Canberra’s blockbuster art galleries always attract the big names, but it’s in the city’s smaller spots that you’ll find a true reflection of the capital’s creative community.
The local art scene is fun and dynamic, and exudes a huge amount of energy; many of its galleries host workshops and classes alongside the exhibitions. From a small but renowned photography centre to a beloved contemporary art gallery, here are six places to take a peek in next time you’re in Canberra.
Canberra Glassworks is the largest Australian cultural centre that’s completely dedicated to contemporary glass art. This place is home to many incredible pieces, including vases, sculptures and installations, and many of them are available to purchase in the slick gift shop (which is fun to browse). In the Kingston Powerhouse (Canberra’s oldest public building, pre-Walter Burley Griffin days), it also features a viewing platform where you can look down into the workshops and spy on local artists while they create.
Megalo Print Studio
A small gallery dedicated to the art of printmaking in all its forms, Megalo is a member-based visual arts collective that’s part workshop for local artists, part innovative gallery showcasing screen-printing, lithography, relief and intaglio. You can pop in for an exhibition or to see the artists at work in their studios. The classes and workshops here are popular too: try out the weekly print club or a beginner’s screen-printing class on fabric and paper.
Canberra Potters at Watson Arts Centre
Canberra Potters is an institution in the capital: a not-for-profit community organisation that’s been around since 1975, when it was known as the Canberra Potters’ Society. This place is famous for its pottery classes (which are popular with kids and adults alike) and its gallery, which hosts a range of exhibitions that showcase contemporary ceramics, providing a platform for both up-and-coming and established ceramicists.
Photo Access is the ACT’s premier photography centre: a gallery of contemporary photography, video and media art that provides a community for photographers in the state and hosts unpretentious workshops that are open to everyone. The Huw Davies Gallery, at the Manuka Arts Centre, is Photo Access’s flagship exhibition space. Pop in for shows featuring a wide range of artists from across the ACT.
A 20-minute drive from the city centre, Strathnairn is a picturesque artist’s retreat and gallery space on 9.5 hectares of farmland. The gallery is housed in a 1920s homestead, and standing on the porch you’ll get views of the Brindabella mountains beyond. There’s a cafe on-site as well as a sculpture garden and a shop selling art by resident sculptors, potters, textiles artists, printmakers and painters. The annual member’s exhibition is a quaint local highlight.
Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS)
The Canberra Contemporary Art Space on Queen Elizabeth Terrace in Parkes is a small art gallery with a big reputation (it’s beloved for its ambitious exhibitions). Local, established and emerging artists come to show their work here; the gallery supports a wide range of artists and showcases daring works that might not make the cut at bigger galleries. It’s right around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia. There’s also a second, smaller CCAS Gallery on Furneaux Street in Manuka.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Canberra.