The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection

Live Virtual Auction, 20 September 2022

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection
About the Session

Strauss & Co is pleased to present this extraordinary collection as the featured session this September Live Virtual Auction. An established insolvency practitioner with a passion for the arts, Oliver Powell's principal focus has been collecting South African painting, sculpture and works on paper made since 1950. Colour, graphic ingenuity and emotional weight are all attributes in an artwork that Powell is drawn to. Powell also emphasises the importance of his many encounters with artists. “There is so much value in meeting an artist,” says Powell. “Aspects and details of their life are reflected in what and how they paint.”

Sold for

ZAR 182 080
Lot 62
  • Cecil Skotnes; Totem Pole
  • Cecil Skotnes; Totem Pole
  • Cecil Skotnes; Totem Pole
  • Cecil Skotnes; Totem Pole

Lot Estimate
ZAR 100 000 - 150 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 182 080

About this Item

South African 1926-2009
Totem Pole
acrylic, wood, metal and found objects
height: 118cm; height including base: 138cm


Cecil Skotnes’ paternal ancestry was Norwegian, yet it was his mother’s homeland of Canada, and the towering sculpture of the indigenous people of the Northwest Coast, along with the Haida mortuary posts, that first sparked his interest in totem poles. Carved and often painted, these totem poles commemorated families, histories, ancestral beings, and marked graves. While they were never objects that directly inspired his own work, they alerted him to the totems of Africa and his bookshelves included volumes that illustrated the funerary posts of Madagascar and the carved house posts of the Bangwa of Uganda and the Dogon of Mali. In the late 1960s Vittorino Meneghelli launched his shop and gallery, Totem Meneghelli, bringing art to Johannesburg from his travels in West Africa. Skotnes produced a whole collection of multi-sided painted totems as a contemporary reflection on African art. Since then, he used the form to create small and large freestanding works, at times embellished, using the sides to signify a changing view: in this case, perhaps, the shift of seasons or the colours that characterize both the arctic regions and the tropics.

–— Pippa Skotnes, 2022


Johans Borman Fine Art, September 2009.

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.

View all Cecil Skotnes lots for sale in this auction

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