Artists to make their mark on Newcastle Art Gallery expansion

12 Jul 2023

Its doors may be temporarily closed to visitors but that hasn't stopped Newcastle Art Gallery bringing art to the city, commissioning new works to be displayed on the construction fencing around the site.

More than 300 artists from across Australia put their names forward to take part in the street hoarding commission project, with Newcastle's Izabela Pluta one of four artists chosen to have their work presented on the temporary fencing.

Proud Yuwi man Dylan Mooney from Brisbane, and Sydney-based artists Diana Baker-Smith and Agus Wijaya will also have their work on show to passers-by during the construction phase of the Art Gallery's major expansion project.

Each artist will produce a striking new work for the street hoarding, working closely with the Art Gallery’s Curatorial and Exhibitions team to develop their ideas.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the high level of interest in the EOI process was testament to the city's reputation as an active and vibrant centre for the arts in NSW.

"Newcastle Art Gallery is held in high regard in the Australian arts community, home to a nationally significant collection worth more than $126 million and with an award-winning artistic program," Cr Nelmes said.

"This esteem will grow further as we progress with our long-awaited Gallery expansion project, which will significantly increase the Gallery's capacity to present works of art of local, national and global importance while also providing our audiences with greater access to the city's renowned public collection.

"In the meantime, the hoarding commission project offers a unique opportunity for audiences to enjoy new site-specific works of art made by these four well-regarded contemporary Australian artists, which will also help to improve the external view of this work zone in the heart of our city."

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM said the selection panel was very impressed with the calibre and diversity of the artists' proposals, with the selected artists capturing themes of renewal, change and anticipation through photography, drawing, painting, text, and digital illustration.

The four new works of art will be digitally reproduced and presented on the temporary street hoarding that will be erected around the Art Gallery site in coming months by Hansen Yuncken, who were awarded the contract for the main construction works by Council in April.

The expansion project recently reached another milestone, with remediation of the historic mine tunnels, 80 metres below the building, now complete.

Around 13,500 cubic metres of grout, which is equivalent to five-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools, was successfully placed in the Dudley and Borehole seams to ensure the safety of the site ahead of the main expansion works.

The remediation work was made possible with the support of the Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund, administered by the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation. Construction is scheduled for completion in late 2024.

The Gallery's temporary street hoarding commission project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

The Newcastle Art Gallery expansion project is supported by $5 million from the Australian Government under the Regional Recovery Partnerships and $5 million from the New South Wales Government, as well as $10.5 million from the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation made possible through the Valerie and John Ryan bequest, Margaret Olley Trust, and community fundraising over many years. A further $2.5 million is currently being sought through the Foundation's public fundraising campaign.

The Regional Recovery Partnerships initiative seeks to broker connections between all levels of government to increase information flow, share technical expertise and strengthen regional development outcomes.