I remember one experience I had was with a gallery which refused to sign contracts as a matter of course, which I somehow managed to go along with at the time. After the exhibition had finished and it was time for payment, I was informed that I had to pay most of the money that I was expecting from sales for the lavish production of catalogues and invitations that the gallery had sent out to their mailing list which numbered in the thousands. I was not informed that I would be paying for any of this up front and after some disagreements with the Gallery I was paid my money but I was never to show this exhibit at this venue again. I learned some valuable lessons from this, two of them being that you make sure you sign a contract and you agree on all terms before the exhibition begins.
Just the other day I was told by an artist friend of mine that following her having a successful exhibition in a reasonably major gallery in Sydney, this artist left a number of works in stock for a period of the year and when she asked for her percentage of sales after the year had taken place, the gallery director had the gall to tell her that she was going to be charged a storage fee for the works that she had left at the gallery, which in effect was to be covered by the sales of work that occurred during this time. I was appalled to hear this kind of practice taking place. She has since cut her ties with that gallery.
Now it’s not a case of all bad stories. Of course there are exceptions and this is why I mention these cases. In my experience I have had some of the most amazing connections and experiences with certain art galleries and their directors. I remember one art gallery director who had a premium gallery in Western Australia and I was a member of his stable. He knew I had a certain amount of debt at the time and wanted to see how I would make my art being completely free of debt and certain of a regular income. So he cleared my debts for me and put me on a retainer, which lasted for well over a year. During this time I ended up producing some work, which to this day I am still very proud of. It was critically acclaimed and helped to establish me at the time. I will always be grateful to this particular person for his kindness and generosity.