From Andrew Frost…
Virginia Wilson. Portrait by Gary Grealy.
It’s with great sadness that I note the passing of a good friend, Virginia Wilson. As an art consultant, art adviser and broker, who worked with artists, business and government, she helped devise site-specific works for new building projects, adding the work of the artists to corporate and private collections, while acting as an agent for the sale of hand-picked works to a small group of dedicated collectors. She collaborated with a wide range of contemporary artists but only pursued projects where she loved the work herself, letting her passion, enthusiasm, and keen eye guide her. Her corporate projects often included works that were created for the space, turning offices into galleries.
In 2006, Virginia invited me to visit her at her office/gallery in Darlinghurst with the idea that I’d curate a show for her window space. After Ironic Expressionism was staged that year, we soon became friends beyond our professional relationship, with Virginia often accompanying me on the twice-monthly rounds of commercial and artist-run galleries that formed the basis of The Art Life’s original reviews. Virginia had a great eye for art, and a nose for art world bullshit, and her candid opinions often helped form my own views of the art we were seeing. Once, over a post-gallery visit coffee, we were 30 minutes into a conversation when she observed that we hadn’t discussed art or the art world – instead we had covered politics, books and movies – and that we could be real friends.
Many who knew Virginia were struck by her inimitable sense of personal style. Born and raised in the central western NSW town of Forbes, she combined an earthy, country attitude and straightforwardness with a sophisticated world view that, to me, seemed the epitome of a genuine and caring nature. She drew her formidable knowledge of art and the business of art from her time working in commercial galleries and auction houses, before starting Virginia Wilson Art. At her memorial service at Artspace in Sydney, she was remembered as a charismatic presence with a disarmingly honest point of view, a woman with a trademark smile, and an ability to make long term friendships from passing acquaintances. Perhaps more than150 people had gathered to remember her. She died after a long battle with cancer. She was 52.