2016 in Review

2016 in Review Exhibitions to touring shows - Bondi and Paddington all the way to Order of Australia Medals

Latests Articles

A mysterious bark painting and the Djang'kawu sisters

Little did we know where this one enquiry would lead us. On a warm morning in Bondi, with the humidity building up like an Arnhem Land wet season outside the office window, an email in Adrian’s inbox was asking about bark paintings by Wandjuk Marika, the late Rirratjingu clan elder from East Arnhem Land. Perhaps something about the Djang’kawu sisters, the writer wondered. Have you got anything about them? These two sisters emerged from the sea onto the pure white sand of Marika’s country of Yalangbara, already pregnant with the first people of the Dhuwa moiety who they gave birth to in the sandhills of the beach. The salt water on their skin dried in the sun, forming brilliant white crystalline patterns on their bodies which became a clan design for the Rirratjingu people. The fantastic shimmering designs from this area reflect the shining salt, the white sands, the sunrise over the water and the light of the Morning Star (Venus), which guided the Djang’kawu over the water to the beach.

by: Dan Kennedy   published: 11th March 2017

Michael Nelson’s Five Dreamings sets market alight at Sotheby’s London Sale

The September 21st 2016 Sotheby’s London sale of 92 Aboriginal Australian artworks was, as we have come to expect, a museological, tightly focused ethnographic offering. The auction featured major paintings from the Estate of Gabrielle Pizzi, whose well-documented collection had been exhibited in Europe, Russia, The Middle East, Asia and Australia, including 'Dreamings' at the Asia Society New York, 'Aratjara' at the Hayward Gallery in London, and 'Genesis and Genius' at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Also included were works from the Fiona Brockhoff Collection, showcasing what Sotheby's described as "the finest early Aboriginal figurative sculptures ever to be offered at public sale".

by: Adrian Newstead   published: 23rd September 2016

Collector's Edition - Paddy Bedford Prints

Paddy Bedford was an old Kimberley stockman who gained renown for having distilled Gidja oral accounts of traumatic encounters with white settlers into unique artworks. He was born at Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberley c.1922, and it was not until he was in his mid 70s that a dealer happened to chance upon some of his first meagre attempts at painting on construction board in a rubbish tip. He began painting formally shortly thereafter, in 1997. Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts provided individual support and promotion of his work and organised numerous shows in which Bedford starred during his lifetime. These included Blood on the Spinifex at the National Gallery of Victoria and True Stories at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

How to Collect Aboriginal Art — The Art Market - New Art vs Old Art

The Art Market - New Art vs Old Art

New Art - The Primary Market

The primary sector of the art market is where newly created works are generally consigned by artists to a gallery or dealer who exhibits them. The gallery acts as an agent, and is remunerated through a commission on sales. It generally bears the cost of the exhibition and sets the prices, taking into account the size and medium of the works and the reputation of the artist.  As it is uncommon for artist’s to have a ‘sell out’ show, works are generally held in the stock room and are available for sale after the exhibition while the dealer continues to attract customers, arrange commissions, enter works in art prizes, create publicity, and publish material promoting the artist.

  • Issue: 2
  • Part: 2

How to Collect Aboriginal Art — Australian Aboriginal Art

What makes Aboriginal Art so Special?

Interest in the visual arts all around the world has exploded over the past 20 years. There are more people collecting art now than at any other period in history, and they are collecting from a wider spectrum of artists and mediums.

Twenty years ago the number of people who went to galleries or auctions and purchased works of art was very small, and, on average, these people spent a lot of money on what they bought e.g. $20,000-50,000. In the last decade the number of people collecting art has grown but, on average, they are spending less.

  • Issue: 1
  • Part: 2

Collecting Australian Aboriginal Art — Introduction


Australian Aboriginal art encompasses ethnographic objects and contemporary painting, sculpture and prints. The imagery and designs are based on mythological stories and a spiritual connection to land that has been passed down through a 40-thousand year history through the use of ancient iconography. It evokes the beauty, and spiritual significance of the artist’s homelands in the far-flung and remote regions of Australia.

Opinion Piece - No Stimulus for Arts Business

Commercial galleries are the most essential element in the entire enterprise that is the Australian Visual Arts. Here, artists first exhibit their works, and institutions and collectors purchase them, thereby providing artists with the lion’s share of their income. Classic small businesses employ less than 10 people and turnover less than $3 million. According to the ABS there were 514 of them in Australia in 2000. Today no more than 50% of these survive. 

When commercial galleries go broke, as has been the case consistently since 2008, the flow-on effects hit a network of small businesses that support them - framers, art transporters, packers, conservators, materials suppliers, storage providers, insurance companies and an array of ancillary consultants.

Bohham's Auction Review June 7th 2016

Bonham’s presented a sale in two parts at the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia Hall in Queen Street Woollahra on Tuesday June 7. It began with a mixed vendor offering of Australian, international and Aboriginal artworks anchored by works from the collection of Transfield founder Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE and his wife Amina.

by: Adrian Newstead   published: 10th June 2016

Collectors Edition #9

Chosen for collectors, by collectors

This edition of our Collector's series looks at 4 new and exciting collectors peices that should not be missed.

Collecting Australian Aboriginal Art — Forward


The Worlds Oldest Living Culture

On one very hot day, in the summer of 2008, I sat down in my rainforest retreat near Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia and began writing about my experiences during 40 years in the commercial art market. I had opened my first art gallery in 1977, been the Managing Director of Australia’s largest fine art auction house for a number of years, and was by then an independent art consultant and the owner of Australia’s oldest Aboriginal art gallery.

the atavistic* nerve

6th to 10th September 2017
Opening Night: 7th September 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Location: Carriageworks Redfern
Address: 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh NSW 2015

The Dealer is the Devil

An Insider's History of the Aboriginal Art Trade
by Adrian Newstead OAM
foreword Djon Mundine OAMpublisher Brandl & Schlesinger

Part road trip, part memoir, part history, part political commentary, The Dealer is the Devil is illuminatingly thought-provoking and provocative. It is an incredibly exciting and fast paced account of the fluctuating fortunes and exponential success of the Aboriginal art movement, with all of the elements one would expect of a complex drama, played out on a national and international stage.

"Every rock, every hill, every water, I know that place backwards and forwards, up and down, inside out. It`s my country and I got names for every place."

Queenie McKenzie at Black Fellas Creek, Old Texas, 1995
Buy Now