The Tweed Regional Gallery (formally known as the Tweed River Art Gallery), opened during the Bicentennial Year of 1988 in the converted Proudfoot home, which now houses Council’s Coolamon Cultural Centre. The original building was a lovingly restored Federation-style family home, built from timber milled on the site and located on the bank of the Tweed River on Tumbulgum Road. The last exhibition was shown there in November 2003.
After much fundraising and a generous donation of land by Doug and Margot Anthony, the Gallery moved to its current scenic rural location in 2004. The facility was designed by award-winning Brisbane architect Bud Brannigan. Stage I was officially opened by NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir AO on 1 February 2004. This gala event showcased the region’s vibrant arts community.
Gallery in the hills by John van der Broeke
The stunning new building welcomed over 50,000 visitors in its first year of operation, offering magnificent views from every window. The tremendous community support encouraged the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation Ltd to donate $850,000 towards the completion of Stage II.
Stage II was opened in 2006 by iconic Australian painter Margaret Olley AC. The extension provided additional exhibition space to showcase the Gallery’s collection of Australian portraits and landscapes, artists’ prints and other artworks from the collection. The new space also included additional storage areas, conservation and area for artwork preparation and additional car parking. Since the opening of Stage II, visitor numbers have increased to approximately 70,000 per annum.
Following the passing of Margaret Olley in July 2011, and to honour the express wish of the artist, the Margaret Olley Art Trust gifted $1 million to the Tweed Regional Gallery to establish the Margaret Olley Art Centre as a purpose-built extension to the Gallery.
In November 2011, the Federal Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot announced the Australian Government’s contribution of a further $1 million toward the funding for this project. Further funding was provided by the NSW State Government of $200,000; the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation Ltd of $620,000; the Friends of the Tweed River Gallery Inc. $80,000; and Tweed Shire Council contributions of $1.1 million.
The Margaret Olley Art Centre officially opened on Saturday 15 March, 2014 and is a re-creation of rooms from her home studio in Duxford Street, Paddington, including the Hat Factory and the Yellow Room. The new wing also includes additional exhibition space, storage and multimedia areas. The Frances Mills Education Workshop and the Marks Family Library have also been relocated to the new Centre. Completing the artist’s vision, the Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio operates as a stand-alone facility adjacent to the Margaret Olley Art Centre.
To complement the upgrade of the Gallery, an airlock was added to the front foyer and the retail area and offices were modified. A welcoming Friends of the Gallery Room is now available for the use of the industrious Friends of the Gallery committee and Friends’ members. Additionally an outdoor Pavilion was constructed to complement the existing Gallery Café Area.