Work begins on Lismore's new regional gallery

5 September 2016
An artists impression of the Lismore Regional Gallery. Credit: Lismore City Council.
An artists impression of the Lismore Regional Gallery. Credit: Lismore City Council.

Construction work has started on the Lismore Quadrangle for the renovation of the rundown C-Block which will be used as the new building for the Lismore Regional Gallery.

At the end of July, the relocation of the gallery was approved with the help of the $2.85 million the project won in December from the National Stronger Region Funds.

The director of the Lismore Regional Gallery, Brett Adlington said that the improvement will mean the new gallery will give more opportunities to display local artists’ works and travelling exhibitions.

Adlington said the gallery does not currently reach the standards of regional galleries in Australia because there is no climate control such as air conditioning to provide a good environment so the artworks do not get damaged.

"We’re really limited on what we can do," he said. 

But after many decades of trying for government funding, the gallery will move in 2017 to a more suitable building between the Lismore Library and the Northern Rivers Conservatorium.

This new arts precinct will be named the Lismore Quadrangle. 


Director of the Lismore Regional Gallery Brett Adlington. Credit: Jessica Neal

 The renovation of C-Block, which is expected to take 32 weeks, was designed by Dominic Finlay-Jones Architects.

The new regional gallery will keep the brickwork and structure of C-Block however everything else will be rebuilt including the walls, windows and rooftop.

The building is two storeys will have four galleries on the second floor including a gallery for the Lismore Regional Gallery's permanent collection, which is not currently displayed as there is not enough space in the current gallery.

The ground floor will have office space for the staff, a café and bookstore, studio space for artists-in-residence, a multi-function room and another gallery.

The renovated building will meet requirements to make facilities accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities including wider corridors and an elevator.

Arts Northern Rivers will relocate from Alstonville to the C-Block building.

Local artist, Amanda Bromfield currently has her exhibition Damned Whores and God's Police displayed at the Lismore Regional Gallery said that it will provide a good meeting place for the community. 

"People will want to come see the gallery. The Northern Rivers is a great region and I think this will add to the whole notion of the Northen Rivers," she said.

Raimond De Weerdt who is also a local artist said that the new gallery will attract higher profile exhibitions from across Australia and around the world. 

Funding of the new gallery

The Lismore Regional Gallery received the government funding after seeing the evidence of the community support for the project by the pledge campaign.

The community crowdfunding campaign started in 2013 and within six weeks the community had already pledged $125,000.

Lismore City Council will provide up to $1.9 million but the key to the funding puzzle came from the Margaret Olley Trust, which donated $500,000 towards the project.

The trust had planned to contribute to the development six years ago in order to establish the Margaret Olley Studio.

But when the Lismore redevelopment failed to attract major government funding, the trust redirected its funding to the Tweed Regional Gallery.   

Director Brett Adlington says that this project is now "more realistic" in terms of funding partnerships.

Retiring Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said that the relocation of the Lismore Regional Gallery will benefit the community positively.

She said that it gives more local artists an opportunity to display their work in the gallery and see works from other areas.

Ms Dowell also said that the new gallery will boost Lismore’s economy by providing a good tourism spot in the CBD that is also on the main eating street of Lismore.

“We know if you have good exhibitions people will travel to come and that means there is a boost economically because people will spend money, even just to buy a coffee,” she said.

The Lismore Quadrangle will also have a piazza that will connect the three buildings together and create a community space with a bookstore and coffee shop.

The current gallery space will hold its final exhibitions on December 10 and will close its Moleworth Street premises in February.

The Lismore Regional Gallery is scheduled to reopen in the new space in July 2017.