HomeCouncil2023 a stellar year for Council galleries

2023 a stellar year for Council galleries

Milbi 5 under 25
2023 Galleries Council Galleries
Samantha Matthews, Elise Dorfler, Kelsi Bielefeld and Noah Foley showcased their art practices in the 5 Under 25 event as part of Milbi Festival's The Gathering at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Photo: Natasha Harth

Council-run galleries in Bundaberg and Childers had a stellar year in 2023, with over 33,000 visitors through the doors and much to applaud as we look back over the year.


Of the 24 exhibitions held across Childers Art Space and Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, among the biggest achievements of the year were the curation of exhibitions Wajgan's Return and Phantom: Off the Drawing Board by Gallery Director Rebecca McDuff.

Wajgan's Return saw the works of Gurang Gurang artist Ron Hurley return to country which gave the Gallery an opportunity to celebrate this incredible artist with his family and the region’s First Nations community. 

Through connections with the Hurley family, Council was also able to purchase a number of significant artworks for the Bundaberg Regional Galleries' Collection.

Phantom: Off the Drawing Board has been a summer blockbuster for the gallery, attracting visitors from around the region and across Australia. 

This exhibition explores the mysterious and action-packed universe of The Phantom and, in particular, the work of Bundaberg-based illustrator Shane Foley

Shane Foley Rebecca McDuff
2023 Galleries Council Galleries
Phantom illustrator Shane Foley and Gallery Director Rebecca McDuff in the exhibition Phantom: Off the Drawing Board at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Photo: Natasha Harth

Excitement about the exhibition, which is exclusive to Bundaberg, was evident at the opening night party, a gala event attended by over 300 people.

The broad audience appeal of Wajgan's Return and Phantom: Off the Drawing Board has also helped to drive cultural tourism to the region.

Support of local arts community

A continued commitment to promoting and supporting the region’s artists saw 68 artists and arts workers, 117 other paid positions and 171 volunteers funded across 30 Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grants.

These RADF funded projects attracted 7,300 attendees and 972 participants, which is a fantastic outcome for the region’s vibrant arts community.

The Gathering arts weekend
2023 Galleries Council Galleries
The weaving circle at Milbi Festival arts weekend, The Gathering, was well attended. Photo: Natasha Harth

The Milbi Festival arts weekend, The Gathering, was also a tremendous success with artist talks and musical performances alongside dynamic workshops and demonstrations featuring five local emerging artists and a very popular weaving circle.

Public programs at Council galleries

A reinvigorated public programming schedule led to a marked increase in engagement with schools and educators across the region.

In particular, the community engagement project ‘Message in a Bottle’ saw over 1,000 participants share their thoughts and emotions by leaving an anonymous message in a glass bottle.

The installation, displayed in the Imaginarts space, was a beautiful, reflective space that changed and grew over the course of the program as more participants added their messages.

‘Message in a Bottle’ 
Galleries 2023 Council Galleries
‘Message in a Bottle’ community engagement project was displayed in the Imaginarts space. Photo: Emma Orford

Public Art Masterplan

The launch of the first Public Art Masterplan for Bundaberg Region was a significant highlight of the year.

The plan reflects Council’s continued commitment to the development of the region’s thriving arts and cultural sector, with the first submissions received in September and October.

With so much happening, and more planned for next year, Bundaberg Regional Galleries is the perfect place to be inspired and creative.

For more from these Council galleries over the holidays, see the Bundaberg Regional Galleries summer program here.

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