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The Face behind 19 Karen

Nov 20, 2013  ·  4 min read

Tucked away in Mermaid Beach is a hidden gem of artist proportions – 19 Karen. A gorgeous little gallery which is attracting droves of followers. The women behind it all is Terri Lew.

Terri is committed to her vision of 19 Karen as a gallery that nurtures emerging contemporary artists giving them the opportunity to grow and prosper in their chosen field to become stronger in their practice and shine in their own unique and individual style.  Terri chooses artworks that reflect her own taste in art.

“I was first introduced to the art world through my ex husband who was an artist”, says Terri.

“I ran a small publishing business in the tourism industry. The publication was titled The Best of The Gold Coast Magazine. It was published in both English and Japanese and it was the most successful publication of its kind for the 20 years it was in circulation. This is where I gained my business skills.

Most things I have learnt in life come from hands on experiences and sheer determination to succeed. I don’t have a university degree in fine art, nor do I pretend to understand art on the intellectual or technical level. I just follow my instincts!

This is how I buy art and this is how I choose my artists. If I get a strong emotional response from looking at a certain piece of art, that’s all I need to make my decision. I don’t try to analyse it, or look for a story behind it and I certainly don’t like to be influenced by reasons to buy art.

Based on these principles is how I choose the collection for my gallery. The art that surrounds me in the gallery is the art that I would hang on my walls at home. It is therefore the art that I am happy to recommend to our buyers.

Of course I realize that not everyone shares the same taste in art as me and I guess that is one of the reasons why we have other galleries with a diverse range of art to suit everyone’s taste.

As taste in fashion changes so is taste in art, as was in my case.

Art is no different, or at least, in my opinion it shouldn’t be.

I have a short story to tell you about one of my own experiences in purchasing art.

About 20 years ago, I bought a painting from a Gold Coast gallery and it was the only painting that this gallery had of Robert Ryan. Robert was represented exclusively by Schubert’s Gallery (which was the most successful gallery on the Gold Coast) and nobody could access his work unless it was purchased from Schubert’s.

This painting must have been one of Robert’s earliest paintings left behind in this gallery and before Robert became successful.

I didn’t know much about Robert Ryan then and I certainly didn’t know that one day his paintings would carry a high price tag for an Australian Contemporary Artist.

My gut feeling told me that I had to buy this painting. The Gallery owner was happy to “get rid” of it. I can tell you that this painting does not resemble any of Robert’s work as we know it today.

The morale to the story is this: I bought that painting because I loved it. I loved it from the moment I saw it and I still love it today. What would this painting be worth today? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I care is that I have enjoyed the painting all these years and I will enjoy it until the day I die. Was it worth it for this reason alone? Of course it was!

When approaching a decision to buy art, my advice is simple.

You have to like it first and foremost!

I am committed to continuing and developing my vision of nurturing strong emerging contemporary artists from all over the world, to see them grow and prosper into a vibrant and successful industry on the Gold Coast.


I look forward to bringing you art that will inspire you for the rest of your life”.



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