Stolen!!! Matthew Curtis’s constructed cobalt and cherry bowl (weighing in at 70kg.) Photograph Rob Little.
When do you know that you’ve really made it as an artist? Why, when your work has been targeted for a major robbery, of course. Not the common, naff shop-lifting scenario but the real deal; the smash and grab. Ex-Sydney-now-Canberra (well, Queanbeyan to be exact) glass artist Matthew Curtis was recently paid the greatest homage of his career to date when thieves ram-raided his solo exhibition at Axia Modern Art gallery in Melbourne. We kid you not. Fair dinkum! The robbers drove a truck (presumably) through the front of the gallery and grabbed three pieces before making off into the night.
Now anybody familiar with Matthew’s oeuvre will know that his recent work (featured in an article in Craft Arts International No. 69, 2007) is rather large and very heavy indeed (which pretty much explains why the crims stopped at three.) The items nabbed, in fact, were all contructed (plate) bowls that weighed in at 60kg, 70kg and 90 kg respectively, the man-handling of which would have been no mean feat. How excitement! The coppers apparently have no leads, but one imagines that the goods will be difficult to fence. Could this mean that a bold, new class of collector/connoisseur has arrived on the scene? And considerate, too, by all accounts - the raid was pulled the day before the exhibition was due to close, giving people plenty of opportunity to see the show before the snatch.
All terribly thrilling we thought, and Matthew, of course, has set a new benchmark of sorts. Undoubtably some members of the fraternity will now be spending many a sleepless night fretting over this most worrisome of professional conundrums: how successful and desireable is one’s work if nobody wants to nick it? Keep an eye out for nefarious trends……