This Gallery is situated within the old Telegraph & Post Office building from which J McDouall Stuart sent his message in Dec 1862, to inform the SA authorities that he had successfully crossed Australia.
Bellow you will find some information about this glorious gallery space we have here in Burra.
In 2011 Postcards South Australia created a wonderful article about the Burra Regional Art Gallery. You can find the original article here: Postcards Burra Art Gallery article. NOTE: You will not get their full interface by following that link due to their peculiar website structure; if you want to browse other articles click on the link at the start of this paragraph.
Bellow are an assortment of photo’s of the various gallery spaces. It’s a beautiful building with excellent show spaces for displaying work from the small and intimate to the huge and confronting with everything in-between.
In the early 1990s interest in the fine arts was such that the time seemed to be right for an Art Gallery to be established in Burra for the people of Burra and of the surrounding region.
Several artists local to Burra and the nearby region had shown, by their skill and by the number and variety of their paintings and other works of art that were exhibited and sold, that not only was the Burra region rich in artistic talent but also the wider community was ready to appreciate and support what an Art Gallery in Burra could offer. Such artists included the iconic water-colour painter Leonard Bence, the nationally-recognized portrait painter Robert Hannaford, the popular landscape artist Allyson Parsons and the busy local artist and local artists’ representative Glenys Christopher.
Penhaligon’s Country House in Chapel Street, Burra (which was being operated as a bed and breakfast establishment) was the meeting place, in 1994 , for a group of residents, “weekenders”, pastoralists, small business operators, bed and breakfast providers, town planning consultants and community-minded people from the Burra township and the surrounding region. They sat in front of a warm and welcoming log fire. They enjoyed the hospitality provided by Susan Roche, the then proprietor of Penhaligon’s. They discussed a proposal that an Art Gallery be established. Each of those people was, in his or her own way, a visionary. They were to become the inaugural Board to establish and then manage the proposed Art Gallery.
The District Council of Burra Burra, under the chairmanship of Cr.Graham Kellock, was interested in the proposal to establish an Art Gallery and provided a heritage building and other facilities for the purpose. The historic building, which had been home for the Old Post and Telegraph Office, with its connections with the famous and successful expedition of exploration led by John McDouall Stuart crossing the continent from south to north and return in 1861-1862, proved to be an ideal site.
In October 1994 the interested personnel, who had been meeting at Penhaligon’s, formed themselves into what became the McDouall Stuart Board of the Burra Art Gallery Inc. The inaugural members were Judge Andrew Wilson, as Chairman, Mrs. Jan Davis, Mrs. Jojo Gebhardt, Mr.Vincent Burke, Mr. Tony Barker, Mr. Andrew Gebhardt and the dynamic Mrs. Susan Roche. They were later joined by Cr. Jim Quinn as the Council’s representative on the Board.
One of the Board’s first tasks was to ensure that an application was made to the Arts Grants Committee of the South Australian Country Arts Trust for a grant to renovate and refurbish the Old Post and Telegraph Building. A grant of $36,490.00 was received. A later and second application for a government grant ($45,423.68) was also successful.
The Gallery, whose name was to become the Burra Regional Art Gallery, was officially opened on Saturday, 5 October 1996 by the Chairman of the South Australian Jubilee 150 Board , Mr. Kym Bonython AC, DFC, AFC, KSJ. The Opening Exhibition stimulated great interest. It was entitled : “FAMILY COLLECTIONS AND CONNECTIONS – selected works from the private collections of the Wilson and Bonython families”. The curator was Heather Parker.
In the years that followed the Official Opening, the Gallery operated with the significant assistance of the District Clerk and other members of the staff of the District Council. Such assistance continued to be provided after the Regional Council of Goyder came into existence. The success of the Gallery owes much to the dedication and hard work of those who served on committees such as the Restoration Committee, the Finance Committee, the Local Artists Committee, the Publicity Committee and the Friends of the Gallery. The renovated building soon had all the facilities and amenities of a modern Regional Art Gallery, and it enjoyed an A Class Rating.
Local exhibitions, exhibitions from elsewhere in South Australia, exhibitions from interstate, and the so-called “touring” exhibitions were mounted, and have continued to be mounted ever since. The talent of a wide variety of artists has been put on display. The work of painters, sculptors, quilters, print-makers and many other artists has been exhibited and, on occasions, sold for the mutual benefit of the artist and the Gallery.
To enhance the standing of the Gallery, the Board was pleased to accept from the Council, for permanent display, the Collection of four restored paintings by S.T. Gill. This Collection, as well as the paintings hung from time to time in the Leonard Bence Room, continues to generate interest among visitors to the Gallery.
The extent to which the inaugural Board members may be seen as visionaries may be measured by assessing the extent to which the inaugural Board and its successors have “lived up to the vision” and achieved progress. It was minuted on 9 October 1994 that:
“the Board must aim to provide both a centre of excellence in Art, being widely recognised, yet being one that is also open to local talent and that rests on the input and co-operation of the local community”;
“to ensure that the Board maintains high quality and the integrity to achieve respect and recognition in the wider Arts world, it is essential that the Board undertake the effective and continuous management of the Gallery, with undivided responsibility for decision-making in respect of artistic matters, personnel and management of the building”;
“the Board must accordingly work with the Council in a co-operative manner on a firm and independent basis, with its own constitution and funding, while relying on the practical support of the Council.”
The Board fulfilled its role in the early days. It has not been suggested that the Board’s successors did other than fulfill their role during the past 14 years.
Compiled by Andrew Wilson , the inaugural
Chairman of the McDouall Stuart Board 1994-1997
Are you an artist and wish to show your work here? Please contact the exhibitions co-ordinator. Or would you like to contribute to the operation of the Art Gallery as a volunteer? We have need for people ready and willing with a variety of skill levels and experience. Visit our Contacts Page to find the relevant contact details. Additionally it would be advisable to visit our Information Page for some useful information and resources about how to go about doing this.