New art gallery opens in historic house in Macarthur
One of Australia’s most picturesque Tudor-Gothic houses has been restored to its former glory with the historic Macaria building in Macarthur now home to the new Alan Baker Art Gallery.
Camden Council has now completed the $1 million, five-month restoration project of Macaria house on John Street, Camden. Built in 1860, the heritage-listed house has been used as a private residence, a grammar school, and, most recently, as a council administration building. The project was carefully planned to ensure the heritage building was maintained and made available to the public. Carpets were removed, the 150-year old original Oregon timber floors were polished with bees’ wax and the hand-made nails were reinstated with care. New lighting and air conditioning have been installed to suit the house’s new role as an art gallery. This is the first time the house has been open to the public in decades.
“Each original design element of Macaria has been respectfully restored to preserve the heritage of the building, while creating a functional public gallery,” Major Lara Symkowiak said.
The building now houses the Alan Baker Art Gallery and displays the largest collection of art by the 20th century Australian artist who spent much of his life in the Macarthur region. The collection includes portraits, seascapes, landscapes, still life and life paintings, capturing the many years of his work as Baker developed as an artist.
Alan Baker (1914-1987) studied art at the JS Watkins Art School in Sydney from the age of 13 and became a finalist in the 1936 Archibald Prize for his self-portrait – when he was just 18 years old. He went on to make a career in commercial art, creating posters for Tooth & Co Brewery and paintings for Sydney’s prestigious hotels. He and his wife moved to Melimba Park in the Macarthur region in 1961 and in the 1970s and 1980s Baker tutored several locals who have since become recognised artists, including his son, Gary, who, along with Max Tegel, donated the 79 paintings to the gallery.
Baker’s works are also hung in the New South Wales Art Gallery, the National Gallery in Canberra, the Queensland Institute of Technology and several private collections.
The Alan Baker Art Gallery is open from 11am to 4pm from Thursday to Sunday and is located at 37 John Street, Camden, in the Macarthur region. Entry is free.
For more information, visit www.alanbakerartgallery.com.au