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Are you up to the challenge of commissioning a piece of artwork so that you get what you really want rather than "making do" on size, colour or composition because you cannot find art that is a perfect fit for your requirements?

Many people shy away from commissioning artwork because they do not fully understand the process, the traps or the professional way to ensure a great end result. In short they are afraid that it won't work out as they want.
There are a number of questions that come to mind when a client is considering the option of commissioning artworks and CWM Galleries can offer solutions which ensure a client can fulfil their vision. Let's consider how CWM Galleries addresses the issues.

1. How can CWM Galleries assist a client to select the right artist?

CWM Galleries is able to offer advice on the artist/s who have a natural affinity with the proposed work avoiding the selection of an artist who has no passion for the style or subject matter required by the client. Most importantly of all CWM Galleries has managed the artist's it represents over many years and is fully aware of the professionalism of each in fulfilling the requirements of the client.

2. How can the client ensure that the works commissioned are something unique and special?

With a complete photographic record of works by all of the artist's stretching back many years CWM Galleries is able to ensure that the work has a complete uniqueness and is not just a copy of work/s completed years earlier.

3. How does the commissioning party communicate what they require?

For the client the reference points are opened up by the totality of all of the works that CWM Galleries has in stock or on file. A comfort zone is provided for the artist in being briefed by CWM Galleries as intent and concept are conveyed along communication lines that are long established and tested.

4. How do clients ensure that the final work is what we envisaged?

With any commission for a painting, drawing or sculpture, all artists managed or represented by CWM Galleries will commence with a working drawing/s or painted story board/s (a miniature painting that still comes out full screen in an email) or in the case of sculpture, a drawing/s or a wax sketch/s (model/s) will be completed. Any changes can be made in these early stages until the client can see what is actually visualised, while allowing the artist's creative skill to shine through.

5. How can a person commissioning artworks ensure the standard of the final work is what they require?

CWM Galleries will negotiate a fair price which will allow the standard of the finished work to meet the clients requirements whilst ensuring the artist receives a proper payment for their skill and creativity as well as meeting very substantial costs in the case of sculpture.

6. How does someone commissioning artworks know what a fair price is?

Many artists seem to think they should charge more for commissions - this is rubbish since a commissioned work is already sold. As CWM Galleries always carries the works of the artists we manage and/or represent on the Gallery floor, (and every piece has a price attached), and a client can refer to the prices of similar sized works and composition as a base for the price of the proposed commission. The cost of the proposed work will always be of a similar cost.

There is a great deal of financial security for the client in this form of comparative value pricing. This process allows a person commissioning artwork to establish what fair market value is for a particular artists work based on the public acceptance of the pricing for that artists work.

As many of the artists exhibited by CWM Galleries are exclusive to it the values are set on the basis of sales day in day out, year in year out. This is no small factor in providing a comfort factor to the issue of value.

7. When and how are commissioned works paid for?

No payment is required until the final concepts are agreed on as in No 4 above and a price is then agreed on. At this point a 50% deposit is required with the balance payable prior to delivery or collection.

Payment can be made by Bank Transfer, Credit Card or cash.

8. How does a client organise delivery and what will it cost?

CWM Galleries organises the crate and freight of countless pieces of artwork both across Australia and Internationally every year. The crate and freight charges will be at additional cost to the purchaser but fully quoted before commitment by the client. If the client wishes to organise their own delivery this is totally acceptable. If shipment is to be made by CWM Galleries the associated costs are payable prior to shipment.

There are a number of case studies that may be informative.


A client asked us to organise a portrait of his daughter with her "framed". The result of selecting the right artist speaks for itself.


A Collector may be influenced by the style of the artist and require a painting, drawing or sculpture of a different size or even a theme.

In 2011 we were approached by the Managing Director of a Company with a great passion about art, to organise a non realist organic sculpture to captured the unique nature of Canberra for outdoor installation. The end result was Waltz of the Sails erected on a 3 metre stainless steel pole.

The following is the description of the sculpture................

