Paintings gifted to Bega Regional Gallery

Three paintings by renowned Bega artist, Jack Kirkland (1907-1966) have been donated to the Bega Valley Regional Gallery by former Bega resident Bruce Leonard. 

“The BVRG suspended acquisitions some time ago and hasn’t been accepting gifts due to storage issues,” gallery curator, Megan Bottari said.

“However, because of Jack’s significance in the local ‘art historic’ scheme of things  – he was one of the founding fathers, along with Silby McNeil and Charlie Deacon, of the Bega Valley Art and Craft Society back in 1946 – we’ve made an exception.

“The three paintings are very sweet and instantly familiar, of course.

“We’ve hung them in the Regional Gallery/Library foyer for the time being, to give visitors an opportunity to enjoy them. It’s rather touching to see Jack’s painting’s coming home to roost, and we thank Bruce for his thoughtfulness,” she said.

The works had been in the Leonard family for many years. Bruce’s parents, Edgar and Pat Leonard, both now deceased, moved to Bega in the late 1940s and lived most of their lives in Hill Street.

They struck up a close friendship with Jack who lived in the same street. Communal bartering occurred when money was scarce during the early 1950s, and Bruce recalls Jack giving the three paintings to Edgar and Pat as payment for repairs that Edgar carried out on Jack’s car.

“The paintings were treasured by Edgar and Pat, who gave them pride of place in their lounge room,” Mr Leonard said.

“All three works were painted by Jack Kirkland in 1951. The first painting depicts Murray’s Flat Road and the second is of Kameruka Lake.

“There is a bit of a mystery about the third painting, which the Gallery is hoping to resolve – just where is the setting? This painting, which was not named, is believed to be the mouth of the Bega River at Tathra, just north of the bridge where Preo’s Punt service operated in the 1950s,” he said.

However, Bruce is not absolutely certain of this and is wondering if some long-time Bega Valley residents may recognise the landscape and shed some light on a more precise location.

Mr Leonard said he is very proud to donate the works to the Gallery as his parents would have wanted that as a legacy to the work of a wonderful artist and friend.

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