Casual options for buying art in person tends to oscillate between extremes: picking up a dusty bargain secondhand from the op shop, or saving up to buy from a gallery.
A range of outlets around the country aim to bridge the gap, whether by offering affordable original art, or limited-edition, high-quality prints that look very nearly just like the real thing. All you have to do is visit and decide which you want, and then put it in the car.
Here’s our guide to galleries and art hubs around Australia where you can start (or grow) your collection of art.
Project Gallery 90, Sydney
Since opening in the heart of Paddington in mid-2018, Project Gallery 90 has exhibited works from more than 50 emerging and established artists. Group and solo shows curated by gallery owner and painter Kate Hopkinson-Pointer cycle every two weeks, keeping the offerings fresh.
Styles traverse portraiture, landscapes, still lifes and etchings, often with an undeniably Australian tempo. Walk-ins can consider works by Alison Mackay, Peter Berner, James Needham or Cath Beynon, or perhaps take up the gallery’s Smart Arts program, which allows you to make a small payment and then trial the piece at home for a week.
The gallery’s second outpost, Annex Gallery, sits a little further along Oxford Street. Swing by afterwards to view prints courtesy of Cicada Press, an editioning workshop at UNSW Art & Design.
Modern Times, Melbourne
This Smith Street shop is a pillar of the Melbourne design community. Inside, restored vintage furniture is dotted with complementary ceramics, jewellery and textiles by Australian makers, and a range of meticulously curated art lines the walls.
Modern Times hosts exhibitions every month or so, and the original paintings and photographs are often promptly snapped up. Some pieces are also often made into hand-numbered archival prints. These giclee editions are available in various sizes and with different options for framing, so you can mix and match to align with your space. You’ll find contemporary Australian artists such as Sarah Kelk, Stephen Baker, Stacey Rees and Ellie Malin among the collection.
Afterwards, meditate on whether you need one of Billie Justice Thomson’s offbeat Kikkoman prints or a painterly still life by Elizabeth Barnett (or both?) over lunch at Alimentari just across the road.
The Canvas Art Factory, Brisbane
If your art tastes lean more classic than contemporary, head in to The Canvas Art Factory, where Hokusai, Monet, Klimt and Degas are rendered affordable. That’s because this Woolloongabba workshop prints onto canvas, and then stretches and fits these into oak floating frames on-site.
Starry Night by post-impressionist master Vincent Van Gogh is likely to be popular in 2021, with the immersive multi-sensory experience Van Gogh Alive arriving in Brisbane later this year.
You’ll also find vintage posters advertising EC Stearns bicycles and Italian tourism, alongside the Queenslander magazine covers from the 1930s.
Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth
Housed in a stunning 1860s gothic heritage building in Freo, this leading arts organisation regularly presents exhibitions by local and international artists. Its store, Found, stocks textiles, ceramics, wooden homewares, woven objects and jewellery by Western Australian makers, and archival giclee prints by local artists. Find one of Helen Ansell’s vibrant paintings of local flora, Shaun Tan’s sci-fi-like reimaginings of cities and suburbia, and Jocelyn Gregson’s contemporary still lifes of desserts.
Take a seat at Canvas before you drive home to hang your new acquisitions – this verdant hidden cafe in Freo is a peaceful end to a day of art wrangling.
Since launching in 2012, this online art hub has grown to represent 11,000 Australian artists, acting as a platform for everyone from Archibald Prize finalists such as Kim Leutwyler and Kate Gradwell to 20 remote Indigenous art centres, and recent graduates. Bridging the online-offline gap between the art and its buyers, Bluethumb opened its Goodwood bricks-and-mortar gallery in 2020.
It’s an approachable concept (and space) for budding art collectors, exhibiting a sample of the website’s many oil paintings, acrylics, drawings, mixed media and photographs. Score pieces from established names such as Blue Mountains’ Ben Tankard with his distorted Penguin Classics and VB and Honey Chicken and uncover artists to watch such as Geelong’s Kate Rogers and her abstract muses.
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