Friends of the gallery turn 21
  • Tuesday 04 October 2016
caloundra regional gallery, friends of the galleryIn early 1995, a group of passionate artists and community members gathered to form a committee to investigate the possibility of opening an art gallery in Caloundra.

Now, in 2016, the Friends, Regional Gallery Caloundra Inc. are preparing to celebrate their 21st birthday.

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski thanked the inspired group of volunteers who had the foresight and dedication to bring the gallery to life.

“Originally named the Caloundra Regional Art Gallery Society, it is thanks to this group of dedicated volunteers and their investment of time and expertise, that we have our fantastic Caloundra Regional Gallery today,” Cr Baberowski said.

“On July 27, 1995, Caloundra City Council resolved to set up a voluntary committee to investigate the opportunities for an art gallery.

“The recommendation was to develop a facility to showcase cultural history, combining tourist facilities, art, museum and retail.

“Today, the gallery is a key element of Caloundra’s civic and cultural heart and we will be forever grateful to the Friends of the Gallery for their wonderful support.”

The Caloundra Regional Art Gallery Society held fundraising barbecues, lunches, dinners and art auctions to gather the funds for a gallery.

In May 1996, Deputy Premier Joan Sheldon MLA, who was the State Treasurer and Minister for the Arts, offered funding towards the development the regional gallery and in December 1997, Caloundra City Council agreed to the development of the Caloundra City Council Art Gallery. 

Several sites across Caloundra were investigated, with the original library building in Felicity Park chosen as the preferred site.

Expressions of interest were sought from architects to design the reconstruction of the old library building, with local firm Bark Design being successful in their submission.

The gallery officially opened on August 11, 2000 – five years after the Friends group first formed – and last year the Gallery marked its 15th birthday with a celebration at which the Friends were special guests.

Twenty-one years on, the Friends, Regional Gallery Caloundra Inc. is still a vibrant and active group of volunteers according to president Marie Pigott. 

“The Friends are passionate about the gallery, the arts and the vital role we play in supporting Caloundra Regional Gallery,” Ms Pigott said.

“I would like to thank the original committee of Phil Rolton, Dianne Bailey, Primrose Madin, Angel Buj Casonoves, Sue Gilmore and Ray Chugg, who, with assistance from chief librarian at that time, Dawn Maddern, and the manager of the Civic Centre, David Gration, were successful in their collective efforts to secure a gallery for Caloundra.

“The passion and dedication of the many committee members and Friends since that time has been inspirational and we hope to continue our involvement for many years to come.
“If you love art and want to connect with like-minded cultural enthusiasts why not join us and become a member of the Friends.”

The Friends, Regional Gallery Caloundra Inc. will celebrate its milestone 21st birthday at a special event to be held at the gallery on Friday, October 14.

For more information and to join the Friends visit the gallery website – or find them on facebook.

The original site on which the gallery now sits was owned by Maurice and Felicity Stiensen. Their residence ‘Felicity Cottage’, built in the early 1940s, was located at 22 Omrah Avenue.

It was sold to the council with the condition that the melaleuca trees were retained. The 1970’s former library building and Felicity Park replaced the old cottage, creating a vibrant and much loved space for residents and visitors to the CBD.

An original painting of ‘Felicity Cottage’, by Maurice and Felicity Stiensen’s neighbour, Peg Leisegang, hangs in the Caloundra Library opposite the gallery.