Beautiful new works in the gallery from still life painter Esther Eckley

Working in oils, Esther’s current aim is to capture the beauty of every day objects, flowers and plants through still life scenes. She is a representational painter whose work aims to generate feelings of nostalgia, delight and inspiration through the objects and colours that are used in her artwork. As well as capturing the light and beauty of each object, shadows also play an important part in her paintings. The goal is to paint in a way that resembles an object with an original slant in a simple yet elegant way, in a bid to seize the opposites of light.

More recently, Esther has started to feature objects and colours associated with retro objects in a bid to create interest, enjoyment and interaction amongst the audience. This approach resonates well with people of varying ages and tends to generate feelings of nostalgia and fun with the overall goal being to capture the beauty of the subjects and generate a connection with the audience. The work aims to tap into the relationships and associations people have with objects that remind them of their past and to generate dialogue and intrigue among people of all ages and backgrounds. An example would be a pink plastic butter dish and a blue tin teapot featured in her recent paintings, objects that are no longer ‘modern’ but once used to be a common feature on the dinner table. The bold brushstroke style that Esther uses also aims to signify the boldness and simplicity of the objects.

Esther’s inspiration comes from her childhood where gathering around the table to eat a meal or generally converse with others was an important, joyful and sometimes formal occasion. Flowers have an important role to play in her still life scenes, the inclusion of which aim to balance the boldness of the other objects with the fragility and elegant presence of a flower.

Esther’s work involves balancing light with shadow, boldness with fragility, masculine with feminine and colour with darkness.  



Whispers in the Kitchen, by object and fine art jewellery artist, Jane Frances Reilly

Whispers in the kitchen is a collection of fine art jewellery and sculpture, which are constructed in metals such as sterling silver, copper and brass. Jane hand forms and cuts the individual pieces enamels them and then works back into the surface with a Dremel to create surface texture and a drawn element.

Jane grew up in a large Catholic family, mother raising the family, father a police officer. In this series, she explores the concepts around the psychology of domesticity, gender roles and Catholic guilt all within the dynamic of the family. In fact, she affectionately calls her sculptures families. She uses humour in her work to great effect and her vibrant colour pallet speaks to the individual fighting to stand out in the chaos of a large family dynamic. These earrings, whilst plain in colour, the raw metal being the focus, are called odds and ends. Every kitchen has an odds and ends draw, the place you put all those things you can’t deal with or don’t use/address very often. Jane uses domestic objects as metaphors for family relationships and dynamics. The abstract fork, cheese grater, spoons, knives, goblets. Their modularity enables the individual to interact with the works and curate their own stories. A piece that forms a fork, also reveals other elements, position it one way and it could be a chalice, turn it the other and it becomes a Ned Kellyesk figure.  As you would expect, there are so many layers and complexities to this series of works, it is surprising when you consider the simplicity in which Jane has resolved their construction. I make special mention of the modular sculptures,

I feel their absolute genius element, is the re-purposing of the “white picket fence”. Principally it resolves a functional objective, but analyse it further and it adds a whole other, goosebump inducing layer. For the white picket fence is encoded with layers of meaning all linked to the “Australian dream”, domestic bliss, façades, barrier, protection, aspiration, appearances and the list goes on. This simple element and its positioning in context, draw it all in, giving this complex concept a depth that cannot go unnoticed. I recommend spending a moment exploring these concepts further when looking at these works. 

Please contact us directly to inquire about Jane's Sculptures. We have a large selection of her Fine Art Jewellery available in our stockroom.

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Conservation of your treasured photographs

One of the services that we can offer here at the gallery is the conservation of photographs. Here a client has brought a framed photograph in to have its matte cleaned, flattened out and to be put back into the frame with a new backing board. I am also going to clean the mahogany frame with antique furniture reviver and give it a coat of beeswax. I do not stick the photograph down as we frame archivally using acid-free products at all times to ensure that any work we carry out is of a museum standard. When finished we will fit new D-Rings and wire, the work will look as good as the day it left the framers.

We can also restore old photographs. Making high-resolution copy photographs using studio flash which we then Photoshop to remove blemishes and imperfections. They can then be re-printed to custom sizes. It is also possible for us to have your photographs printed onto other media, for example, canvas or banners, fabric for art installations and promotions. Recently we made a portrait of a farmhouse for a client whilst the jacaranda trees were in full bloom, removing unsightly things such as powerlines and satellite dishes, more on that in another blog-post.




Leading Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama is now showing at Brisbane. I wouldn't miss this for quids, definitely worth the trip. Here is a nice 24 min short from Bloomberg TV on this prolific artist who has been making work since the 1960's, Enjoy!

Matisse Installation Artist

I can clearly remember seeing some of these works at the centrepompidou in Paris as a teenager and being amazed by them. This exhibition of Matisse's late period abstract collages was at the Tate Modern, London, 2014. Sarah saw this show and loved the works as much as I. Youtube is such a great thing on rainy Sunday afternoons at the gallery. Here art historian Jacky Klien talks about Matisse's paper cut outs, enjoy!

