Gallery Profile - Lone Goat Gallery
Congratulations on receiving funding as part of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Community Fund earlier this year. What gallery improvements has this funding enabled you to complete?
Thank you! The NSW Government’s Stronger Country Community Funding is a complete game changer for Lone Goat Gallery – the funding has enabled us to do a complete refit of the gallery. Lone Goat Gallery was established as a not-for-profit community gallery in a re-purposed conference room in 2013, and was lacking a lot of standard gallery fittings and equipment. It was difficult to install exhibitions that did justice to the artist’s work, and there was always a sense that the space was a temporary display, rather than a purpose-built exhibition space. As one of the few public/community access galleries in the Northern Rivers, our capability to support local artists has been greatly enhanced, and has lifted us to the level of a small professional gallery the equal of any.
The funding has allowed us to create improvements to all aspects of the operation, from gallery presentation and equipment for the use of artists, to back of house administration, and improved public presence and visibility. The fit out has involved local electricians, plumbers, carpenters, builders, plasterers, painters, signage design, concrete polishers, lighting, furniture makers and equipment suppliers. We closed the gallery for four weeks in May to take care of most of the dirty work.
We started the refit by stripping back unnecessary fittings to create a more minimal environment and remove distractions and interrupted wall space. We lifted the carpet tiles and there was a perfect concrete slab underneath, which we polished. We repainted the entire room and ceiling neutral white, and fitted new low-power, daylight balanced LED lights with zoom functions enabling the choice of spotlights or broad wash lighting for artworks.
We covered an unnecessary doorway, which created a new 6-metre span of uninterrupted wall, and built a 2.5 sqm vault with a hinged wall to cover up a concertina operable wall that couldn’t be removed. The vault created another 6 metres of wall space and also a really nice architectural feature that added some great angles and interest to the room, as well much needed storage space. We added minimal skirting boards throughout to replace aluminium skirting that had looked very corporate.
Externally we have repainted the foyer of the library and hallway entry to the gallery a vivid red, and in early December will extend that red to an external wall and install new external and internal gallery signage and branding. This will improve our public visibility substantially.
The gallery had no electronic equipment. We have now added a digital point of sale system to replace carbon copy paper receipts. The next stage of the fit out will include computers, printer and hard drives for administration, and two LED screens, audio speakers and headphones for the gallery enabling presentation of digital and screen-based art. Back of house we have added a glasswasher for exhibition openings, shelving for storage and simple installation equipment.
We are now approaching the final stage of the project, and have commissioned a custom designed mobile display vitrine which also serves as a desk. This desk is designed to be a small shop, and for the first time we will be able to offer small merchandise or small artists’ products or multiples. Matching custom designed plinths and a mobile drawer unit (for works on paper and prints) will also enable us to hold stock of works.
Over 70% of the funding will have been spent in the local community, supporting small business and artisans in the region.
We are lucky to live in a region where the Arts and Culture scene is rapidly growing – have you seen growth in both local and visiting audiences to the gallery and what do you think is driving this growth?
In the six months since the interior component of the refit was completed, we have seen sales from exhibitions improve by up to 500% and attendance figures have doubled. For our artists, these outcomes have a huge impact on the viability of their exhibitions, and certainly we are seeing improved outcomes for artists post-exhibition, such as invitations to show with other galleries, media coverage and commissions. Prior to the renovations we were already seeing steady sales and audience growth.
There is no doubt that the broader Northern Rivers arts scene has seen substantial growth recently. I think there are number of factors combining to drive this growth. A very strong ecosystem has evolved over the last few years and that has a multiplier effect.
The impact of Byron School of Art cannot be overstated. BSA is very unique nationwide as an independent, artist-founded, led and operated school. A progressive, ambitious and cultural community has developed around the school. The exhibitions program at their Project Space is significant for providing a critical space showing high calibre exhibitions by locals and artists from across the country.
The new Lismore Regional Gallery continues to deliver an outstanding program in a great environment led by Brett Addlington, with dedicated space in the program for local artists. A flow on from that is a significant increase in artist-run and temporary projects around Lismore.
Tweed Regional and their new Gallery Downtown in Murwillumbah is dedicated to showing regional artists in a great space with public programs, alongside the M-Arts Precinct studios and Artist-Run spaces.
Northern Rivers Community Gallery under Lee Mathers in Ballina continue to support local artists with a prolific program of exhibitions, and their recent Fire Station studios has provided valuable studio space.
Yeah, Nice! gallery and The Walls gallery (other side of the border, in Miami) are great examples of a blossoming DIY culture. The Roxy Gallery in Kyogle has recently completed a beautiful refit of the space.
There is a lot of activity in the Byron Arts & Industrial estate, with one-off exhibitions, galleries and studios. Many creative local businesses and individuals are supporting artists by commissioning large works, or stocking their artwork in their shops, throughout the region, but the Industrial estate is a hotbed.
The Northern Rivers festival ecosystem provides opportunities and employment for artists with public art programs reaching large audiences online and in real life. Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass are both running artist residencies, and Craig Walsh has run a terrific program for some years at Splendour. The Writers Festival and The Byron Film Festival also provide platforms for local artists in their programs.
CASE and Lisa Cowan’s Art Dinner Series, Byron Arts Magazine, Bay FM, all add to the mix. Community minded individuals like Mario of Howl & Moan Records create deep DIY programs on almost no budget, that support dozens of artists, musical and visual. Northern Rivers Creative has arrived right on time and provides a much-needed online Directory for local artists.
There is so much more out there, but all of these platforms create opportunities for artists, and this inspires artists to create their own platforms and projects too. All of this attracts other artists and creative enterprises to the region also.
What are the programming challenges for a small regional gallery and how do you approach these challenges?
I don’t see challenges really, just opportunities. There is terrific depth to the local scene. The gallery receives many more applications than we are able to show in a year. The biggest challenge for Lone Goat is space. I would love to have more space to run a larger program. We have chosen to feature solo shows predominantly in the program, as a method of providing deep professional development for local artists. We describe Lone Goat as a catalytic community space. Our intention is to create momentum for opportunities beyond the exhibition lifespan itself, and as a concentrated moment for the artist to hone their skills across all aspects of their practice. Funding is of course the big challenge for the gallery and artists, but the health of the local scene is improving that situation. It would always be great to see more ambitious state and federal funding in the region, and many of the organisations mentioned above are achieving terrific programs on threadbare budgets, but could achieve so much more (and create increased employment) with some financial assistance.
Can you tell us about some of the upcoming exhibitions at Lone Goat?
Our final show for the year opens on November 29 with Club Lane Multitask and REDinc. Art Studio – both supported art studios based in the Northern Rivers region, providing inclusive spaces for artists with a disability to develop artworks, experiment and build their art practices. Our program for 2020 is set, and in the new year I’m looking forward to exhibitions by emerging artists like printmaker Jacob Boylan, Aboriginal artist Charmaine Davis, illustrator Myo Yim, and multi-disciplinary artist Hannah Cutts. We have a few surprises in the calendar too!
Q&A with Gallery Director, Andrew McDonald.
29 Nov – 21 Jan: REDinc x Club Lane Multitask, Collab Collective
24 Jan – 18 Feb: Six Lone Goats on Cézanne’s Mountain
Image: Install shot from Inhabit by Marty Baptist & Lee Ralph (2019)