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Bubble Artefacts Oceanic Tribal Art Gallery

Collector Series Interview


Des Marshall

Based in Australia, Des is a wonderful collector who is shy, honest and in love with New Guinea Tribal Art. His enthusiasm radiates with everyone he shares his stories and collection with. We took a small glimpse into Des’s Pandora’s box and here’s what we found out.

1. In one word how would you describe yourself?


2. Approx. how many pieces do you have in your collection of New Guinea Tribal Art?

A few hundred

3. Do you recall the first time you came across Oceanic Art?

a) If so, where were you, what artefact was it and what was your response – was it love at first sight, or did it take some time to grab you?

It was as a young teenager; I took a shine to an uncles Oceanic carving he had as a guardian at the entrance to his house. It sparked my imagination as I felt a certain protective energy within it. I was so drawn to it he gave it to me. I have and will always treasure this carving.

4. What was the first artefact you purchased and what made you want to buy it?

It was a PNG mask in an antique shop. I bought it for its wildly fierce organic raw energy and its mystery.

5. When did you realise you had earned the title of “Collector”?

I did not realise it had to be earnt as I started collecting all manner of Antiques at an incredibly early age and have always been fascinated by ancient objects. I have been labelled obsessive, weird and a tad crazy

6. What is your most treasured ‘find’ and where and when did you find it?

I find that a question difficult to answer as I could not pick out one as I love them all. They each are a result of personal effort, energy, focus and imagination.

7. What methods do you use to find pieces for your collections – i.e. charity shops, online, auctions, garage sales?

Online, buy sell sites and auctions nowadays.

8. What mistakes have you made with collecting and what can your experience teach new collectors out there?

I think it all boils down to why you are collecting. Is it for resale value or is it for pure pleasure? I have never seen money as my motivation so have never considered resale value. I buy what touches me without any other consideration. That does not make me an expert but having such a simple philosophy does bring me immense pleasure. Of course, you cannot but learn along the way which does enrich the experience. Many of my pieces I have bought first on the feeling they convey to me and then learnt more about them later. I must admit I have been way too impulsive at times and been caught out on paying too much for some pieces but I put it down to a learning experience.

9. What other advice would you give to new collectors?

Buy what you love and don't overthink it!

10. What are your three top tips for getting a good deal on a piece you love?

Not able to answer that question hahaha! I must say I have bought some great pieces that had awfully bad photos depicting the piece. They would be my best buys.

11. What are you most passionate about collecting now?

Likes, hahahahaha! I do enjoy sharing my collection and knowing a few others enjoy some of it also. Masks are my weakness.

12. Where do you see the New Guinea Arts industry going in the future?

I really cannot answer that question as my attention is always aimed at the past way of life reflected in the art. I would imagine it will evolve with the times as all things do.

13. Has the use of technology made it easier or harder to buy pieces? If so, how?

The advent of the internet expanded my collection immensely. It is a worldwide market so have bought from many countries around the world. It used to be Australian junk shops, auctions, markets, and newspaper ads being the only source.

14. Give 5 words that describe the emotion when you sit in a room with your collection.

Love, excitement, curiosity, contentment, and endless fascination.

15. Any final words

I would like to add that even though I had enjoyed the PNG art early on, it was my first trip to the Sepik in the eighties that impressed on me so much and triggered a lifelong interest in the Anthropological side rather than the artistic merits of a piece. There were a small independent group of four of us and we did it rough. Dugout canoes, sleeping on floors, bathing in the river, thousands of mosquitos and tinned mackerel and betelnut are some of the strong and wonderful recollections of those days .By the time we arrived back at Wewak , we were all coated in a patina of Sepik mud. The pieces I buy now reflect a sense of the people I experienced along the way. I do not necessarily find beauty in beautiful objects. They have to convey a certain energy or feeling to interest me.

Many thanks to Des for taking the time to do this interview. A very humble gentleman with a passion for collecting. I hope you all enjoy the read too! Stay tuned to our Blog for our next interview as part of our New Guinea Tribal Art Collectors Series.

Kind regards,

Warren Campbell,

Executive Director, Bubble Artefacts