Aspire Art Auctions announces team

15 Jul 2016

Last month, Mary-Jane Darroll and Ruarc Peffers introduced their new auctioneering firm, Aspire Art Auctions, to the South African market. They are now pleased to introduce their partners; Emma Bedford and Jacqui Carney.

This powerhouse of art specialists collectively offers in excess of eighty years’ experience in the art industry, and through Aspire Art Auctions intend to focus on the promotion of fine arts, both locally and abroad.

A well-respected name in the South African art world, Bedford, with over 25 years at the South African National Gallery, rose to become the Senior Art Curator and Head of Art Collections. As the first Director of Goodman Gallery Cape, Bedford has worked closely with many of the country’s top artists including Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Moshekwa Langa, Brett Murray and Sue Williamson, as well as Marlene Dumas. She has also authored and edited numerous publications and is often invited abroad to present papers and workshops.

She says of her new partnership with Aspire Art Auctions; “I am delighted to be joining the leading lights in the local auction world and look forward to developing this market together.”

Wits Arts School graduate, Carney, has, in a relatively short time, put her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to very good use. She quickly proved her mettle and shot up to become a Fine Art Specialist. She offers a complement of skills to the Aspire Art Auctions team, including client liaison, valuation, cataloguing, clerking, telephone bidding and the production of auctions.

“With the growth and refinement in the market I am looking forward to this exciting new era,” Carney says of this new venture.

Together with Peffers, South Africa’s most skilled art auctioneer, and Darroll, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in auction and the curation of important historical and contemporary exhibitions, the Aspire team represents the longest combined secondary fine art market experience in South Africa, exceeding thirty years.

This formidable team caught the attention of renowned businessmen, Brian Joffe and Adrian Gore, who are providing the backing and support to launch this new, specialist, auctioneering firm. As enthusiastic art collectors, both Joffe and Gore, are aware of concerns that there is a lack of expertise and sustainability in the market, and have recognised the opportunity and potential impact this firm offers.

The company also enjoys the participation of Director, Kevin Handelsman, who was instrumental in the initiation of the company’s funding structures. Handelsman is passionate about art and was responsible for streamlining the financial elements of the partnership.

At the heart of this new business is the preservation and development of the art industries in Africa and, ultimately, the raised profile of African modern and contemporary art and artists abroad.

“The startup process has been very labour-intensive – running parallel to getting the core business operating – however we are enthused by the overwhelming positive response and we are excited to provide focused service for our clients, and a new vision in a new era of auction in South Africa,” says Darroll.

This excitement and enthusiasm is echoed by Peffers; “We will produce world class auctions displayed in our white cube venue, The Park on 7, Hyde Park Corner, where our inaugural auction will take place on the 31 October 2016,” he says. “We are delighted to exhibit at this venue, with care given to each individual art work’s display and presentation. We are inviting entries until 19 August 2016, and look forward to giving free valuations for this purpose.”

Aspire Art Auctions launches with a live auction in Johannesburg on 31 October 2016. They will also present an online auction platform.

For further information, free valuations and consigning art for auction, contact:

Jacqui Carney 071 675 2991
Mary-Jane Darroll 082 567 1925
Ruarc Peffers 084 444 8004

Cape Town:
Emma Bedford +27 83 391 7235

Website address:

Note to Editors:

Mary-Jane Darroll, who is an MAFA 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/Sotheby’s and later a Director at Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg. She is also a founder member and Executive Director of Strauss & Co and most recently a Curator and Art Project Director at the Nirox Sculpture Park.

After graduating with a Fine Arts degree from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, Ruarc Peffers began his career as intern for Stephan Welz & Co/Sotheby’s and progressed to become Director and Head of the Paintings Department. He completed an MSc degree in History, Curating and Criticism at the University of Edinburgh. He worked in the primary market with Blank Projects and in 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 at Strauss & Co. He has worked on many local and international art fairs – most recently Frieze London and The Cape Town Art Fair. He regularly conducts charity auctions for Artist Proof Studios, ABSA, Art Angels, the Cancer Association, WWF and the Wits School of Art, amongst others.

Emma Bedford was employed from 1981 until 2006 at the South African National Gallery, where as Senior Curator and Head of Art Collections, she curated exhibitions ranging from Maggie Laubser to Marlene Dumas and collaborated on the first local museum exhibition for William Kentridge (2002). She promoted young artists through Fresh, a series of residencies and monographs and drove the acquisition of works of art by young artists such as Nicholas Hlobo, Nandipha Mntambo and Zanele Muholi.

She has several years’ experience as Senior Art Specialist at a leading auction house and was the first Director of Goodman Gallery Cape where she worked closely with many of South Africa’s top artists.

Jacqui Carney graduated from Wits Art School with a BAFA. She started as an intern for a leading South African auction firm where she has become head cataloguer and researcher, specializing in South African art. She is involved in the entire ambit of client liaison, valuation, cataloguing, clerking, telephone bidding and producing of all recent auctions. Account:
Gilly Hemphill
The Famous Idea
011 706 8153
082 820 8584
Aspire Art Auctions

Enquire Now
close slider
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.