DESPITE coronavirus bring much of the country to a halt, building construction continues to power along on and the Grafton Regional Gallery's multimillion-dollar expansion is no exception.

The screens and scaffolding have been up for a few months now as work has been going on behind closed doors despite bushfires and pandemics.

Gallery Director Niomi Sands kindly took The Daily Examiner readers on a comprehensive tour of what is now no longer recognisable as the space gallery goers would be familiar with.

The video revealed there are two major changes underway, the reconfiguration and gutting of various rooms to be repurposed within the current infrastructure and the massive addition at the rear of the gallery site that backs onto Robinson Ave.

The foundation slab for the new wing has been laid, which you can see in the photograph, which gives you some idea of the size of the project.

Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands stands on the foundations of the gallery's new extension.
Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands stands on the foundations of the gallery's new extension.

During her walk-through of the site Ms Sands relayed how 'super excited' she was about the progress and the changes coming for the gallery once the building works is done.

Amid the machinery noise Ms Sands showed off several sections in the process of being reconfigured including the old cafe space which become accommodation for artist in residence program and when not in use for that purpose a meeting room.

"A lot of the spaces will serve dual purpose", Ms Sands said. She also pointed out the new sculpture garden, where the flood-safe storage will be located and reveals the massive extension area to the public for the first time.

While COVID-19 has forced the closure of the front section of the gallery for the past few weeks, Ms Sands said it will be back up and running as soon as they are given the all-clear by the appropriate official channels.

"Once we get the go-ahead we will resume the exhibition program where were up to when we closed. The dates will be slightly altered to fit in with the remaining timeslots so it aligns with the JADA later in the year."

Ms Sands said they felt it was really important to honour the program as most of the artists featured this year came from the Clarence Valley.

"If they were touring shows it wouldn't be as crucial but the gallery is keen to continue support of local artists."

She said while they may be closed to the public at the moment there were "bits and pieces" happening all the time online.

"There are lots of online workshops and we are adding more each week including the latest Art After School for Teens which include helpful packs you can pick up. If parents have a Creative Kids Voucher it will cover the tuition fee so will cost them zilch."

For more on Art at Home visit the gallery web site and click on the learning tab.


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