What started as a search for a solo artist’s studio has grown into a major new community gallery and artspace project for Leigh and the surrounding area.
Foundation Gallery & Arts Hub, which opened its doors in Totara Road last Thursday, December 12, is the brainchild of Australian painter Hillary Austin and her partner Richard Calder, working in conjunction with local artist Awa Gillgren.
The former shop has been transformed into a light and airy gallery and studio space currently filled with an opening exhibition by Hillary, Richard and Awa together with other local artists, including John Wright, Silvia Birch, Ra Gossage, Pat Betts, Jamie Simpson and Rachel Waterhouse.
Hillary says it was a race against time to fix up and paint the rooms in time, but the support from local businesses and residents was overwhelming.
“We’ve been really encouraged by the support from local people, who have been incredibly generous – we just keep getting stuff donated,” she says. “We all work as well, all have jobs, so getting this going is huge.”
Hillary is planning to run children’s art workshops in January, and then start looking at classes for adults and other projects, including men’s shed days (and women’s shed days), life drawing, dyeing and screen printing. There will be monthly exhibitions, some of which will eventuate from workshops and classes, finishing with an end-of-year show by Leigh School students.
“To keep this going as a community arts hub is the intention, to maximise the space, give local artists a chance to show without charging ridiculous commissions, and bring specialist tutors in,” she says.
“We’re very keen to work with the school and run kids’ workshops, particularly through the holidays. It’s offering cool things to do for people who want to be invested. This is a pretty artistically robust community.”
Hillary says Foundation is “a private enterprise with a degree of altruism”, as it is geared to encouraging creativity among a multitude of community groups and sectors.
“What I’ve observed since arriving in Leigh is a level of interest; people are willing to participate,” she says. “There’s the possibility of great sharing of skills, information and culture here.”
Info: Foundation Gallery & Arts Hub on Facebook or email email@example.com