The Friends of the National Art School (otherwise known as 'FONAS') hold an annual fundraiser where they get established and emerging artists, NAS alumni and other prominent Australians to decorate plates that are then auctioned off. This was my first plate auction and the collector in me was jonesing to add a plate to the big lamington collection.
The auction was held in the cell block theatre, a wonderful old sandstone building on the NAS campus. Scattered around the walls were about 150 plates. 10 plates expected to make the most were to be auctioned live with the remained going by silent auction at lists around the room.
There was some spirited bidding on the live lots with most going for $2,000+. The pick for me was the Reg Mombassa, famous for his mambo illustrations. Other big names that the punters were after were Euan MacLeod, Peter Godwin and Elisabeth Cummings. I would've bought a Norman Hetherington but my ceiling was $500 and he made $800. Norman who you ask? Well you would've realised if you saw the plate - a big Mr Squiggle. Norman (the man behind, or above, the puppet that introduced every Australian child of my generation to drawing) is an NAS alum and contributes a plate every year - maybe I need to up my budget for 2011!
It was a real mixed bag for the balance. I liked the Octopus by Jan King, the Bison by Sophie Hopmeier and didn't mind the plates by Kim Spooner. However, my pick was the doughnut plate by Madeleine Hayes - she was in the postgrad show we just saw having just completed her honours year in ceramics. It was the only plate that had gone beyond painting and had added some sculptural elements. Less dishwasher friendly but more memorable. A heated silent bidding war erupted on this plate but yours truly won the day by deploying standard eBay practice (sniping in at the last minute) and by being willing to pay $320 which was at the higher end of the silent lots with some going for around $100 which was the minimum bid.
It took a while for everyone to pay up and the MBA in me thought the processing could have been better organised but once my credit card had been processed I was able to walk away with my plate that very night. A good night out, FONAS - pencil me in for 2011.
Points: 3 - Reg Mombassa, if I was prepared to drop $2k you would have been mine; 2 - Madeleine Hayes, obviously I thought hers was the pick of the bunch; 1 - Mr Squiggle! When is the ABC going to put this out on dvd? Seriously, I need to educate my children on these key cultural matters ...