Meet our new Director of Canadian Fine Art! Some of you might know Liz Edwards from her time spent heading Waddington’s Consignments and Appraisals department, and we’re proud to announce that she is bringing her decades of expertise to a new role. To mark the move, we sat down with Liz to ask her a few questions.
Hi Liz! Many of our clients already know you well, but for those who don’t, could you tell us a bit about your background?
Like a lot of people in the arts, I’ve made my way along a windy path of art-related careers. I cut my teeth working in the public sector in museums starting with cataloguing and moving into project management and curatorial work. I worked on some pretty interesting projects including the renovated galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and some early online exhibitions (when that was a new thing!) at the Bata Shoe Museum. I had a short stint working with an art shipper, which taught me many practical skills that I still use on a daily basis. I was Executive Director at the Art Dealers Association of Canada for eight years where I gained a deep knowledge of the Canadian art market and its many players, and the opportunity to build a really solid network.
Before moving into the Canadian Art Department at Waddington’s, I had the privilege of leading the Consignments and Appraisals Department which has included managing large projects and proposals and securing major collections, as well as working closely with clients to provide a bespoke service.
Was working in the arts something you always knew you wanted to do?
I think I knew I would work in the arts in some way, shape or form, but I didn’t know what it would look like. I’ve always loved the arts in general, but I really came to the visual arts via a love of history; my undergraduate degree was in Greek and Roman art history and archaeology. I am attracted to what art tells us about social context and the human condition. I feel very lucky to be able to do this every day, handling and learning about so many incredible artworks and sharing them with others.
What are your three favourite pieces from the upcoming Canadian and International Fine Art auction?
That is a tough one! There are so many brilliant works in this auction. We have pieces created by artists working from coast to coast, with excellent provenance spanning from pre-Confederation to the contemporary period. I am particularly fond of the very charming View of the Barracks at Fredericton from the Collection of Sir Christopher and Lady Ondaatje, Rita Letendre’s hard-edged Untitled from 1976 and Edward Burtynsky’s Nickel Tailings #30.
Do you collect art yourself? What is a favourite piece from your collection?
I wouldn’t characterise myself as a collector, or at least not a disciplined one, but my husband and I do have a few original works that we love and we buy things from all kinds of market places. One special item is a work on paper from Sorel Etrog’s Hinges Suite, which was a tenth wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. I also have a penchant for portraits so have a few strangers hanging around the house.
What can clients expect from the Canadian art department for the final few months of the year? Is there something you are looking forward to accomplishing as head of the Canadian Art department?
Our strategy is to present our auctions in collaboration with our International art department, as there is so much cross over in collecting interests. I’m excited about our auctions this fall, Editions and Canadian and International Fine Art which both include major private collections. I plan to continue to develop our client base of individuals, estates, corporations and institutions with the aim to bring the best of Canadian art to auction while also expanding our reach to new buyers and strengthening our partnerships in the broader community. I’m very lucky to work with a knowledgeable and motivated team all working toward the same goal. One the best parts of my job is working with clients, hearing their stories and helping to meet their needs, so lots more of that, too.
What advice would you give to new collectors or those new to the world of auctions?
If you are a new collector, really take some time to look at what’s out there and figure out what you like and what speaks to you. Go to galleries, auction previews and public exhibitions and note what you keep going back to. When you are ready to buy, aim for the upper end of what your budget will allow – and yes, a budget is advisable – and always, always buy what you love. Bidding at auction is a different kind of thrill compared to buying something off the wall. Part of that is the competitive nature of it. Once you get the bug, you can’t stop!