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Whittlesea township’s first gallery opened one week before lockdown

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By Aleksandra Bliszczyk

Whittlesea resident Vida Mitchell opened the town’s first art gallery earlier this month, after a year of planning. plans to host several exhibitions a year featuring multimedia visual art including all forms of painting and illustration, photography, videography and sculpture.

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As an artist herself and having taught video production at tertiary level, Ms Mitchell will also use the gallery as her studio space and will exhibit and sell her own work, primarily mounted stills of her videoscapes, in the gallery.

“The dream has finally been realised,” Ms Mitchell said.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was really young. The opportunity came up and I leapt at the chance and have been working on it for the past year and now it’s finally happened.”

After several COVID-related delays, the gallery was slated to open on June 5, but was postponed again due to Victoria’s fourth lockdown.

The opening was also split over two nights, July 9 and 10, due to density limits, but Ms Mitchell said it had been perfect.

“It was all I hoped for, with people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying the space, the company, the food, the beverages but utmost the art,” she said.

“When people walked into the gallery their faces lit up and this is what [the gallery] is for: lifting people’s spirits through the combination of the space and the aesthetic of the artwork on show.”

She said she hoped her gallery would buoy the area’s creative industry and give local artists a platform and a place to enjoy art.

“People have said, ‘this is what Whittlesea needs, we really need the arts and culture to be promoted in the district’,” Ms Mitchell said.

“There are so many talented people in the district and I think they’re yearning to be involved in that and to be able to come to a gallery and look at artwork and buy it if they so choose.

“But it’s really about coming to a gallery and enjoying the space and enjoying the artwork and seeing what people create.”’s inaugural exhibition displays the work of Melbourne artist Clive Ducker.

Ms Mitchell said his exhibition of natural landscapes fulfilled the gallery’s purpose of promoting art that was focused on the appreciation of nature.

“The exhibition is predominately landscapes, Australian vistas, our hills, mountains, desserts and seascapes. Clive’s artwork often includes people in the landscape, people, children, families and friends simply enjoying the beaches, the sand and surf,” she said.

Mr Ducker paints in oil on canvas with a strong emphasis on colour and the play of light within the landscape.

“They take you to the place and you can feel the time of day and you can feel the warmth. He’s a really talented artist,” she said.

Ms Mitchell hopes the gallery will become a destination for residents in surrounding areas and even the inner-city.

“Come for a drive, enjoy our cafes, restaurants and have a look at what’s on show in the gallery,” she said.

Mr Ducker’s exhibition is on until September 9, before the gallery is scheduled to take a short break to reset for the next exhibition.

All of Mr Ducker’s art will be for sale, and Ms Mitchell said every piece was excellent value for money.

“We don’t have Fitzroy prices … but his work is inner-suburbs quality,” she said.

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