Sunday, December 12, 2021

The best of Betty goes under the hammer

by Meredith Hinchliffe and Tony Magee

WHEN Betty Beaver died in October last year, aged 96, “CityNews” craft writer, Meredith Hinchliffe, described her as “a Canberra arts and music champion”.

"Bonds of Friendship" maquette by John Robinson, 1980

Already a trained musician, Betty and her husband Ron Beaver arrived in Canberra during the 1960s, where she taught piano and studied ceramics and design, while helping to found the establishment of the Craft Association of the ACT.

Gallery initiatives began when with daughter Karen, she opened Narek Gallery in Narrabundah, then in the 1970s, Beaver Galleries in Red Hill, which later moved to the purpose-designed gallery complex in Deakin which became a local legend.

Meantime Betty’s musical life continued through the Canberra Recorder and Early Music Society Baroque Ensemble and the Canberra International Music Festival, for whom she commissioned a work from Elena Kats-Chernin titled “Beaver Blaze”, a continuing tradition at the festival.

Hundreds of unique and collectable art pieces from the estate of Betty Beaver went under the hammer last week, December 1, in a massive online auction hosted by AllBids Canberra.

“CityNews” music writer Tony Magee was there to observe…

Potential buyers were able to bid on paintings, etchings, wood carvings, glasswork, ceramics, stoneware, furniture, sculptures, textiles and mixed media.

Among the paintings were “Interior with Platonic Solids”, an oil on canvas by Brian Dunlop and “Pigeon House Mountain”, an etching and aquatint by Pamela Griffith, “Thirroul” by Garry Shead, “Relic VI” by John Winch, Frances Jones’ oil on board “Oranges by the Canal” and “We’ll Never Sell” by Leon Pericles. Other artists represented included Dianne Fogwell, Lorna Nimmo, Raymond Leroy, Inga Hunter, John Borrack, Chris J Denton, David Rose, and Jamie Boyd.

Pieces from the collection “Exhibition of Tasmanian Furniture” at Beaver Galleries included a bespoke Tasmanian blackwood and brass armchair.

Two sculptural pièces de résistance came in the form of a 48cm bronze torso by Phillip Piperides and a bird steel sculpture by Michael Murphy.

Betty Beaver was a passionate collector of glasswork and many of the beautiful objects sold included a black glass vessel by Mel Douglas and a kiln-formed glass sculpture by Judi Elliott.

Other glasswork included pieces by Peter Docherty, Tom Rowney, Peter Crisp, Knell Engman, Chris Pantano, Maureen Williams, Benjamin Edols & Kathy Elliot, Oiva Toikka, Julio Santos, Colin Heaney and Stanislav Melis.

One of the most interesting pieces was the bronze sculpture, “Bonds of Friendship”, 1980, by John Robinson. The piece being auctioned was the maquette, but there are two much larger outdoor versions in the world by the same artist, one in Portsmouth, UK, and its twin in Sydney.

On pick-up from the O’Malley home, proud new owners were seen meeting and conversing about what they’d added to their collections. A common theme amongst buyers was the joy and honour they felt by now owning a piece from the Betty Beaver Collection.

First published in City News, December 7, 2021