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Collie, located 230k south of Perth might be best known for its coal mines and power station but has quickly developed as a centre for the arts since Collie Art Gallery officially opened.
The Art Gallery was the realization of a dream of Mrs Jan Wallace, now a life member of the gallery, who first began lobbying the Collie Shire Council in the 1970s for a home for the town’s significant art collection. Local legend has it that she would take her baby in a bassinet to Council meetings. That baby was in his 40s when the gallery opened.
The Collie Gallery Group Inc. was formed in 2013 to lobby for the construction of the gallery and manage its operation. The group worked to raise funds for the project. Funding was provided through Royalties for Regions, Lotterywest, with a half million dollar contribution from Collie Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank. Additional funds were raised for the fit out of the gallery with grants coming from Lotterywest and the Coal Miners’ Welfare Board. Bunbury architect Kent Lyon was employed to design the building which was constructed by local builder White Building Company
The design includes 150 square metres of gallery space, a 50-square-metre studio and storage and working space, designed to allow the gallery to host exhibitions of national and international significance.
Collie Art Gallery was built as part of the Shire of Collie’s SuperTowns program and was made possible with funding from the Shire of Collie, Royalty for Regions and a half million dollar donation from the Collie & Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank. Funding was also provided by Lotterywest and the Coal Miners’ Welfare Board to assist with internal fit out.
The Arthur Boyd exhibition was followed by an exhibition of the Collie Collection.
The Collie Collection comprises works from renowned Australian artists Norman Lindsay, Guy Grey Smith, Elizabeth Durack, Arthur Boyd (senior) and a host of others.
The cornerstone of the collection is the Claude Hotchin bequest, 36 works of art gifted to the people of Collie by Claude Hotchin in 1954.
Claude Hotchin was a self-made man from humble beginnings who left school at the age of 11 and went on to become one of the most significant art benefactors in WA history. It is claimed that over the following forty years, he purchased an average of one painting each week to give away to some other gallery or institution.
From 1947-1964 he was a board member of the trustees of the Perth Public Library, WA Museum and was the first Chairman of the Art Gallery of WA.
In addition to his generous bequest to the people of Collie, Hotchin launched the art collections of other regional towns including Katanning, Northam, Narrogin, Kalgoorlie, Manjimup, Busselton Wagin, Kojonup and Fremantle. Hotchin ultimately donated an estimated 2000 paintings to public art galleries, local governments and other institutions.
Today the Collie Collection has grown to nearly 90 individual pieces. Some have been acquired through the Griffin Festival of the Arts & Crafts, a unique long-standing community event that celebrated and encouraged the creativity and talent of the Collie community.
The Collie Gallery Group has since acquired a number of through donations from art-loving community members, which have included works by indigenous artists of the Carrolup school, such as Reynold Hart and Jimmy Dabb.
Collie is very fortunate to have this extraordinary collection and a fabulous new art gallery in which it can be shown to inspire artists and art lovers of Collie the surrounding regions long into the future.
Since it opened Collie Art Gallery has hosted many significant exhibitions and welcomes inquiries from artists and their representatives.
The gallery offers a diverse range of workshops and development programs suitable for artists at all levels, from primary-school-aged children right through to seniors, absolute beginners to experienced artists. Artists with skills to share are encouraged to hold workshops at the gallery.
The gallery also offers a unique range of mainly hand-made crafts and artwork by local artisans for sale in the gallery’s gift shop.