The great indoors: art galleries our hidden tourist attractions 

WITH a world famous coastline and intriguing landscapes it’s no wonder the south-west is home to inspiring art.

This week The Standard spoke to staff at local galleries about their favourite pieces on display this summer.

Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) front of house officer Mirjam van Berge began working with the gallery in September.

She said she discovered her favourite piece on her first day — Robert Dowling’s painting titled Miriam (1864).

“Oksana (a colleague) dragged me to this painting named after me,” Ms van Berge said.

“The story behind the image is she is Miriam, Moses’ sister in biblical form. She is hiding him from the pharaoh.

“Once the great-great-great-grandson of the model (in the painting) came into the gallery.”

Miriam is part of the Hidden Histories exhibition which runs until the end of February.

Liza McCosh owns Scope Galleries in Warrnambool, hosting her own work as well as others including Melbourne sculptor Zoe Ellenberg.

“It’s really hard to choose (a favourite artist) but I really like Zoe Ellenberg’s bronze sculptures,” McCosh said.

“Some of them are bronze nudes on marble bases and there are also some brass ferns on marble bases and they’re quite beautiful.”

Of her own work McCosh said she was really pleased with her abstract painting called Spray. “It’s from my volcanic series and a lot of people that come in here really love it.”

The Whale Bone Gallery is a co-operative in Port Fairy run by its artist members and showcases work in a variety of mediums including paint, ink, textiles, glass, photography and stone. 

Owner/artist Heather Wood said this summer she was admiring the Iceland Series by Freya Marriott and Robert Gatt, of Port Fairy.

The series has been so popular that of the 30 pieces on show and for sale, only four remain.

“They went to Iceland and they took these wonderful photographs, then they did blown glass from the photographs,” Wood said.

A book of the captured images sits beside the artwork. “When people see the photograph and then each individual bowl, they can see the connection.

“It gives it a place in time ... it’s not just something pretty.”

Also in Port Fairy is the Wishart Gallery displaying the paintings of significant Australian artists.

Director Robyn Gardener said it was impossible to choose a favourite, however she loved The View From Jack’s Place by Paul Evans.

“It’s of Yambuk,” Ms Gardener said. 

“It’s a grandiose sized painting which looms over the foyer. You can barely get back enough to see it. 

‘‘It’s the one that people come to look at because it’s a local, regional beautiful scene.”

After enjoying a sweet or savoury treat at the Koroit Country Bakehouse and Gallery in Koroit, head upstairs and discover works from several local artists that are on show.

Co-owner Paul Hand recently bought the bakery and said he didn’t have an eye for art but was impressed by the talent on display.

“It’s a great collection. They are all unique and interesting to look at,” he said.

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