March 17, 2020
The Wondai Regional Art Gallery is now the second-biggest volunteer-run tourist attraction in Wondai.
During the past year it has received 4517 visitors and sold close to $12,000 in artworks, generating more than $10,000 for local artists.
The Gallery also raised almost $3000 in exhibition fees during 2019, and a further $3000 from its popular monthly Wondai Markets.
It is using the money to repay the South Burnett Regional Council, which advanced the Gallery’s management committee a $15,000, five-year loan last year to pay for part of a $116,000 upgrade to the Gallery’s kitchen and building.
The remainder of the upgrade was funded by a $60,000 grant from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions fund; $26,000 from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund; and $15,000 from the Gallery’s own funds.
The figures were announced at the official opening of the Gallery’s March exhibition by patron Cr Ros Heit.
Cr Heit said the nearby Timber Industry Museum – which also acts as Wondai’s Visitor Information Centre – remains the town’s biggest volunteer-run attraction, and the Wondai Heritage Museum runs a close third.
But she believed the Gallery’s visitor numbers and annual turnover clearly demonstrated there was a firm place for the arts in the region’s tourism mix.
“The Wondai Regional Art Gallery serves a much wider audience than just the South Burnett,” Cr Heit said.
“Visitors tell the Gallery they are impressed with the quality of works on show, and the Gallery’s guestbook is full of positive comments from people who come from all over Australia.
“This is a tribute to the hard work that all the volunteers put into this gallery, and I congratulate them for it.”
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The March exhibition showcases a diverse collection of works drawn from Bundaberg and locally, as well as rarely seen artworks from the collection of the Gallery’s founder Alison Iszlaub.
The gallery is also showcasing textile art from Elizabeth Schmidt which she has created using eco-printed and rusted blankets, cotton and silk cloth and paper.
Elizabeth has used leaves, bark and twigs along with dyes, cloth and paper to create unique, softly dyed works. These are displayed in the front gallery.
The main gallery hosts works by Bundaberg artist Tony Love and his friends, fellow Bundaberg artists Anne Shaw, Gail Thomas, Joy Davoren and Marie Routh.
These works – primarily landscapes – are executed in acrylics, oils, watercolours and other media, and cover a wide range of styles.
By contrast, the third gallery contains a small sample of works from Gallery founder Alison Iszlaub’s personal collection.
Alison, 82, died in 2018 after a long illness and her family recently donated her collection to the Gallery so it can be used for fundraising.
Curator Elaine Madill told the opening night audience the works on show represented a very small part of this extremely large collection, which was put together over several decades and has many early works by artists who later went on to become well-known.
She said she was very grateful to Alison’s daughters Jane and Leigh for the bequest, and was certain many of Alison’s friends would relish the opportunity to acquire some of them – both for their artistic merit, and as a memento of a much-loved friend.
Elaine said the Gallery had already selected some of the best works to add to its permanent collection.
The remainder will be offered to the public later this year when the Gallery runs its annual “Under The Bed” sale.
- “Nature’s Silent Melody”, “Tony and Friends” and the “Alison Iszlaub Collection” will remain on display at the Gallery on the roundabout at Wondai from 10:00am to 4:00pm daily until 4:00pm on Saturday, March 28. Admission to view the exhibitions is free.