The story of Wollongong Art Gallery (formerly known as Wollongong City Gallery) began in July 1951 when a group of local enthusiastic artists formed the Illawarra Art Society. Their aim was to promote art and art education in this region They fundraised by organising film nights, art competitions, exhibitions by members and guest artists, lectures and art appreciation and practise workshops. In 1956 following an Art competition, they purchased the first collection paintings. This purchase saw the beginning of the Wollongong City Collection. The ‘hobby’ approach adopted in the Society’s early days had changed. A stimulating art climate was developing. Over the coming years the Society continued working hard with the goal of establishing an Art Gallery in Wollongong.
It was not until 1975 after a chance meeting with a very modest gentleman named Bronius (Bob) Sredersas. Bob wanted to donate his collection to the “Children of Wollongong”. This momentous gift was the catalyst on which the Art Gallery was built (Sredersas Gallery). Update 2022: Please see The Gallery page for a statement from Wollongong City Council regarding allegations made about Bob Sredersas
The Illawarra County Council donated the property formally known as the Hughes Whetton Reilly Building (now Wollongong Youth Centre), including the land upon which it stood to Council on the proviso that the property be used for an Art Gallery. Through the persistence and hard work of the society, volunteers and donors, and with the assistance of Council and Government funding bodies, a Director and Board of Trustee was appointed and on the 2 June 1978 Wollongong City Gallery was officially opened by Mr Neville Wran, Premier of NSW at 85 Burelli Street, Wollongong attended by over 500 people. The first exhibition was titled
Burghers of Calais, with works borrowed for the National Gallery and Art Gallery of NSW.
In 1986 another significant donation of Aboriginal barks, canvas paintings, ceremonial sticks and carvings was received from Dr Ronald and Mrs Alison Fine. This donation brought to light the lack of storage and other inadequacies this building held. After countless meetings, appeals, public demonstrations and heated debate, both with Council and the columns of local and Sydney newspapers, the Council announced stage 1 (of 3 stages) of the conversion of the old Council Administration Building to an Art Gallery would go ahead. Wollongong City Gallery Foundation was established with an aim to raising capital to assist with the relocation. In August 1991, The Honourable Peter Collins MP officially opened the new Wollongong City Gallery at Cnr. Burelli and Kembla Streets, Wollongong. The Gallery now has a permanent home.
From its opening in 1991 to date the Gallery has further evolved and developed. Highlights throughout this period include, but are not limited to, completion of Stage 2 seeing improvements in air-conditioning, lighting and installation of a lift for disabled access. Stage 3 completed seeing disabled access to Gallery 9 (BlueScope Gallery) and air-conditioning throughout the building. Naming rights to Gallery spaces where sold to Integral Energy (Gallery 1), the Illawarra Mercury and BlueScope Steel (Gallery 9). Connelly Temple generously sponsored an annual Artist-In-Residence program with our first official resident artist being Stuart Slough. This residency now in its 22nd year continues today and is sponsored by Wollongong Art Gallery Friends. Further donations of Aboriginal bark paintings were received from Dr Ronald and Alison Fine (Fine Gallery), as well a bequest of $1.5million received from George and Nerissa Johnson which saw the purchase of many Illawarra artworks pre 1935. The Gallery was also assisted by a bequest by James Kiwi and by a private benefactor Ian Dickson (Dickson Gallery). In 2003 a significant collection of Asian Ceramics & Furniture was gifted by William Tatlow (Mann-Tatlow Gallery), a further bequest by local artist Edith Kouto was left to the Gallery in 2009, and a collection of South East Asian textiles was left to the Gallery in a bequest by Nancye Dryden in 2012. The Gallery has also been recipient of many other generous donations through the Cultural Gifts Program.
Today the Wollongong Art Gallery Collection stands at nearly 3,000 artworks stored in climatically controlled store rooms and state of the art racking systems. We have 10 exhibition spaces, an Education Centre, Community Access Gallery, bookshop and a thriving Friends membership. The Gallery presents a diverse program of high profile exhibitions as well as exhibitions by local and regional artists, and community groups. Innovative Education and Public Programs enhance our visitor experience and provide access to our exhibition program and collection.
We will be 40 years young on 2 June 2018.
THE FOUNDERS BOOK
Wollongong Art Gallery owes a great deal to the commitment and continuous efforts of a number of community members whose ongoing support and contribution over many years was integral to its establishment. These individuals’ names are commemorated in the Founders Book a specially commissioned artist book created by local artist Jackie Cavallaro. The Founders Book is not only a celebration of the important role of these ‘Founders’ but also a new acquisition for the Art Collection and a lasting legacy for future generations.
