Great Lakes Art Society

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The Great Lakes Art Society plays a vital role in the local comunity providing a venue for talented local artists to showcase their work and tune their skills.

Where did the Great Lakes Art Society start from?

The Great Lakes Art Society was formally established on 21 Nov 1983 with the inaugural meeting held in the Great Lakes Council Chambers. 

The Council invited the Society to host and hold our first Open Exhibition as part of the Oyster Festival celebrations in October 1984.  This event was a great success and led to the continuance of the Great Lakes Art Society Annual Open Exhibition, which was held in the Council chambers until 2008. 

Since then it has been necessary to utilise our own Gallery at 34 Lake Street Forster, due to Council building works. The exhibition in the Gallery was very successful, and all of our exhibitions and functions are now being held there.

Many of the original members are still with the Society, exhibiting their art in the Gallery and participating in the competition at our Members Exhibitions and also the Annual Open Exhibition. 

Of course, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those members for their fine work in establishing art in the beautiful Great Lakes area. Without their foresight and dedication, the artists of our region would not have the facilities of our Gallery available to them. We hesitate to name specific members for fear of not including a special someone who should be named and thanked, but thanks are given to all past and present members for the continuing work done so willingly for the Society – all of which is done on a voluntary basis.

> What are the details of the competition?

Total prize money for the exhibition is $5,000. There are six sections in the exhibition, with generous prizes awarded in each section – including a major award of $1,200. These awards and prizes are possible because of our wonderful sponsors. Without their generosity the exhibition would not have the widespread and outstanding success it has come to enjoy. 

Our sponsors are: Country Energy, Mid Coast Water, Graham Herring Insurance Brokers, Mr. Paul Dixon and family, Memory Lane Picture Framing, All About Arts and Framing, PJ’s Cheaper Choice and the Forster/Tuncurry Medical Centre. We thank them sincerely for their tremendous ongoing support.

> Where do the entrants come from?

Each year entries come in from many parts of New South Wales and sometimes much further afield. Previous major award winners have included Colina Grant, Mervyn Duffy, Fay Joseph, Noelene Miller, David Perkes, Madeleine Szymanski and Brien Stratton. Added to this illustrious group have been quite a few of our own members. To name just a few: Helga Visser, Marilyn Cranfield, and we must never forget our wonderful late Val Wright.

A condition of entry is that all works are for sale. This allows artists the opportunity to exhibit, compete for prizes and perhaps sell some of their work. 

One of the works from the Great Lakes Art Society

One of the works from the Great Lakes Art Society

To encourage our local artists we include a section for members of Great Lakes Art Society who have been members of the Society for at least two years and who have not previously won an award in an open exhibition. This prize is sponsored by one of our Patrons, Paul Dixon and his family and is dedicated to the memory of Paul’s wife, our past member Jean Dixon.

> Who Is the judge for this year?

The Society is delighted to announce well known artist Graham Cox as the judge of this year’s exhibition. Graham’s work has featured in the Wynne Prize and he has won numerous awards, including the Namatjira Memorial Prize.  Graham has been a full time artist since 1977 and has held over 50 solo exhibitions since then.  He has published 2 books, the latest being “The Art of Graham Cox”.

Graham’s works are featured in the Morpeth Gallery, and he has had many art features in the Australian Artist magazine. Graham had some early training in 1961-1962 with Peter Panow, but apart from this is self taught. The majority of Graham’s paintings are landscapes and seascapes of the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury area and the Hunter Valley.

> Who have been some of the previous judges?

Past judges of the event have included many artists and judges well known to the art world and also to our area. To name just a few: Colina Grant, Ken Strong, Gordon Rossiter, Bob Smith and Susan Sheridan.  

> Does the Art Society sponsor other exhibitions? 

As well as the Open Exhibition held annually, the Society holds an annual Members Exhibition, open only to members, but including a section open to children, which proved very popular in 2008. Apart from these two major exhibitions, the Society holds random Special Exhibitions. These exhibitions feature the works of two or three member artists and have also been popular with locals and visitors to the area. 

The Gallery has an ongoing Exhibition of Art by members of the Society, providing a visual feast to visitors. The displays are changed every three months to ensure variety.

We were also fortunate to hold other Special Exhibition at Golden Ponds Retirement Resort.  

Monday workshops are held weekly in the Gallery. We are most fortunate to have talented local tutors working with most mediums i.e. oils, pastels, acrylics, charcoals and pen and wash.

The style and subject matter is interesting and varied, making these workshops popular and well attended.

There are also art classes held on Thursday and Saturday in the Gallery; this enables members a choice of tutors and days to attend classes.

The Gallery was purchased by members of The Great Lakes Art Society to promote and encourage art in the Great Lakes area and is used for that purpose by members and invitees.

> Thanks for your time.

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