By Bev Malzard
Regional art galleries throughout Australia offer a vital contribution to the community’s cultural life. Emerging artists are promoted and travelling exhibitions will see works by artists that are of the highest quality and internationally recognised.
If you are lucky enough to catch the gallery’s curator, there’s the opportunity for a yarn about local artists, local history and perhaps a bit of council gossip. Whomever is working at the gallery shop (wonderful for gifts) is a wealth of local info too.
Take your credit card with you as this is where you might snap up the next Dobell, Blackwell, Margaret Preston or Grace Cossington Smith.
Here are my top 10 regional galleries that are worth putting on your wish list.
Bega Valley Regional Art Gallery, Bega on the far south coast of NSW.
Meroogal House, Meroogal, Nowra, South Coast NSW, a gothic-style house where four generations of women lived until the 1980s when it became a museum of domestic life.
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah, northern NSW.
Bathurst Regional Gallery, Bathurst, central west NSW.
Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria are the heavyweights of regional galleries. Travelling exhibitions, Lyndsay family works, the Eureka Flag – both stunning and worth a slow walk round the rooms.
The Aboriginal Art House, Hahndorf, SA. The gallery has a wide range of Indigenous art and artefacts along with explanations of the various symbols in the artworks. Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the Dampier Peninsula far north Western Australia, has a stunning pearls on exhibit and pearl shell carvings ‘Riji” by Indigenous Bardi men.
Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, WA is housed in a peachy-pink heritage building.
Stanthorpe Regional Gallery, in the Granite Belt, Qld is a new building with exciting exhibitions – and indeed, prospects.
It’s not regional, only a few kms from Hobart but MONA in Tassie is one of the most provocative and exciting galleries in Australia. Go for the experience and go with an open mind.
The most exciting thing to happen in the regional art world is the advent of Wall art and Silo Art. Towns such as Benalla in north east Victoria has an annual Wall art festival which see the town all buzzy and beautiful welcoming the cream of young artists painting walls.
And their biggest fans are the Baby Boomers who travel the towns and are familiar with the artists’ work, talk to them and are encouraging.
The Silo Art Trail in Victoria shows stunning work done on the high, decommissioned silos. Often the paintings are of local farmers representing the legacy of those on the land.
Whether it’s classic, modern, at a market or on the side of a silo, regional Australia doesn’t disappoint when it comes to art – even if you think you’re not a culture vulture.