Sharing a love of art and crime
Anne Masters, MVISA ’11, and Adam Masters, PhD ’14, BA (Hons) ’09, have common interests – but drive each other crazy. They spoke to Evana Ho.
Anne Masters was 38 and just about through with online dating. “I had been doing it for quite some time,” she says. “I'd met a lot of duds.”
She had one last date – and it wasn't with Adam.
Instead, it was with a guy named Pete. She introduced him to a friend of hers and the pair hit it off. Pete returned the favour and introduced her to the man who would become her husband.
“I had known his ex-wife through my ex-wife,” Adam says. “It was just that sort of extended circle of friends.”
Their first date was a group one to a trivia night. There, Anne and Adam discovered their mutual love of history and English.
“It was nice to see we were answering all the questions,” Anne says. “It was like, 'Ooh. He's pretty smart'.”
At the time, Adam was working full time for the Australian Federal Police, teaching at their college while a student himself. He was studying full time at ANU and would complete a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in politics and international relations. His work with the police college made him want to push through and do a PhD so he could teach at a tertiary level. Now he teaches criminology at ANU.
Anne is convinced Adam's grades in Italian slipped because he was distracted by her. “That is not my recollection at all,” he counters.
She protests. “I reckon it is! You just had another language of love to focus on. Anyway, he was doing really well, and I think I supported him through his studies.”
“Absolutely,” he agrees.
When Anne met Adam, she was working for ArtsACT after a madcap career in advertising in Sydney. She was ready to move on, and Adam persuaded her to write for the AFP. So it was that Anne became editor of the AFP's quarterly journal Platypus. Soon enough though, they quit the AFP together.
"We agreed that once he was getting his studies underway,I could consider going back to university,” Anne says.
They left the security of their well-paying jobs to become full time students at ANU. At 40, Anne embarked on a Master of Ceramics. “I had a chance at a second career,” she says, going on to work at ANU.
By this stage, the pair had been married two years. The proposal, Anne says, was a bit crazy. Adam had been planning to propose in Berlin towards the end of their three-month tour of Europe in 2007. He was going to do it on 7 July as a matter of practicality, so he would remember the date in years to come – 7/07/2007.
“The entire trip, Anne had been expecting a proposal and nothing had happened,” Adam recalls. “She thought, 'Florence for sure, he's going to ask me in Florence.' And I didn't.”
Fate intervened. By coincidence, Adam’s longtime friend Jed was going to be in Rome the day before they were to fly to Berlin. That night, the three of them hit up a little bar in a back alley in Trastevere.
“Anne discovered vodka caprioskas,” Adam says. Several vodka caprioskas later, when Jed was at the bar, Adam proposed.
After the proposal, they bought a ‘monstrously over-priced rose’ from a street vendor. Somewhere at home, they have a photo of the three of them – Anne, Adam, and Jed – at the Trevi fountain with that rose.
They married the following year at the National Library of Australia. “We both have a love of books and had been to the National Library many times on dates,” Anne says.
Adam says the reception was at Old Parliament House in the member's dining room. “That combined politics, libraries, history – everything we love,” he says. “I'm fascinated by the connection between politics and art, and crime and art.”
Anne says: “And I like the fact that art and crime go together.”
The pair worked together when Anne decided to fulfil her dream of opening her own gallery. Commensurate with her practice of creating small artworks, they converted their granny flat and garage into a public exhibition space/shopfront. “I ran the idea past Adam, and he was excited because it meant going to Bunnings and buying all these extra tools that he suddenly needed,” she says.
“Yeah, you need tools,” Adam says.
The Gallery of Small Things opened in September 2017 on their ninth wedding anniversary. The exhibition featured nine artists and was called 3 CUBED.
Less than a year later, Anne left her job at the ANU School of Art and Design to run the gallery full time, which has attracted more than 1000 visitors.
However, she still has links with ANU. She and Adam are patrons of the Emerging Artist Support Scheme, run by the School of Art and Design. They offer an accomplished student the opportunity to exhibit in Anne's Gallery of Small Things. They also sponsor a materials prize for the School’s postgraduate students.
Anne says, “We’re trying to create pathways so when students graduate, we give them a show and kick-start their careers.”
Adam says, “When I left my job at the AFP, I went, ‘We’re never going to be millionaires, so why bust a gut trying?’ It’s like, do I really need that $3,000 coffee machine, or can I put that towards people who are studying?”
He confesses he doesn’t drink coffee anyway. “But I’d rather put the money towards helping people along.”
Needless to say, Anne shares his values. “That’s what makes the relationship work so well. We’ve got a really nice connection and common interests – We drive each other crazy though.”
“Absolutely,” Adam says. “But, if you agreed on everything it’d be pretty boring. And Anne will recognise one day that I am in fact a genius.”
“Yes, yes,” Anne says.