2 June 2022

Giant Sydney Olympics kewpie doll to star at Bungendore auction

| Sally Hopman
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Large kewpie doll

Pansy the kewpie doll has been greeting visitors to Bungendore for years but she’s now looking for a new, large home. Photo: Trip Advisor.

She’s more than six metres tall, has impeccable sporting credentials, is not a bad dancer and has been greeting folk driving into Bungendore for years – and she could be yours.

Pansy, the giant kewpie doll who has reigned over the antique store at the entrance to Bungendore, is the star attraction at an auction this weekend where the treasures of well-known collector Gary Madden will go under the hammer.

She was one of the 12 giant kewpie dolls who danced their way around the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games.

All the dolls were sold off at a post-Olympics auction, one going to the National Museum of Australia and another to Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum while the others are believed to be in private hands.

Pansy found her way into the Gary Madden collection in 2002, two years after the Sydney Games.

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The brainchildren of stage designer Brian Thomson for the Olympics, the dolls were designed as over-the-top nods to Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 film Strictly Ballroom and Ray Lawler’s iconic Australian 1955 play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

“I guess you could say I saw her advertising potential,” Gary Madden said.

“I can’t tell you the number of people who line up to have their picture taken with her. We have buses of them coming down here. Like all big things, people just love them.”

Gary, who has been collecting just about everything for more than 45 years, said he’s decided to sell his treasures because “I’m getting on a bit and I’m sick of moving stuff all the time”.

Business during the past COVID-19 years also hasn’t been easy.


From crystal ware to old signage, it will all go under the hammer at Bungendore this Saturday. Photo: Tuckerbox Auctions.

Gary sells his wares through the Bungendore antique shop, which will not close.

He has already dismantled Pansy “and moved her down the backyard a bit” so she can be transported easily with her new owner.

Gary says she’s tall but not heavy, being made of fibreglass on a steel frame.

“It’s going to be hard to see her go but hopefully she’ll go to someone who sees her potential,” Gary says.

“I’m happy to see these things passed on so other people get the enjoyment, too.”

Gary says he hasn’t settled on a reserve price for Pansy, saying only that he’s “not going to let her go for $100”.

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Although Pansy will take the starring role at Saturday’s auction, there’ll be truckloads of other treasures going under the hammer ranging from garden gnomes to old gates, Royal Doulton fine china to an original Singer treadle sewing machine, typewriters to planter boxes, antique furniture to paintings.

But wait, there’s more. For those looking for something a little unusual, a “do not use” toilet sign, a barbed wire heart, ice block carry grips, gargoyle door knockers, a school bell, Michelin money box and a surgical theatre medical light will also be among the hundreds of items up for sale.

Although Gary has been selling his collectibles through the Bungendore business for more than 20 years, he has been collecting for about twice as long.

“I started out in a tin shed,” he says.

“I’ve always liked just going out and finding bits and pieces. You get to meet people you would probably never meet – and I’ve met some great people … and some others.”

Gary says some of his “best finds” were not necessarily ones that made him the most money.

Old sewing machine

This old Singer treadle sewing machine will go to auction this Saturday at Bungendore. Photo: Tuckerbox Auctions.

“Some people might ask why I was keeping a particular thing, but there just might be something about it that I like,” he says.

“I remember when I bought a carved piece of wood at a garage sale for $5 once. I think it was from around the 1890s and I remember thinking how clever the maker was to do something back in that era.”

Once Saturday’s sale is over, Gary reckons he’ll return to one of his great loves – “building stuff”.

“I’ve got a lot of junk in the paddock so hopefully I can turn it into something useful,” he says.

He will also keep collecting – maybe just on a smaller scale.

“I’m hopeless … it’s just that I can see the potential in everything,” he says.

The Gary Madden sale will be held this Saturday 4 June at the rear of 32 Malbon St, Bungendore with viewing from 8 am. The live onsite auction will start at 9 am while the onsite and online auction will begin at 2 pm.

More information is available from Tuckerbox Auctions.

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