Places to stay and things to do in Dungog

Dungog is a beautiful town in an unspoilt corner of the Hunter Valley, with streets of 19th c wooden homes and an intact victorian main street, located in a green valley two and a half hours drive north of Sydney and an hour from Newcastle. There is an XPT train service from Sydney Central Station and a local train connecting through Newcastle. People often ask us, What else is there to do in Dungog? The town is adjacent to the Barrington Tops and surrounded by cattle country, there are picnic spots, swimming holes and countless things to discover. If you are coming up to visit us at the gallery why not take a few days out, bring a book or two, and explore. There is rumoured to be great fly fishing up in the hills and Dungog has the James Theatre which is a cinema, a good 9 hole golf course and a great weekend of Polo at the Wirragulla Polo Club in September.

The Settlers Arms Hotel is a nice quiet pub with comfortable rooms, good food and a well concieved wine list. A constantly evolving choice of hand crafted beers are available off the tap, though the blokes from Dungog council highly rate the ice cold XXXX. There are no pokies at The Settlers, the only games seem to be chess and darts. It's the kind of pub where you can sit in front of the fire in winter and read a book or chat with the locals. There is a pile of vinyl and a turntable at the bar providing an eclectic choice of music. Craig, Stephanie and staff are genuinely welcoming and the kitchen produces good classical fare in the canon of Escoffier utilising local produce. Think Sydney rock oysters, gravallax, duck liver pâté, local crispy skinned organic chicken with saffron risotto, grass fed eye fillet with red wine jus, mushroom duxelle and spinach puree. The menu varies day to day depending upon market availability. Craig is sommelier by default, being a winemaker by profession he is happy to match a wine to your meal from the small but sensational wine list, featuring some absolute Hunter Valley standouts such as Mount Pleasant Leontine - Hunter Valley Chardonnay, Margan Chardonnay - Hunter Valley and red's such as Briar Ridge, Stockhausen Shiraz - Hunter Valley, 2014 Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz and with the vanilla bean panna cotta and berry coulis why not try the 2012 Margan Botrytis Semillon, seriously good sticky!

There are four or five rooms, one with an ensuite as the rest share bathrooms, an apartment is  being renovated as I write. Upstairs a communal breakfast area with an old and beautifully battered laminex topped farmhouse farmhouse table and 1920's dresser, the french doors opening onto an iron lace verandah overlook a leafy paddock, the home to a flock of Corella's. A truly hospitable Australian country pub, bookings highly recommended on the weekend, and a great place to unwind for a quiet mid week break.

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Upper Hunter Arts Trail Weekend. Dungog Contemporary Opening

The weekend of the 18th & 19th Nov 2017 is The Upper Hunter Arts Trail Weekend, with galleries from Maitland to Murrurundi taking part. The complete drive should take around two days and audio tours are available on available on the Appstore, Googleplay and WindowsStore.

We are running events over the weekend to celebrate being open for 2 months on the Saturday. Artist Nicole Chaffey will be here doing an en-plein air painting of the main street of Dungog. On the Saturday evening we have a band Those Jazz Guys playing until 9.00 pm. We are currently showing work by three prolific women painters from Newcastle, Nicole Chaffey, Madeleine Cruise and Belinda Street and there will be artist talks later in the afternoon on the Sunday.


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Paula Jenkins, Our first solo show booked for November 2018

We have just booked our first solo show for the gallery a year ahead! Local Paterson born and bred artist Paula Jenkins, Expect big bold colourful and textural works in oil, depicting the landscape of the Dungog region.

Paula has been exhibiting her work and winning awards for many years, and after a successful career as a graphic designer has now become a full time artist known for her bold Australian landscapes.

In 2002 Paula lived in Andalucía in Spain painting alongside her friend the late Piers Dudley-Bateman, an influential Australian artist who worked alongside Boyd and Blackman and who remains an influence in her work to this day.

Riverbed Ahead, Fowlers Gap, 2017, 48 x 70cm, Paula Jenkins

Riverbed Ahead, Fowlers Gap, 2017, 48 x 70cm, Paula Jenkins

Madeleine Cruise

We are thrilled to have three new works hanging on the wall from Newcastle artist and NAS graduate Madeleine Cruise.

A finalist in the 2017 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, Madeleine currently has work hanging at the Brett Whiteley Studio in Sydney.

These three works are "Street Romance", 2017 Acrylic on Canvas 840 x 600, "Window Votive" 2017 Acrylic on Canvas 400 x 300 and "Looking for Monet" 2017 Acrylic on Canvas 600 x 600

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Visit our online stockroom where we currently have a selection of art jewellery by Melbourne sculptor Jane Frances Reilly available for purchase. Named "whispers from the kitchen" they are individual wearable works of art, smaller versions of her larger sculptures in the same body of work. These delightful pieces inspired by the domestic are made of copper and painted inenamel which has been etched to complete the work.

