For the Love of Art: Our Collection of Robert Hague’s Plates

We love the space we work in, and our feedback from clients when they visit us is always glowing! Bayston Group recently purchased a second piece of art from Melbourne Artist, Robert Hague.

The first was called Natives on the River (after Glover). The hand-coloured lithograph sits above our couch in the lounge area of our office. This painting captures Aboriginal people “dwelling in a prelapsarian innocence on the country, uninterrupted by the progression of colonisation in Australia for decades” (Robert’s words, not ours).

Ron Robertson-Swann’s sculpture, “The Vault”, features at the centre of the plate. The Vault was disparagingly called “The Yellow Peril”, which reference has its own cultural and social history. The Vault is currently installed outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank. It moved there from our nearby Batman Park in 2002. It is a key work in Melbourne’s public art collection. It wasn’t always so, however – it was commissioned after winning a competition in 1978 for the newly built Melbourne City Square. It was attacked by media and council factions who thought the $70,000 was excessive and that it was unsympathetic to its environment. The controversy surrounding the Vault is a fascinating part of Melbourne’s history and that of Australia and its relationship with modern art. Read more about it here. Its juxtaposition in this piece struck us as both poignant and witty.

Our recent purchase from Robert is called 100 Years (after Guo Jian). The inspiration for this painting came from Robert’s trip to Beijing in 2017, where he met with his dear friend Guo Jian and extensively discussed art, ideologies and Chinese history. In the art piece, there is a man whom Robert refers to as Tank Man gazing at the landscape. The landscape is said to be ‘bleeding’ and captured within a wreath of poppy flowers. Robert says that he dreamt that Tank Man survived, lived a happy life and watches over us in the Chinese Mountains. Consistent with his work on the ‘Plate Series’, the image is centred on a porcelain plate which Robert explains is an object that marks time, place and set of values.

The Plate series is a series of lithographs of decorative Victorian dinnerware on a cotton rag paper. If you look closely at the art pieces, you will notice that the plates are broken in several areas but have been mended back together. The art of restoring broken things is an ancient practice known as Kintsugi, which originated in Japan. Kintsugi means ‘golden joinery’ or ‘to patch with gold’ which is a custom of repairing cracked pottery with real gold which fixes the breaks but also dramatically increases the value of the item. Robert has uniquely incorporated the art of Kintsugi in his lithographic pieces as well as reconfiguring high art, low art, craft and history as a self-referential discourse of art made from art. In 2016 the complete ‘plate series’ was acquired by the National Gallery of Australia so we feel like we are in good company.

The process also reminds us of the way we work at Bayston Group (with apologies to the artist). There may be cracks in your business in terms of legal risk. We would love to catch up and discuss IP protection, customer agreements, supplier agreements, employment relations issues and much more. Where we find a crack – we can help, let Bayston Group glue your precious asset together with gold.