Did you know that Canberra is home to more than 23 small galleries? I certainly didn’t until I started investigating our city’s lesser-known art scene for Best of Canberra. What I discovered was a vibrant, enthusiastic set of organisations and a new list of dynamic spaces to keep my eyes on.
I’m breaking the small galleries down into two categories: privately owned galleries, and community galleries funded by the government. From the suggestions on our callout I decided to check out Megalo Print Studio in Kingston and Dickson’s ANCA (Australian National Capital Artists Inc), and then for the private category, Hadfield Gallery in Phillip and Beaver Galleries, Deakin (pictured above).
Megalo Print Studio is in Kingston (above), just near the Old Bus Depot, is a vibrant organisation, that changes its exhibitions monthly. Check up on what’s happening before you go, though, as there is a week’s gap between exhibitions. I popped in and had a look at the Ex Libris collection of prints by Megalo members, and was really impressed. This was a celebration of the bookplate, so all prints were postcard size, and required you to peer closely to really see each work. This exhibition officially opens on 18 June, the same night as the neighbouring Canberra Glassworks has their mid-winter mingle event.
I discovered Megalo collaborates really well with other art organisations and galleries nearby. Often their events fall on the same day, and they provide a southside artists trail to follow. I love this idea. The more art, the better.
My next stop on my own art gallery trail was Australian National Capital Artists or ANCA (above) in Dickson. This is hidden away just off Antill St, not far from the Dickson shops. It is another ever-changing space, that hosts a variety of exhibitions: solo, group, local national and international.
The current exhibition focuses on northern Australia, with gorgeous photographs of Uluru under the stars and a sculpture that brings the cakey Australian earth to life. ANCA is also a community of artists and hosts a variety of studio spaces out the back.
These two are both wonderful spaces, which I’m so glad the ACT government is supporting.
For Best of Canberra I’m going to choose Megalo Print Studios, due to their really well thought-out dynamic program.
Now to check out the private galleries.
Beaver Galleries are situated in Deakin, not far from the National Mint. I’m not sure if this was just me, but when I stepped into the white space of what felt like a home-converted-to-gallery, looking over a sculpture garden, I immediately thought of the Guggenheim Gallery in Venice.
Of course, there is no Picasso on the walls, but there are some lovely, well-exhibited works by Australian artists of a variety of mediums. At the moment, there is a definite avian theme, with birds featuring in most of the four exhibition rooms. There is a café attached, Palette Café, which was flourishing when I visited on a Friday afternoon. I loved the light and feel of this gallery, and could definitely spend a lot time here. I walked away feeling inspired and wishing I had the funds to spend on such artworks for my home.
Margaret Hadfield Vision Gallery is found in the Phillip shops, among a bunch of other art, framing and textile businesses. Many of the works are by Margaret herself, a talented painter who focuses mostly on Australian landscapes and some portraiture. The gallery also acts a studio space and art supplies store, so there is a bit of everything here. The space has more of a shop-like feel and less focus on exhibiting works. However, if you are interested beautiful landscapes and local references it is definitely worth a visit. I’m also tempted to look further into the weekend art classes run there, and the yoga in the gallery on Sundays.
Out of these two, my pick for Best of Canberra is the Beaver Galleries; it is really well-presented and carefully curated, including a wide variety of works that are sure to brighten your day. The lovely café adds an extra element that makes the trip even more worthwhile.
This was just a little glimpse the small galleries that are out there: Megalo Print Studio, ANCA, Margaret Hadfield and Beaver Galleries. But I also recommend that you have a look at what else Canberra has to offer. One of the greatest things about galleries is that their exhibitions are always changing, so there’s always something else to discover.