Lot 42
  • 42


70,000 - 90,000 AUD
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  • Rosalie Gascoigne
  • Accompanied by the artist's inventory book and photographs  
  • Assemblage of found and made objects
  • Overall: 87 by 74 by 45.5 cm


Gift from the artist to the present owner circa 1976
Private collection, United Kingdom


Gallery A, Sydney


Good condition, consistent with age
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The aesthetic of Rosalie Gascoigne is unmistakable: a combination of natural forms with geometric frames, of chance-found and chance-shaped objects with careful selection and arrangement.  It can be linked to numerous influences: the Zen discipline of Ikebana, which she studied for eight years; late modern gridwork from Jasper Johns to Sol LeWitt; the boxes of Joseph Cornell.  Closer to home there was inspiration in the constructions of sculptor John Armstrong, in the airy abstractions of the painter (and Gascoigne's friend) Michael Taylor and in the rectilinear abstraction of Robert Hunter and of a favourite Dick Watkins assemblage, A charming study (1963).  There are also less elevated sources: the simple 'beauty of grass, stone and bare branch'1; the distressed patinas of bush furniture and architecture; even the quilting of a bored and lonely Canberra housewife.2

The present work is an early ensemble, one which occupies an ambiguous territory between that of Gascoigne's private pursuit of a 'very satisfactory hobby in still life arrangements'3 and her public and increasingly widely acclaimed sculptural practice of the later 1970s and early 1980s.

Table of found objects comprises an array of twenty one loaded plates, bowls, boxes and boards laid out on a plain, even severe single-drawer side table.  Each of these elements is discrete and bears a separate title: Honey Flow; Singleton Bridge; Bird in Bush; Party Piece; Madonna; Safety; Vacancies; Solitaire; Scoreboard; Counting Board; Shells Tidy (no. 1, 2 and 3); Lavender; Hard Core; Hard Tack; Bone Tidy (nos 1 and 2); Winkles; Soup and Betty's Butterfly Box.  Nevertheless, the work exemplifies the artist's 'commitment... to combine things so that one gives more life to the other and so that, together, they become a separate presence, i.e. forces in equilibrium.'4

Table of found objects presents a feast of forces, of ideas and connections: from the artist's life to the work, from one element of the work to another, from the work to other art and out into the world.  To begin with, there is a discernible autobiographical element.  Table of Found Objects is a half-century-on reprise of the artist's first 'artistic' success: Vici MacDonald records that as a ten year-old, she won an award in a school competition for a 'decorated table'.5  The use of 'empty tins, bottles, boxes and seashells'6 comes directly from the program of the Sogetsu school of Ikebana.  The string grid and tape measure numbers of Scoreboard anticipate the stammering concrete poetry of the artist's road sign constructions, while her taste for abstractions of sensory experience can be seen in the ripple or tongue that lies across the bowl in Soup.  In titles and images we find Gascoigne's insistent imagery of the natural world: birds, bees, butterflies.  There is scientfic ordering: palaeontology in the shells and bones, archaeology in the pottery shards and 'farm iron'.  There are fragments of high culture: the postcard of Maso di Banco in Vacancies recalls other quotations from Piero della Francesca.    Elsewhere we see the crosswordist's (or surrealist's) weakness for the pun - cut-out eyes put the 'wink' into winkle shells, while there is even a sly, comic sexuality in the kewpie-doll leg of Party Piece

This is a significant early suite by one of Australia's most refined and sophisticated late modern artists.  Reviewing Gascoigne's first Sydney exhibition in 1975, Daniel Thomas identified the esential quality of such works as a 'marvellously sure and fully sculptural taste in setting up contrasts of texture, colour, direction and weight.  In addition there is a poetic trace of domestic imagery, a hint of the satisfaction found in tidiness and housekeeping...'7

1.  Rosalie Gascoigne, ABC radio broadcast, 1962, quoted in Vici MacDonald, Rosalie Gascoigne, Regaro, Sydney, 1998, p. 15
2.  MacDonald, op. cit., p. 15
3.  Gascoigne, op. cit., p. 15
4.  Rosalie Gascoigne, quoted in Fay Bottrell, The artist-craftsman in Australia: aspects of sensibility, Jack Pollard, Sydney, 1972, p. 39
5.  MacDonald, op. cit., p. 12
6. Sofu Teshigahara, Best of Ikebana: Sogetsu School,  Shufunotomoto, Tokyo, 1962, quoted in MacDonald, op. cit., p. 18
7. Daniel Thomas, 'Interesting Artist's Choice', Sydney  Morning Herald, 8 May 1975