With a background in archeology, fine art and law, Jane Raffan is a Renaissance woman of the art world.
© Jane Raffan
How would you describe what an art consultant does?
Apart from my love of art, I love words. Stephen Fry, quoting Oscar Wilde, described career aspirations in terms of nouns versus verbs: “If you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it … but if you never know, then you can be anything … we are not nouns, we are verbs ...” This perfectly describes arts consultancies, the foci of which are as varied as the skillsets of their principals.
How did you become an art consultant?
Educated in archaeology, fine arts and law (ethical dealing in art and cultural heritage), and with broader interests still, my expertise is very much about doing, not being. I’ve worked in collection management at the Art Gallery of NSW, in high level operations and as an art specialist in the auction industry, as radio producer/presenter of multi-disciplinary arts shows, and as a writer for art industry publications. My consultancy enables me to indulge interests that would otherwise be left to pastimes, and consultancy highlights have included discoveries and value-add identifications for clients made while cloaked in the guise of detective, conservator, analyst, academic and cryptographer.
Tell us about a notable moment from your career?
During one audit of superfluous Queensland state government assets, I discovered a rare museum-quality drawing by a now renowned Aboriginal printmaker, and elsewhere identified early 20th century frottages from NSW rock engravings. On the same project, I retrieved valuable ceramics and art glass by notable 20th century makers tucked away in kitchenettes. Currently, I’m working with a newly merged NSW state government super department to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the art collection drawn from across former agencies, and help create new engagement and a sense of place.
Working with collectors is more of a deep dive. Very rewarding interpersonal journeys with entirely different consultancy modus operandi; my book profiling Pat Corrigan’s collection, for one.
As for future goals: continue to be open to new opportunities, new learning and discoveries.
To be, or not to be, that is the question...