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BHRAG wins IMAGINE award

Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019

(From left) Museums and Galleries NSW Chair Ray Christison with Tara Callaghan, Blake Griffiths and NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin. PICTURE: Supplied (From left) Museums and Galleries NSW Chair Ray Christison with Tara Callaghan, Blake Griffiths and NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin. PICTURE: Supplied

By Callum Marshall

The work of the city’s art gallery and museum staff has won significant recognition at the Museums and Galleries NSW awards at the Powerhouse Museum on Friday night.

The awards highlight the work and contributions of galleries and museums staff across the state, and the Regional Art Gallery’s FRESHBark program took first prize in the “Engagement Programs: 3-10 paid staff” category.

In the program three young Indigenous artists from the Far West developed their skills with help from experienced artists and exhibited locally over the course of a year. It was run by the gallery alongside Maari Ma.

City Council’s Gallery and Museum Manager Tara Callaghan said winning the award was very exciting.

“It was actually thirteen finalists, so it was pretty amazing to get a win for that,” Ms Callaghan said.

“It was very exciting to be recognised for what we’re doing out here.”

She said the program had been very important for a number of reasons.

“Blake Griffiths, our Programs Officer, worked really hard on that project and we are a gallery with limited staff, so that’s why we do go for state government and federal government funding to supplement our program.

“I think the engagement that we had with the artists, bringing professionals in to mentor them and also taking them out of Broken Hill to gain professional development was really important.

“Also there’s been ongoing benefits from that program. We created a line of merchandise so there’s sustainability elements to it as well where the artists continue to be paid after it.”

Ms Callaghan said she’d love to continue running the program but that depended on whether the federal government would fund it again.

But continuing to exhibit the young Indigenous artists’ work was key, she said.

“That’s the whole purpose - to make sure that they know how to get ready for a professional-level exhibition, curate and select works.

“We will continue working with these artists.”

Local staff also received a ‘highly commended’ award for their work digitising the collections at the Regional Art Gallery and the GeoCentre.

“We got a highly commended in the Capital Programs and Sustainability Programs section,” said Ms Callaghan.

“We’re halfway through that project and we’re digitising all of the gallery’s artworks and the objects and minerals that are at the GeoCentre. 

“It’s over 3000 items. They’re all being photographed and catalogued.

“There was a lot of work that went into the application and there’s a lot of work going into that project so it’s really nice to be recognised for that.”

Councillor Maureen Clark, Chair of the Regional Art Gallery Advisory Committee, said she felt great pride in the gallery’s staff.

“This is an enormous honour for this gallery and it’s a great credit to the professional staff here,” Clr Clark said.

“This is a wonderful way of discovering our Indigenous artists, our young Indigenous artists, and also to encourage them to share their work with the wider community.”

She also congratulated local museum staff on their highly commended award for the digitisation project.

“It’s a huge program and it’s going to aid Broken Hill in tourism, and also in the education for people outside of Broken Hill about what we have here to offer in our GeoCentre,” said Clr Clark.

Clr Clark said the recognition from the awards showed the vigour of the arts scene locally.

“If you look at the non-Indigenous works and the Indigenous works that come through this gallery you can see that we have a vast array of talent here in Broken Hill,” she said.

“This is going to pay homage to that particular art and also put us on the map. 

“All credit to our wonderful regional art gallery staff.”

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