Gallery owner auctions her Australian indigenous art collection

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 26th February, 2018

Sonia Heitlinger first encountered Australian indigenous art in the mid-1980s when she held an exhibition of collaborative paintings by the artists of Yuenduma – followed by an exhibition of batiks and artefacts from Utopia.

The impact was so profound that, after establishing Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne’s CBD in 1990, she continued to support indigenous culture.

Although Sonia sold the gallery in 2005, during her 15 years of ownership she amassed a personal collection of Aboriginal art – with many of the paintings acquired through friendships with the artists concerned, including such icons as Minnie Pwerle, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Naata Nungurrayi whom she visited during trips to Alice Springs, Utopia and Adelaide.

The collection represents many of the most celebrated artists belonging to the first generation of contemporary Aboriginal art with works that encapsulate the vitality, diversity and mastery of that significant era.

Now in her late 70s, Sonia would like others to derive the pleasure she has experienced from owning such fine works.

Accordingly, Leonard Joel is auctioning her collection from 6.30pm Wednesday February 28 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.

Most of the paintings have never before been on the auction market.

Highlights include Minni Pwerle’s Awelye Atnwengerrp 2005, Naata Nungurrayi’s Marrapinti 2005 and two collaborative works – one of which is Minyma Tjuta – Seven Sisters Story 2004 by Spinifex women including the artists Mrs Simms, Kathleen Donegan, Estelle Hogan, Annette Hogan, Teresa Hogan, Betty Kennedy, Angelina Woods and Loraine Davis.

The other collaborative work Wakura – Big Place 2004 by Spinifex men features artists Simon Hogan, Bill Anderson, Byron Brooks, Karli Davis and Walter Hansen.

Rover Thomas’s Road to Wyndham to see Paddy Jamintji 1995 is another strong attraction, along with Wentja Napaltjarri’s Country West of Kintore 2007.

Other paintings of note include Cliff Reid’s Lirru 2004 and Pegleg Tjampitjinpa’s Tingari Cyclone 2002.

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