Creamy Psychology - collector Simon Robinson

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Medical specialist Simon Robinson is the owner of Morton, one of the works in our upcoming exhibition Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology. He spoke with curator Kelly Carmichael about his art collection and what his patients think about this beige-suited beauty...


I hear you’ve had Morton hanging in your office. How do your patients react to him?
Morton was the second piece of Yvonne’s that I bought and I thought it was hilarious. But I have to say that view hasn’t been shared by most of my patients. It does generate a lot of discussion and interest though. It's a great way to develop a conversation that isn’t necessarily focused just on a medical problem. I think it helps to develop a really good patient doctor relationship.

Yvonne Todd has a thing about encasing the neck and many of her portraits have Victorian high-necked dresses. How does Morton’s clammy medical collar make you feel?
To be honest I have never really thought of it as a clammy medical collar and I actually don’t know what it means, but it is funny and it goes along with his whole nude suit look. Sadly some patients thought it was a photograph of me after an accident!

What first drew you to Todd’s photography?
I find Yvonne’s work incredibly funny and weird and compelling, all at the same time. It's wonderful art to live with as it always makes you guess what is actually going on and usually you never quite understand it, which is perfect.

Tell me about when you started buying art, what you collect and why...
There was always an interest in art in our house. Both my parents are avid art collectors and that rubbed off to some degree. When it came to developing my own collection, a lot of early inspiration came from discussions I had with Peter McLeavey. We formulated a concept of buying New Zealand art as a way of supporting artists, as much as collecting. So in respect to that, our collection is a mixture of New Zealand and international emerging contemporary art. The focus is on artists who are in that early to mid career.

What makes the light go on in your eyes? What turns that 'have to have it' switch in your brain?
I want to be surrounded by art that I don’t quite get! Art that isn’t particularly obvious when I first look at it, but often makes me think about things and plays on my mind.  One thing I have learnt is that if a piece in a show has already been purchased, and that’s the piece you love, then you have to be patient and wait for another piece to come up in the future - and not be tempted to buy your second choice.

Kelly Carmichael, Curator, Special Projects.