Aboriginal art collections set stage for stand alone Melbourne auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 6th March, 2020

Two magnificent collections of Australian Aboriginal art are the backbone for Deutscher and Hackett’s first stand-alone Aboriginal art auction in Melbourne for some time from 7pm Wednesday March 18 at 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra.

Head of Aboriginal art Crispin Gutteridge says he is encouraged by strong responses to Aboriginal art in recent general sales but the fact that Melbourne’s Helene Teichmann collection (from the Western Australian Kimberleys region) and contemporary indigenous art from the Maclean collection – with a strong focus on the works from Arnhem Land communities – are being offered for auctioned was a deciding factor in holding the sale.

“Both these collections are very important with the latter collection including major examples of Yirrikala bark paintings from the Northern Territory and good sculptures,” he said.

Helene Teichmann’s collection (lots 23-29) includes important paintings by Jirrawun artists with whom, as a former chairman of the organisation Jirrawun Art Corporation, she had a strong connection.

The works feature the artists in their prime – none more so than the notable stalwart Paddy Bedford (1922-2007) whose painting Jinanganny – Cattle Creek 2004 (lot 23 – catalogue estimate $120,000 -$150,000) is a wonderful example of his ability.

Freddie Timms (1946-2017) Jack Yard 2005 (lot 24), featuring ochres and pigments on two Belgian linen panels, is another strong example of the work produced by Yirrawun artists.

Mr Gutteridge said lot 26 – Peggy Patrick’s Mistake Creek 2004 – was another Jirrawun painting worth close examination.

“And Phyllis Thomas’s (1933-2018) four Belgian linen panel work Gemerre 2005 (lot 27) is bound to attract plenty of interest.”

The Maclean collection highlights include John Mawurndjul’s Lorrkon 2007 (lot 39) – natural earth pigments with synthetic binder on a hollowed stringybark log – which is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Maningrida Arts and Culture in the Northern Territory.

The certificate states that the Lorrkon or bone pole coffin ceremony was the final in a sequence of mortuary rituals celebrated by the people of Arnhem Land.

The ceremony involves the placing of the deceased’s bones into a hollow log decorated with painted clan designs and placed in the ground where it slowly decays over many years.

Two of Mawurndjul’s bark paintings appear earlier in the auction (lots 1 and 13) – also accompanied by certificates of authenticity from Maningrida.

Lots 40-45, which include hollow log pigments and barks by Gulumbu Yunupingu, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu and Nonggirrnga Marawili, from the Maclean collection are vibrantly exciting and well worth a look from any genuine Aboriginal art collector.

Early lots which includes works by famous Hermann School artist Albert Namatjira and the likes of Long Jack Tjakamarra, Charlie Tjakamarra, Mick Tjapaltjarri and Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri (lots 4-7) are significant early Western Desert boards from 1971-72.

In particular, Charlie Tjakamarra’s Story of Two Old Men 1972 (lot 5) is significant because it dates from his time as an occasional painter and one of only three of his known works from that time.  

Once he settled in the mid-1980s in the Pintupi community of Kiwirrkurra he was no longer part of the Western Desert movement – painting instead for Papunya Tula Artists under the name Charlie Ward Tjakamarra.

Of course, auction goers should not forget one of Australia’s leading lights in the world of indigenous art, Emily Kane Kngwarreye – several of whose works appear in this sale.

The most notable is lot 8 – Desert Winter 1994 – which carries the top catalogue estimate of $250,000-$350,000.


Viewing: 11am-6pm Thursday March 5 to Sunday March 8

                                 16 Goodhope Street, Paddington NSW

               11am-6pm Thursday March 12 to Tuesday March 17

                                  105 Commercial Road, South Yarra VIC

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