2018 Marks the 40th Anniversary of Wollongong Art Gallery. The path to establish an art gallery that would provide a cultural focus for the city and the surrounding region was a long one and only made possible by the sustained lobbying and contribution of many people over many years. The road was paved by the passion and commitment of the Illawarra Art Society, hundreds of volunteers and donors and the goodwill of the people of this community.
It is significant that the fulfilment of this long held aspiration was finally made possible through the generous act of a member of the local community. Bronius “Bob” Sredersas a steelworker who had migrated to Australia from Lithuania in 1950 gifted the city his collection of 142 objects including Australian paintings, Melanesian Carvings and English ‘Chinaware’. It was the significance and generosity of this gift in 1975 that provided the final impetus for the establishment of a regional art gallery in Wollongong.
Over its 40 years Wollongong Art Gallery has presented hundreds of exhibitions, supported innumerable artists and provided an exhaustive range of diverse opportunities for cultural engagement in the region. Throughout this time the Gallery and exhibiting artists have employed art to tell the story of our local and national community— how we see ourselves, how we project ourselves and how we understand ourselves. It has been fascinating to see how artists have captured and interpreted the ways in which our ideas and our sense of ‘self’ has changed and evolved over time.
This anniversary year provides the Art Gallery an opportunity to engage closely with the art collection and find new ways to interpret and present it to the community. It will also be an occasion to celebrate our past and the role that the Gallery has played in helping delineate and shape the unique cultural character of this region.
However, while honouring the past in 2018 we will also keep sight of the future. We have much more work ahead of us and we are committed to continue encouraging artists to produce works that inspire, perplex, delight, challenge and enlighten us.
We thank you for your support over the years and invite you to join us as we continue our journey forward.