Artists back regional gallery

TWO Archibald award-winning artists have thrown their support behind a proposal to build a purpose-built regional art gallery at Lake Alexandra in Mittagong.
Nanjing Night Net

Ben Quilty and John Olsen are urging Highlanders to get behind the idea that would bring world-class touring art exhibits, such as the Archibald, to the Southern Highlands.

“A regional art gallery is much more than just an art gallery, Mr Olsen said.

“It’s a space for meetings and education opportunities. I’ve been a trustee of the NSW and National Gallery so I know how these things work.”

Wingecarribee Council’s draft Plan of Management for Lake Alexandra incorporated building a regional art gallery on the vacant land adjacent to the lake.

A Regional Art Gallery, under the LEP, is defined as a Community Facility which is permissible with consent on land zoned RE1 Public Recreation.

No rezoning of the site was required, however, a Plan of Management must be in place. A draft of the Plan will soon be on public exhibition.

Mr Quilty said it was “embarrassing” that the Highlands did not have a regional art gallery.

“It’s absurd that we can’t have major touring exhibitions here,” he said.

“All the kids here miss out and my son and daughter go to see the Archibald at the Art Gallery of NSW or in Goulburn.

“Any regional gallery will work under the Cultural Gifts Scheme. Donations can be made by anybody.

“Some of the most famous private art collections are here in the Highlands and they will donate under the Cultural Gifts Scheme.

“Without a regional art gallery we’re not building any collections because there’s nowhere to donate.”

He said the most recent Archibald tour received 350,000 visitors through the door and of that, almost half the visits were made during the regional tour.

“Every gallery it went to averaged 28,000 visitors,” he said. “Goulburn Regional Gallery got 22,000 people through and they have a catchment a quarter of what we have.”

Arts and Cultural Committee chair, Cr Juliet Arkwright, said she was close to finalising the creation of a Trust for the gallery that would be administered by The Southern Highlands Foundation.

“This keeps the council at arms length and has tax deductibility. You can’t expect the ratepayers to fund it 100 per cent,” she said.

A council spokesman said art galleries aimed to be interactive in terms of the inside and outside environments.

“Overlooking the lake and Mount Alexandra would give a fantastic landscape setting,” he said.

“Lake Alexandra is a major draw card for locals and visitors to the shire and therefore people would be able to visit the gallery whilst visiting the lake and vice versa.”

Ben Quilty, Cr Juliet Arkwright, John Olsen and Holly Campbell discuss the merits of a regional art gallery overlooking Lake Alexandra. Photo by David Alexander

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Posted by at 21/09/2019
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