Gallery Visit May 2014
As an emerging artist it is a good idea to learn about the galleries that operate in your area and country. It is good to know what sort of art they collect and exhibit, how they exhibit the work and how visitors experience the gallery.
There is a lot of information to gather when assessing how art is collected or acquired as well as how it is displayed, advertised and even stored by galleries. It isn’t enough to have someone just set up a store front or old industrial space and call it a gallery. Where it is located, how it presents itself, the people behind the running, its history, the way the building is presented, how it cares for the work in it, how it caters for viewing and how they treat artists are only some of the concerns I have when looking at any gallery or sales outlet for art. This includes the annual or seasonal exhibitions held by charity groups, shires, arts societies and gallery sales outlets/shops.
There has been a lot of work done of the past few decades or so the raise the profile of regional galleries in Australia. When we think of an art gallery we may automatically think of a larger place like the Art Gallery in Canberra, Sydney, or the NGV in Victoria, but not necessarily the Castlemaine Art Galllery or the Bendigo Art Gallery, or even the Rockhampton Art Gallery which I mentioned in another recent blog.
Attending the talk about the very impressive collection shown at McClelland Gallery introduced me to how regional galleries can be a huge benefit to living Australian artists. When Rockhampton was being set up the committee went out and purchased directly from living Australian artists. Mornington Regional Gallery has done similarly. On visiting Castlemaine I was told that they also collect from living Australian artists.
Partly because of learning about the possibility of being noticed and collected by a regional gallery in the future and also to see their existing collection I was keen to see what Castlemaine had to offer. My tutor at TAFE who had in the past run a regional gallery, suggested that it would be an interesting visit for me. He was correct.
Castlemaine is a beautiful town, and the gallery front is impressive an inviting. When we walked in we were greeted by a smiling face and asked if there was anything we needed. Immediate greeting and positive experience to encourage us to stay and look around. We walked through into large, well lit rooms, with very high ceilings and well spaced out artworks. There were seats in the middle of the room for us to sit and look for longer and the paintings were hung at heights that were easy to stand in front of to see and stand close to as well. Important for me as an artist wanting to understand how a work may have been done by a very close inspection.
I was delighted to see a collection of stunning Australian Impressionist works. Some paintings I had only seen in books. My favourite piece was a painting by McCubbin (of course!) “Heath Paddock, Hawthorn”. The stunning evening colours, softly toned in the foreground and leading back to a brilliant strip of light along the horizon drew me into the work. there were several other lovely paintings there by Rick Amor, WB McInnes and Victor Zelman. New names to me, which is good to learn about something I didn’t know before my visit.
The art was captivating and gorgeous. I had a great time looking at it all both as an art lover and a practising artist. the gallery gets a big thumbs up from me for both presentation as a venue and for what it had to offer in artworks. The staff was engaging and even took one of my business cards as I mentioned that I am a practising fine artist in Victoria. This part of our day trip was I felt, well worth the time and effort and I hope to drop in again in the future to see what else this gallery may have to offer.