Twenty five year’s ago Amanda Love turned her back on a lucrative law career specialising in intellectual property to embrace the little-known field of contemporary art.
Today Love, who grew up in Wollongong, lives in a Woollahra mansion in Sydney’s trendy eastern suburbs surrounded by contemporary pieces including works by her good friend British artist Tracey Emin, as well as Patricia Piccinni, Damien Hirst and Isaac Julien, which she lends to galleries in Australia and across Europe.
“Art was always my primary passion at school and always my first love but being an intelligent child from a middle-class family it was not seen as a proper job,” says Love whose private clients include international rock stars. On the corporate front her customers range from QT Hotels, to the W Hotel, Hong Kong to European data giant, Global Switch.
So she invented a career where she didn’t have to compromise — art advisory.
“There were no art advisers 25 years ago, now there are hundreds. I wanted a career where I could devote myself to art every minute of every day. To use art as a way to engage with the world, and people. Dealing exclusively in art so as to become an expert in that field.”
Apart from her Sydney headquarters, Love has a small office in New York and spends six months overseas each year tending to her corporate and private clients, visiting the Hong Kong Art Fair, the Venice Biennale, the Basel Art Fair and on to Istanbul for the Biennale later in the year.
The daughter of an accountant and a photographic colourist, Love’s first career was with law firm Allens in Sydney.
“I was a good lawyer, better than most, but I was not a brilliant lawyer and I worked for someone who was — Bruce McWilliam.
“It was a time when Alan Bond and Kerry Packer were swapping television stations, and we would start work at 6.30am and finish at 11.30pm at which time I would be exhausted whereas Bruce would have more energy (when we finished work) than when we started.
“I realised that being brilliant at something involved more than just talent; one has to spend more time doing it than anyone else, and that time must give you energy, not take it away.”
Love says she was not keen on some of her clients. “You were working really hard for someone else and often you had to compromise.
“I did law because I could, working as a lawyer for 6-7 years, I dressed in Christian Lacroix and worked in an office with a view at the top of the MLC Centre. Then I was back at university with two children under two, greasy hair and track pants, writing my masters thesis in art history. My husband used to joke that he wondered what Hegel did for a day job.”
Love gave herself a couple of years to “reinvent” herself gaining a master of art history from the University of Sydney. She began taking on clients saying that her job was to understand what their taste is. “I tell them you must always choose art that moves you.”
Set on nearly 1000sq m in the heart of Woollahra, Love shares the mansion with her husband, the entrepreneur Andrew Love and their two daughters.
She bought the house in 1992 for $1.8 million, according to public records, buying it from television producer Henry Crawford.
At that stage, the house had an Espie Dodds Italian style extension, which ten years ago was replaced by a contemporary box designed by David Katon of the architectural firm, Burley, Katon, Halliday. Katon changed the floor plan and added a new winding signature staircase.
The house is unashamedly minimalist. “I don’t like stuff,” Love says. A Tracey Emin oil on linen called Girl Holding Piggybank is one of few adornments to the walls of the upstairs master bedroom suite.
Love says the house originally had one of Sydney’s few ballrooms, with a sprung floor. The room has since been converted into a vast lounge room hung with an Isaac Julien triptych called Green Screen Goddess and a solitary Bill Henson entitled Paris Opera Project.
Another feature is a series of Caroline Rothwell nickel-plated metal alloy works known as The Law of Unintended Consequences.
Artist Tracey Moffatt, who is representing Australia in the Venice Biennale this year, is another favourite. Scores of her prints line the hallways of the Love mansion.
“Contemporary art used to be quite marginal,” Love says.
“Now the whole world wants a piece of contemporary art and I have seen how it has evolved over time … it has been an incredible 25 years.”
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