Leonard Joel

The Sonia Heitlinger Collection of Aboriginal Art

POSTED IN Private Collections COMMENTS 0
MINNIE PWERLE (1922-2006)
Awelye Atnwengerrp 2005
acrylic on linen
153 x 122cm


Sonia Heitlinger was the founder of Flinders Lane Gallery and since the mid 1980s has been exhibiting and supporting indigenous artists. Her collection spans a period of 20 years and represents those artists who, for Sonia, best reflect the vitality, diversity and mastery of that period of artistic activity.

We recently asked Sonia a few questions about her collection and her career, ahead of the auction of her collection at Leonard Joel on 28 February.

When did you first become interested in Aboriginal Art?

My first encounter with indigenous art was in the mid-1980s when I held an exhibition of magnificent collaborative paintings by the artists of Yuendumu, followed by an exhibition of batiks and artifacts from Utopia.

I have been collecting, supporting and exhibiting Australian Aboriginal art since the 1980s.  My collection spans a period of approximately 15 years and represents those artists who, for me, best reflect the vitality, diversity and mastery of this period of artistic activity. It turned out to be a marvellous time of creativity and public awakening to this unique art movement.

Were there particular regions you were more drawn to than others? Why?

The women of Utopia struck an immediate chord with me.  Their paintings were unique in originality, energy and vibrancy. They included Emily Kngwarrye, Gloria Pettyarre, Barbara Weir and later Minnie Pwerle with whom I developed a close working relationship, and friendship. Minnie Pwerle had her first solo exhibition with me in 2000 and her art went on to become immensely collectable.

You seem to have a strong connection with not only the artists, but the art you have exhibited over the years?

Throughout the 15 years that I dealt with Aboriginal Art every exhibition was for me an exciting journey. Researching, planning and selecting the works for the exhibitions and introducing them to a wide audience was very satisfying.  Often it was very difficult to part with the art as I felt I had a very personal association with them and the artists.

This auction represents some of the best artists and art works from my personal collection and from the many years of my association with the Aboriginal artists whom I have met and for whom I hold great affection.

Melbourne Auction
Wednesday 28 February, 6.30pm
333 Malvern Road, South Yarra 3141

Melbourne Viewing
Saturday 24 February 10am-4pm
Monday 26 February 10am-4pm
Tuesday 27 February 10am-4pm
Wednesday 28 February 9am-4pm

Sophie Ullin
National Head of Art
03 8825 5609  |  0407 360 513

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