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The Estate of Colin Lanceley


In January this year, celebrated Australian artist Colin Lanceley sadly passed away after a long illness. His legacy lives on in the incredible body of work he left behind, and also, in the impressive collection of art, antiques and artefacts he accumulated over a lifetime shared with his wife Kay.

Next month in Sydney, the estate of Colin Lanceley will be auctioned on site in the Lanceley’s amazing warehouse home and studio in Surry Hills. We spoke with Leonard Joel head art curator Sophie Ullin about this unique collection, and how she navigates an auction of this momentus importance.

27th October, 2015
Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 27th October 2015

For more than three decades, celebrated Australian artist Colin Lanceley and his wife Kay lived in this expansive, eclectic Surry Hills warehouse (where Colin also worked from), decorated with an enormous collection of amazing artwork, antiques and colourful ephemera. I’ve always said the most incredible spaces to document are those belonging to artists, and this impressive home and studio space is just another example of the intense visual richness that artists always seem to bring to the spaces they inhabit.

In January this year, Colin sadly passed away after a long illness. His legacy lives on, of course, in the incredible body of work he has left behind, from his early creations which had a bold, playful and at times rebellious spirit, to the more classical style of his later works. Importantly, too, Colin has left behind an incredible legacy of collecting that extends far beyond just his own work.

A portion of Colin’s personal collection of artworks and artefacts will be auctioned next month on site in his Surry Hills warehouse in Sydney, through Leonard Joel.

This auction offers an incredible insight into Colin’s world, and as such, has been a passionate project for Leonard Joel’s head art curator Sophie Ullin. ‘I was introduced to Kay through a long-time art colleague of mine and we hit it off straight away’ recalls Sophie. ‘She is such a highly intelligent woman, in possession of a sharp wit and wonderful warmth and humility. Every time I see her she regales me with wonderfully funny, intriguing and interesting anecdotes about her and Colin’s life and their interactions with artists, politicians, writers, bon vivants and scoundrels!’

Sophie’s first visit to the Lanceley’s home and studio was a feast for the eyes. ‘I was left with that rare feeling that one only enjoys when you have surveyed the collection of a true aesthete’ she recalls. ’Rarely do we have the opportunity to see how an artist collects. Armed with a sophisticated eye and a highly attuned sense of aesthetics, Colin collected with a sensitive mind and a full deck of passion, paying no heed to trends or artists’ names.’

The Surry Hills warehouse and Studio which the Lanceleys have called home since the mid 1980s is plastered with artwork and collected treasures that reach from the floor to the rooftop. ‘By holding the auction in their home, we do not disturb the spirit, personality and presence of the collection’ Sophie explains. ‘It is the last chance to behold the collection in its entirety before custodianship of the pieces change hands and the complete collection lives on only in memory.’

The Lanceley’s collection includes prints by early to mid 20th century masters including Henri Matisse, Sonia Delauney, Joan Miro, Fernand Leger and Patrick Caulfield, along with quirky, yet highly sophisticated works by lesser known artists. Design pieces by Le Corbuiser and Thonet also form part of the collection, alongside an incredible collection of dinnerware and servingware created in the form of lobsters, crabs and prawns! (Sophie says Colin had a penchant for these kitsch collectibles, much to Kay’s consternation!).

For more on Colin’s impressive career, I recommend reading this really lovely obituary, published in the Sydney Morning Herald when Colin passed away earlier this year. A remarkable man, and a truly remarkable legacy.

The Estate of Colin Lanceley
2 Esther Lane, Surry Hills
Auction: Monday 16 November, 6.30pm

Viewing Dates : Fri 13 Nov, 10-6pm, 
Sat 14 Nov, 10-5pm and Sun 15 Nov, 10-5pm.

View the auction catalogue online here.

The estate of the late Colin Lanceley in Surry Hills, Sydney to be auctioned on site by Leonard Joel on November 16th. Photo courtesy Bresic Whitney.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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