David J Roche AM (1930–2013), a collector for almost sixty years, spent his lifetime developing what has become The David Roche Collection. The collection, which spans the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and includes European furniture, ceramics, metal ware, clocks and paintings, is remarkable in its quality and range. It contains many luxury works by leading designers displaying exquisite workmanship, as well as the quirky and playful, and as such reflects the many interests and engaging personality of its creator.
The opportunity for David to form such a collection came from the business acumen and success of his father, J.D.K. (Jack) Roche (1901–58). J.D.K. Roche founded the Adelaide Development Company, a property development business in 1922. He then moved to Perth where David Roche was born in 1930, the fourth of six children, two boys and four girls. David Roche’s first schooling was in Perth, and later in Adelaide. He then attended Geelong Grammar School in Victoria for his secondary schooling. After school he was sent to work on the family property in WA, but the isolation convinced him he was not suited to a farming life.
David went to work briefly in the family firm’s Perth office before returning to work in the Adelaide office. At this time the Adelaide Development Company was situated in Grenfell Street. Opposite was the auction firm, Theodore Bruce & Co. David began to attend auction sales gaining experience in bidding in the late 1940s and into the 50s. This was the beginning of a long self-education in art, particularly in the decorative arts and, above all, in furniture and ceramics. David continued to upgrade his collection until his death in 2013.
Image: David Roche in the Roman Room, Fermoy House, 2008. Photograph by David Mariuz for the BRW list.