Michael Backman

A lecture by Michael Backman at the School of African & Oriental Studies (SOAS), University College London, on the role of gallerists, art dealers and collectors in the preservation of material culture.

Michael Backman, the gallery founder, is an art historian and collector, economist and author.

He is the author of the monumental 300-page Malay Silver and Gold: Courtly Splendour from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei (River Books, 2024) – the first book on the silver and gold of the Malay peoples to have been published in over a hundred years.

He is also author of Rare Antique Asian & Colonial Decorative Arts (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2016).

Other books that relate to Asia’s economies and governance include Asian Eclipse, which was named by The Economist among its ‘Books of the Year’,  appeared on several bestseller lists,  was nominated by the  then Thai Prime Minister as one book ‘that all Thais should read,’ and was cited by the then Singapore Prime Minister in his annual National Day Address. Another, a policy & political biography of a senior Malaysian politician (2018)  was nominated for the 2019 Popular Readers’ Choice Awards.

Editions of his books have appeared in English, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese and Indonesian.

He has also had regular newspaper columns in Australia and Singapore, and often gives public speeches and presentations, including having addressed the National Press Clubs or Foreign Correspondents’ Clubs of Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong & Thailand.

He is also the founder of the niche publishing marketing business World Art Now.

Earlier positions include Senior Advisor to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Senate, a Senior Analyst in the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and working in the private sector in Jakarta. He holds a First Class Honours Degree in Economics, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Now based in London, he has also lived in Jakarta, Paris, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.