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Unique art awaits buyer

A UNIQUE collection of historic Aboriginal art – gathered from isolated communities across the remotest corners of the Kimberley – is sitting in a Northern WA university campus awaiting a philanthropic buyer

The collection was put together by Esther Bevan, 52, a graduate and member of University of Notre Dame’s Broome campus board of management.

Money raised from the sale of the collection Painting the Future will help build a university library and world-class Kimberley research centre at the Broome campus.

The collection features the work of 30 leading Aboriginal artists including Queenie McKenzie, Shirley Purdie, Madigan Thomas, Ruby Walgil, Gracie Mosquito and Patricia Lee.

“It is unique to have this collection from one area of Australia. It is a very special part of history. I don’t think it will ever happen again,” said campus dean Sister Pat Rhatigan.

Professor Clare Ahern, Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Studies at Notre Dame, says the collection “unveils the indigenous soul of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley”.

The collection has only been shown briefly due to lack of university space in which to hang it. It urgently needs a new “home”.

“It is a unique and important collection of Australian indigenous art in the Kimberley region. It is a collection that should pass into history and as such it is priceless,” Dean Rhatigan said

At a benchmark international auction of Aboriginal painting held by Sotheby’s in Melbourne on June 26, a top price of almost $500,000 was paid for a shimmering piece of painted board titled Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa by Papunya Northern Territory artist Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula – setting a new record for indigenous art.

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