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Blog No. 1 - Setting the scene

September 27, 2015 at 3:54 AM

I suppose the first blog for a new website should set the scene and this is why I'm up to my sixth draft. Clearly it's time to just write and ignore the consequences.

Nolan Art began in 1999 in my own studio, a converted garage under my home. It was a little art school for children after school and the domestic setting was comfortable and intimate. The garden has a summer house that was the perfect place to teach sculpture and wheel throwing and the enormous living room made a great place to hold life drawing.

Over time, adult classes joined the school and we had some wonderful Friday mornings.

The school outgrew its space and I moved to 2 different commercial premises on Hobart's Eastern shore. It's difficult to rent a space when you have that unique mix of mess and youth a suburban art school has so neither space was very comfortable. In 2009 I decided that a small gallery to help along local artists would be a good use of part of our space and could show our annual student exhibitions as well. The Foreshore Gallery in Rosny was marginal because of its site but the mix of tuition and a commercial gallery seemed to work. In 2011 we moved into the Salamanca Arts Centre, where we changed the name to Nolan Art, our family name, and found the supportive creative atmosphere like coming home at last.

Since then we have expanded our offerings and have perennial classes to learn to draw, paint in oils, use watercolour and more. Our children's classes benefit from being in the arts centre and from being able to visit the shows in the building. We have access to the upstairs Studio Gallery for our student shows. The business has been able to blossom and art students come to evening classes in a safe building with security staff and adequate lighting (something not to be underestimated).

In 2015 we have 4 tutors, myself, Elizabeth Barsham (the doyen of adult education art), Elia Basser and Alyssa Bermudez, fresh from New York. The tutors are experienced, professional and deliver a student centred art curriculum that is assessment free. We leave the tuition of business of training artists in theory to tertiary institutions but we do offer tuition in technique as well as a venue that is more like a home studio than a school. Our adult students come along to get started in art, to try a new medium, to make friends, get out of the house and pick up skills for their professional work. Our school students are art people who are creative, motivated and love to work with people just like themselves.

In 2015 our exhibitions have featured Bec Francis (a printer), Giles Hugo (a photographer) and myself (an abstract painter). We are about to show Saskia Littlewoods contemporary photography about Devonport in an exhibition supported by Regional Arts Tasmania and the Australian Government Regional Arts Fund. In November Elia Basser (aka Bai Yilian) will have her first solo called Tribe. A remarkable painter of the human body, Elia is our respected life drawing tutor. Her works will be oil portraits (nude) and drawings. Early December will see John Ingleton's fifth print show with us focusing on Tasmanian plants. John founded the Hunter Island Press, the co-op for Hobart's printmakers and his work is always elegant and learned.

Nolan Gallery and School of Art is a practical place. We don't tend to separate the making of art from the showing of it. The floor in the gallery will often have pencil shavings on it or dusty footprints but behind the desk there is usually someone to talk to about art. The atmosphere in the gallery is eclectic as we like to have a little bit of all of our artist's work on the wall at any time.

We try to have a friendly approachable place where patrons feel comfortable because after all, art, whether you're interested in purchasing it or making it, should elucidate and inspire, but above all, make you happy.

Betty Nolan