Ray Hughes' personal collection on sale ahead of gallery closure

By Jane O'Sullivan | The Australian Financial Review | Thursday 25 November 2015


More than 90 works from the personal collection of Sydney art dealer Ray Hughes are being put up for auction with Shapiro on November 30, ahead of the closure of The Hughes Gallery at the end of the year.

The works are only a small fraction of Ray Hughes' personal collection, says his son and gallery co-director Evan Hughes. Most are smaller items and works on paper, including several by Peter Booth, William Robinson and John Firth-Smith, though there are also some larger paintings, including Ken Whisson's Trees Motorcars and Rain from 1978, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

"All of the things we've included I think are worthy to test on the market right now," says Hughes. "Art from the 1970s and 1980s is going to start getting a little bit more attention than it has been. Basically someone has to test the market with good quality works from an important era … from collections that have been built by people with very good eyes."

Ray Hughes opened his first gallery in Brisbane in 1969, settling into his current premises in Devonshire Street in inner city Sydney in 1988.

"Ray helped people look at things," says Evan Hughes about the role his father played in developing the profiles of numerous artists. He adds that recently Ray's health has been declining and it is now time to think about "taking stock" and letting other people enjoy the works.

While the gallery will cease holding regular exhibitions, the father and son duo will continue to do "bits and bobs", including potentially turning the top floor of the Devonshire Street building into an art foundation and by-appointment art reference library.

But the next major project is already under way. Significant pieces in the collection are being offered to public institutions around Australia, and it's hoped a series of large gifts will be announced in 2016.

Australian and International Art and Design

Auction Monday 30 November 6.30pm

View the full catalogue and results online