The sculpture, Waltz of the Sails has three main elements that set out to capture the uniqueness of Canberra. These are the choice of material, the creative elements of the design and the placement of the sculpture.

The choice of copper as the material for the work is not only functional for an outdoor sculpture but is particularly appropriate visually in capturing the earthiness of our inland Capital. The utilisation of multi faceted construction, colour and texture in the actual piece alludes to the multinational makeup of the community.

The creative element of the sculpture depicting overlapping sails is a direct reference to the liveability of Canberra. At a simplistic level this could be taken as a reference to the sails of the many craft which dot the waterways of Canberra. More importantly the sculpture alludes to the merger of work and recreation in the Capital joining both to create the whole.

Finally, the sculpture is intended to be placed in an elevated position so that the viewer is exposed to the sculpture with it acting almost as a frame for the sky itself so focusing the clarity of an unpolluted sky and the place of Canberra as the seat of government for this vast Country.


In a further illustration of a different type of commissioning CWM Galleries was approached to complete 3 feature sculptures for the magnificent new super yacht, the "Seafaris"

The first sculpture was commissioned to become a dividing wall between the dining and lounge areas of the ship. The owner wanted the two areas separated but did not want them "boxed in". He had seen a marine sculpture on the floor of the Gallery which he liked and requested us to develop this concept with his design team. The end result was the creation of a "Wow" piece in stainless steel and glass with fibre optic lighting.

The second sculpture was the creation of a further stainless steel and glass sculpture of a seahorse again lit with fibre optic lighting as a feature.

The third sculpture is a nautilus in stainless steel, heavily burnished at the centre becoming progressively polished as it extends to the extremity of the work.

These three commissioned sculptures on the "Seafaris" illustrate a number of important ingredients in commissioning artworks.

Firstly, this commission came from a collector with a very clear view of what he wanted and a total commitment to excellence.

A very successful business person, the owner, then delegated supervision to his team of highly professional design people. Communication between CWM Galleries Director, Chris May and the design team ensured the sculptures were created within the overall concept of this superb craft.

In turn the Gallery carried out all communication with the sculptor. This was of significant advantage to all parties and ensured that the time line requirements of the sculptures were such that the finishing of the sculptures was able to be completed to the quality and within the budget required by the purchaser.

CWM Galleries appreciated the opportunity to participate in the "Seafaris" project and congratulate the owner, Jeff McCloy on winning the prestigious 2007 World Super yacht Award in Venice as the best yacht in the 'more than 40 metres long' category. This Award is fabulous recognition for his vision and the professionalism of all the Australians who took part and confirm our long held belief that many of the Artists and Sculptors we manage or represent have true world class skill.

Extracts from series of Questions and Answers for the April Edition of Go Boating Magazine may prove informative.

An interview with CWM GALLERIES Director Mr Chris May

We are interested in the sculptures CWM Galleries had created for the magnificent super yacht "Seafaris". How did they come about?

From a Gallery point of view the "Seafaris" commission was a text book case of how commissioning artwork should happen. Through the window of the Gallery (55 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney), the owner saw a sculpture of a glass and stainless steel fish. He explained that he was trying to create a wall between the dining and lounge areas on a 30 degree radius without enclosing the areas. He asked if we could come up with something based on the piece he had seen in our window and introduced us to his design team. Subsequently, two additional sculptures, a stainless steel and glass Seahorse and a stainless steel Nautilus, were added to the commission.

The owner of "Seafaris", had a very clear concept of what he wanted to achieve and was able to communicate this to both his design team and ourselves.

So successful was the completed work that one American guest aboard the "Seafaris" purchased a stainless steel Seahorse from us which has been shipped to Florida, USA.

Did the Owner and his design people get on with the sculptor?

They have never met. The function of CWM Galleries is to provide the link between the artist and the client. We know the artists we represent intimately and communicate with them on an almost daily basis. As a Gallery our function is to project manage, concentrating on time and budget and to remove the business aspect for the Artist, so they can concentrate on the work at hand.

When did you open CWM Galleries and what was the ethos behind it?

