There’s something about the magic scenery and the wide open spaces that encourages artistic talent, and it makes Gunnedah an even more colourful destination. From giant silos to handmade jewellery, you will find it here.
Gunnedah Maize Mill Dorothea Mackellar Mural
The historic Gunnedah Maize Mill in the town centre features a striking 29m sepia mural immortalising the much-loved Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar.
The Mackellar family owned properties in Gunnedah where the poet was a frequent visitor. The mural, visible from across town and circled by the new overpass bridge, was painted by Melbourne-based street artist Heesco Khosnaran who was commissioned by the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society in 2020 to paint the mural. The project was made possible by Gunnedah Shire Council, the State and Federal Governments and Whitehaven Coal.
The artwork features 30-year-old Dorothea Mackellar, and the second verse of her iconic poem My Country, at the top of the image, and an early 20th century farming scene including a draught horse-drawn hay wagon, early Sunshine harvester operating on a paddock of wheat, and a windmill.
These images make the connection with the history of Brenton’s Mill (now Gunnedah Maize Mill), which is also a locally significant heritage-listed building that now hosts the mural.
Water Tower Museum Vietnam War Mural
On a hill overlooking the town of Gunnedah stands the Water Tower Museum, a quirky, cylindrical museum housing a wealth of heritage items.
On the sides of the museum are two iconic images from the Vietnam War painted by award-winning artist Jenny McCracken. The artist was engaged by the Gunnedah & District Historical Society who received a Federal Government grant for drought-affected communities.
The mural facing west features a group of soldiers from 7RAR waiting to be picked up by Huey helicopters, while the mural facing north includes soldiers paying their respects beside the Long Tan Cross.
The artist took just 19 days to complete the detailed mural in 2019, which is now part of the Australian Silo Art Trail.
If you like a bit of colour and diversity in art, Gunnedah Shire is home to a number of interesting street murals.
In the alleyway between Conadilly and Little Conadilly streets in the centre of Gunnedah, there are two murals celebrating the local are. One was installed by Sydney-based and internationally-renowned street artist, Silly Pear, along with Gunnedah’s Alice Weinthal and Louisa Riordan, and captures the essence of our native animals, with giant koalas and cockatoos.
The second is a long, vibrantly colourful mural called Gunnedah Alive, that pays tribute to the artistic talents of the region, from the Dreamtime through to music and dance. It was a collaborative project by members of Arts Gunnedah, funded by the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program.
Gunnedah is known as the Koala Capital of the World, and another mural along the steps of the Gunnedah Civic Centre, is a fun and whimsical depiction of our koala heritage. It was painted by artist collective The Arts Shed and co-ordinated by accomplished local artist Helen Stanley.
The Rainbow Serpent Water Feature
In front of Gunnedah’s Civic Centre in Chandos Street winds a colourful reminder of the Dreamtime.
The award-winning Rainbow Serpent Water Feature realises a long-term dream after local Kamilaroi women persisted for almost 20 years to bring this important story to life. The Kamilaroi artists have drawn on their culture, traditions, families, history and experiences to create this unique water feature that includes 29 circular mosaics surrounding the rainbow serpent which channels water into a small pool.
The Rainbow Serpent Water feature is the final stage of the TRAC Sculpture Court Public Art Project at the Gunnedah Cultural Precinct, which also delivered The River Red Gum Tree in the Mooki Room and the Water Mural in the Mooki Courtyard.
Gunnedah Bicentennial Creative Arts Gallery
It is rare to find a gallery of the style and standard of the Gunnedah Bicentennial Creative Arts Gallery in a regional area, and there is always something interesting to see.
The gallery includes two spaces – the main gallery that hosts exhibitions by both local and visiting artists, and the front gallery, home to the artwork of members of Arts Gunnedah. Both feature changing and diverse displays that showcase the eclectic talents of our Shire. You might find a new favourite piece for your wall!
A Bicentennial grant in 1988 paved the way for the construction of the Bicentennial Creative Arts Gallery in Gunnedah’s Cultural Precinct that includes the classic Town Hall, the Smithurst Theatre, the Civic Cinema and theatre. The Cultural Precinct is the hub of the Shire's community and cultural activities.
To find out more about what is on at the Gunnedah Bicentennial Creative Arts Gallery and the Civic, visit www.thecivic.com.au.
The Mackellar Centre in South Street is not only home to the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society and a collection of Mackellar memorabilia, it also houses the Jean Isherwood Water Colour Collection depicting verses of My Country. The works are displayed in the Bill Clegg Wing of the Mackellar Centre and are worth a special visit.
To find out more about the Mackellar Centre, visit www.dorothea.com.au.
Work of Art Community Gallery
Work of Art Community Gallery was opened in August 2013 by retired businessman, Chris Burgess. Fulfilling a dream to showcase his considerable art collection as well as exhibiting current work by leading international, national and regional artists, Chris created a wonderful community gallery that is a highlight for any art lover.
The gallery has a strong focus on providing a nurturing environment for new and upcoming artists, including many local artists, with the facilitation of artist workshops and the provision of exhibition space. The support of emerging artists is a primary aim of the gallery as well as the promotion of the visual arts.
Work of Art Community Gallery is located in one of Gunnedah's finest old buildings, which was built in the late 1800s as a private home. As well as having four different gallery areas showcasing a wide variety of art works both large and small, there is also a café and garden area.
To find out more about the Work of Art Gallery, visit www.workofartcommunitygallery.com.au.