• Emma Bedford

    Emma Bedford

    Emma Bedford was Senior Curator at the South African National Gallery for 25 years, during which she curated many exhibitions of major artists such as Maggie Laubser, William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas. She developed the collection by driving the acquisitions of works by established artists as well as younger art stars like Moshekwa Langa, Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi. Bedford was the first Director of Goodman Gallery Cape where she worked closely with artists of the calibre of Robert Hodgins and Sue Williamson. She has developed an international profile through exhibitions curated for the Venice Biennale in 2001 and was the only South African curator invited to the International Curatorial Workshop at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2005. Bedford has 7 years’ experience as Senior Art Specialist at a leading South African auction house.
    emma@aspireart.net | +27 83 391 7235

  • Jacqui Carney

    Jacqui Carney

    Jacqui Carney graduated from Wits Art School with a BA in Fine Art. She joined a leading South African auction house where she became Head Cataloguer and Researcher, before being promoted to Art Specialist. She was involved in the entire ambit of client liaison, valuation, cataloguing, advertising strategies, design, clerking, telephone bidding and auction production. She has generously donated her time to the production and success of several charity auctions, such as World Wildlife Fund, Artist Proof Studios, Bag Factory and Wildlands.
    jacqui@aspireart.net | +27 71 675 2991

  • Mary-Jane Darroll

    Mary-Jane Darroll

    Mary-Jane Darroll, a Masters in Fine Art graduate from Wits University, is a former Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery and Corporate Collection. During her tenure at the Bank she was also Fine Art Coordinator of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Subsequently she was Head of the Paintings Department at Stephan Welz & Co and later a Director of the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. Following this she was a founder member and Executive Director of Strauss & Co and most recently Curator and Art Project Director at the Nirox Sculpture Park. She currently serves as a trustee of the Claire and Edoardo Villa Will Trust.
    mj@aspireart.net | +27 82 567 1925

  • Ruarc Peffers

    Ruarc Peffers

    Ruarc Peffers began at Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s where he progressed to become Director and Head of the Art Department. He studied at the University of Edinburgh graduating with a Master of Science degree in Modern Art: History, Curating and Criticism. He then joined the primary market with Blank Projects and the NGO field with the Visual Arts Network of South Africa. More recently he returned to the auction industry as Senior Art Specialist and Auctioneer for a leading South African auction house. He has worked on many local and international art fairs – most recently Frieze London and The Cape Town Art Fair and was also at the Goodman Gallery for a period. He regularly conducts charity auctions for Artist Proof Studios, ABSA, Art Angels, Bag Factory, the Cancer Association, Diane Victor, Lesley Perkes, Stop Sign Art Gallery, University of Stellenbosch and the Wits School of Art.
    ruarc@aspireart.net | +27 84 444 8004


About Aspire Art Auctions

2016 saw the birth of Aspire Art Auctions, a South African-based, specialist auctioneering company formed in the climate of the country’s rapidly growing art industry. At the core of Aspire is a small team with unequalled knowledge and experience in the South African art industry – the primary market, the secondary market, the museum industry, and historical and contemporary discourse. Our exclusive focus on art is forward-looking and ensures a greater relevance to today’s context. Targeting the upper end of the market, Aspire offers quality work by twentieth century practitioners, as well as identifying and presenting the strongest examples of contemporary art.

On 31 October 2016, Aspire launched its Johannesburg inaugural auction with 121 lots achieving R35 million, with the highest lot average of all the market players in the last quarter of 2016.

Excellent results were achieved for key metrics such as sell-through rate, where we achieved a total of 80% sold; the average hammer price which topped R320,000; and the highest accuracy level of our pre-auction valuations, which reflect the real market value of a work. For all value ranges, Aspire has proven to be the most accurate in pre-sale estimations. Our accuracy and experience is unparalleled within this market.

A detailed analysis of the market environment revealed the following important factors.

  1. Estimate Accuracy: Aspire’s sell through rate was within 3-5% accuracy in relation to its mid-estimate point. The value we ascribe to a work is a real, market-related amount – crucially, this results in a realistic achievement in the open market.
  1. Sell-through rate: In Aspire’s inaugural auction of 121 lots, 97 works sold, resulting in an 80% sell-through rate. This is in line with the top industry standards and considerably higher than the majority of our competitors, locally and abroad. Producing focused sales with fewer lots ensures an exclusive focus on each individual work and a high standard of presentation. Similarly, this focus provides the best level of service for every client.
  1. Highest lot-average value: Aspire’s decision to curate concise auctions which focus on quality, variety and significance, rather than a numbers driven total, resulted in the highest average lot value for our inaugural auction.

Aspire’s vision places art, sustainability, and the development of the industry at its core; the sustainability of the practitioners and the professionals that have made this market what it is today rests at the heart of our value system. We are committed to the industry and its greater community, producing curated auctions which uphold the significance of established artists whilst building a market for the future.

In a short time, Aspire has already driven change for the better in the market. We are the first auction house in South African history to implement the long-awaited Artist Resale Right, paying living, South African artists royalties on the resale of their works of art. Historically referred to as the droit de suite (French for “right to follow”), this investment back into the industry acknowledges the value of authorship and ensures the support of artists.

Our pioneering approach to the development and eco-system of the market, encourages diversity and inclusivity. Aspire’s engagement within the market extends across the whole spectrum of the industry, from the artist, to the collector, and all the structures in between. We work closely with South Africa’s top conservators, framers, curators and specialists on a daily basis. The contributions to this catalogue from twenty of the country’s finest arts writers, journalists and academics, highlights our collaborative network. This symbiosis also ensures the highest standard for both our buyers and sellers.