Words: Charlotte Middleton
Overlooking Sydney Harbour, Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf is at the heart of a new cultural precinct opening to the public from 4 November 2021. Housed in an 1897 heritage building known as St Brigid’s, the gallery will launch with an inaugural exhibition of the 20th Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize.
The inner-city suburb of Woollahra has long enjoyed a thriving artistic scene, home to many iconic Australian artists and with one of the highest concentrations of commercial galleries in the country.
Set in the picturesque surrounds of the historic 1863 Council Chambers, Blackburn Gardens, Murray Rose Pool, and Redleaf Beach and kiosk, Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf will present a year-round program of contemporary art exhibitions, residencies, and public programs. The new council-run gallery will aim to showcase a diverse range of artists, from emerging to established, procured and programmed, and will support many non-commercially represented artists.
Cr Susan Wynne, mayor of Woollahra, said: “Woollahra has a well-established connection to the arts which includes the much-loved Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, Australia’s pre-eminent award for small sculpture. Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf will be an artistic hub where people can connect with art through exhibitions, residencies, workshops and public programs. We are excited to open the doors to this fantastic new public gallery for the community to enjoy.”
Taking up the role of gallery coordinator, Sebastian Goldspink – a proud descendant of the Burramattagal people and esteemed curator – will lead the new gallery’s exhibition program.
“It’s an honour to be involved in the launch of this new gallery and to be returning to work in the building that I learnt to read in as a child in its former use as the Double Bay Library,” said Goldspink.
“I look forward to working closely with artists, curators and the team to deliver a dynamic and accessible art space that showcases the deep love and history of art in the East – a place that fosters opportunities for artists to generate new creative memories for future generations.”
The historic building housing the new gallery has been reworked by Tanner Kibble Denton Architects to create four high calibre exhibition spaces spread across two levels, with additional spaces for community activity and for digital and new media art practice. The downstairs cultural hub will become the new home for the Woollahra Artist in Residence Program and providing rent-free studios for artists to work in, while also offering Council-led cultural and creative programs for the community.
After a Covid-safe unveiling of the new gallery and announcement of this year’s Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize winner on 3 November, the finalist exhibition will be on view from 4 November. The exhibition features 52 finalist works, alongside the council’s collection of previous winning works from the yearly prize.
This year’s finalist sculptures were selected from a record 844 entries by a judging panel comprised of director curatorial and digital, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Dr Lara Strongman, art historian, curator and industrial archaeologist Joanna Capon OAM, and celebrated artist and fashion designer Jenny Kee AO.
The gallery’s planned public opening on 4 November 2021 follows NSW Government guidelines and will comply with public health requirements.
This article was originally published 8 October 2021.
Image: St Brigid’s building pre-renovation. Photo: James Horan, 2019. Courtesy: Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf.