Blooming marvellous

Lyndon Dadswell and The Wildflower State.

LYNDON DADSWELL’S sculpture The Wildflower State is coming home after two WA bidders determined to see it return smashed the auction record for the artist’s works.

The successful bid was $81,000, but with the buyer’s premium and GST the final cost will be $94,365, Lloyds Auctioneers head of fine art and luxury Amanda Benson told the Voice.

“Importantly it is going back to WA, and that’s something we were hoping for as the vendor is from WA and indicated that was where they believed it should be,” Ms Benson said.

“The artist record price up until this auction, set at the peak of the Australian art market in 2007, was $34,000, so this has pushed that up by a multiple.”

Ms Benson said eastern states bidders dropped out around the earlier mark, as their interest was as an investment, but the two local bidders continued – unaware of each other’s desire to secure it for WA – until the record price was hit.

“As someone that has lived in WA, I know that Western Australians highly value their cultural heritage,” Ms Benson said.

While The Wildflower State was purchased by a private individual, Ms Benson said they had a prominent company so she has hopes the sculpture will end up on public view.

It has been at Macquarie University’s sculpture park on loan for around 25 years.

Dadswell was the first sculptor to be appointed an official Australian war artist. He resigned his commission in 1942 and returned to the East Sydney Technical College, where he’d just started teaching before war broke out.

The Wildflower State was commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank for the opening of its new building on the corner of Hay and William streets in 1960, and marked a point in the artist’s career when he embraced abstracts.

Edith Cowan University honorary professor Ted Snell remembers the sculpture while it was on the bank and says he was intrigued because it was contentious.

“I think there was even a Rigby cartoon in “I think there was even a Rigby cartoon in the Daily News about it,” Prof Snell said.

“I do bemoan the fact that so much of the public art in our cities has been destroyed, removed or desecrated.

“Some has been saved and repositioned, such as Howard Taylor’s Cyclops from outside the ANZ Bank building in St George’s Terrace which is now at Curtin University, but it is always a risk when developers see an opportunity.”

Prof Snell said it would be great to see The Wildflower State back in WA and hopes that an appropriate site can be found.

by STEVE GRANT

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