Image: Jacqueline Cavallaro, (still image, detail) Founders Book, 2018, Digitally printed collage, hand cut, coloured with coloured pencil, gouache, spray paint and fixative on Hahnemulle paper. Purchased 2018
Inaugural Members of the Society:
Gino Sanguinetti, Joy Morrison, David Aspen, Bill Peascod, Ivan England, Ron Lambert, Robert and Valerie Parr, Lorraine Holmes, Coralie Barr, Frida Cochrane, Han Schuster, Henry Radeloff, Frank Elliott, Tuk Caldwell, Col Jordan, Tom Tobey, Dr Robert William Upfold, John Chaplin, Henry Sims Dunne, P Samsome, H Tolhurst, Doreen Turnbull, Harold Hansen, Ted Tobin, John Richardson, Nadia Hilary, Max Syer.
Mr & Mrs J W Arnold, Dr & Mrs Neil Adams, Dr & Mr A C Armstrong, Coralie Graham Barr, Kathleen Barr, Mr & Mrs K W Baker, Mr & Mrs D G Bailey, Prof & Mrs L Michael Birt, Prof & Mrs G Brinson, Mr Alfred Brown, Mr & Mrs Ian Brown, J Bartholomew & P Carter, Dr & Mrs K J Burke, R Burton-Parker, Mr R I’A. Bloomfield, Mr & Mrs P F Bolt, Mr & Mrs W N R Brisbane, Mr & Mrs W B Burgess, Dr Mrs James E Blundell, Mr & Mrs Richard Boden, Dr & Mrs Peter E Boon, Mr & Mrs J M Booking, Mrs G A Caldwell, Mr & Mrs D Chaffey, Miss Beryl Crompton, Rex & Jill Cook, Mr & Mrs P M Curtis, Dr & Mrs H P Coasts, Mr & Mrs P B Coleman, Jeneen Cumming, S D G Cumming, Mr & Mrs Grey Dunreath-Cooper, Dr P Cugati, Mr & Mrs B H L Davis, Mr & Mrs W F Dawson, Mr & Mrs W M Dean, Mr & Mrs M J Dyson, Mr & Mrs Peter F Daly, Mr & Mrs Robert J Dyball, Mrs R Bellamy, Mr O Brugnera, Mr J C Brown, Mr & Mrs V East, Mrs W J Eskdale, Mr & Mrs Errol Elkins, Mr & Mrs M V Eckersley, Mr & Mrs A W Fyfe, Mr & Mrs W J Ferguson, Dr & Mrs Gary N Fisher, Drs Frey & Barnes, Mr & Mrs Joseph Firth, Mr & Mrs R J Gamble, Dr & Mrs I A Grice, Mr & Mrs T F Gole, L Grierson, Mr & Mrs Colin Harmer, The Heazlewood Family, Mr & Mrs L & C Horner, Miss Ethel Hoskins Hayton, Mr & Mrs L Holmes, Mr & Mrs Ralph Hopkins, Mr & Mrs P W Hunter, Mrs J M Harry, Mr Harold & Mrs. Ann Hanson, Mr Harry Hanson, Mr & Mrs David Henderson, Mr & Mrs P Hutten, Alan Hargraves, M & Mrs T W Hughes, Mr W L Hughes, Dr & Mrs D M Hillyer, Mr & Mrs V A James, Dorothy Johnson, Mr Jackson, Mr & Mrs A & W E Jeffries, Dr & Mrs L H King, Mr & Mrs, Peter Krak, Prof & Mrs A Keane, Mr & Mrs W E Koenig, Miss Nadia Kouksenko, L B Kelly, Speaker, MLA for, Mr & Mrs Albert Lewis, Mr R Lackenby, Mr & Mrs F S & S M Larkin, Mr & Mrs R I McWilliam, Mr & Mrs T C Marshall, Joan Meats, Mr & Mrs Keith Moore, Mr & Mrs K W Moran, J E McGovern, Mr & Mrs B G McLean, Miss H S McNiven, Misses J & M Moore, Mr & Mrs J A Morris, The Most Rev. William E Murray, DD,DSc.Soc, Bishop of Wollongong, Mr B J Meek, Mrs M Meek, I A McNeill, Mr & Mrs A MacBeth, Howard Mitchell, Mr & Mrs Ivor Noske, Mr & Mrs R & S Nevison, Mr & Mrs J A Nalder, Mr & Mrs John Mandl, Mr & Mrs C J O’Dea, Mr & Mrs C W Opie, Mr & Mrs Frank Osborne, Mrs Grace Oliver, Mr & Mrs W Pasman, Mr & Mrs J & P Payne, Mr & Mrs Phillip E Payne, Mr J A Pinkerton, Mr & Mrs Kurt Peschel, W G Petersen, MLA, Mr & Mrs A Ploss, Dr & Mrs R J W Parrish, Dr G J Pauline, Mrs N A Pauline, Ineke Pasman, Mr & Mrs H J Rayner, Mr & Mrs P Reinhardt, Mr & Mrs John Richardson, Nina Oliver, Mrs S O’Malley, Mr & Mrs D R Sherson, Mr & Mrs Habib Shalala, Mr & Mrs J W Shaw, Mr & Mrs john Shepherd, Mr & Mrs Reg Slater, Mr & Mrs G F Souter, Mr D M Stuart, Mr & Mrs Ron Sewell, Prof & Mrs B H Smith, Mr P Steward, Mr & Mrs T Tobey, Mr & Mrs H Trewartha, Mrs I Tognetti, Mr & Mrs D S Tindal, K J & N G Thomson, Mr & Mrs A Vereker, Dr & Mrs Kenneth J Vial, Mr & Mrs G Vellar, Dr F W Walton, Ald. & Mrs T B Ward Deputy Lord Mayor, Mr & Mrs P Warren, Mr & Mrs Colin White, Mr & Mrs A R Wilson, Mr & Mrs R M Wilson, Mr & Mrs Robert Willis, G H & R M Waters, Dr & Mrs P Walters, Mr & Mrs A J Ward, Mr & Mrs Geoff Wilson, Mr Woodrow Wilson, Dr & Mrs Peter Van Der Werf, Mr G S Wardell, Mr & Mrs R D & C M Yarrow, Mr & Mrs K A Yeatman, Mr & Mrs E G Youll, Mr & Mrs H Zweep, ANZ Banking Group Ltd. Arts Council of NSW Wollongong Branch, Bank of NSW - All Illawarra Branches, Apex Club of Port Kembla, Commonwealth Banking Corporation Illawarra Branches, Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited, Illawarra Art Society, Illawarra Mercury, I J McPhail Pty Ltd, Elders Metals Ltd, M & T Chemicals, Sydney G Hirst & Kennedy Pty Ltd, Windang Bowls Club Ltd, The Wollongong Ceramic Society, Wollongong Gallery Society, Wollongong Ex-Services Club ltd. Wollongong Institute of Education, Transfield, Wollongong Traditional Arts society, The University of Wollongong
Board of Trustees:
Bill Lawson, James Mollison, Leon Paroissien, John Chaplin, Lorraine Holmes, Coralie Barr, Laureen Grierson, Robyn Bellamy, Gerry Seymour, Prof Ken McKinnon, Frank Wunderlick, Harry Roberts, Ron Lambert, Dr Winifred Mitchell, Reg Slater, Bryce Fraser, Giles Pickford, Dr Ronald Fine, Felicity Abraham, Doug Prosser, R Eggins, Ald. J Martin, Ald. R Wetherall, R Drake, Ald. P Bolt, B Frazer, Phillip W Berthold, Ald. N Wilson, Dr W Mitchell, J Clarke, Prof E Cowie, Ald. B Barnetson
Wollongong City Gallery Foundation:
Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, Michael Muston, Wendy Jack, Malcolm Heard, Kevin Rhodes, Richard Riedel, Peter Rousch, Peter O’Neill, Stephen Andersen, Michael Samaras, John Chaplin, Virginia Murray, William Brisbane, Robert Fairley, Suzanne O’Malley, Roslyn Prowse, Anthony Kent, Geoff Rex, Wulff Breitsameter, Phillip McGavin, Carolyn Griffiths, Malcolm Taylor, Leo Tobin, Elizabeth Livingstone, George Harrison, Alice Cartan, John Monteleone
Dr Ronald & Alison Fine, Mr Richard Goodwin, Mr A Dosdale, Mr Ian Dickson, Mr L Sansam, Mr James Fairfax, Dr & Mrs John Raven, Dr Peter Elliott, Mr G Kryger, Mr & Mrs Zweig, Mrs Penelope Seidler, Mrs C Slater, Dr & Mrs M Roxanas, Dr T Liauw, Mr A Dosdale, Dr Peter Elliott, Mrs Ruth Beirman, George & Nerissa Johnson, Edith Kouto, Nancye Dryden ,Mr Patrick Clifford, Mr William Tatlow