PHOTOS: Lismore Regional Gallery opening
A BOON to local creative and tourism industries, the $5.8m Lismore Regional Gallery was opened to the community with a glittering launch on Saturday night.
Thousands packed the old Lismore High School quadrangle off Keen St to celebrate the sophisticated new permanent gallery space which replaces an older site on Molesworth St.
Residents poured over hundreds of art works in five exhibit spaces, with the opening program an acknowledgement of the land of the Widjabul-Wyabul people, of the Bundjalung nation.
World leading curator and Bundjalung man Djon Mundine's Four Women (I Do Belong) elegiac exhibit explored the struggle of being a woman of colour.
"I was going to write this thing about what little girls are made of - sugar and spice and all things nice, and all that - but I wanted to make it as brutal as (the artists) wanted," the Sydney-based curator later told The Northern Star.
Gallery visitors flocked to The Hannah Cabinet for a photo of its exquisite exteriors.
Master craftsman Geoff Hannah, originally from Lismore, showcased the 140-drawer masterpiece, which took six years to make using 34 timbers, four species of shell and 17 varieties of precious stone.
A steering committee has been established to buy the $1m cabinet for permanent exhibit, Friends of the Gallery member Gaela Hurford said.
"This masterpiece needs to stay in Lismore," Ms Hurford said.
"119 visitors per day came to the old gallery but when Geoff (Hannah) and his students put on a show we had a 396 people visit per day."
Dreaming Tales, curated by Gumbayynggir woman Alison Williams, showcased works by seven new local artists, on the theme of traditional trade between local nations.
The gallery's creative program will change every six months and will host Picasso, Rembrant, Anish Kapoor and Sarah Lucas exhibits in the future.
High profile curators and art gallery directors including Margaret Olley Art Centre director Susi Muddiman were impressed with the showcase and facilities.
As an "outsider", independent Gold Coast curator Virgina Rigney said, "you feel like there's a real sense of ownership by the community over the gallery."
"It's a reflection of the confidence in cultural practice in the region and in the gallery's ability to draw people in," Ms Rigney said.
The gallery expects 55,000 people annually who will boost Lismore's economy by an estimated $1.8m.
"This place is shmick, it feels like it will become a community hub, like it's the beginning of something very special," said singer-songwriter Sara Tindley.
"It's amazing (the gallery)," said aspiring professional oil painter Ruby Ashburner.
"It's the best thing that Lismore has ever spent its money on and will give emerging artists an opportunity."
The gallery was designed by Bangalow-based architect Dominic Finlay-Jones, who also designed the award-winning Lismore City Hall refurbishment.
Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said the gallery and 'The Quad", Lismore's new town square "will change the face of Lismore CBD".
The Lismore Regional Gallery and Quadrangle project was funded with $2.85 million from the federal government's Stronger Region's Fund, $120,000 from the Lismore Quadrangle Pledge Campaign, $410,000 from the state government, $126,800 in other public donations, and a $500,000 donation from the Margaret Olley Arts Trust.
Council funded the remainder with borrowings of $1.9m.
OPENING HOURS: Tuesday and Wednesday 10am to 4pm, Thursday 10am to 6pm, and Friday/Saturday/Sunday 10am to 4pm.