We also have a selection of limited editions by prominent Australian artists such as Margaret Olley, Samson Japaljarri Martin, Ronnie Lawson, Jasper Knight and Tim Storrier.

The stockroom will grow over time as we find more interesting things to stock it with, It will be a constantly changing and evolving online gallery. Of course everything is sent by registered post, we can arrange framing and delivery options for larger prints as well as a hanging service and advice.


Art Money

We are now partnered with Art Money. A fantastic initiative that began in Sydney with arts publishing company 10 Group and The Sydney City Council, that is now going international. A great new way to buy art! take it home and pay for it later. What I really love about this idea is that it enables artist's to produce more work and more people can enjoy owning and collecting. Hanging great art on your walls adds immense pleasure to your life, more details below.


Belinda Street - Kosciuszko and the Monaro Plain


Belinda has made in excess of 80 works of the Kosciuszko and Monaro area over the last decade, inspired by an infinitely changing landscape with distinct seasons, both shifting and unstable. The Kosciuszko landscape possessing a sense of awe, a landscape of scattered rocks, sharp crags and alpine loneliness. The Monaro Plain in contrast is beautiful in it’s far horizons, swaying grasslands and rounded granite boulders. An endless supply of sublime visual inspiration.

Dungog Contemporary is currently showing ten carefully curated works from this beautiful gestural series of paintings, there are smaller studies through to a large major work. The uniquely Australian alpine palette and vigour of the works transporting the viewer into the landscape bringing an essence of place.

Belinda Street BFA(hons):

Street was twice winner of the Mosman Youth Art Prize. Being awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Julian Ashton Art School, she went on to attain a degree in Visual Arts at Newcastle University, with Honours at The College of Fine Arts. Belinda's work is held in private collections both in Australia and overseas.

Finalist 2016 Fleurieu Food & Wine Art Prize

Finalist 2015 Muswellbrook Art Prize

Finalist 2015 Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize

Finalist 2015 Calleen Art Prize

Finalist 2015 Gosford Art prize

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Dungog Contemporary presents - Murrurundi Art Excursion

Despite October long weekend, school holidays and daylight saving, Dungog Contemporary's first Art Excursion was a resounding success. The whole journey went off without a hitch and all our participants enjoyed themselves no end...

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The Horse and the landscape

Harrie Fasher currently has a work "Shoulder to Shoulder" on exhibition at Dungog Contemporary.

Harrie talks about our relationship to the Horse and the landscape in Australia, and her creative process. Video courtesy of National Museum Australia. Harrie Fasher is represented by King St Gallery in Sydney.

Top Paddock Agency

Top Paddock Agency is the other half of Dungog Contemporary. Combining twenty five plus years of marketing, advertising, creative and photographic experience. We want to work with the Dungog Shire business community to unlock the regions potential and increase prosperity for all.

• Brand Development

• Marketing Strategy

• Creative Implementation

• Graphic Design

• Digital, Online & Print

• Social Media Boot Camp

• Product & Advertising Photography

•Project Management

• Business Development

Give us a call and we would be happy to discuss how we can help grow your business. 0410 332 236

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The Manse, Dowling St Dungog

This very Georgian looking house supposedly dates from around 1870. Originally built for a Dungog storekeeper it was purchased and refurbished by the Presbyterian Church in 1889. In 1938 a fire destroyed the roof and gables. Despite the damage the interior is intact, having wide doorways, rough planed floors and other features suggestive of earlier colonial architecture. The large chimney stacks draw six fireplaces including two in the enormous vaulted cellar, which retains it's original lath and plaster finish.


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Shoulder to Shoulder

Currently available in the gallery is this superb sculpture Shoulder to Shoulder by Australian sculptor Harrie Fasher. Following is an excerpt from her artist statement. Fasher is currently in the process of making a similar work for the World Polo Championships.

"I am a mid career artist working across the disciplines of sculpture, drawing and installation. Based in Oberon NSW, I produce small and large scale steel sculptures which utilise the equine form as a metaphor for human struggles; exploring the horse and its relationship to humans on a physical, historical and mythological level.

Primarily constructed from steel rod, the sculptures are essentially three-dimensional drawings. Harnessing the drawn energy of line, an innate tension is derived from the implied weight and physical scale of the animal in movement. The sculptures, made with attention to anatomical accuracy, can be read literally although they are metaphors for human psychological states.

Shoulder to shoulder is both a study of movement and an exploration of space. It describes two horses depicted at full gallop, their interpretation is open to the viewer; which may be more literal – riding off for a ball, or subliminal –the race one has with your second self."

Harrie Fasher is represented by King Street Gallery in Sydney.

"Shoulder to Shoulder" 2017 Mild steel plate & rod 545 x 785 x 275 by Harrie Fasher.