Saturday, 25 July 2009

Tradition & Culture provide the winning ingredient in WA Aboriginal Art Awards

Congratulations to Torres Strait Islander Ricardo Idagi on winning the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, the richest Aboriginal art prize.

Ricardo mixed tradition and culture with contemporary to take out the $50,000 first prize.

Have a look at the article below for more on the awards.

Traditional materials in new fashion a winner

25th July 2009, 6:00 WST

Torres Strait Islander Ricardo Idagi won the $50,000 WA Indigenous Art Award last night. Picture: Sandie Bertrand

Striking masks and headdresses fashioned from shark’s teeth, turtle shell, feathers, bamboo and fibre last night won Torres Strait Islander Ricardo Idagi the WA Indigenous Art Award, the richest Aboriginal art prize.

“Ricardo’s work stood out because of his obvious commitment to culture and how well he used traditional materials in a contemporary fashion,” Art Gallery of WA curator of indigenous art and selection panel member Clotilde Bullen said.

Idagi, who grew up on Murray Island and was introduced to art, music and culture at a young age, said the $50,000 award, now in its second year, encouraged indigenous people to take up art as a profession.

“Winning such a prestigious prize sets you on a path to independence,” he said. “A lot of young people still see art and music as leisure activities. An award like this shows them you can make a living from doing art for art’s sake.”

Arts Minister John Day also named Wakartu Cory Surprise, from Fitzroy, Crossing as winner of the $10,000 WA Artist Award for impressive paintings dominated by bold violets and yellows.

Lorraine Connelly-Northey, from Victoria, and Nyoongar artist Christopher Pease were highly commended for the major prize and WA artist prize respectively.

“We really wanted the artists to know that this year it was incredibly difficult to make a selection,” Ms Bullen said. “The work was so diverse, from photography and sculpture to installation and acrylic and oil paintings. And it was some of the highest quality work I’ve ever seen anywhere.”

Mr Day said that after next year, the awards would be made biennial.

The 103 works by the finalists will be on display at the Art Gallery until November.


Link to article

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Strong Sales at Sotheby’s Aboriginal Art Auction

There was some excellent signs for the continued strength of the Aboriginal Art market and the recovery of the auction sector with strong sales at Sotheby’s Aboriginal Art Auction over the weekend. The Aboriginal art market has show incredible resilience during the GFC but the auction side of the market had taken a hit in the last year and a half.

This is an excellent result and the article below is well worth a read:

Sotheby’s Aboriginal Art Sale Recovers From Post-Lehman Low

By Joanna Cooney and Phoebe Sedgman

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- An Australian Aboriginal art sale sold more than 70 percent by value at a Sotheby’s auction in Melbourne last night, showing signs of revival from a slump following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

The 153-lot sale took in A$2.6 million ($2.1 million) at the auction house’s annual mid-year offering, or 70.9 percent of items by value. At its Oct. 20 Aboriginal Art auction, about a month after Lehman’s collapse, 45.4 percent of works were sold, the lowest ever for Aboriginal art at Sotheby’s.

The results “demonstrate the consistent underlying strength of the Aboriginal art market,” Sotheby’s head of Aboriginal art Timothy Klingender said in a statement.

Demand for Aboriginal works is recovering along with global markets, with last night’s lower asking prices boosting clearance rates. In a sign of the times, the sale included works from Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which said it would cease manufacturing in Australia last year, and the collection of Glenn Schaeffer, a former Las Vegas casino executive.

A 178-centimeter-tall (69.7-inch) earth-pigment on eucalyptus bark painting by Mawalan Marika, “The Milky Way,” depicted as a river in the night sky, sold for A$43,200, versus a pre-auction estimate of A$20,000 to A$30,000. The painting hung in the Mitsubishi’s Adelaide boardroom since the 1960s, according to Sotheby’s. Lenore Fletcher, a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi Australia, said the painting’s sale was part of the company’s liquidation process in Australia.

Buyers Re-enter

“Collectors who have stood back as prices have risen dramatically in recent years because they thought they’ve been priced out of the market have tended to re-enter,” Klingender said in an interview before the auction.

Sotheby’s lowered estimates to ensure strong results, he said. Boomerangs, shields, woven cane baskets and various carvings were also sold at the auction.

Collecting A$504,000 -- a record for the artist and the auction’s highest selling work -- was William Barak’s 1895 “Corroboree.” The 60 centimeter by 75 centimeter picture of an Aboriginal tribal ceremony was drawn on the back of a linen Christian gospel reading poster. Sotheby’s had estimated a value of A$180,000 to A$250,000.

The largest painting at the sale, a five meter long synthetic paint on canvas painting in vivid red, green, yellow and blue by Jukuna Mona Chuguna and Ngarta Jinny Bent depicting waterholes around the artists’ homeland, called “Wayampajarti Area,” sold for A$88,800, within its estimate of A$80,000 to A$120,000.

Value Per Inch

“It’s good value per square inch,” Klingender said of the painting, which was used to support a land rights claim. “By doing these huge paintings they were able to illustrate their connection to their country, to the judges and the Australian government, and thus got their land title back.”

The works sold from the collection of Schaeffer, who was named one of the U.S.’s biggest art collectors by Vanity Fair magazine in 2006, fetched A$465,800, according to Sotheby’s, from a presale estimate of around A$1 million.

Four works from his collection of eight remained unsold, including one of the two pieces with the highest estimated auction price: Rover Thomas’s 168 centimeter long “Massacre Site - Old Texas Downs,” painted with natural earth pigments and bush gums on linen, estimated at A$180,000 to A$250,000.

Adrian Newstead, former head of Aboriginal art for Australian auction house Lawson-Menzies, said Sotheby’s has been able to boost its influence in an art market that’s come “off the boil” as other auction houses departed the market.

“Sotheby’s has the market basically to itself and they’re finding it is quite easy to persuade vendors that their interests are best served by reasonable estimates,” he said. “Art is just like real estate, people out there are wanting to corner the best paintings, knowing they can sell them for far more than what they paid.”

To contact the reporters on the story: Joanna Cooney in Sydney Phoebe Sedgman at


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