Aratoi Artists Auction
Aratoi Artists Auction:
A Celebration of the Museum’s Artists, and of Mrkusich
In a massive show of support for the near 50-year-old Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, in Masterton, tickets to the Aratoi Artists Auction on April 13thsold out. About 200 people attended the celebratory event in the main gallery of the award-winning architecturally designed Museum.
Eighty-three (83) lots of fine art were contributed by 70 local, national and international painters, photographers, sculptors, mixed-media artists, jewellers, printmakers, and ceramicists who had exhibited at the Museum over the years. Major artists included Milan Mrkusich, Gregory O’Brien, John Pule, Elizabeth Thomson, and Ans Westra.
There were 153 registered bidders, in Aotearoa, and abroad - absentee/telephone bidders represented about 30% of the buyers. Bids ranged from $100 to $200,000. About 90% of the art was sold.
The centrepiece of the Auction was Lot 41, Triptych: Homage to Rodchenko, 1966, a pivotal and monumental painting by Milan Mrkusich, regarded as New Zealand’s greatest living painter. Aratoi had mounted a major Mrkusich exhibition in 2014/2015 and is pleased that the Triptych sold at the Auction, with the hammer price of $200,000 being the highest price ever received for a Mrkusich work.
“The winning bidder for the Mrkusich was anonymous and only registered on the day of the auction itself. The excitement in the room was tremendous and palpable,” said Chair of the Aratoi Regional Trust Board, Barbara Roydhouse, who initiated and oversaw the Auction. “The Triptych is one of Mrkusich’s largest works, at 1753 mm x 2619 mm, and the new owner, in Auckland, is the first owner – the painting had never been sold before.”
The last artwork auctioned, at about 10:30pm, was Lot 83, Whakarongo, by Dame Robin White, also Honorary Patron of Aratoi Museum – a work, printed on a wool bale, that she donated, and for which her dealer gallery waived the commission. The work sold for $10,500. The sales continued over the weekend: a negotiated sale also saw the maquette for Neil Dawson’s Ascension sculpture sold.
The Auction was a charity fundraiser for the museum which puts on about 25 exhibitions each year, yet has only one full-time staff member. This event will assist the Museum with operational costs and will bring more financial security. None of the art came from the Aratoi Collection; the work had been provided by artists or by their dealer galleries, some as a donation, with a percentage of all the sales returned to Aratoi.
The 400 tickets for a Prize Draw for Robin White’s donated work Tui and Magpie also sold out. Art collector John Heginbotham, a resident of Masterton as is Dame Robin White, won the Prize Draw. There was also a surprise raffle of a Magnum of Palliser Estate’s Pinot Noir.
Aratoi Regional Trust is deeply grateful for all the goodwill that made the event possible: the Aratoi artists for donating work or for a generous return of sale, dealer galleries for waiving their commission in favour of Aratoi, Mike Perry of Wakefield Auctions Greytown for donating his services, Barry Saunders of the Warratahs for providing entertainment at no charge, Dame Robin White for her donation of work, Geoff Francis of goodeye for all the pro-bono design work, Peter Biggs and Assignment Group Ltd for their no-fee assistance with marketing, Sir David Gascoigne for kindly writing the Foreword in the catalogue, advertising sponsors Armstrong Prestige Wellington, Hamill Realty Ltd, MREINZ, Rigg–Zschokke Ltd, and Wairarapa Building Society (WBS) who allowed the near 100-page catalogue to be printed, and the professional team of more than 30 volunteers who worked behind the scenes.
Of course, the largest thanks goes to the 70 artists, in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Niue, and the United States: Stephen Allwood / Anna Balasoglou / Denise Batchelor / Bridget Bidwill / Anthea Birch / Anneke Borren / Esther Bunning / Angela Busby / Megan Campbell / Hélène Carroll / John Casey / Ian Chapman / Gavin Chilcott / Paula Coulthard / Matthew Couper / Crystal Chain Gang / Neil Dawson / Sue Delamare / Anita DeSoto / Mark Dimock / Geoff Dixon / Sam Duckor-Jones / Annette Dunnage-Roy / Jan Eagle / Fatu Feu’u / Rebekah Farr / Tina Finn / Rebecca Flowerday / Bruce Foster / Kirsty Gardiner / Janet Green / Rhondda Greig / Dennis Handyside / Pat Hanly (1932-2004) / André Hemer / Adrian Jackman / Evan Jones / Gina Jones / Virginia King / Anna-Marie Kingsley / Francis Kirkham / Sam Ludden / Marian Maguire / Paul Martinson / Nikki McIvor / John McLean / Paul Melser / Milan Mrkusich / Gregory O’Brien / Prakash Patel / John Pule / Tina-Rae Carter / Anna Rutherford / Ian St. George / Susanna Shadbolt / Madeleine Slavick / Kate Small / Nicki Stewart / Elizabeth Thomson / Linda Thornton / Linda Tilyard / Michel Tuffery / Jake Walker / Viv Walker / Ans Westra / Adam West-Watson / Robin White / Sandra Wong.