Auctioneer Spotlight: Rae-Anne Forrester and Joseph Welton
Many of our Park West collectors develop friendships with the art teams over the course of their land or sea vacations. Here’s a chance to get to know them more as they share their favorite adventures in the art world.
Park West auctioneers Rae-Anne Forrester and Joseph Welton are skilled art educators, public speakers, and most of all, suitcase packers. Having visited over 30 countries in the past year alone, Rae-Anne and Joseph understand how connection is key, especially in the world of fine art. To the charming auctioneer couple, experience is fostered by friendship, memory, and imagination. These tenets are founded in their entrepreneurial spirit and transmitted to the homes of their collectors.
Previous ships as auctioneer: Carnival Victory, Norwegian (NCL) Sky, NCL Pearl, Celebrity (CEL) Constellation, CEL Eclipse
Current ship: CEL Millennium
Where is your hometown?
Rae-Anne: Johannesburg, South Africa
Joseph: Currently Kelowna, British Columbia, though I grew up in Chester, United Kingdom.
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?
Rae-Anne: I was a teacher back home for about two years and taught art, mathematics, English, and science. I always had a passion and interest in art, creating examples throughout my school career. When I was given the opportunity to apply for this position, it was everything I was always hoping to do. I joined and have never looked back!
Joseph: I started working alongside Park West just over a year ago, which was also when I met Rae-Anne. Prior to that, I worked for Disney Interactive as part of their Guest Experience team, which was coupled with the occasional side forays into acting and other performing gigs. I discovered Park West when looking for an opportunity that paired my love of travel, art, and the stage. It was a perfect fit.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Rae-Anne: One artist that has always intrigued me is Michael Cheval. Not only is he incredibly talented, but his art is mesmerizing. We had the pleasure of spending a week with him on board a VIP cruise and he is a lovely, humble person. This has made his art even more appealing.
Joseph: One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from being with Park West is that the story and context of any artwork is fundamental to our appreciation and understanding of it. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Eric Dowdle twice, and thanks to the combination of his energy, personal experiences, and genuine love of the world around us, he cemented himself as my favorite artist. I don’t just see technical ability in his artwork; I also see a deeper connection to the subject, drawn from the very spirit of the people he depicts.
What is your favorite client memory?
Rae-Anne: We were on board the CEL Constellation, sailing between Dubai and India, when we met a lovely British couple that was sailing with their entire family for the holidays. They wanted to start their fine art collection with something spectacular. We got to know them quite well—they spent every night visiting us in the gallery, came to all our auctions and seminars, and even attended a small party Joseph and I hosted on Christmas Day. At the end of the cruise they collected a Yaacov Agam prismograph and it was the perfect artwork for them. That moment highlighted why we love what we do—we’re able to provide collectors with memories for an entire lifetime, while also creating our own special moments to remember.
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?
Rae-Anne: I’ve seen some amazing places and am truly lucky! I would have to say Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Victoria, B.C. are my favorite. Dubai is incredibly futuristic and was amazing to see. I loved being able to climb the highest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Victoria was one of the first ports that Joseph and I explored together, so there are a lot of fond memories.
Joseph: I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have visited 32 countries in the last year and that I’m still constantly discovering new places to love! Tallinn, Estonia is possibly my favorite port. The culture, the architecture, and the friendly people provide an exceptional experience. Visiting Petra, Jordan was also a life-changing experience. I saw a window into ancient history.
What does life look like when you’re at home on vacation?
Rae-Anne: When I am away, I really, really miss people that are close to me. As a result, my holidays are filled with as much family and friend time as I can get. This includes getaways to some of my favorite local spots, like Kruger National Park. I love being in the African bush surrounded by animals and the people that mean so much to me.
Joseph: If I get a chance to get on stage, I usually take it! I so often find myself doing one-off improv shows or blasting karaoke at full volume. I also always love playing video games with Rae-Anne—we make a great tag team against zombies!
Please tell us about your experience aboard the Celebrity Millennium:
Joseph: The CEL Millennium is a wonderful ship. We’ve had the privilege of sailing on an incredible Alaskan itinerary—which is something that we both love—along with pleasure of working with a phenomenal team and art collection on board.