IT was just like old times, back when the renowned Collector's Choice exhibition at von Bertouch Galleries in Cooks Hill turned into an annual street party.
On Friday morning, friends were on Laman Street, talking and sipping sparkling wine, with the gallery owner and matriarch of Newcastle art Anne von Bertouch commanding centre stage and hollering: "Now look here!"
The city lost von Bertouch in 2003. But thanks to the three current owners and residents of the historic building, Anne is back.
To honour the memory of von Bertouch and her place in Cooks Hill life, Matt and Marilyn Sainsbury, along with Matt's sister Helen Griffin, commissioned Newcastle sculptor Graham Wilson to create a bust to stand outside the former gallery.
"We wanted to give something back," Matt Sainsbury said. "It's nice for this to be in front of the house that Anne really created."
Just as the Sainsburys have done recently, von Bertouch restored the 19th century building after she saved it from demolition in the late 1960s.
"She looks wonderful, doesn't she?" Marilyn Sainsbury said, surveying the bust, just after it was unveiled on its plinth of soot-stained bricks recycled from a chimney in the building.
Mr Wilson spent 480 hours hand-sculpting von Bertouch's face from Wollombi sandstone. It was an emotionally charged job for him, as he used to exhibit at von Bertouch Galleries.
"I think she launched my career in Newcastle," he said.
Among those toasting the sculpture was long-time gallery manager and friend Gael Davies.
"This is wonderful," she said. "For so many people, their lives were changed here, and that's what this place was all about."