The Localist

Orange Regional Art Renaissance

Not long ago, after taking off on urban adventures overseas and in Australia, I relocated to country NSW. The thing I like most about having returned to my roots is that I now get to witness the palpable resurgence of art as a way of living and breathing and communicating in Orange and its surrounds. And the thing is, art is everywhere here.

During my exploration of the old gold-rush era villages surrounding Orange (such as Forbes, Carcoar and Canowindra), I’ve stumbled across some incredibly charming examples of fading vintage painted wall advertisements on the side walls of abandoned corner stores, disused garages and crumbling warehouses.

All signs point from a past of faded glory to a new era of renaissance for regional arts, with the recent emergence of the PopArtCollective, comprised of a vibrant bunch of young local artists with a penchant for imaginative pop-up art events. If their launch event in March this year was anything to go by, which saw them take over a mechanical repair workshop in an old flour mill and transform it into an art gallery of the senses overnight, we are in for a treat from here on in.

With the Orange Regional Gallery and Jayes Gallery (in nearby Molong) continuing to shine as beacons for local exhibiting artists, the lights are only going to get brighter with the imminent opening of the new quirky CornerStore Gallery in East Orange run by emerging young artist Madeline Young. Whimsically situated on the corner of Autumn and Summers streets, this gallery started life as a pop-up gallery during this year’s Orange F.O.O.D Week in one of the oldest parts of town – which is also experiencing it’s own little renaissance of sorts.

This little stretch of road is a mecca for coffee lovers, and the site of the original cosy Bill’s Beans café, which first introduced Orange to the glories of freshly-ground coffee. Once the gallery opens it’s going to be an ideal Sunday morning activity: fuel up on coffee and then be delighted by works from emerging artists such as Amelia Herbertson and Curtis Peasley.

One of my all-time favourite Orange artists is Joy Engleman, whose works capture the essence of the great Australian outback. Joy leads art tour groups a couple of times a year out to the Arakoola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Strezlecki Desert of South Australia, and her groups of local artists from the Colour City Creatives come back brimming with magic and inspiration for future exhibitions.

To keep up to date with all the art happenings in the region, you can sign up to the Arts OutWest newsletter for news on festivals, exhibitions, theatre, music, Orange art galleries and cultural events. As for me, I’m signing up for a workshop with Hill End Press to learn letterpress printing on a vintage foot treadle press.

Ohmygosh I love this place. The possibilities are endless.





Image. Photo by Kelly-Anne Smith.

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