Artistic Flair at Caloundra Regional Gallery

Image source: Contributed

The Sunshine Coast is no longer a ‘cultural wasteland’. Penny Brand explores how the Coast is becoming a vibrant cultural hotspot boasting some of Australia’s best contemporary art pieces.

The Caloundra Regional Gallery will bring in the new year with the Latest & Greatest II Exhibition which will showcase a diverse snapshot of the Sunshine Coast Art Collection.

The exhibition celebrates recent additions from artists, collectors and local enterprises in our region, while also acknowledging philanthropy as a driver for growth of the collection and the region’s cultural identity. 

Sunshine Coast Art Collection Curator Nina Shadforth says the collection has the capacity to provide an anchor point for regional cultural tourism.

“It’s about civic pride, enriching the Sunshine Coast community and the cultural landscape, and is an incredible asset to the community,” Nina says. 

Artworks from the Sunshine Coast Art Collection are often displayed in Council’s libraries and civic buildings across the region, and at times, the Caloundra Regional Gallery features works from the Collection in its curated shows, such as the upcoming Latest & Greatest II. 

Artworks find their way into the Collection generally by direct donation or as a tax incentive through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in addition to the annual acquisitive Sunshine Coast Art Prize (SCAP), presented by Caloundra Regional Gallery, where the winning work is added to the Collection.

Open to artists working in any two-dimensional medium, the region’s flagship Art Prize offers a prize pool of more than $40,000.

“SCAP is a major part of Council’s collecting strategy, which now includes winning works by Raquel Ormella (2017), Michael Cook (2016) and Diena Georgetti (2019), among many other artists who continue to be at the forefront of contemporary Australian art,” Nina said.

“Having the focus on contemporary Australian art gives us the opportunity to acquire and showcase high calibre works of currently practising artists, and we are working with some rigour to build the collection’s holdings of local First Nations artists, including works by Kabi Kabi and Jinibara peoples.

“The main impetus is to build the collection, but it’s also a great national platform to make the vibrancy of the Sunshine Coast arts and culture visible.”

Nina curates the Latest & Greatest exhibitions to provide a snapshot of new acquisitions and works that have entered the Collection in the past two years.

She says it’s about helping to change the perception that the Coast is a cultural wasteland, and instead, through art, encourages the belief that it’s “a really vibrant cultural hotspot”.

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to enjoy and revisit the recent SCAP winning works.

On show will be the SCAP 2022 winner, Melbourne-based Kate Tucker, who works mostly with painting and mixed media installations. 

Her multi-disciplinary practice is concerned with perception through processes of ordering.

“When we first saw Kate’s work in real life it was a lovely surprise to see the richness of the surface textures,” Nina says.

Visitors can also see the work of local mixed-media artist Miles Allen, who repurposes materials he finds and arranges them as compositions.

The Flaxton resident donated to the prestigious Collection because of the work the gallery does to promote local artists. 

“They’ve been pushing local artists for years and I thought it was the least I could do,” he said

His piece, What Einstein Said About Bees, promotes messages about the human impact on the environment.

“I use things that have had a life before I get them,” Miles says. “Things that have been thrown away and forgotten about.”

Wooden fruit and vegetable boxes from Europe were some used to create his work. 

“The plywood boxes are printed with lovely logos and pictures of stylised fruit,” he said. “I went over there a couple of times and brought those back, cut them up and painted and decorated them.It’s like a 3D printing so the bees really stand out.” 

Miles says the work reflects what Einstein says about a world without bees.

“Bees are so crucial to reproduction of plants, seeds and all the things that we eat as well as the beautiful natural things occurring. Without them we’d be pretty buggered.”

Local artists have the opportunity to win a prize of $5,000 in the gallery’s upcoming Local Content / Local Artist 2023 Prize. See the gallery’s website for more details on entries.

Caloundra Regional Gallery’s Latest & Greatest II Exhibition runs from 3 February – 19 March, with a launch night on 2 February, from 6pm-8pm. Entry is free.


There are more than 800 compelling and thought-provoking art works held in the prestigious Sunshine Coast Art Collection including locally and world-renowned contemporary creations in paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics and textiles.

Formed in 2008, following the amalgamation of the diverse art collections of the former Caloundra City and Maroochy Shire Councils (with works acquired since the 1960s), the collection has become a monumental drawcard for artists and art lovers alike. 

These prestigious acquisitions aim to reflect and celebrate the character and culture of our region through pieces that depict a connection to our people and places, and which aspire to preserve and display a collection of state and national significance through its broader holdings of contemporary Australian art.

Developed to encourage enjoyment and awareness of the visual arts, the collection also seeks to contribute to the cultural development of the Coast for both locals and visitors.

By growing and sharing the collection, the Sunshine Coast Council is developing an enduring cultural asset that can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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