Alan Baker Art Gallery at Macaria
Gallery Now Open
The doors of historic Macaria have reopened based on the latest NSW Government guidelines. A maximum of 20 people are allowed in the Gallery at one time. Visitors are required to sign in and out, use hand sanitiser on arrival and are reminded to please continue to follow social distancing guidelines, practice good personal hygiene and get tested for COVID-19, even if showing mild symptoms.
Alan Baker Art Gallery is situated in the historic Victorian Gentleman’s Townhouse, Macaria, and showcases the work of local Australian artist, Alan Baker.
This collection of Baker’s art provides a colourful portrayal of the artist’s life in 20th Century Australia. Through tragedy and joy, it tells a story of Australian life, culture and artistic journey.
Through our collection and program of public art workshops in Camden, the Alan Baker Art Gallery has established itself as a vibrant part of Camden’s cultural precinct. The Gallery is a space which connects local artists in Macarthur, fosters emerging artists and promotes art in Camden.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Address: 37 John St, Camden
Phone: 02 4645 5191
FACE to FACE: Live Sittings 1936 - 1972
Alan Baker Art Gallery celebrates its 3rd Anniversary Exhibition:
Pictured artworks from left to right:
1953 ‘The Artist’s Wife’
1949 ‘Self Portrait'
1951 ‘Charles Chauvel Esq.’ Reproduced courtesy of the
Royal Geographical Society of Queensland.
The 2021 Alan Baker Art Gallery Anniversary Exhibition explores Baker’s connection to Australia’s most celebrated art exhibition the Archibald Prize. Renowned as our nation’s most topical and publicised portrait competition, the Archibald represents a 100-year history of both controversy and prestige in Australian Art.
At the time of the inaugural Archibald Prize, Baker was a youth of just 13 years embarking on his artistic journey and living in Ashfield, Sydney. Studying at JS Watkins Art School, alongside future Archibald winners Henry Hanke, William Pidgeon and his brother Normand, Baker was evolving as a portrait artist, his works capturing his skill in classical disciplines including tonal graphite life drawing and painting.
At 22 years of age, Baker began his relationship with the Archibald Prize, entering both a self-portrait and portrait of Halila Booth which were to become the first of many. Over the span of 27 years, 1936 to 1972, Baker entered 35 portraits in total. His subject varied from self-portrait, to portraits of his wife Marjorie, Charles Chauvel, the family doctor Mervyn Matheson among many others.
For Baker, it was the tradition of the artist and sitter relationship that he believed to be the most intimate experience between artist and subject. Face to face he captured emotion, expression and brought his portrait to life with such fine detail.
True to the classical and traditional, Bakers works of the period began to respond to the vibrancy, fluidity, and energy of the modernist movement. Controversial, in his own right, Baker valued realism and believed that for as long as his audience appreciated his work and exhibitions, and his studio sales continued the modernist movement would not replace the tradition of realism.
The Gallery’s third anniversary exhibition, FACE to FACE, captures a chronological suite of Baker’s entries inviting the viewer to reflect on his contribution to Australian art history, his great passion for his work and the audience for whom he painted.
Timeline of Baker' entries from 1936-1972
Newspaper article collage - from the Gallery archives.
Alan Baker Art Gallery - Public Program 2021
Alan Baker Art Gallery is excited to facilitate a full program of workshops, classes and events in Camden which cater to both children and adults. These classes and creative workshops in Camden draw on the knowledge and experience of local artists and art teachers and should be top of your ‘things to do in Camden’ list. The Alan Baker Art Gallery art classes in Camden town centre are a great way to meet friends, learn new skills and engage with Camden’s art community.
Programs for Kids:
School holiday workshops
Alan Baker Art Gallery runs a series of art workshops during the school holidays for children aged 5 to 12 that will help unleash your young artist’s talent. Modelled upon Alan Baker’s artworks, practices, and influences, these hands-on workshops are bound to keep your children entertained and staying creative throughout the holidays. Find out more and book here.
Art After School
Harness your budding artist’s potential with our Art After School for primary and secondary aged students. These children’s art classes offer a term of creative workshops in Camden, designed to encourage children to explore the real and the imagined while learning various art-making techniques. Find out more and book here.
Programs for Adults:
FACE to FACE: Portraiture Workshops
Alan Baker Art Gallery is proud to facilitate monthly portraiture workshops to align with our current FACE to FACE exhibition that features Alan Baker’s 20th century Archibald Prize entries from 1936-1972.
Held on the second Saturday of each month until September 2021, this portraiture workshop is suitable for all levels of experience. Be guided by a local professional artist and take the opportunity to capture the sitter FACE to FACE within the heritage-listed townhouse Macaria.
Find out more and book here.
Come and improve your Drawing Skills! This foundational 10-week course will teach you the drawing skills required to improve all areas of your artistic practice. Find out more and book here.
In this 10-week watercolour art lesson in Camden, you will be led through the basics of watercolour painting in a supportive and friendly environment. Beginners and experienced students are encouraged to attend. Find out more and book here.
Life Drawing (18+ only)
Held on the third Thursday of each month, this Life Drawing class in Camden is suitable for all levels of experience. Be guided by professional artists and art teachers and take the opportunity to capture the nude figure in the beautiful Gallery setting located in Camden’s town centre. Drawing materials and light refreshments provided. Find out more and book here.
Join us and learn about the history of Camden at our Heritage Drawing workshop. From the grounds of beautiful Macaria, you will learn the techniques of architectural drawing while observing Camden’s heritage buildings. For history buffs and aspiring artists alike, this workshop is held on the fourth Saturday of the month and welcomes all abilities. Find out more and book here.
Macaria, which today houses the Alan Baker Art Gallery, has been a prominent feature in Camden since the town’s infancy. Originally built in 1859-1860 as a school house by Henry Thompson, the building has since been used for many things; including a private home; the Camden Grammar School; the residence and rooms of doctors and dentists including popular local physician Dr Francis West. In 1965 Macaria was purchased by Camden Council and used as Camden Library and later, offices for the Mayor, Town Clark and staff.
Macaria is a fine example of an early Victorian Gentleman’s Townhouse. Designed and built in the Picturesque Gothic, Renaissance Revival style, Macaria features gabled windows, high chimneys, stone trims and a wooden porch. Sympathetically renovated and restored in 2017, the historical features including the oregon timber flooring, Australian cedar architraves and mahogany skirting boards have been retained.
Macaria is also significant in the folklore of Camden. Tales two ghosts, Sarah and Billy, who are rumoured to wander Macaria’s halls, are an enduring part of Camden’s mythology. Fortunately, Gallery staff have reported no sightings.
The Alan Baker Art Gallery has been delighted by the creative young minds of Camden. Since the Gallery opened, many aspiring artists walk through the door and sit in the Still Life room to draw while parents enjoy the paintings. With pencils, paper and a clipboard, children of all ages and skill levels have been quick to sketch some beautiful images in the space. They take inspiration from our changing still life displays, Baker’s beautiful collection, or simply express ideas straight from their imagination.