THINK international art and the mind can wander from extraordinary masterpieces to gallery theft and cultural espionage.
For Nicole Jelecich, a global art consultant who has opened contemporary art and customised furniture showroom Brenner Studio in Newcastle West, these things are hardly a stretch of imagination.
Raised in New Zealand by an architect father and ‘‘artsy’’ mother, Ms Jelecich studied fine arts before opening her first design store in Auckland.
Moving to Fiji, she sourced large murals and art works for luxury hotels including the Shangri-La Resort, before relocating to Hong Kong in 2000. ‘‘I helped set up the first contemporary art leasing company there, because until then there had only been traditional Chinese art,’’ she said.
Hired by corporates including Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Suncorp, she placed art pieces in offices and public spaces. ‘‘A lot of times it was about pushing the envelope, encouraging clients to choose something that didn’t become wallpaper,’’ she said.
During her 13-year Hong Kong stint, Ms Jelecich worked on seven-figure art contracts for the city’s wealthiest residents and recalls half a million dollars worth of sculptures ‘‘disappearing’’ as they were transported from storage to a luxury hotel.
Eighteen years abroad have made it tough to resettle in Newcastle, where her partner is based. But setting up Brenner Studio, the first retail offering in Hunter Design School founder Donna Burrell’s new design hub, has helped.
Ms Jelecich stocks an eclectic range of contemporary art, hand-blown glass jewellery from Venice’s famed Murano islands and is the only Australian stockist for Dutch custom-made furniture maker Leolux.
And what tips for those with a view to starting an art collection?
‘‘Buy what you love, not what other people think you should buy, and try to be adventurous. ‘‘ It can be good to purchase outside your comfort zone.’’