Social hub prepares to celebrate long history
Gallery and library to mark decades within community
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.
UNVEILING: The then-new half-million dollar gallery and library was officially opened to the public during a big ceremony in November 1987.
Peter McKechnie officially opens the gallery.