I’ve traveled the world looking for interesting art, but over the past two years I’ve been on a mission to visit my own city’s art galleries. One of the things that continues to astound me is the number of people who create art here – and that’s awesome news for tourists and locals alike. Because tucked into warehouses and back-streets and all manner of unexpected places are some of the most quirky and innovative art galleries you’ll find in Australia. And with those quirky locations comes a real diversity in artistic practice. In these galleries you’ll find everything from sculptures made of chicken wire through to interior design pieces and investor art.
It’s the perfect day-trip, really. A beautiful drive through Gold Coast’s hinterland towns, a short walk through World Heritage rainforest and waterfalls, a quick pit-stop for some mountain treats and then time to explore local art. Dave Groom’s grandfather established Binna Burra lodge and his connection to the local rainforest is deep and enduring – and that’s reflected in his art which you can see in his studio by appointment.
Susan Capan grew up in Melbourne but has lived on Mt Tamborine for 20 years. Her gallery Capanart is located right in the middle of the main drag, a road known as ‘Gallery Walk’. There are three galleries of note along this stretch of mountain road. Dotted between quirky cafes, restaurants and gift stores. Capanart Gallery includes Susan’s own art – many of which are commissions – as well as the work of other local artists including SWELL Sculpture Festival artist Ivan Lovett. She also sells jewellery with opals sourced from Western Queensland as well as very popular Frida Kahlo portraits, paintings of larger-than-life bouquets and a tonne of investor art. Nearby is the more contemporary art space of Rivendale Gallery as well as Tamborine Dreaming which features Indigenous and Australian art, curios and handicrafts.
- Dave Groom, 671 Binna Burra Road, Beechmont
- Capanart Gallery, Shop 2, 110 Long Road (Gallery Walk), Tamborine Mountain
- Rivendale Gallery, Shop 3, 110 Long Road (Gallery Walk), Tamborine Mountain
- Tamborine Dreaming, 149 Long Road (Gallery Walk), Tamborine Mountain
One of the best things about the Gold Coast is its laid back lifestyle and that means many galleries will welcome you in boardshorts and thongs. The Walls in Miami is one of those spaces. Just two blocks from the beach and nestled amongst a mind-boggling mix of on-trend cafes and like-minded creative spaces, these guys are known for pushing artistic boundaries. Their exhibitions focus on young, local talent and they work with all kinds of artists – from projectionists to photographers, visual artists, sculptors and performing and installation artists. Most of their exhibitions are free and all-ages too, and Miami’s awesome cafes are just a stone’s throw away.
Just down the road at Mermaid Beach and also two blocks from the surf is 19Karen. This space was one of the first warehouse art galleries in Australia and they’re constantly bringing international artists and their work to the bright and airy space. It’s also nestled between other creative businesses in an unlikely area full of warehouses and industrial businesses. They’ve just celebrated their tenth year and most of their opening nights include wicked blues tunes and catering to die for. With a combination of visual art, ceramics and jewellery there’s plenty to covet. The fact that it’s walking distance from the light rail and from all the action of Mermaid and Broadbeach just adds to the appeal.
SOUTHERN GOLD COAST
MAVERICK HAIR & ARTS STUDIO
Coolangatta is known as Gold Coast’s most southern village. With stunning beaches, breath-taking headlands, public art and shady parks, it’s also the home to Maverick Hair and Art Studio. A hairdressing salon might not sound like the kind of place art-lovers gather, but that’s exactly what happens at this one and it’s been flying under the radar for way too long. Maverick has embedded itself in the local arts scene by working with young artists to explore new ideas and mediums and ways to exhibit their work. As well as its contemporary art gallery it holds events, workshops and seminars and boasts a damn fine haircut offering to boot. There’s an art store and bookshop onsite too which stocks art and design books as well as jewellery, ceramics, art prints, homewares and clothing made by local creatives.
The Southern Gold Coast’s favourite art space though, is probably the Dust Temple. Located along a really diverse stretch of Currumbin Creek Road, chock-full of second hand stores, coffee shops, new restaurants, and industrial spaces, this old warehouse has been lovingly re-imagined into one of the city’s most-loved creative event and gallery spaces. Dust Temple itself hosts regular exhibitions as well as fortnightly life drawing classes and is also the home to SOFA Gallery.
SOFA Gallery, otherwise known as the Shed Of Fine Arts, is tucked away at the back of the Dust Temple – a cooperative studio and exhibition space for local artists. It’s currently home to three artists: Dion Parker, Dean Cogle and Andrew Cullen and their goal is to provide a space where artists and the public can mingle; where people can meet artists and see them working. It’s hit and miss as to whether anyone will be working when you drop in (you can always send a message via their Instagram to make an enquiry), but the staff at Dust Temple will point you in the right direction for a sticky-beak. SOFA Gallery has only been open a little while, but it’s already exhibited works by more than 40 local artists, with people snapping up pieces at their regular opening nights. What a perfect souvenir to remember a Gold Coast holiday by.
- Dust Temple and SOFA Gallery, 54 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin
- Maverick Hair and Art, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
HOME OF THE ARTS
A tidal, saltwater lake and the highrises of Surfers Paradise provide a stunning backdrop for the city’s emerging cultural precinct, HOTA – Home of the Arts. With a new outdoor stage and amphitheatre unveiled this year also comes confirmation of a brand new art gallery – the work of Hansen Yuncken, known for managing the delivery of Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. The $60.5 million project is expected to open in 2021 alongside a new pedestrian bridge making the walk from Surfers Paradise to Home of the Arts a breeze. For now though, the Gallery at HOTA remains open with its summer exhibition ‘Let There Be Rock’ opening 8 December and focusing on the city’s rollicking live music scene of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. What makes the trip to HOTA all the more worthwhile is that it’s got a wonderful café which overlooks the newly landscaped gardens and outdoor stage as well as a totally under-rated sculpture walk that takes you around Evandale Lake with stunning views of the Surfers Paradise skyline. 49 sculptures are installed around the lake, featuring the work of local and international artists and the concrete path is suitable for wheelchairs, prams and active kids on scooters and skateboards. If you time your visit on a Sunday, you’ll also catch the Bundall Farmers’ Markets which means fresh produce as well as tasty food truck treats that will appease all kinds of taste-buds.
HOTA Home of the Arts, 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise