Work by popular artist Gary Bunt goes under the hammer at Tennants

An iconic painting by one of the country’s most popular artists working today is coming up for sale in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on June 25.

By Gemma Jimmison
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 11:33 am

‘The Ark’ by Gary Bunt (b.1957) is expected to sell for £12,000-18,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

Bunt, a self-taught artist, and poet based in rural Sussex, began painting full-time in his 20s. However, shortly afterwards he became seriously ill, which inspired a deep faith which is reflected throughout his work today. Bunt’s naïve and often whimsical style captures idealised scenes of English rural life, with themes of Christianity woven deftly through.

Indeed, many of his works have a poem or prayer on the reverse, such as the present painting executed in 2013 of a children’s model Ark and teddy bears which reads “The Ark / Do animals believe in Jesus / Do animals say their prayers / Are raindrops really angels’ tears? / Are there Christian Teddy Bears?”.

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Leading 20th century artists represented in the sale include Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) one of Australia’s most important artists best known for his representations of legendary outlaw Ned Kelly and the drought-parched Outback.

Nolan moved to England in the early 1950s, and the present works were gifted to the vendor who worked for Nolan’s widow, Mary, for many years. On offer is ‘Greece’, a mixed-media depiction of a sailing dinghy off the Grecian coast, painted whilst Nolan was staying on the island of Hydra with Australian writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift (estimate: £1,000-2,000), a lithograph ‘Ned Kelly I’ (estimate: £300-500), and two etchings depicting Ned Kelly and a cow carcass in the Outback (estimate: £300-500 each).

Further notable works include ‘Vertical Lines’ and an untitled mixed media work by Sir Terry Frost (1915-2003) (estimate: £1,500-2,500 each), and a watercolour ‘Study of Lucky (Lux)’ by Maggi Hambling (b.1945). An album of photographs of the Ballets Russes’ performance of ‘Thamar’ by Keith Vaughn are also on offer, with an estimate of £700-1,000.

Further notable lots include ‘Mother Teresa in Prayer’ by Sunita Kumar (b.1942) (estimate: £2,000-3,000). Kumar is one of the most respected artists working in India today, loved for her ability to capture the colour and vibrancy of the country. A resident of Kolkata, she worked closely with Mother Teresa and was her biographer.

Amongst the sculptural lots in the sale is ‘Palestrina’s Pavan’, a 58cm high bronze by Philip Jackson (b.1942) (estimate: £5,000-7,000). Jackson is a contemporary sculptor in the figurative tradition, known for his figures inspired by Venice, such as the present lot.

A limited edition copy of ‘Peter Beard 2006’ is also on offer with an estimate of £1,500-2,000. Beard was a diarist, artist and photographer known for his intricate publications that combine journal entries, photographs, drawings and collages often focusing on his life-long fascination with Africa, its people and animals.

A strong selection of Northern Art is also on offer, with the likes of ‘It’s Bloody Freezing’ by Brian Shields ‘Braaq’ (1951-1997) (estimate: £10,000-15,000), ‘Whitby Regatta’ by Joe Scarborough (b.1938) (estimate: £2,000-3,000), and ‘Working Dog Resting’ by Peter Brook (1927-2009) (estimate: £1,200-1,800). Two works by Geoffrey Key (b.1941) are also on offer, with ‘Bar Interior’ estimated at £3,000-5,000, and ‘Venetian Mask’ at £2,000-3,000.

Viewing will be open at the auction house in Leyburn on Thursday, June 23 from 10am to 4pm, on Friday 24 from 10am from 5pm and on the morning of sale from 8am.

The illustrated sale catalogue will be available at www.tennants.co.uk.

Prices quoted are an estimated hammer price, which is subject to 22% buyer’s premium plus VAT. Estimates are subject to change.