Goulburn needs a permanent venue, besides the art gallery where artists can showcase their work, argues former resident Barry Cranston.
Mr Cranston, a former Goulburn City councillor, is president of the Queanbeyan Art Society. He has lived in Queanbeyan for over a decade but still takes a keen interest in Goulburn.
In recent time he’s been painting landmark local heritage items, like Lansdowne Bridge, the courthouse and Post Office. It’s giving him time to contemplate the possibilities.
While the city is propelling towards a performing arts venue, Mr Cranston says civic leaders must also consider visual artists either in that space or another.
“If it can’t be at the old Town Hall proposed for performing arts), I’d look at other buildings,” he said.
“Visual arts needs a permanent residence that can be curated. The Art Gallery is great but what about those artists who want to show their work on a consistent basis?
“There is definitely a need for it but it has to be in a place that people can get to.”
Mr Cranston believed the performance centre could be used to showcase local works, and photos of the city’s historic buildings, some of which had been demolished. He recalled the “magnificent” Odeon Theatre and the Grand Hotel in Auburn Street.
“I’ve been looking at old photos of Goulburn recently, some of which I’ve never seen before. The amount of heritage just amazes me,” Mr Cranston said.
“We still have great buildings like The Towers and Bishopthorpe, which are not seen and recognised.”
He’d prefer to see the old Town Hall used as an art gallery, with rotating exhibitions, and for the council to look at another space for the performing arts centre. Mr Cranston suggested The Old Goulburn Brewery could be acquired.
If people thought this was outside the realms of possibility, he reminded the community that as secretary manager of the Goulburn and District Racing Club, he helped secure a $10 million grant for a new racetrack. Funds were available if people chased them, he maintained.
In Queanbeyan Mr Cranston has done just that to improve the existing facility in a heritage house by the riverbank. Still, he says it’s too small. His self-described ‘pie in the sky’ idea is to build a gallery on top of the current Riverside cafe pylons to house national and regional art exhibitions, as well as the Society’s monthly exhibitions.
Every month, the Society has rotating displays but local artworks are also displayed in a room at the Q Theatre.
Mr Cranston said his idea for Goulburn was not about displaying his own paintings.
“There would be so much other work out there,” he said.
“It would be a talking point for heritage, for which Goulburn is so well known. I think Goulburn’s arts community should be more connected.”
But Gallery on Track president Carol Divall said while there wasn’t a huge amount of space, the city was well served.
Gallery on Track hosts artist of the month exhibitions and sells artworks in its restored Blackshaw Road railway barracks premises. Mrs Divall pointed out that Roses Cafe in Goulburn and Yass also displayed and sold local art and in town, 98 Chairs did the same.
“The Goulburn Regional Art Gallery fulfills a certain purpose and we fill another. Yes, it would be good to have a bigger venue, but who is going to run it?,” she said.