A day on earth in Daylesford

Yesterday I went to an auction – thankfully not a house auction nor a clearance sale, but instead the auction of artist David Bromley’s collection of art and objects. He is leaving Victoria and as a result his enormous collection is being sold – yesterday was part I of the auction, at Shed 4 in Daylesford…


I was blown away – the huge warehouse was full of things. There was some of Bromley’s own artwork, such as the painting against the wall in the photo above (“Cheyenne”), as well as some of his sculptures. There were old vehicles, including the mini panel van and trailer above, covered in Bromley’s own print.

It’s the first auction I’ve been to as an adult, and it was interesting to see some pieces sell for below the expected price range shown in the catalogue, while others, like the shelf on the right of the photo above (described in the catalogue as “A rustic pigeon hold unit of twenty compartments”), sold for far more.

I loved this – “Group of boats”, oil on timber cut out, and watched it sell for over the estimated price, which nonetheless seemed reasonable. For the first time I had a hint of the pleasure one might get out of starting an art collection, of going from place to place seeking those artworks that strike a chord…

The above image shows a collection of Bromley’s sketches, laid out on a table with a lot number, ready to be sold together. Behind these are some of the many Bromley-painted cubes in the warehouse, with a different scene on each face.

The beauty of the warehouse, with the combination of furniture, art and random objects (like the ventilator funnel off a ship, or an old tin bath), lay for me in the anticipation of creativity. There was a quote from Bromley in the catalogue:

Over the years collecting for me has been no different to buying oil paints or art materials – they are all the raw materials for “painting and sculpting” the framework of my life – pieces I collected, curated, selected, sorted and then placed in my world to create a living environment that I cherish and live amongst.

I wonder how it feels to leave it all behind. Perhaps it feels like freedom, or perhaps like loss. Or perhaps it is simply time to move on, to create a new environment for the artist’s creativity, or a new Day on Earth.

I surprised myself by finding something amongst Bromley’s collection of furniture that I both wanted, needed and could perhaps afford. So I registered to bid and participated in a little bidding war with another buyer, my heart thumping away in excitement. I reached my limit and stopped bidding, stepping back from the gamble that an auction inevitably is.

I’ve come home empty handed in terms of material objects, but in spite of this I’m glad that I saw it: an incredible, eclectic and inspiring collection housed in a huge warehouse. I’m glad too that I watched as it was broken up, its myriad pieces distributed amongst those who came to see it and, if they were lucky, who took something home.

Photo credits: Panel van/Cheyenne, Baby grand/tin bath and Sketches/cubes: No Fixed Address. The remainder: mine.

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