to auctions, and the joy of watching artworks outperform their estimates.
How did you end up working in the arts? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
I always wanted to work in a creative field but I didn’t know exactly where I would end up. A pivotal moment for me was a summer program I did in university that saw our class travel to Venice for six weeks for the 2017 Biennale. In addition to learning about the Biennale as a whole, we worked as docents for Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion, curated by Kitty Scott. That was the first time that I got to learn about the art world outside of the classroom and it taught me so much about the different opportunities that are out there. When I finished my master’s degree a few years later, it was a friend I had made on that trip who offered me my first job in the arts: an administrative role at an art conservation studio. That role allowed me to marry my interest in and passion for art history that I had cultivated in school with more practical administrative skills that I use every day. I feel very lucky to be able to continue working in the arts now that I’m here at Waddington’s.
What do you look for when it comes to accepting works to auction at Waddington’s?
I think of my role at Waddington’s as the point of connection between potential consignors and the specialists in each of our eight departments. The choice to accept works is at the specialist’s discretion, but I always do some preliminary research when I pass along inquiries. I look at things like if Waddington’s has sold anything by the artist before, the overall market for their work, and a work’s condition, which can all impact our decision making.
If someone is interested in consigning, what do they need to do to get an auction estimate?
If you have a few items – say five or less – you should fill out our consignment form. It’s designed to elicit all the information our specialists need to provide an auction estimate. If you have a larger collection, you are welcome to reach out to me directly to discuss. Including such information as a written inventory list, images, and dimensions of the works you would like us to evaluate helps us to hit the ground running.
Do you collect yourself? What is a favourite piece from your collection?
I have a number of pieces that were made by my family and friends but my formal art collection is in its infancy. My favourite pieces would be a Joe Talirunili stone cut that hung in my grandparents’ home for more than 60 years, and a contemporary print by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber that I bought using my first paycheque from my first full-time job.
Is there something you are looking forward to accomplishing at Waddington’s?
It always feels like an accomplishment when something I help to bring in does well at auction. One of the first consignments I helped to bring in sold for more than quadruple its high estimate which felt almost as satisfying to me as I’m sure it did for the consignor.