Enormous eclectic auction collection another Melbourne online offering

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 18th September, 2020

The almost 900 lots that comprised the late Australian Geoffrey Burke’s collection is as eclectic as any collection can possibly get.

From Scandinavian and Murano glass to international porcelain and ceramics, Australian pottery and art glass, antiquities, Chinese and other Asian artefacts, silver, jewellery, furniture, lamps, clocks, photographs, posters, paintings, fossils and other items – if he liked it, he collected it.

The family has now entrusted the collection to be sold by Leski Auctions, from 12pm on Saturday September 26, so others can experience the joy he obviously derived from such a comprehensive range of items.

Because of the still severe Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne the auction will be held in the company’s rooms at 727-729 High Street, Armadale devoid of any buyers or other auction goers.

Bidding will be entirely by absentee bids, over the telephone or online with viewing also online, however, condition reports can be requested.

Geoffrey’s family is completely mystified by his passion for the decorative arts since none of his relatives or ancestors has ever showed any interest, perhaps because incomes were always limited with little room to indulge such hobbies.

However, from an early age Geoffrey was a book worm, reading about art and starting his collection – while most of his friends were busy playing sport or developing first relationships.

This did not mean he was a stranger to teenage fashion and trends as he followed British rock music – including the fashion, the art and gender-bending imagery that comprised the whole seismic culture of the “swinging 60s”.

His collection reflects this with Andy Warhol prints and Ed Ruscha photographs from that era among the items on offer.

One of his favourites was Murano glass from that period and lot 16, the circa 1970s Cenedese Pulegoso circular vase, is a typical example along with a circa 1950s Seguso vase by Flavio Poli (lot 18) and the circa 1960s aquarium glass fish block (lot 32).

Like many others of his generation, Geoffrey also was influenced by the Beatles sojourn into the spirituality that life in India offered and throughout the 1970s visited the country to engage the rituals of ashram, meditation, vegetarianism and stripped back living.

This, of course, led to another direction in his collecting journey as can be seen in the many Asian artefacts he acquired like lot 501, a 14th century Thai walking Buddha (Abhayamudra) bronze statue Sukothai.

It is not surprising that, with his collecting passion, on leaving school in 1965 Geoffrey would become an assistant curator at the National Gallery of Victoria where he worked for the next 28 years, before retiring early.

In this role, Geoffrey donated several now invaluable popular culture collectable to the gallery including the photograph of Keith Haring’s creation of the mural on the gallery’s Water Wall.

Without any templates or sketches to rely on, Haring used a cherry picker to paint the large mural in white, black and red in just two days and Geoffrey’s fine amateur photographs are the only record of the event (see lot 763).

Other items of interest include a Picasso “Quatre Danseurs” Medoura pottery plaque (lot 214), a Neil Douglas hand painted ceramic tile with two kangaroos (lot 305), a Giles Bettison Murrini glass vase (lot 423), a circa 1970s Kartell retro plastic cylindrical bedside cabinet by Anna (lot 613), and a 1980s Memphis desk clock stamped “Neos of Lorenz Design du Pasquier – Sowden, Made in Italy” (lot 659).

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