Cassandra Lehman-Schultz has some great advice for investors, collectors and gallery curators seeking the “next big thing” on the Australian art scene: don’t miss the Griffith University Queensland College of Art’s 2013 graduate exhibitions.

This week sees the opening of two graduate showcases: the Fine Art Graduate Exhibition (November 29-December 5) and The GAS: Graduate Art Show (November 28-December). Both are at Griffith’s South Bank campus.

In art, even the Old Masters were once newcomers looking for their big break and it’s a similar scenario for this year’s QCA graduates.

“This is where our graduates are showcased before they try to make it in the art world. They are saying farewell to student life and taking the first steps of their professional careers,” Ms Lehman-Schultz said.

“Not everyone will be fortunate enough to secure the patronage of investors, collectors or galleries, but experience shows these exhibitions can contain some real treasures.

Wilderness 9,  2013, by Kate McKay. Oil on board, 20.5cm x 15cm. Finalist in The GAS: Graduate Art Show 2013 and The Survey Co. Art Prize

Wilderness 9, 2013, by Kate McKay.
Oil on board, 20.5cm x 15cm. Finalist in The GAS: Graduate Art Show 2013 and The Survey Co. Art Prize

“The artists set their own prices and so it’s an opportunity to own something by an artist whose career — and the value of their work – might be about to take off.”

Ms Lehman-Schultz said the graduate exhibitions were as significant for galleries as the artists, particularly when identifying and deciding to represent emerging talent.

“Galleries have their own reputations to uphold and so it’s a big decision to take on a young artist. They’ll be looking at the work very carefully,” she said.

“For the artists, this just might be their big opportunity. After years of study, critiquing and honing their skills, they are ready to be launched.

“In the past, people could have bought extraordinary bargains from QCA graduates now forging important and admired careers. They include Michael Zavros, Tony Albert, Kirra Jamieson, Karla Marchesi, Karen Black and others.”

Ms Lehman-Schultz said new investors should be guided by a personal response to art.

“You want to fall in love with a piece, display it in your home and have an ongoing dialogue with it. That’s why collecting begins with your heart.”

Fine Art Graduate Exhibition, incorporating Bachelor of Fine Art, Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons), Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art and Master of Arts in Visual Arts (Fine Art). November 29-December 5. 10am-4pm daily. South Bank campus.

The GAS Graduate Art Show and The Survey Co. Art Award. November 28-December 5. 11am-4pm daily. Griffith University Art Gallery, South Bank campus.