Brimming with award-winning regional galleries and events, New England’s arts and culture scene is abuzz.
In Armidale, both classical and contemporary music contribute enormously to the city’s cultural vibrancy, which comes as no surprise given the University of New England’s distinguished music department has a history of international significance. The Old Teachers College is home to the New England Conservatorium and the UNE Department of Music, which nurture the Armidale Symphony Orchestra, Armidale Youth Orchestra, Fiori Musicali and many other choral and musical groups.
The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale is an enjoyable and inspirational place for visitors of all ages. The museum is the custodian of around 5000 works of art, including the Howard Hinton, Chandler Coventry and NERAM collections. Hinton (1867-1948) was a noted collector of Australian art who donated over 1000 paintings to the Armidale community; including the famous ‘Mosman’s Bay’ by Tom Roberts along with other renowned works by Arthur Streeton, Norman Lindsay, Margaret Preston, Margaret Olley and Lloyd Rees. Elsewhere in the museum, you’ll find exhibitions featuring works by local and regional artists and, regularly, important touring shows from metropolitan museums and galleries including The Archibald Prize.
Beneath NERAM is the Museum of Printing, which houses an historically significant collection of printing machinery and equipment which comprise the FT Wimble & Co. Collection. It includes printing presses, a Linotype machine, guillotines, bookbinding equipment, wooden and metal type and a history of printings in Australia from 1850 to the early 1900s.
Next door, at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre & Keeping Place, Lloyd Hornsby’s The Apology, commemorating Kevin Rudd’s historic 2007 “sorry” to Aboriginal Australia, is one of several artworks on display by local and noted Aboriginal artists. You can learn about the history and traditions of the region’s first Australians here – the Bush Tucker Walk, in particular, is a huge hit with kids.
The Armidale Art Gallery, Gallery 126 and Walcha Gallery of Art also exhibit works by local artists. You’ll notice how the region’s picturesque landscape and natural beauty influence much of the art.
In each town centre, you’ll find several shops selling art and antiques. The Barking Dog Gallery in Uralla sells ceramics, glass and wood artworks by local artists, while early English poetry is the focus of the quirky Chaucer on Bridge Street museum and gallery.
At the award-winning McCrossin’s Mill Museum – also occasionally a venue for intimate musical performances and events – you’ll discover a compelling series of huge paintings illustrating the story of legendary bushranger Captain Thunderbolt’s last hours. And don’t miss the town’s renowned antiquarian bookstore; a favourite with bibliophiles and anyone in search of a good book.
The calendar is brimming with exciting and innovative events throughout the year in the New England High Country. Those not to be missed include the Uralla Lantern Festival, Seasons of New England, Flix in the Stix, Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival, Armidale Autumn Festival and the Walcha Mountain Festival.