Len Costantini checks out the Hastings Street gallery scene.
There can be no question about it – being on holidays is an ideal time to shop – no pressure, no rush.
During my last trip to Noosa I had some serious shopping to do – gifts for visiting overseas relatives and their families back home.
Chasing some things affordably decent (no stuffed koalas made in Korea thank you), I found myself at Nissarana Gallery on Hastings Street.
The lovely Val Pasquale, co-owner of the gallery took on my brief and within moments I had a selection of items to choose from, including designer clothing, jewellery and original silk prints.
Noosa has long been famous for its gallery scene that is mostly conveniently concentrated in Hastings Street.
It’s the critical mass of galleries all within short walking distance of each other that helps make Noosa a unique arts experience, says Muzzie Herbert, Manager of David Hart Gallery.
“Whether buying or just browsing, everyone leaves energy in a place,” says Muzzie.
“Of course sales are important, but it’s equally important for people to visit, so the art can be seen and enjoyed.”
“We welcome everyone through the doors and then let them browse – there’s no hard sell, no expectations,” says Muzzie.
How typically, wonderfully…. Noosa.
The Hasting Street gallery scene also caters to varied budgets and tastes. This reflects how the visitor demographic has diversified over the years, including younger couples.
“Here they have an opportunity to see new things, increase their awareness of the arts and perhaps, indulge in their first investment,” says Val.
“There is something here in Noosa for every taste and budget.”
This is reflected in the galleries’ prices, ranging from $20 for giftware prints to around $600 for works on paper, to up to $22,000 for major paintings.
Noosa’s galleries also compete on the national fine arts stage, advising and guiding investors and showcasing local and national artists, both emerging and established.
Jive Contemporary Art also on Hastings Street is a classic example – specialising in bold abstract paintings, original jewellery and glassworks, the gallery also represents a select group of collectible and emerging Aboriginal artists.
Here the prodigious Aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre, one of the leading Aboriginal painters of all time, hangs along side sought after, local artist Michael Whitehead. Michael’s dynamic, layered abstracts have earned him a growing national and international reputation, with dozens of sold out exhibitions to his credit.
Brokering services are also on offer, with Jive Contemporary Art able to source and or commission works from a range of artists, including Aboriginal artists from the major art producing regions. Works and services like these help to position Noosa’s galleries both nationally and internationally.
Likewise, David Hart Gallery is popular amongst both national and international visitors, showcasing three generations of the famous Hart family, including Pro Hart, David Hart and Chloe Hart.
The gallery also shows many artists from around the country including southeast Queensland. These include Gillie and Mark, a husband and wife team collaborating on their quirky ‘Rabbitgirl’ and ‘Dogman’ series.
“If we don’t have quite what the customer wants, we spend a lot of time with them to commission the perfect painting for their home or business,” says Muzzie.
Like David Hart Gallery, Nissarana Gallery is artist-run, bringing the investor in close contact with creator. Nissarana showcases the photography works of co-owner Visuddhacara Philip Ayres in amazing large limited edition prints framed in solid oak.
Of course so much of what makes Noosa unique is its environment and its spirit of community. The local gallery scene reflects these qualities in abundance.
Many of the works celebrate their creators’ passion for the Australian environment and colours, with the beauty of the Sunshine Coast providing creative inspiration.
Gallery managers say that if they don’t have something that meets a customer’s needs, they are always happy to refer them to another gallery that does.
The support of the galleries for local and southeast Queensland artists, and the patronage of their customers are also crucial to sustaining a vibrant arts scene on the Sunshine Coast.
Nissarana Gallery is a powerful example, showcasing primarily local and southeast Queensland painters and sculptors.
“The artists we represent are like friends and family,” says Val.
“There is a wonderful sense of community here amongst people involved in the arts.”
“It is a great pleasure to connect artists and buyers – helping people find a work of art they truly love, while supporting the careers of our local artists,” says Val.
With Noosa’s galleries all having such a welcoming open-door policy and so much creative diversity, its worth calling in to say hello on your next visit – you never know what inspirations you might find.