ARTEFACTS: Retrospective of collecting
A NEW exhibition featuring not-so-new artworks will showcase the early development of the Grafton Regional Gallery and its founding collection.
The exhibition, 30 Years of Collecting: The First Decade, will highlight the Jacaranda Art Society Collection of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, acquired by the society through its annual Jacaranda Art Prize Exhibition and by donation and purchases from 1961 to 1987.
The entrepreneurial skill and vision of these early passionate art supporters brought contemporary art to the Clarence Valley and helped establish a regional gallery in Grafton. People like the former president and secretary of the committee, Percy Sanders, with supporters from the Grafton Rotary Club, held orchid displays grown and sold in his backyard, together with the generosity of local sponsors who raised money to run early exhibitions.
A landscape study by Hector Gilliland was declared to be the best painting in the first exhibition. This contentious decision set off harsh comments about the painting, the artist and judge. As with most controversies, it had more than 1000 people viewing the exhibition during November 1961 so viewing hours were extended.
Continued controversy and appeasement meant a diversity of art styles and artworks were acquired, including local and national content.
By 1970 the exhibition was on its way to becoming one of the largest and best- known regional exhibitions in New South Wales. It was listed in the art competition guide compiled annually by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
In 1975, the collection was valued at $32,320. With lack of space for an exhibition and to house the collection, the late '70s had passions flag.
Increased local sponsorship in the '80s resulted in a flurry of support towards an exhibition, with fundraising being held for the prizemoney. However, holding the exhibitions in a venue was proving difficult and the collection was scattered throughout offices and public buildings to maximise exposure to the public.
Eventually the society had had enough and vigorously took to resolve the gallery issue once and for all. So on August 10, 1983, the society formed a steering committee to inquire into the establishment of an art gallery for Grafton and surrounding Clarence Valley.
The committee of eight and two councillors had the wholehearted support of the Grafton Art Club, City of Grafton Cultural Committee and the Lower Clarence Arts and Crafts Group, Maclean.
In 1985, Prentice House at 158Fitzroy St was successfully secured and run for two years on a volunteer basis.
In 1987, the Bicentennial Authority awarded a grant to refurbish Prentice House on the condition the building was officially run by Grafton City Council as a regional gallery by a management committee set up by the council.
The Grafton Regional Gallery was officially open in March 1988. Julian Faigan was the gallery's first director and at the official opening the entire Jacaranda Art Society Collection was gifted to the Grafton Regional Gallery.
This wonderful gift to the Clarence Valley community represents the foresight of the Jacaranda Art Society. The society's passionate dedication has acquired a strong collection that demonstrates the development of Australian arts practice from the mid-late 20th century Australian art.
Selected works from these early days will be part of the exhibition to revisit this important facet of the gallery's history.
Our gallery reception volunteers have been busy lately and we wish to extend a huge thank you to this amazing team.
For the past few weeks they have been coping with increased visitation to the gallery to view the Archibald 2017 Touring Exhibition.
Many of our visitors are travelling from Queensland to view this popular exhibition while it is on the north coast.
Once the exhibition closes at 2pm on Sunday, March 18, it will be packed up to travel to its next destination at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre from March 24-May 6.
On sale in the gallery shop is Let's Face It: The History of the Archibald Prize written by former ABC arts presenter Peter Ross, with a new chapter by arts writer and Archie veteran Jo Litson.
Now in its sixth edition, Let's Face It provides everything you need to know about the Archibald's beginnings, its controversies and often turbulent history, and the latest winners. The book contains 192 pages with more than 145 illustrations and retails for $50.
Also on sale for $15 each is the ever-popular catalogue, a perfect memento of the exhibition featuring the Archibald prize finalists and winner.
While you are at the Archibald, don't forget to vote in the People's Choice Award. This award is being held at each venue it tours.
There is one lucky winner of a $500 cash prize at each venue courtesy of ANZ, the principal sponsor of the Archibald Prize. The winner will be drawn from those who voted for the portrait that gets the most votes while in Grafton.
Artists in Residence Program
Applications close at 4pm on March 30 for expressions of interest from artists for a residency at the gallery being held from October 8 to November 1 inclusive of these dates.
The program is aimed at emerging and established artists who are developing a career in the arts and is supported with funding from Create NSW.
The successful applicant will have the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award official opening night celebrations.
Contact the gallery for an information and application package.
Warren Mundine book launch
Don't forget the launch and signing of Warren Mundine in Black + White - Race, Politics and Changing Australia at the gallery this Friday from 5.30pm.
This free event is also a fundraiser for The Gallery Foundation, which will be operating a bar.
Please contact the gallery for bookings.