TINKERING in the garage doesn’t usually produce work someone would hang on the walls of an art gallery.
However, the calibre of art now on display at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery throws that concept out the window.
Tulgeen Disability Services’ Beyond the Garage exhibition opened to much acclaim recently, and last week the purpose-built extensions to the “garage” studio in which the artists explore their creativity were shown-off to the public.
Tulgeen Art in the Garage project coordinator Matthew Perry said he started out 12 years ago with four clients in a renovated garage in Eden St, Bega.
Now, the project caters for 29 artists with disabilities, who have had, as a collective, 18 exhibitions of their increasing portfolio of work.
There have also been a number of exhibitions featuring the work of individual artists.
The new Art in the Garage studio incorporates the original renovated garage and new art spaces purpose-built for printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, around a communal area.
The walls of the new buildings are adorned with a brightly coloured 3D mural, which includes elements from the work of all the Tulgeen artists.
“This is a wonderful place to make art,” Mr Perry said at the studio opening.
“We have no idea where it will take us, but guided by the artists, I’m sure it will be to richly creative places.”
Mr Perry described the artists’ work as “irreverent, exciting, raw – art from the heart”.
Chairwoman of South East Arts Lindy Hume officially opened the new art studios by quoting the Paralympics opening ceremony address by physicist Stephen Hawking: “There should be no boundary to human endeavour”.
She said she was blown away by the “explosion of creativity” on show at the Tulgeen garage.
“Here this progressive project can flourish,” Ms Hume said.
“The project is unique in regional Australia and regarded as one of the most successful projects of its type.
“It is being embraced by the community and the artists have earned great status and broad community support if the red dots are anything to go by,” she said, referring to the numerous stickers marking artworks that had already been sold only days after going on exhibition at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.
“This is a mighty achievement for our region.”
Manager of training and education services at Tulgeen Dianne Rees also spoke at the opening.
“This is the culmination of more than 10 years of dedication…and it opens up a wealth of resources to the community,” Ms Rees said.
She also said the facility was an ideal example of the vision and values of Tulgeen, which include upholding rights and supporting participation.
Bega Valley Regional Gallery curator Megan Bottari said the exhibition of work from the Tulgeen garage studio currently on display is “fabulous”.
“There’s so much love in the room,” Ms Bottari said.
“I don’t know if people in Bega really appreciate what a rich and wonderful program it is.”
Ms Bottari said Peter Fay, an independent curator and collector who visited from Sydney to open the exhibition, was “genuinely bowled over”.
Beyond the Garage is on exhibition at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery until September 29.