Guide to Hobart's galleries

This is not a comprehensive listing of all Hobart galleries (I’d be here all day), but rather the ones that I regularly or semi-regularly visit and/or ones relevant to contemporary art and this blog.  I remember to update it every couple of years, so the info might be a little out of date (galleries might have closed etc).

Contemporary Art Tasmania
 (formerly CAST  or Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania)
CAST is similar in its focus on contemporary art to the Plimsoll, but with an emphasis on local art. CAT provides services beyond the gallery, assisting artists with grants, advocacy and other such necessities. They also have some great annual programs such as the Emerging Curator Mentorship, year-long studio residencies, and the fun CAST members show (December), which by sheer necessity, is hung salon style. 

Plimsoll Gallery
The Plimsoll is the University of Tasmania’s gallery, located at the Tasmanian School of Art on Hobart’s waterfront. The gallery is a little tricky to find as it is tucked away underneath the art school, which is housed in the majestic old IXL jam factory. The gallery has a rotation of three week curated exhibitions with an emphasis on international and interstate artists, although there are often quite a few artworks by Tasmanian artists on show. The Plimsoll Gallery, in my opinion, is one of the best contemporary art spaces in Hobart, showing an eclectic mix of exhibitions, which are usually quite challenging and cutting-edge, but occasionally regresses a little. Unfortunately, over the summer, in Hobart’s busiest tourist season (and when the gallery’s icicle-like temperatures are actually productive), the gallery is often used for research post-graduate examinations, and is closed during the week. However, the post-graduate examinations are generally open to the public the weekend following examination, so check out the gallery’s website before you visit. 

To get to the Plimsoll, you have to walk through the windy art school tunnel, which houses the Tasmanian University Union-run gallery, Entrepôt. All students enrolled at the University - both undergrad and postgrad - are eligible to apply, and as a result, the gallery showcases a wide range of art styles (and more notoriously, standards). Nevertheless, there are few restrictions placed on exhibitors at the gallery (There were three unofficial rules we followed when I was on the board in 2006-7: you can’t burn the gallery down, brick the door up, or sleep there), and I’ve seen some pretty wacky exhibitions there over the years.  Thanks to Voluntary Student Unionism and a disinterested student body, the gallery was looking pretty miserable from around 2009-2012, but the exhibitions have picked up in the last couple of years. 


Our state museum and art gallery. The TMAG is hit-and-miss when it comes to contemporary visual art so check the website.  The museum is undergoing a series of much-needed redevelopments, with stage one completed in 2013.  Stage two will happen when the state government gets their funding priorities in order (yes, I'm cynical about these things). 

Established by local philanthropist, Penny Clive, Detached Cultural Organisation was originally based in the church-turned-house-turned-gallery in Campbell Street.  It opened in 2008, co-hosting Mike Parr’s excellent solo exhibition, The Tilted Stage, with the TMAG.  A few years ago, Clive purchased the former Mercury building, which is slowly being turned into a creative industries hub.  Exhibitions are staged infrequently, but they're always excellent.


The Salamanca Arts Centre houses a number of galleries. The largest gallery is the Long Gallery, which again has an eclectic mix, and they’re less discriminating than most of the other galleries listed above.  Pretty much anyone can hire the gallery  One weekend you might find a blaring sound art exhibition and a room full of finches jumping on amped up guitars, the next you’ll stumble across a show by the Tasmanian Embroidery Club. Next to the Long Gallery is the Sidespace and on the very top floor is the appropriately titled Topspace. The Long Gallery, Sidespace, Topspace, and Kelly’s Garden (an outside, gravel-filled space) all accept proposals, and there’s usually at least one good exhibition on at any one time.

Salamanca Arts Centre is also home to a couple of artist coops, and if you want to view the work of local jewellers, Handmark is excellent.  In addition, there are a number of ‘craft ‘n’ art’ shops, many of which are pretty banal. 

Bett Gallery is a commercial gallery, and part of the Hobart furniture. It shows quite a mixture of art, although painting seems to be the predominant medium of choice.  Other commercial galleries include Despard, Colville and Penny Contemporary.


MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
The Museum of Old and New Art is, in the words of Maria Kunda, "hip in a way that is a little bit goth, a little bit country and a little bit rock n' roll." (Artlink, vol31 no1, 2011)  It opened in January 2011, and if you're visiting Hobart, there's no way you can give this museum a miss.  Catch the ferry to the museum from the Hobart waterfront, drink a martini on arrival in the void bar, and get lost in the art.  The exhibitions change regularly, so check the website for current information, ferry times and entry costs.  The associated MONA FOMA sound and music festival takes place in January every year. [2013 update: this year MONA introduced a winter counterpart to the festival: Dark MOFO]


Roslyn Rose said...

With the similar name, why don't you check out hob-art .org in Hoboken, NJ? Great exhibits in the gallery.

Proctor McKenzie said...

The larger galleries do not necessarily show the most enjoyable or significant art. A recently opened space, Gallery Because in Gregory St Sandy Bay is a case in point.