A most valuable resource
Posted: 27 Jan 2010 | By: Patricia Anderson - Editor
Regional galleries around Australia play an active and ever-expanding role in bringing a robust program of travelling exhibitions to the attention of regional centres and indeed, in nourishing the art of their own local communities. Their structures - which span Victorian sandstone splendour to converted council chambers and country homesteads, and most recently a dazzling and adventurous construction in Port Macquarie called The Glasshouse, could not be more different from each other and, like brothers, sisters and first cousins, each has a distinct personality.
In line with growing community interest and serendipitous funding, these galleries change and grow. In August this year, West Maitland Technical College re-opened its doors as the Maitland Regional Gallery, after an $8 million refurbishment which enlarged the gallery's exhibition space three-fold.
Occasionally, an exhibition generated at one regional gallery will be in demand with others and find itself touring. Conversely, an exhibition curated at one of the state galleries might tour regional centres. One very successful show was The Gallery Ark exhibition, created by the National Gallery of Victoria, which toured Geelong Gallery, McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre this year.
There have been a host of memorable exhibitions through 2009. Pat Harry: A Retrospective appeared at the Wollongong Gallery in July; a survey of Neil Cuthbert's works Cuthbert: The Painter's Progress opened at Orange Regional Gallery in March 2009 and Idris Murphy: I & Thou 1986-2008 was mounted by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery through September - to name just a few. Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design toured a series of exhibitions called 'Living Treasures' showcasing the works of prominent practitioners concluding with the intricate metalwork of Robert Baines in early 2011.
One organisation which is invaluable to the far-flung network of regional galleries Australia-wide is NETS Victoria (National Exhibitions Touring Support), which plays a central role in both generating and disseminating and exhibitions of excellent quality and diversity. Their exhibitions encompass contemporary art, craft and design throughout around Victoria and across its borders.
Twice a year, NETS Victoria invites submissions from public galleries, craft councils, contemporary art spaces, Aboriginal art organisations, universities, independent curators and individual artists to apply for financial support through their system of grants. A maximum grant of $10,000 is possible under their Exhibition Development Fund (EDF).
The ways in which NETS envisages money being spent is wide ranging indeed. "The funds can be used to assist with research, exhibition checklist development, engaging an independent curator, artists' fees, loan costs, exhibition design, installation costs, and audience development costs such as publications and education kits."
NETS also publishes a list of exhibitions available and ready for despatch - with a description of the exhibition, its organising institution, its curator, its size in lineal metres, its cost and the dates available. Among those shows ready and available for touring in 2010 are Desert Psychedelic: Jimmy Pike, Footprints of the Spirits: The Burrinja Collection, Objects to live by: The art of John Meade, Robert Baines: Metal, and Turbulent Terrain: Manifestations of the sublime in contemporary art.
Images from top:
Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, New South Wales.
Colonial Gallery, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria.