Henry Ergas: man of many parts

Henry Ergas.

http://images.imageslot.com/itm_members/3831/ftp/pictures/invite_nowlan_01.jpgHenry Ergas is in my pantheon of ‘most’ Australian economists. Of the Australian economists I’ve known, Glenn Withers knows most about Australian (and other countries’) public policy, John Quiggin is probably the cleverest and most academically and polemically productive, and Henry is the person whose most well read in economics that I know.

A conversation with Henry is usually both exhilarating and depressing. Exhilarating because you find out lots of things – often at a quite fundamental level, that you were unaware of in the literature. Depressing because you go away with about five or six books to read, one or two of them pretty compulsory, all of which Henry’s read and (what’s more) remembered closely.

Anyway I’ve always admired the sculptures and art works when I’ve visited the offices of Henry’s consulting company – which was Network Economics Consulting Group (NECG) till 2004 when Henry sold it to the Boston based international consulting company and boutique multinational Charles Rivers Associates – now renamed CRA International.

In a recent chat I asked about the artwork and Henry said that he collected the art of young Australian artists. I asked some more questions and it turned out he kept them in a warehouse in Fishwick. Quite the collector! Anyway, I’ve subsequently discovered, Henry was being modest! Following Joshua Gans link to Green Whiskers, a blog Henry started recently, I saw a link to the Ergas Collection.

Well, there it was in all it’s glory:

The Ergas Collection is a unique art concept, offering opportunities and support for the most interesting and challenging emerging artists in Australasia through acquisitions and grants for commissions to artists and supporting projects such as exhibitions or publications.

The Ergas Collection aims to feed into the visual arts world in an important and simple way, making things happen without many of the pressures and politics experienced by other funding organisations. It is also keeping studios open, and allowing curators to work without added financial pressure.

With a strong philanthropic philosophy, Ergas Collection helps to support young and yet-to-be recognised Australasian artists in the earliest phases of their careers, offering assistance to support artists who have developed their practice independently of traditional educational paths or who remain outside the art world mainstream.

The Ergas Collection is building a collection of more challenging and innovative art, archive and materials beyond simply works on a wall – clients of the Ergas Collection engage with a public program that may include curatorial and artist talks, information studio or gallery visits. The Collection will also undertake to document the artists’ ideas, materials and processes to preserve the crucial elements of an artist’s early career, which are so often lost and overlooked.

Works acquired by the Collection will be made available to be shown as part of curatorial projects and through other curators or galleries and through loan arrangements with clients.

As a non-profit organisation, Ergas Collection generates funds through creating access to the collection including a loans service, curatorial consultation and professional advice to individuals, companies, museums, and corporate organisations.

So there you go – enter the bright world the Ergas Collection. Complete with “a team of people who have long held particular interest in the works of artists early in their career. The team has a unique capability and passion to create this challenging collection and give the wider community an opportunity to experience works that are intelligent, often amusing and sometimes shocking. 1 Ergas Collection CEO, Glenn Barkley”.

There’s an Ergas Collection exhibition of Frank Nowlan’s work from this Wednesday till the 15th of March at the Sheffer Gallery, 38 Lander St, Darlington Sydney with an artist floor talk on the 8th March at 3.00 pm. The picture above is by Nowlan. I don’t live in Sydney so I won’t be there – but perhaps you will be.

I asked Henry for permission to mention the collection here and he enthusiastically agreed and added “I am especially interested in finding people who would have a public space (an office, restaurant or whatever) where they would like to exhibit some work — a basic problem is finding outlets for new artists and their work. We also support an outfit called Red Room, that sponsors poets — and that is even tougher!”

So please sing out if you can help.

Postscript: Henry is easily distinguished from his namesake Michael.

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Peter Marshall
Peter Marshall
16 years ago

Regarding the warehouse, it’s location would be Fyshwick, Nicholas, not “Fishwick”. See Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyshwick,_Australian_Capital_Territory.
(Yes, I am a pedant and I do live in the ACT!)

16 years ago

And what a delectable dissection he made of the Risk Society in his recent
Quadrant article Shelter from
the Storm: Reflections on the “Risk Society”

16 years ago

Thanks Nick – this link is so inspiring.
I’m tempted to contact him :)

Joshua Gans
16 years ago

And what a delectable dissection he made of the Risk Society in his recent
Quadrant article…

Not true. The Quadrant article missed Quiggin’s central point and misrepresented his position outrageously on state provision of services.