Grafton Regional Gallery
In 1985 the Grafton City Council, with assistance from the Jacaranda Art Society, purchased Prentice House.
A cultural Service provided by the Clarence Valley Council
In 1985 the Grafton City Council, with assistance from the Jacaranda Art Society, purchased Prentice House. This federation style residence, designed and built in 1880 by the well known Grafton builder Alexander Fairweather, is one of Grafton's most beautiful and prestigious structures.
Prentice House was commissioned by the surgeon Dr James Houison as a residence and surgery. The house was completed three months after Fairweather's other project, 'Telarah' in Oliver Street Grafton. Subsequent owners were Dr Ventry-Smith and Dr Phillips whose daughter married Dr Derek Prentice from whom the house was purchased by the Grafton City Council and the Jacaranda Art Society in 1985.
The plan of the house was typical of its day in that an anteroom and consulting room were located at the front, a drawing and a dining room to one side separated by folding doors, bedrooms to the other side separated by a central hallway and the kitchen, servant's room and pantry were located at the rear. The upper floor contained a lobby, small bedroom and a boudoir opening onto a balcony looking out on Fitzroy Street. The design of the house is unusual in having its central walls thrusting upwards, intersecting the roof, and creating the narrow first floor.
The Grafton Regional Gallery
The Jacaranda Art Society managed the Grafton Art Gallery for two years on a volunteer basis. A grant from the New South Wales Bicentennial Council enabled a restoration of the building and its conversion for use as a regional gallery with all necessary environmental and security controls.
The Grafton Regional Gallery was officially opened in March 1988 with a gallery space in Prentice House, a storeroom, library, meeting room, offices and volunteer and staff room, all administered by the Grafton City Council.
Five trees in the rear gardens of the gallery were planted to honour five of the founding members of the Jacaranda Art Society in recognition of their work in helping the establishment of the gallery.
The Jacaranda Art Society presented the Gallery's founding collection, the Jacaranda Art Prize Collection, acquired through the society's annual prize held from 1961 to 1987 as part of the Jacaranda Festival and donations to the society.
The Gladys and Doris O'Grady Collection was donated to the Gallery in its founding year by Doris O'Grady with Honeyeater series being acquired later.
Julian Faigan, the inaugural Director, developed the Jacaranda Art Prize into the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) with the aim of creating a specialised collection of contemporary Australian Drawing.
The Gallery was managed by the Grafton Regional Gallery Management Committee and administered by the Grafton City Council and was a member of the Regional Galleries Association of New South Wales.
The Friends of the Gallery was established in 1988 and plays an active and supportive role in the development of the Gallery.
In 1989 Angela Wong was appointed the second Director. The JADA become biennial in 1994 with the prize money increasing from $1,000 to $5,000. The Regional Art Collection was established.
Australian artist, Ken Done AM, become the Gallery's Patron. Ken has many associations with the Clarence Valley, having spent his childhood in Maclean.
Stage II built in 1991 saw the addition of the Second Gallery and a Collection Room at the rear of the building and the Courtyard Cafe leasing the kitchen and courtyard area for day trading.
The Grafton Regional Gallery Management Committee became an Advisory Committee. Leanne Willis was appointed the third Director in 1994 and two years later Susi Muddiman became the fourth director of the Gallery.
Extensive additions of Stage III were completed in September 1999. The Second Gallery was converted into the Collection Room and the Main Gallery, the Loft Gallery, the Studio Space and new office spaces were provided centred around the courtyard. This significant refurbishment to the Gallery and its programs enabled the Gallery to offer a greater range of services. Georgie's at the Gallery leased the cafe and restaurant area offering day and night trading. The four councils of the Clarence Valley were amalgamated into the Clarence Valley Council in March 2004 and the Gallery is now administered under the Community and Cultural Services Directory.
In December 2004 the Clarence Photographs of John William Lindt were donated to the Gallery by Sam and Janet Cullen and family. Further acquisitions into this collection have been made with significant support from the Friends of the Gallery.
By 2004 the JADA was the flagship of the Gallery with prize money of $20,000 and touring to galleries on the eastern seaboard of Australia. The Friends of the Gallery are the major sponsors for the prize donating $10,000 for the first prize. The nationally recognised JADA aims to encourage and promote innovation and excellence in contemporary Australian drawing.
The Gallery Foundation was established in March 2005 with Mrs Kay Alden the inaugural Chair. The Foundation is actively fundraising to support the further development of the Gallery's collection and infrastructure.
The Grafton Regional Gallery holds the largest collection of artworks on the North Coast of New South Wales and continues to develop its vibrant collections. The Gallery presents over 40 exhibitions and 70 programs and events each year. It is an outstanding public gallery reflecting the passion for the visual arts held by the community of the Clarence Valley.