Art facilities in the Tweed have come a long way during Allan Macnaughton, Helena Duckworth and Lyn Stewart’s long service to the arts community.
For almost 30 years, Allan has served on the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd., while Helena and Lyn have been long-term contributors at the helm of Friends of Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc.
During this time, the first Tweed regional gallery was established and then relocated to its current spectacular location. Then the creation of the Margaret Olley Art Centre further elevated the facility to become one of Australia’s leading regional galleries.
With the Gallery now regarded as a jewel of the Tweed, the three volunteers brought an end to an era by standing down from their roles when the groups held their respective annual general meetings recently.
Allan was a founding member of the Foundation, the retired Murwillumbah solicitor providing his expertise to help establish the Gallery in its first home - the former Proudfoot family home in Tumbulgum Road - in time for it to host the inaugural Doug Moran Portraiture Prize in 1988.
He was still a leading contributor to the Foundation when the Gallery relocated in 2004 to its current location, and in 2014 he took on the role of Vice President.
“There’s been a lot of hard work but it’s been a labour of love,” Allan said. “It’s been wonderful to be associated with the Gallery and watch it progress. It now has a great reputation and a wonderful collection.”
A prized portrait of Allan’s grandmother Katherine, by celebrated painter Tom Roberts, is nestled among that collection and helped spark Allan’s interest in the arts.
Helena has also been involved since 1988, as a founding member of the Friends.
“I joined the Friends because of my love of art and the fact that when I heard that a regional gallery was planned for Murwillumbah that I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
“I was quite content volunteering on the desk at the old gallery and attending openings for many years. News that a new gallery was planned escalated my wishes to be more involved.”
So Helena joined the Management Committee in 2003 and has held the roles of Vice President and Secretary at different times since then, sometimes at the same time. She was also on the steering committee to plan the Margaret Olley Art Centre.
“At times we were exhausted after a big opening but we always kept happy spirits and light heartedness. We had lots of laughs,” she said.
While Lyn’s time with the Friends has been shorter, she has been their President for the past six years.
During that time, the Friends have donated more than $500,000 to the Gallery, generated by an array of fund-raising enterprises.
That included $100,000 for the creation of the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which is a highlight for Lyn during her time as President.
Lyn said she has very special memories of the lead-up events and the tremendous anticipation “for the day we would finally see Margaret's possessions placed lovingly in the wonderful Margaret Olley Art Centre”.
She said she treasured her time with the Friends, and the auctions, lunches, dinners, morning teas, meet-the-artist events and concerts that had the Gallery buzzing.
“It has been my absolute privilege to work with the wonderful committee members, Gallery staff, volunteers and guides who all support the Gallery with so much dedication and enthusiasm,” Lyn said.