Bowerbank Ninow, 26 July 2016. On August 3 Auckland-based auction house Bowerbank Ninow will sell the painting titled Dog Champs at Charlie’s Bar or Three Dogs at Charlies Bar (egg tempera on gesso 797 mm W x 402 mm H).
It has an interesting history. In 1982, the current owner commissioned Dog Champs after meeting with Sydney at his Mt. Pisa studio in Otago. It was paid for at that date, in order to assist the artist in his move to Dunedin.
However, it took a further 19 years before Sydney delivered the artwork. The current owner was 41 when the painting was started, shortly after the artist had settled in Dunedin. He received it in time for his 60th birthday. He had, of course, followed up to check on the painting’s progress over the course of the 19-year interval, but was repeatedly told by Sydney that he wasn’t doing egg tempera work at that time, but would in the future.
When the painting finally arrived, it was accompanied by a card from the artist wishing the owner happy birthday. In it, Sydney also wrote: “As it says in the Mainland cheese ad, ‘good things take time’ so this must be bloody good.” The scene depicted is the Lowburn dog trial site, just out of Cromwell on the road to Wanaka, prior to the dam being filled.
Grahame Sydney first began working as a full-time artist in 1974. In the decades since, he has built a reputation as one of New Zealand’s most successful and highly sought-after living artists. The demand for his paintings is so high that he no longer sells through exhibitions, as is the traditional model in the art world. Rather, he paints exclusively for a long list of collectors [both domestic and international] who are waiting to acquire his works privately.
As a result of their popularity, paintings by Sydney are very hard to come by. The prices that they achieve at auction have been rising steadily in recent years. Even so, major paintings are very seldom offered to the public. It has been two years since the last major landscape painting surfaced, so Dog Champs at Charlie’s Bar has already drawn the attention of collectors, both within New Zealand and overseas.
Grahame Sydney’s paintings are held in many of New Zealand’s pre-eminent collections including the Fletcher Trust, Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, Christchurch Art Gallery and Te Papa Tongarewa. He was the 1978 Frances Hodgkins Fellow and is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He lives and works in Central Otago.
About Bowerbank Ninow:
Bowerbank Ninow opened its doors in August 2015 and specialises in selling artworks by modern and contemporary New Zealand artists. The firm has received widespread acclaim for voluntarily opting to pay a royalty to living artists whose works are re-sold privately or at auction. Living artists receive 2.5% of the hammer price, which is funded by Bowerbank Ninow’s commission and does not result in any additional cost for either the buyer or seller.
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