Embrace the cool autumn weather and head indoors for an art and culture fix. Newcastle has a thriving arts scene where creative pursuits are encouraged, and artistic flair is celebrated. Did you know we have more artists per capita than any other city in Australia? If it’s about time you expanded your horizons, here are three local venues to visit for an art and culture experience like no other.
Perched above Civic Park in the city centre, Newcastle Art Gallery is our major cultural institution for the visual arts. The gallery regularly presents high-quality exhibitions, public programs and events that connect to diverse audiences locally and nationally, fostering a passion and curiosity for art and culture.
RACHEL MILNE: Nest is on exhibition from 15 May, the first major solo exhibition by the local artist who produces intimate paintings and portraits set in her home and studio that focus on the beauty in the everyday. The exhibition also includes plein air landscapes of iconic places in Newcastle laden with social history, and recently created works of art on display for the first time.
Want to know more about the artist? Join Rachel Milne and writer Laura Jackel for an opening weekend talk on 15 May to explore Newcastle’s ever-evolving urban landscape and the enduring reference to beauty in the everyday of Milne’s work.
If you’d prefer to get hands-on, book yourself a place at the Adult workshop: Still life painting with Rachel Milne on Sunday 20 June. Join the artist as she guides participants through the stages of creating a still life painting with acrylics while looking at composition, colour and lighting. All materials will be supplied and you'll get to take home a series of small drawings and a medium sized canvas.
From 29 May you can also experience WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait at Newcastle Art Gallery. Developed with renowned artist and curator Brian Robinson, the exhibition showcases the contemporary arts practice that has developed within the Torres Strait and in cities scattered across the Australian continent. Exploring issues of cultural maintenance, Christianity, language and the impact of globalisation on the physical environment of the Torres Strait Islands, this one is not to be missed!
Located on Hunter St in Newcastle West, SenOpsis is an art gallery with a focus on social events. The weekly art classes and singles events provide the chance to express yourself, connect with art and people, and be part of an amazing community. Best of all, there’s a raft of events in the pipeline for the coming month that will get your creative juices flowing.
Join in on the social art class series where you’ll interpret and connect with the work of well-known artists Ethel Spowers (8 May) and Len Annois (22 May). The team at SenOpsis will give you all the tools and materials needed to successfully create your very own picture to take home and keep. All skill levels are welcome.
Experience artistic freedom at it’s finest in the Life Drawing Art Class on 15 and 29 May. Bring your own booze and materials and come get creative! If you don’t have your own materials that's ok - pay a little extra for a sketch pad and graphite pencils which you can take home with you at the end of the class.
On Sunday 9 May head along to the Wild Women Exhibition Opening Party, a show that explores gender expression in a contemporary context. Bringing together intersectional feminism with a challenge to stereotypes, gender identities and the construction of “womanhood”, the artists explore concepts of gender roles, gender expression, and empowerment.
SenOpsis believe that you don’t have to “get art” to enjoy art, making it the perfect venue to explore your creative side and try something different.
It may not seem like an obvious destination for art, but for the month of May you can enjoy Circles of Strength: A Timeless Textiles Community Exhibition at Wallsend Library. Circles of Strength is a series of one hundred and twenty textile artwork hoops and interviews. Each artwork has a QR code which links to an interview with the artist.
People living, working and visiting Newcastle East were asked one important question – “what have you learnt about yourself during COVID-19?” People aged between 3 and 86 years provided an eclectic range of answers.
The answers were interpreted by artists and craftspeople from Newcastle, Queensland and ACT, who have used fibre and textile art techniques including embroidery, quilting, fabric collage, knitting, and weaving to make hoops and tell a story. In doing so, the community art project has created a unique and contemporary social history that's well worth a visit.
Interested in more? Search our Art & Culture category for more great events.