Art Collector’s Home: Bestselling Artist Marnie McKnight
For Marnie McKnight, creative pursuits have always been at the forefront of her passions and interests. In 2019, these pursuits had her crowned as Bluethumb’s most popular artist. While her first love may be abstract painting in her own artistic journey, this doesn’t necessarily translate that her own collection should be limited to this art style. So, what kind of art does a bestselling artist collect? We took the tour around her home to find out.
Nestled into the Sutherland Shire on Sydney’s outskirts, the home of Marnie McKnight sits a stone’s throw away from an abundance of bushland and a river. “We bought this house just over a year ago, and the dominant theme was blue; the exterior, the kitchen, the stairs, the bathrooms, the laundry room, the carpet. However, the simple fibro cottage house had been very thoughtfully extended by the previous owners to make the best of the light and views. It had simply lost a bit of character during a few years as a rental and we are now in the process of restoring it to its full potential. We are lucky enough to live on a large block that overlooks the river, so our views are beautiful, and the deck makes a perfect place for both painting and relaxing.”
“My husband and I began collecting art in our first year of marriage and wanted to celebrate every year together by purchasing an artwork that we both connected with,” Marnie explains as we discuss what started the collection. “Some years the piece has been tiny, such as a gorgeous little abstract on paper, and some years we have gone all out with a large collectable painting – we don’t tend to go out looking for it; the right one just seems to appear.”
The wide array of art styles and subject matter that Marnie McKnight is drawn to shares the common thread that each artwork has its own story to tell. On the whole strong pieces adorn the walls and factor in the diverse tastes of her household well. “The art that we choose tends to be very different from what I create in my studio,” says Marnie. “We are big fans of street art and it’s probably the dominant style in our shared collection, but when purchasing on my own, I tend to be drawn to female Australian artists and I love to hang these in my daughters’ rooms for them to be inspired by strong, creative women.”
Many of our top local Sydney artists are also pals when they’re away from the easel. Art swaps aren’t uncommon between them; we love the way these artists support each other’s craft and take inspiration from one another! A few pieces of Marnie’s collection have come into her possession from art swaps: Sally Browne, Katie Wyatt and gifting with Maggi McDonald, to name a few. “I’m totally up for art swaps; I’m just a bit too shy to ask!”
The piece that kicks off a collection is always a memorable experience. For Marnie, her limited edition ‘Coke Moss’ print by English street artist K-Guy is an iconic staple to the bunch.
Marnie takes us through her studio space, which will in time become her son’s bedroom. Here we get a feel for what environment the artist works in and the space from which her bestselling artworks are produced. A corner of the room stands as her designated ‘drying wall’, where we see an assemblage of her miniature square pieces waiting to dry before finding their new homes.
The next stop on the tour is Marnie’s daughter’s bedroom. “It’s kind of a rainbow room,” Marnie adds. On entry we find a piece by Bluethumb artist Lisa Turner, which sets the tone of the room nicely. Opposite sits a floral thrift shop find, which Marnie discovered in the US for about $10. “I looked it up online and it’s worth about $1000!” This artwork was a centrepiece in Marnie’s previous house, which boasted mid-century modern interiors. “It seems to work really well in this house, too,” Marnie says. We couldn’t agree more!
Marnie takes us to her son’s bedroom next, where panelled walls of off-white and green were chosen to perfectly complement his choice of an artwork by O.HIISI. “My son isn’t very artistic; he’s very sporty, but he connected with this piece. We added the green and the panelling to the room after we got the piece.”
Moving upstairs, the art continues to flourish the walls and create persona in every space. On the mezzanine we are met by a gallery wall that sits over the sofa. A vintage map of Melbourne hangs centre on the wall, a small memento of Marnie’s brief time living in the city. Pieces from across the world also serve as keepsakes of travels and past experiences, including artworks from Italy to Uluru.
A seascape by Katie Wyatt as well as the flora and fauna of Sally Browne are settled next to each other on the left of the wall; on the right of the map, we see one of Marnie’s first paintings. A more recent piece by Jessie Rigby accompanies the self-portrait and, we think, completes the colour palette sublimely!
Rather than seeing the limited wall space for a gallery hang as a hinderance, Marnie McKnight sees it as a way to make the most of what’s available. “I like [my artworks] to have a mix of sizes. A lot of my original art is quite small because it’s expensive to buy bigger works, and I don’t have so much wall space. I like to have a mixture of textures and styles. This one started off with the map against the grey wall. Because it’s a dark grey wall, it needed brightness, so I picked around a couple of things that I had. I have a lot of abstract, but too much abstract gets confusing to the eye, so I think you need some realism in there too – which is why Sally [Browne]’s piece works really well. The texture comes through in Katie’s.”
Marnie’s second daughter’s room takes a sweeping view of the bushland the house is situated on. If that wasn’t enough, the art collection is enviable, to say the least.
“We were going to paint over the purple wall, and then I got this [floral] painting as part of the Artist Support challenge at the start of Covid. You sell a certain amount and then you buy somebody else’s. I popped it up and then thought, ‘Wow – we’re keeping the wall now!'”
We finish the tour in Marnie’s own bedroom, where we see a neutral feature piece hanging over the bed, creating a calming, fresh colour palette. Opposite is another feature wall that with its bolder colours and vibrant accents, really pops against its surroundings. This room also overlooks a stunning view of Australia’s landscape.
The years that have gone into Marnie McKnight’s art collection even surpass her years as an artist. Each year, she and her husband find another artwork works its way into their collection. What advice would she give to a budding collector? “You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you don’t have to buy a known ‘name’ and you don’t have buy for the investment – buy a piece of art because you love it.”
Want more? Take the extended tour through our IGTV with Marnie McKnight from last year in the video below, or explore her profile here or her new curation of top picks to get adding to your own collection.