Dungog Contemporary adds artistic touch to village

Dungog Contemporary: Owners Stephen Hobbs and Sarah Crawford.
Dungog Contemporary: Owners Stephen Hobbs and Sarah Crawford.

Stephen Hobbs and Sarah Crawford have taken a gamble on Dungog’s reputation as a growing artisan village to open a gallery on the town’s main street (146 Dowling Street, to be exact).

The first hang in the gallery features three Newcastle-based artists.

En plein and studio works from Nicole Chaffey, who was raised in Clarence Town, feature at Dungog Contemporary now.

There are also works from Belinda Street’s Kosciuszko series and works from Newcastle artist Madelaine Cruise.

Besides jewellery by Melbourne artist Jane Francis Reilly, there are photos by Stephen Hobbs and a sculpture by Sarah Crawford on exhibit.

The gallery is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

While the gallery had a soft opening about seven weeks ago, Hobbs and Crawford will official launch the space during the Upper Hunter Arts Trail event over the weekend of November 18 and 19.

All three of the exhibiting artists will be on hand, with Chaffey doing an en plein work of Dungog’s main street over the weekend.

The gallery has locked in its first solo show, featuring Paterson artist Paula Jenkins, for November 2018.

“We are leaning to formally-trained artists,” Hobbs says of their plan. “We are not craft-oriented. We are serious.”

Hobbs says the plan is to market heavily on social media, via Facebook and instagram. They have already sold works to overseas clients. 

The gallery has also established a relationship with Art Money, a Sydney-based art loan brokerage.

“We are a bit out of the way, so we have to work differently,” Hobbs says. “We might get two people walk in, but we might get 500 look online.”

Hobbs is optimistic that he and Crawford have made the right decision by moving to Dungog.

“We want to make Dungog a destination,” he says. “It’s got a brewery, cinema, restaurants …”

It is a good day trip from Newcastle: visitors can catch a train from  Newcastle at 8.26am and be in Dungog by 9.49am and catch a train back to Newcastle on the same day at 5pm or 7.30pm and be back in Newcastle about 90 minutes later.