Beauty and Purpose at Gang Gang Gallery

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By Ellen Hill

Inspired by patches of exposed bricks hinting at its former life as a milk bar, repurposed doors and polished wooden floors, Gang Gang Gallery is more than a venue for gorgeous artworks.

It’s a canvas for stories, its walls a support for worthy causes.

Owner Sharon Howard wants the gallery “to have purpose”: “It’s not just about people coming in to look at beautiful artworks. I like there to be a story behind the artwork and maybe some way of being able to support a project or organisation.”

With a background in business and administration, Sharon has a love of travelling which exposed her to international art.

She and husband Ross “dabbled in a small gallery” at Hartley Historic Site more than 30 years ago. Sharon is not an artist but she has known many artists who have influenced her sense of intrigue and interest in art. As a small gallerist and art collector, she can be flexible and implement creative change quickly, like commissioning a 360 virtual experience of the gallery so Gang Gang Gallery could remain accessible to customers during the pandemic.

She organises pop-up exhibitions and artist talks on a whim.

“I’m not influenced by people telling me what I should do. I’m influenced by projects I can get involved in, that have meaning and that I can support something I’m passionate about.”

The gallery building had been sitting idle for 40 years when the couple bought it 12 years ago, having no idea what they would use it for. Six years ago, they decided to open an art gallery.

Its most recent life before that had been as the refreshment rooms for the theatre next door. In its heyday, there was a large horseshoe bar in the middle of the building, and it was the largest milk bar in the southern hemisphere at the time.

By the time the Howards took it over, the building was dilapidated.

“We bought it to save it,” Sharon says. “Then, we just grew into it.”

Sharon is proud of the community space they have created for the Lithgow community. She has developed a diverse program of workshops, exhibitions, music performances and functions to help the gallery, its exhibiting artists and community recover from the challenges of recent years.

Just 25 minutes’ drive or train trip from Mount Victoria, Gang Gang Gallery is an ideal part of a day exploring the uppermost reaches of the Blue Mountains and Hartley Historic Site, a ride on the Zig Zag Railway or an underground tour at Jenolan Caves.

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Summer at Gang Gang Gallery:

Until March 24: Gang Gang's Summer exhibition is a group show including some Gang Gang Gallery favourites – Boyd McMillan, Cheryl McCoy, Garry Pettitt, Ana Grabowski, Natasha Daniloff, Michael Bourke, Leo Cremonese, Joy Engleman, Will Hazzard, Kelly Hazzard, Ralphe Coombes  and Sonia Cox.

Live at the gallery (4.30pm – 6.30pm second Saturday of each month): Live entertainment and art

Gang Gang Gallery is at 206 Main St, Lithgow
T: 0408 514 440  gggallery.com
 Open 10.30am to 4.30pm Friday to Sunday.

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