Taking over the family business was not initially Derek Parker’s calling. During his twenties he was occupied with travel and aid work in Africa and was somewhat indifferent to his place in a long line of suppliers to some of Australia’s most celebrated artists. But his father’s early death and the birth of his own children brought him into the fold of Parkers Art Supplies, to be mentored as a future manager by his uncle Lindsay and grandfather Clarie.
Now, thirty years later he is overseeing the celebration of a remarkable centenary. For one hundred years the Parker family has served artists and galleries in Sydney through a business that is still located in The Rocks district, and is still owned and managed by the direct descendants of Sydney Albert (S.A.) Parker.
Parkers Art Supplies today maintains a large, abundantly stocked store on the corner of the historic sandstone excavation of the Argyle Cut, a smaller outlet at Darlinghurst’s National Art School (NAS), and a framing and canvas stretching workshop in Redfern. Derek shuttles between them in one of the city’s most understatedly stylish delivery vehicles, a timber-paneled 1977 Volkswagen Kombi utility. With around twenty employees (mostly artists) serving customers, the family has earned a reputation for treating people and products with respect, and countless customers have enjoyed a long association with the store.