A painting by Alma Nungarrayi Granites (also known as Alma Nungarai Granites) sparked Pixie’s interest in aboriginal art. Since her first purchase a year ago she's added quite a few more aboriginal paintings to her collection. Pixie tells how she’s cleared away her other artworks and even some furniture to transform her home. Here she talks about her collection with Jody from Japingka Gallery.
Jody: Pixie you’ve had the most amazing year since you started your collection.
Pixie: It’s taken me completely by surprise and now I can’t let it go. I have to keep on and on. Even if I stop buying I still have to keep coming back in and looking.
Jody: What was it that started you on your journey collecting aboriginal art?
Pixie: I reached an age where I thought I haven’t done all the things I want to do. If I don’t start doing them now, it might be too late. The first thing I thought about was an Alma Granites painting I saw once. I thought, right, I am going to go down and buy an Alma Granites. The one I wanted wasn't there of course. Not when I started looking. By chance, that same painting did eventually turn up. It came back on to the market - the very one I wanted.
Jody: It came back to you.
Pixie: Yes. It came to me as if it was meant to. So that’s what started it. Then I got involved looking at other aboriginal artists and I bought some more works. Now they’re up on my walls and they’re just lovely.
Jody: Have they taken the place of other art works?
Pixie: Yes they have. I had quite a lot of original prints, antique prints and old etchings. They’ve all come down and they’ve all gone down into the cellar. The new paintings have taken over. They've taken over to such an extent that I’m even getting rid of the furniture so that I can free the wall space to put up more paintings. Bookcases, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe have all gone.
When I look at these works, even if I don’t know who the artist is, I’ll think of the artist and how they painted it. I wonder whether they painted it sitting on the ground or whether they painted it on a table and how long it took and how involved they were with it. That’s the first thing, I think about the artist. Then I think about the colors and the shapes in the painting.
Jody: When we’ve had artists here at Japingka, often they’ll sit on the ground and paint. They sometimes sing because they’re singing the stories as they’re painting them.
Pixie: Yes. It’s the detail I love too. Some of the intricate detail in them is just amazing.
Jody: What are the feelings that you get from looking at those works?
Pixie: I think probably initially quite a lot of excitement. I think, this is wonderful. I think about the detail, the shapes, and then I’ll start thinking about the colour. Do I like this colour with that colour, or if it’s ochre, it’s more the shapes. So mostly it’s the excitement I feel. I just love them.
You know I’m not thinking what room could I put it in and would it match something else. Quite often it won’t fit and it doesn't match. I don’t think about that. Just like I don't think about price - that's the very last consideration.
Jody: Does the house feel different with all this new aboriginal art in it?
Pixie: Yes. It’s wonderful. It was a bit stale and stuffy before but it’s not anymore. The paintings are definitely uplifting.
Jody: How do your visitors respond to your collection?
They’re either going to like them or not want to have anything to do with them. Some people just walk straight past them. My young cousins from Sydney and Canberra love them. One works at the National Gallery. She came in and she said, “Love it.”
I’m not buying these as a massive investment or anything. I don’t think of it that way. I’m buying them because I love them and I’m going to enjoy them. Then later on I can pass them down to the younger ones in the family.
Jody: What advice would you have for a new collector?
Pixie: Buy something that you love most. I’m running out of wall space now. The long term plan is to clear out the cellar and start rotating things.
Jody: What a lovely thing to have a house like a gallery. It sounds like it really is a gallery.
Pixie: Yes. It’s all mixed up with other things.
Jody: If you were meeting somebody who didn’t own any paintings and were a bit nervous about starting the process, how would you explain it to them? Is there anything that you’ve learned in the journey that’s been useful to you that you want to pass on?
Pixie: I’d say buy it because you love it, not for the name of the person or the price or any other reason. Just buy it because you love it.
Jody: Other than your family, is this is a passion you share with a lot of people?
Pixie: No. Not with friends. Few of them have that sort of passion. My young cousins do. They come in and love them so that’s the most important thing for me really. What I enjoy is the children coming in and saying, “Love it. Love it.” I’ve got names on the back already. There are little bits of paper saying who each painting is for.
Jody: Are you collecting other contemporary art besides aboriginal painting?
Pixie: No. I don’t really want any other paintings other than aboriginal art.
Jody: Why is that?
Pixie: Because I love them. The other thing about them is that they make me, let me. think about the bush. The outback. I have this longing to be out there. Whether that will ever happen now, I don’t know. When I was a child and I think I was probably about nine my mother became ill. She had pneumonia very badly. The doctors said, “You should get into a drier climate.” She went to Sandstone and worked on a station out of Sandstone as a governess and I went as well and I loved it. Then mother moved from that station to another station as housekeeper. It was only over maybe 18 months.
It was just amazing for me and I can remember going to one area out of Sandstone. It was walkable distance with all the local kids and we went to this place and it was the wildflower season. It must have been September, October or something. The wildflowers were out and there were flowers and colors that I’ve never seen in my life before. I would just couldn’t believe … I’ve never forgotten that.
Jody: It sounds like the paintings represent a lovely connection to that special childhood place.
Yes, I think you’re probably right there. Later on I did go back into that country and then I actually did quite a lot of pastel work and some crayons. These experiences mean a lot to me and the paintings remind me of them.
Jody: Thanks for sharing your story with us Pixie, it's been lovely.
Pixie: My pleasure.
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