The Test of Time

Gallerist Fran Clark and artist Julie Rrap tell us the single most
important thing about their relationship that has given it longevity.

 J U L I E   R R A P 

“Her joie de vivre” 

I first met Fran when I was showing with the Robert Lindsay Gallery in Melbourne. This very attractive woman with a mane of long dark hair swept into the gallery…and as they say, the rest is history! I forget how long we have worked together as Fran has been so consistently in my life; not just my art-life but as a very dear friend, so it’s hard to remember a time when she wasn’t there. The balance of friendship and a working relationship can be fraught, but somehow Fran and I have managed to negotiate any differences with respect. Artists need to believe in their own vision of the world and a gallerist needs to be able to come on the ride, but their input can provide invaluable guidance when the ride gets a bit bumpy. 

Anyone who knows Fran would acknowledge her amazing work ethic, her great sense of humour and joie de vivre. I think the fact that Fran was previously an accomplished ceramics artist has provided a perfect foundation for this deeper engagement with both the making and thinking processes of art. 

Featured Image: Julie Rrap in her studio, Ghent, Belgium, c.1990. 

 F R A N   C L A R K 

“Her directness” 

Julie is one of Australia’s most outstanding practitioners in contemporary art today. When I met her in the late 1990s, it was one of those formidable experiences you have in life. Prepared to meet one of the most impressive artists, it is fair to say that I was excited albeit a touch self-conscious. Yet Julie’s passion for art – for making, talking, reading and writing about it – meant that I was instantly at ease, completely riveted by her warm and generous nature. Of course, she did not arrive at the centre of the art world for nothing. She is highly intelligent and erudite. A dream to work with. 

We share a respect that is underpinned by a great care for each other’s way of working. Julie has always supported me with solid counsel. She can be relied upon to offer positive, thoughtful responses to difficult issues and (of course) has lateral ways of visualising and reimaging any obstacle. 

Julie is loaded with surprise and humour, something I treasure in this exceptional individual. It’s a rare and refreshing quality in an art world that is conscious of its own importance. Over the 24 years that I have represented her practice, we have spoken a lot and discussed many things. We skip the small talk and go right to the things that matter: modes of thought, moods, reflections, experiences and how art forms and reforms human expressions. 

I greatly value Julie’s clarity of thought and originality. Her directness is her signature, and I truly believe this personal raison d’être has changed and rewritten Australian art history. Julie is an artist who is studied in universities and high schools. Her considered and consistent subjects are so easy to identify, yet so substantial and moving. 

Featured Image: Fran Clark at her solo exhibition, Melbourne, 1984. Courtesy: ARC ONE Gallery, Melbourne.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 101, July – September 2022. 


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