So­cial hub pre­pares to cel­e­brate long his­tory

Gallery and li­brary to mark decades within com­mu­nity

Stanthorpe Border Post - - LIFE - Matthew Pur­cell Matthew.Pur­cell@bor­der­post.com.au

TWO spe­cial mile­stones will be com­mem­o­rated on Fri­day evening as the re­gion’s art com­mu­nity salutes 30 and 40 years of gallery con­ti­nu­ity.

The cur­rent gallery and li­brary is cel­e­brat­ing 30 years since its un­veil­ing, while the old gallery would have been 40.

Change is afoot for the three-decade-old build­ing, with the gallery so­ci­ety plac­ing one eye on the fu­ture.

The so­ci­ety con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate ways to ex­pand the cur­rent fa­cil­ity but Fri­day is all about the past.

Af­ter works were housed for years in the Stan­thorpe Shire Coun­cil Chambers and Civic Cen­tre, it was de­cided a new fa­cil­ity would need to be built if art in Stan­thorpe was to ever progress.

Mayor at the time Fred Rogers was the driv­ing force in the early days, but it was dur­ing Neil Sul­li­van’s ten­ure that the build­ing was even­tu­ally erected.

The Mem­ber for Carnar­von, Peter

McKech­nie, was given the hon­our of of­fi­cially open­ing the site on Novem­ber 24, 1987.

In open­ing the com­plex Mr McKech­nie said the shire had “earned the new li­brary and art gallery”.

“The State Gov­ern­ment was pleased to com­mit $103,000 in sub­si­dies to help pro­vide the build­ing. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of funds have been pro­vided by Stan­thorpe Shire Coun­cil.

“Their de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­ceed with the com­plex, de­spite some op­po­si­tion, has brought the project to fruition,” he said.

The final out­lay for the con­struc­tion was $555,800.

Since that day, the gallery and its rep­u­ta­tion have grown ex­po­nen­tially.

Past pres­i­dent of the Stan­thorpe Art Gallery So­ci­ety Trevor Hicks, who now lives on the Gold Coast, was in charge dur­ing the ’87 change over and said the move had been hugely ben­e­fi­cial.

“Coun­cil were af­ter more of­fice space but they couldn’t get grants for of­fice space but they could for gal­leries and li­braries.

“The fact that they (coun­cil) built one at all when no other town that size had any­thing com­pa­ra­ble was amaz­ing.

“I was neg­a­tive about what I thought were, well what we all agreed, were de­sign faults that didn’t im­ple­ment the ba­sic sug­ges­tions we had.

“How­ever, we had a gallery and it was a great build­ing. We could have our open­ings, Jane Smith, who used to be the deputy prin­ci­pal at the school, used to have her mu­sic in the gallery in there.

“I still think it’s marvel­lous ... the old gallery, be­ing up­stairs, just wasn’t ac­ces­si­ble and hardly any­body knew it was there.

“You’re go­ing from horse and buggy to Lam­borgh­ini re­ally when you’ve got your own gallery,” Mr Hicks said.

With an es­ti­mated $3.5m of art­work, in­clud­ing a Pi­casso, works by Charles Black­more and Mar­garet Ol­ley to name a few, the gallery is now the sec­ond-largest re­gional art gallery in Queens­land.

PHOTO: FILE

UN­VEIL­ING: The then-new half-mil­lion dol­lar gallery and li­brary was of­fi­cially opened to the pub­lic dur­ing a big cer­e­mony in Novem­ber 1987.

PHOTO: FILE

Peter McKech­nie of­fi­cially opens the gallery.

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