By John Perry in Auckland, on 11-Aug-2017

When lot 93 was offered for sale by experienced auctioneer Ben Plumbly at the Art + Object sale of Important Photographs & Contemporary Art in Auckland on 11 August, you could sense the excitement when the bidding opened at the upper estimate of $15,000 and quickly doubled.

But it didn't stop there: bidding continued to $45,000, then to $60,000 finally ending at $62,000.

All the action was over a rare and excellent example of Theo Schoon's unique gourd growing and carving. The gourd carved in the early 1960's and entitled Incised Gourd with Kowhaiwhai Motif (lot 93) was decorated with a beautiful restrained Maori inspired design. The gourd had been in the collection of Jim Allen a highly regarded sculptor and art educator on both sides of the Tasman Sea since the mid 1960's.

When lot 93 was offered for sale by auctioneer Ben Plumbly at the Art + Object sale of 'Important Photographs & Contemporary Art' in Auckland on 11 August, you could sense the excitement when the opening bid was at the upper estimate of $15,000. It quickly doubled, then continued to $45,000, then $60,000, finally ending at $62,000. The excitement was over a rare and excellent example of a Theo Schoon gourd decorated with a beautiful restrained Maori inspired design.

Art and Object had assembled an action packed catalogue of 117 lots of photographs, contemporary art and craft works for this, their 118th sale, and was the final sale of the four scheduled by the Auckland art auction houses over this week..

With another art buying collective cashing in their chips, this time the ARTXPTZE Group, the auction's first 25 lots were eagerly contested by the collective's members who wanted to retain a memento of their membership, so most of those works would have returned to familiar surroundings.

With the growing interest in collecting photography, some excellent prices were achieved within the healthy selection of modern and contemporary photographs of around 30 lots of New Zealand and international photographer's work.

Michael Parakowhai's Craig Keller from the Beverly Hills Gun Club (Lot 26 ) sold for $18,000, Lisa Reihana's Hinepukohurangi (Lot 28 ) brought $24,000, and Yvonne Todd's diptych, Drexel, (Lot 29 ) went for $10,500.

Peter Peryer's gelatin silver print of his then wife Erica (Lot 34 ) which graced the cover of the lavish catalogue brought $5,500, which was just under the low estimate.

The contemporary and modern art section of the catalogue contained the remaining 60 or so works, mostly paintings but also sculpture and a few craft items all encapsulating the modern spirit.

Paintings that did well included Allan Maddox's diptych entitled Di Amy (Lot 63 ), which sold for $38,000, Grahame Sydney's small but expansive Back of the Maungatuas (Lot 72 ) painted in 2007 which sold at the low estimate of $55,000 and the important Figure in Light No 12 (Lot 73 ) by Patrick Hanly, produced shortly after the artists return to New Zealand in the early 1960's, which brought $145,000.

An early Michael Illingworth Self Portrait (Lot 78 ) originally in the collection of writer and artist's close friend Kevin Ireland sold for $35,000.

The crowd had thinned considerably by the time the action took place with the exquisite Theo Schoon carved gourd which set the records tumbling. The gourd was followed by another work by Theo Schoon this time a small jade amulet, entitled simply Pendant (Lot 94 ), inspired by Maori patu pounamu hand held weapons but also by the simple forms from the archaic jades from the Shang and Han dynasties of China.

Measuring only 9 by 6.5 cm this simple small pendant, also from the Jim Allen collection attracted equally spirited bidding. With a presale estimate set at $5,000 - 8,000, bidding for the pendant started at $10,000 and rose quickly and sharply finishing at $25,000 setting a raft of new records for a contemporary piece of greenstone carving.

Towards the end of the sale, a tiny painting measuring 23.2 by 30.6 cm by Star Gossage entitled One Who Plants Alone (Lot 99 ) sold for $2,600 and a large Michael Hight, this time of derelict railway carriages entitled Horopito (Lot 109 ) sold for $19,000 while a delightful Robin White screenprint entitled A Buzzy Bee for Siulolovao (Lot 117 ) concluded the sales for the evening, bringing in $9,200.

The sale total stands at around $1.1 million at present.

All sale prices are hammer and expressed in $NZ.

Sale Referenced: Important Photographs & Contemporary Art, Art+Object, Auckland, 10/08/2017

About The Author

John Perry is known locally as a collector / consultant / curator/ educator and artist and is a former director of the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. For the last 20 years has worked as an antique dealer specializing in ''man made and natural curiosities'' from an old art deco cinema on the outskirts of Auckland. Over the last 16 years he has developed a multi million dollar collection of 19th and 20th century artworks for the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. He recently donated 120 artworks from his collection in various media to the East Southland Art Gallery in Gore. A committed ''art o holic'' he continues to develop collections of New Zealand and International fine art / folk art / ceramics and photography for future usage in a private/public ARTMUSEEUM of NEWSEELAND, not to be confused with Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.