North Queensland art galleries show varied work from contemporary Australian artists, with occasional retrospectives or displays from international artists of importance.
Regional centres in North Queensland are proud of their government-run showcases of Australian and local art. Exhibitions change regularly and often feature touring exhibitions from highly respected printmakers, painters, textile artists, glass artists, ceramicists, jewellers and sculptors.
Community exhibitions at Cairns Regional Gallery are a regular feature and offer opportunities to groups, established and emerging artists. Perc Tucker Gallery in Townsville. Tablelands Gallery in Atherton and Mackay Artspace in Mackay also run similar programmes.
The 'Low Isles, a Fragile Sanctuary' exhibition was an example of a community art group being involved in the Cairns Regional Gallery's exhibition programme.
programmes, including adults and children's art classes, artists’
talks, guided tours and visiting lecturers all help to present an
integrated approach to making the art of the region accessible to the
Private galleries do not attract government funding and so rely on sales of artwork from the many talented artists of Far North Queensland as well as that from other Australian artists. Depending on the interest, experience and willingness of the gallery owners, some hold regular exhibitions to promote new work by their artists. Openings are social events as much as they are sales opportunities!
It is rather a precarious business running an art gallery in a region which has a relatively small population and where the tourist “season” is fairly short. Expenses are high and returns uncertain – this is speaking from experience!
However such a venture can be rewarding in other ways. Having owned a fine art gallery in Port Douglas for a dozen or so years I appreciate the value of enduring friendships developed with artists and clients alike. Being able to showcase innovative and exciting new work from North Queensland as well as that from other Australian artists seemed a worthwhile contribution and a privilege.
Sadly, several private North Queensland art galleries such as Landmark Gallery (fine art dealers), Gallery 53 and Reef Gallery in Cairns have recently closed, as have Marina Gallery and Bilby Gallery in Port Douglas.
Kickarts and Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns are government assisted, artists-run spaces.
KickArts Contemporary Arts has three professional gallery spaces in the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Abbott Street, Cairns and showcases the work of local, national and emerging international artists.
The gift shop
stocks artwork, jewellery and homewares by local artists and designers.
Djumbunji Press is the KickArts fine art printmaking studio, and
editions fine art prints for artists from across Far North Queensland.
Some Aboriginal art galleries also sell mass produced souvenirs and shops selling boomerangs and didgeridoos abound! Jungara Gallery has a good range of aboriginal paintings and original prints and sculptures while Munganbana Gallery showcases the work of the owner, Norman Miller.
Other North Queensland art galleries may be found in the “airconditioned suburb” town of Kuranda, half an hour’s drive up the mountain range road and in the resort town of Port Douglas. Well worth a visit is Ian Stephens' gallery in Kuranda, Kuranda Artists’ Cooperative and Helen Wiltshire Gallery in Mission Beach.
Further afield, galleries in Atherton, the Mareeba Art Centre and the Elizabeth Guzsely Gallery in Cooktown, showcase the artwork of local artists of each area.
In Port Douglas the Australian and Oceanic Gallery shows some fine indigenous and non-indigenous canvases, concentrating on work from Cairns to the tip of Cape York. Candlenut Gallery presented a range of paintings, reproductions and gifts but has now closed (2013).
A recent experiment was the Beautiful Art Spaces project, an exciting collaboration between Cairns Regional Council, Meridien Marina and twenty or so artists occupying twelve studio/gallery shops in one wing of the Marina at Port Douglas. Find out more!