Robert Bleakley (centre) pictured in 2010 at the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery with (left to right) Lisa Bleakley, Maggy Wilson, Susi Maddiman, and Gavin Wilson
Robert Bleakley (centre) pictured in 2010 at the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery with (left to right) Lisa Bleakley, Maggy Wilson, Susi Maddiman, and Gavin Wilson Alex Carter

Unique display of cultural artefacts for Lismore gallery

SOME people buy art because it looks nice on their wall. Others because it's expensive and trendy. But Robert Bleakley's art collection is something else altogether.

The former director of Sotheby's Australia started collecting what he calls "transformative objects" in the 1970s, while directing the tribal art department at Sotheby's in London.

Today his collection features hundreds of works drawn from ancient religious and spiritual cultures across the globe.

Hoarders might keep this vast assembly of works to themselves, but not this veteran collector. He describes himself as a "custodian" who wants to give others the chance to experience the pieces.

"They're not just a white fella's cabinet of curiosities," he said.

"I bought them because they fascinated me and I like to share that. I'd feel content if they created a sense of wonder and inquiry."

Fortunately Mr Bleakley is a Northern Rivers local, which means instead of flying to state galleries in Sydney or Melbourne, art devotees can appreciate the works here.

Recently the Lismore Regional Gallery has been privileged to play host to a selection of the works in the Buyuhyn-Wana: The Transformative Persona exhibition, which runs until October 13.

Tonight Mr Bleakley will speak alongside exhibition curator Djon Mundine, a Bundjalung man who has artfully juxtaposed these ancient objects with contemporary screen-based works.



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