We opened in 1999 and transferred the main Gallery to Sydney in 2003, representing Contemporary Australian artists who conceive and create works of beauty. We hold the firm view that there is enough ugliness in this world without us supporting artists who contribute to it!

From the very start we rejected the concept of elitism and the pretensions that so often inhibit people in approaching and enjoying art.

Why did you want sculptures to be a main focus of your galleries?

Having staged major exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe as well as throughout Australia, it always struck me as strange that Australian Galleries had not made a major commitment to the exhibition of quality sculpture. We felt the public was being offered very little choice.

Nearly eight years later CWM Galleries are regarded by many as Australia's premier commercial sculpture Galleries. The sculptures we exhibit are created in classical and lasting materials, a legacy for future generations.

Apart from about 200 paintings & drawings in Sydney we constantly exhibit between 120 and 150 sculptures on the Gallery floor with many more available and displayed on our website at

What is it that you love about sculptures?

Not only the creativity and skill, but the permanency; the fact that many of the works we exhibit will still be appreciated in centuries to come. When one thinks of the Heritage of the world's great civilizations, the visual impact that comes to mind is the marvellous legacy of architecture and artwork left for future generations. Think of the Pyramids of Egypt and the art treasures in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, the Parthenon and the Elgin Stones of Greece, the Colosseum of Rome and the wonderful marble statues and sculptures of that civilisation and so on through the ages.

Is there sculpture you don't like?

Installations of PVC plumbing pipe or two railway sleepers crossing one another, et cetera, would be a terrible legacy from our society to future generations. Indeed, one of the major art prizes in Britain (AUD$80.000.00) was won with a rubbish bag full of air. One art person described the artist as "one of the most important artists of her generation". What rubbish!

By comparison, visitors to CWM Galleries are invited to judge the level of skill required to conceive and create the wonderful and lasting works we exhibit. The artists creating these works include both award winning sculptors and highly regarded teachers of their craft.

Do you limit the Gallery involvement to exhibiting artwork?

No, apart from providing major exhibition venues for sculpture, CWM Galleries has provided sponsorship and/or management for a number of our sculptors. For this reason many of the works exhibited are exclusive to our galleries.

What qualities do you look for in the art that you sell/exhibit?

For a painter the most common characteristic we seek is the underlying ability to draw. We subscribe to the unfashionable view "can't draw, can't paint". This is based on the principle that while an artist may not choose to create a work in a totally realist fashion, for reasons of effect or emphasis, this is a matter of choice for the artist who has learnt the basic skills of drawing. The artist who has not been taught to draw is denied the full range of expression.

For a sculptor we seek a uniqueness of style and expression.

Do you only sell/exhibit artworks you like?

No, if we adopted that policy then people would be stacked up at the door sound asleep! 'Like' is such a personal word - our criteria is skill and uniqueness.

What type of art do you recommend for those wanting to decorate their boats?

Sculptures that can be firmly fixed with a suitable weight (relative to power). In most cases original paintings, oil or acrylic on canvas (without glass). Obviously works with a marine theme are highly suitable.

What's the process in providing art for people's houses/boats/business etc? Do you help people select pieces based on the current style of the rooms?

The first step is to determine which artwork excites the purchaser. All of the top artists have a unique "style" to their work. If the Client cannot choose a piece from the Gallery floor or our extensive image records, then the option to commission work comes into play.

In commissioning a painting we ask the artist for "Story Boards" of the proposed work; in the case of sculpture, drawings or Marquette's (miniatures) in clay or wax. When the Client is satisfied, agreement is made on size and price, a deposit paid and the work commences.


A number of artists managed and/or represented by CWM Galleries, (who have the ability), are open to the challenge of creating works that a client may wish to commission. There is great joy for both parties, a challenge for the artist and the realisation of a work of art that is desired by the client.

The client needs to be an integral part of the whole equation with constant email updates from the gallery and frank comments from the client.

Numerous photographic records of the whole process for individual commissions can be made available if required.

In summary, commissioning is all about professionalism, communication, value and the end result is artwork that is something special. As the commissioned portrait of a very dear departed friend would express it -