Colourful return for Willyama

By Stuart Kavanagh

In what promises to be a truly colourful moment this Friday, the Willyama Visual Art Centre will open its doors for the first time in two years with a celebration of art from both locals and people from away.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peek at the display available for public viewing, and the collections are incredible.

From the impressive ‘Sack of Morocco’ tribute painted by the supremely talented Jenny Cattonar to her portrait of the famed ‘Brushmen of the Bush’, the gallery is filled with art that wouldn’t look out of place in any high-profile galleries across the country.

It is a watershed moment for the Art Society, as they have been unable to put on displays for over two years due to the scourge of COVID-19.

Society president Dennis Hebbard could not hide his excitement as he gave us a personal tour of the gallery.


“For the last two or three years, we haven’t been able to exhibit [due to COVID].”

The grand opening is happening Friday night, but the Director of the Willyama Art Centre, Steve Turner, points out, “the gallery will be open seven days a week from 11 am to 2 pm. So, there’ll be something to do on a Sunday now.”

The venue gives people an opportunity to get their art on a wall, up for display, President Dennis Hebbard added. It is also a chance for artists to make some money.

“All the work will be for sale,” says Mr Hebbard.

The Society prides itself on bringing people together via a shared passion for art, whether hobby artists or professional artists. It is for anyone who draws inspiration from their daily lives, the beautiful outback NSW landscape, and their inner creativity. It also enables members to display their work at regular exhibitions.

Mr Hebbard said he hoped the gallery would inspire people to join the Willyama Art Society. “We encourage new members to join. No matter what age, 15 or 100 – it doesn’t matter.”

Style is not an issue either.

“It’s not one style. A lot of people mistakenly think that the Willyama Art Society is all landscape artists. It’s not. There’s abstracts and there’s three-dimensional works. Jenny Cattonar does amazing tributes to the masters. We don’t judge any art. If you think it is art – we think it is art.”

The Society was founded in 1961 by famed Australian artist John Lindsay Gregory. Over the years, it has featured many high-profile artists, the jewel in the crown being the Brushman of the Bush. One well-known quintet includes household names Pro Hart, Eric Minchin, John Pickup, Jack Absalom and Hugh Schulz.

For anyone with an artistic streak who would like to count these legendary Australian artists as their peers, Willyama Art Society meetings are held on the third Sunday of every month at 2 pm at the Sturt Club on Beryl Street.

Having had a sneak peek, we say you should get down to the Willyama Visual Arts Centre on Bromide Street this Friday at 6 pm for a truly colourful event.

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