Oldest regional art gallery at the heart of community

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By Kate Foreman

Regional communities are run on the dedication of passionate people and hard working volunteers.

A sentiment no different in the South East town of Naracoorte, where in 2018 the local Naracoorte Art Gallery will be celebrating its 50th birthday, along with many of those passionate and hard working people.

This milestone will make the Naracoorte Art Gallery the longest running regional gallery in South Australia.

Having always been run by a board of 10 members, the gallery is currently chaired by local Kaye Beauchamp, two paid secretaries Rachel Haynes and Lesley Barker, and a team of “wonderful” volunteers.

The gallery’s recent exhibition Iconography has been a huge hit, with Harrow portraits artist Ron Penrose creating visual masterpieces of local icons and celebrities.

Fremantle footballer Lachie Neale, who grew up on the Limestone Coast, is part of the Iconography exhibition. PHOTO: Naracoorte Herald.

Currently running until May 13, the exhibition showcases portraits of ex-Naracoorte Football Club legend and SA export turned AFL’s Fremantle Football Club player Lachie Neale and Naracoorte Lucindale Mayor Erika Vickery, among others.

Secretary Rachel Haynes says the gallery wouldn’t stay open without the support of local volunteers.

“Without our volunteers the gallery could not open its doors, and we are very grateful to the support we receive and also to the board members,” she says.

“We are open Wednesday to Friday 10am to 4pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm.

“The Naracoorte Lucindale Council also provides monetary support annually, without this we could not keep our doors open.”

Dozens of locals attend the exhibition opening. PHOTO: Naracoorte Herald.

Rachel says the gallery also has a huge benefit on the local community as it appeals to a wide range of people and is free to visit.

“In a world full of things made in China it is a treat to find something made with love by a local artist,” she says.

“There is always something new to see or try, and spark the imagination, provide an outlet for the artistically minded, a community where like minded people can come together to learn, or be inspired or just to behold.”

Over the years the local community has shown great support to the gallery’s exhibitions, workshops and retail shop.

Catering for all walks of life, ages and artistic ability, the gallery continues to enrich the lives of those involved on a daily basis and those who visit on occasion.

Iconography highlights this by telling the stories of people from all backgrounds.

Naracoorte Art Gallery secretaries Lesley Barker, left, and Rachel Haynes. PHOTO: Naracoorte Herald.

“Just like the sitters of our Iconography exhibition the portraits bring the community together to honour and recognise our locals,” Rachel says.

“Our children’s and adult art workshops are very popular and it is great to see the young ones engaged and excited to see their masterpiece hanging proudly on the wall.

“Our aim is to encourage appreciation of the arts, and the promotion of local artists.”

For those at the heart of the gallery, it is always important to showcase local artists and local personalities, to celebrate those people in the community who make a huge contribution.

Reaching milestones like the 50th anniversary can only be achieved when individuals give up their time to create something for others.

It’s those passionate people and hard working volunteers who push these history making milestones over the line.

Header image: Naracoorte Lucindale Mayor Erika Vickery alongside her portrait at the town’s art gallery. Photo courtesy of the Naracoorte Herald.

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