Breaking Ground Ceremony for new environmentally prepared art gallery at Boyd’s Riversdale property

A render of Kerstin Thompson Architects' design for the new galleryA revitalising smoking ceremony has marked the turning of the first sod of construction to realise Bundanon Trust’s Masterplan to safely house and display its collection and expand its education and tourism offerings.

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Commonwealth Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and The Arts, the Hon Don Harwin MLC, the NSW Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts, together with Bundanon’s Chair Jennifer Bott AO and CEO Deborah Ely AM have celebrated the event at Bundanon’s Riversdale Boyd Education Centre.

At the heart of the Trust’s Masterplan, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments is the building of an environmentally prepared gallery-of-the-future and safe storage facility, designed to display and house the Bundanon Trust’s $43 million art collection.

“This momentous event follows the devastation of the south coast fires and I commend the Rural Fire Service and Bundanon staff for acting quickly to protect this national culturally important collection,” said Jennifer Bott, Bundanon Chair. “The recent situation highlights more than ever the need for Bundanon to have an environmentally prepared purpose-built gallery to protect this national treasure.”

“Today marks the beginning of a wonderful renewal project for the Shoalhaven that will attract national and international visitors to the region. To stand here at Bundanon and turn the first sod to celebrate day one of construction to build a wonderful new gallery and storage facility for Bundanon is a truly special moment. We extend our gratitude to the Commonwealth and NSW Governments and to all those donors and supporters who will enable us to fulfill this vision.”

“Arthur Boyd’s extraordinary works live on as enduring inspiration for the many passionate and talented artists across regional NSW. This new facility housed on this famous landscape will pave the way for the Bundanon Trust’s revered collection to be presented for all visitors to enjoy,” said Ms Bott.

Designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA), a light-filled contemporary art gallery embedded in the landscape sits at the heart of unique property on the NSW south coast, gifted to the nation by renowned Australia artist Arthur Boyd and his wife Yvonne in 1993.

The new subterranean contemporary art gallery will house Bundanon Trust’s collection of some 4,000 items, featuring 1,300 works by Arthur Boyd together with Boyd’s contemporaries such as Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman.

The Collection also includes etchings by Goya and Picasso as well as pieces by Brett Whiteley, contemporary works by Brook Andrew, Rosemary Laing, Euan Macleod and Polixeni Papapetrou. In addition, the Trust has an archive of artist books, scripts, compositions and working models related to artwork developed on the properties through the Artist in Residence program.

KTA’s Masterplan design for Riversdale also encompasses a world-class creative learning centre for school students, a contemporary visitor hub, accommodation and cafe. Sensitively embracing the existing landscape and its ecology, the design responds to current and future climatic conditions with inspiration drawn from rural Australia’s trestle flood bridges.

The new facilities will be housed within a new 140-metre-long by a 9-metre-wide structure that at one end abuts the art gallery within the sloping hillside, continuing along to bridge an existing gully, and containing 34 bedrooms, teaching and dining space and a public cafe.

“The Trust is “thrilled that this Commonwealth and NSW Government funded project is underway at such a pertinent time for the Shoalhaven region,” said Deborah Ely, Bundanon CEO. “The new contemporary gallery will be a building that leads the way in future museum construction, enabling collections to be well protected against changing climate while also being shared with the public realising Boyd’s vision for Bundanon, these world-class facilities will attract visitors to regional Australia and house this internationally significant, and rapidly growing, modern and contemporary art collection.”

Bundanon is a unique place for Australian art. Gifted to the Australian people in 1993 by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd the Bundanon property is located on 1,100 hectares of bush and parkland overlooking the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra.

The company’s mission is to operate the property (which includes the Bundanon Homestead site and the Riversdale site) as a centre for creative arts and education, to support scientific research and to maintain a working farm. Bundanon’s residency program for artists, writers, musicians, dancers, performers and scholars, and its creative arts programs for children, remain an investment in Australia’s future.

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Image: A render of Kerstin Thompson Architects’ design for the new gallery (supplied)