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. We set off on our excursion in the comfort of the bus, courtesy of the Settler's Arms to whom we are most grateful, enjoying tasty homemade muffins and juice. An hour and twenty minutes down the track we pulled in for complimentary tea and coffee at Hunter Belle Cheese Cafe where Jenni and her team provided us with great coffee and delicious treats. I can highly recommend the Strawberry Crumble. (What? 8:30 am is never too early for sweets.)
Back on the road again, it wasn't long before we pulled into the VIP parking right at the entrance of Michael Reid Gallery. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. Michael Reid's new gallery space is spectacular and the viewing platform on top of, what could be described as a "vast art shed", revealed panoramic vistas of the surrounding region. Inside an industrial size, fan hovered overhead in the epic proportioned space. Expansive white walls provide ample space to display the emerging artists this gallery is known for. Our guests were treated to a curatorial talk by Michelle who then interviewed the artist in residence, Ben Tankard which we captured here in a video. Following this, our guests enjoyed walking around the rest of the gallery and gift shop, before resting in the garden for more tea, coffee and delicious little lemon cupcakes from the Michael Reid Cafe.
It was then time to meander through the grounds and out to the old Bobadil House Horse Paddock to explore the market. Our guests enjoyed looking at all the arts, crafts and fresh produce on display, picking up some treats including beautiful fresh picked garlic from the Flower Farm Collective and condiments from Gresford's Tar 10.
We then regrouped around the beautifully styled VIP table courtesy of Ivory Lane Event Styling & Hire table. One guest was heard saying, 'They've set the bar very high.' as we sat feasting on the delicious morsels lovingly prepared by The Plains Pantry, Willow Tree. Most of our group enjoyed the Colly Creek Beef Casserole, while I and one other, thoroughly enjoyed the Pearl Couscous Salad with Halloumi and Minted Yoghurt. Delicious! Another guest took it upon himself to visit Two Rivers Wines, returning with a lovely bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc which he promptly shared with our other guests. Then to top it all off The Plains Pantry, Willow Tree delivered a delicious tray of Brownies (like we needed more sweets!)
Full as googs, we wobbled back to the bus and headed off to visit David Darcy Gallery on the other side of Murrurundi. David and partner Kerry were most welcoming and David told some great stories about his travels and experiences taking photos of dogs throughout Australia and many other countries. It was also very interesting to see that he has branched out into painting portraits on a 'large scale'. His painting of Paddy Willis, a respected elder of the Australian Central Desert's, Creek Camp Mob in Ti Tree, Northern Territory is an imposing figure on the wall and an important record of this highly regarded Indigenous Australian. David has published several books of photography on the subject of dogs and people. It seemed his book Australian Mongrel struck a chord with our guests and David was only too happy to add his "John Handcock" before we set out on our journey home. Our guests were all delighted with how the day turned out and after dropping everyone off I received some lovely messages including, "Sarah, just wanted to thank you so much for an amazing day".
I'd just like to thank all our guests for making our first Dungog Contemporary presents event such a success. I'd also like to thank, Amelia from Michael Reid for all her hard work organising the Spring Market and helping me deliver such a seamless experience for my guests. Thank you to Michael Reid for allowing us to share in the opening of your new gallery space and the first inaugural Spring Market. Thank you to Michelle and Ben for the Curatorial and Artist talk and The Plains Pantry, Willow Tree for a delicious lunch, Ivory Lane Event Styling & Hire table for the lovely table setting, Hunter Belle Cheese Cafe for our morning refreshments, David Darcy Gallery for his artist talk and gallery visit. Settler's Arms for their support and use of their bus and finally Dungog Radio for promoting the event.
We look forward to presenting more Art Excursions like this in the future and hope that the Dungog community might enjoy them as much as our Murrurundi guests did.