Robyn Archer, Strategic Advisor for Gold Coast Arts and Culture, dropped by the Gallery last week and really enjoyed looking around the various works on show. Here is an article she wrote following her visit expressing her pleasure at the advent of our gallery, and other cultural progress.
The pace is quickening in the arts and culture space on the Gold Coast. So much is happening, but a great deal of that is hidden from public view. Artists are embarking on new projects and initiatives (such as the pop-up gallery in Southport and fresh programming at The Walls in Miami). There’s enormous energy currently going into the development of the new Cultural Precinct and BLEACH is developing some beautiful works for next year’s festival. But those huge efforts are all about seeding and planning at this stage, rather than visible outcomes. We want residents and visitors alike to know that there’s so much movement in the city’s cultural sector and visibility is about to change, with the first major public art commission somewhere along the light rail and therefore very much in view of the large number of people now using this transport. Very recently, I was delighted with two highly visible fronts, both discovered within one twenty-four hour period and both bearing the clear signs of that much-loved attribute of the Gold Coast – entrepreneurialism, or the ‘have a go’ ethos.
A new gallery has opened on Bundall Road, close to the Arts Centre and thus to the eventual Cultural Precinct and the Cultural Corridor that will connect with Surfers Paradise and the light rail. Hillier and Skuse Gallery is dedicated to giving space to Gold Coast (and regional) visual artists. It’s a big open space that allows for a commercial hang as well as offering smaller spaces in which individual artists can curate their own show. The gallery opened a couple of weeks ago, with the space accommodating more than two hundred guests. It’s a terrific initiative that allows local artists to show their work and hopefully make some sales; a really significant contribution to the arts landscape on the Gold Coast.
On the same day, I was surprised and delighted to find that one of my perpetual frustrations had been eliminated. It’s great to see the small second-hand bookshops on the coast, and the few commercial outlets seem to be well patronised, but I had been craving a serious literary bookshop. Suddenly, there it was, so unexpectedly at Pacific Fair. A serious, well stocked bookshop with everything from kids’ books to crime, contemporary fiction to classics and everything in between, including a few gifts and a small antiquarian section. Moreover, it had the feel of a bookshop being run by people who know a lot about books, and would go to great lengths to order in something unusual. It is often said that the arts are a sign of civil society and for me it’s absolutely true that a city without an excellent bookshop or two is a city without a soul. The Gold Coast has just expanded its generous soul with this recent addition to the cultural landscape. The accompanying café, also surrounded by shelved books, is a sure sign of the conviviality of Berkelouw Books, whose Sydney and Eumundi branches I have populated and enjoyed for so many years. This one is called Bookface and it will rapidly become a haven for those who love books and literature. To have two important cultural facilities appear out of private commercial initiatives is proof positive of the confidence arising in the cultural sector. Go Gold Coast!
Robyn Archer AO FAHA
Strategic Advisor, Gold Coast Arts and Culture