A decades-long campaign for a new regional art gallery has ended in a bittersweet victory.
Lismore will get the new facility that has been discussed for the past 60 years, after a development application was this week approved by the Northern Regional Joint Planning Panel.
Years of bitter fighting among local councillors has cost the city the chance to house the permanent exhibition that honours Australian painter Margaret Olley.
That display opened in the nearby Tweed Regional Art Gallery in March 2014, something that still haunts Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.
“It was a very hard time. It took me a long time to go to the Olley Gallery because of the pain involved,” she said.
“But it’s the right place up there and I congratulate them. They’ve done a beautiful job.
“Our gallery will be different.
“We will still honour Margaret because this was her birthplace, but we will do it differently, and I think the two galleries will complement each other.”
‘More Modest’ Project Welcomed by Some
Independent Lismore councillor Neil Marks opposed the previous plan for a Margaret Olley gallery, but said he was pleased a more modest project would take its place.
“It was too big, too expensive and unrealistic for what the council was able to do at that particular time,” he said.
“It’s terrible to say no to something such as the Margaret Olley gallery, however the Margaret Olley Foundation has realised that we are still worthy and has put money towards this particular gallery.
“So we’re very proud of our achievements.”
Lismore Regional Art Gallery director Brett Adlington said a new gallery would change the sorts of exhibitions and works the city could attract.
“The big thing is having suitable climate control,” he said.
“[That] means we can borrow works from major institutions, older works that need to be kept in proper environmental conditions.
“Currently we can’t meet those standards at all.”