Innovation and adaptability have always been necessary for business success, but never more so than in this brave new post-pandemic world.
These qualities, along with a healthy dose of entrepreneurial drive, hard work, and a smattering of pure passion, have helped The Gallery Eumundi – soon to be re-named The G Contemporary – emerge and thrive as one of Noosa’s most exciting and dynamic art destinations.
Gallery owners and directors Karen and Steve Beardsley brought their corporate expertise and love of art all the way from London to Noosa in 2008, with a goal to “get off the rat wheel of corporate life”, according to Karen.
“We come from a science background,” she tells salt. “Before we came here, we both worked in the pharmaceutical industry, so sales is our main background.
“However, we were always interested in art and collected art, so it was a passion.
“When we moved from London to Noosa, it was very much to change our lives. But I feel like a lot of our innovation and our ability to look at things and move things and change and pivot, probably comes from that corporate background and that work ethic.”
The gallery hosts exhibitions by a diverse range of artists, from the recent contemporary abstract collection titled Neo Non-objective, from four artists who produce conceptual abstract works, to the current exhibition of
new works by acclaimed impressionist painter David Hinchliffe,
The G Contemporary moved to its Hastings Street home about two years ago, after beginning life in Eumundi, where Karen and Steve ran the gallery for four years and developed a very healthy following.
After moving from their original space, their business model took a new turn when a client approached them with an opportunity to take artists’ work to an art fair overseas.
“We went and did our first art fair in Hong Kong, which was massively successful,” Karen says.
“We just decided really to change our model.
“So, we would take Australian artists to those art fairs and sell the works for them overseas – which was fantastic.”
This worked spectacularly for the next eight years, but just when the couple decided to expand, with art fairs planned in the US and the UK, COVID threw a spanner in the works. “I think we were one week from getting onto a plane to New York to an art fair,” says Karen. “So obviously that stopped us, like everyone else, in our tracks.
“Then, literally as soon as everyone went into lockdown, the online market just took off.”
With business then booming online, Karen and Steve realised they wanted to reach back into the Australian market. With travel off the table for the foreseeable future, they decided they needed a bricks-and-mortar space to showcase their works.
Along came another opportunity in the form of the gallery’s current location on Hastings Street, initially intended as a pop-up at the end of 2020.
“We planned to come in for six weeks for the Christmas period,” says Karen.
“It was lovely to unpack all the art we had – we already had a lot of works in storage, ready to go overseas. And it just sort of went from there; we decided to make this our permanent space. We’re really established here now.
“We’ve now got a very big Australian database of people coming through – holidaymakers, local people moving into the area.
“Because of the art fairs, we have a large network into other galleries in Australia and also internationally. So, our sourcing is great,” Karen says.
“If people are looking for investment art, or art that we don’t necessarily stock, we’ve got so many conduits and connections. And Hastings Street is a brilliant place to be based from that point.”
The G Contemporary currently represents 31 artists, with 10 new artists coming on board in the past two months. Karen explains that the gallery’s representations are diverse, with a view to continuing to explore new concepts.
Sixteen of those artists are Sunshine Coast-based, one is from Spain, two from England, and the remainder from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. “We are constantly looking for new and exciting artists,” Karen says.
Steve says the gallery focuses on three principles when collaborating with a new artist.
“One, we have to love and like the art we are selling,” he says. “Two, we have to have a healthy working relationship with the artist; and three, we have to appreciate that the artwork has some commercial viability.
“That’s the model that seems to work.”
However, it’s not all about commercial success; the couple has a strong desire to support emerging artists on their artistic journey.
“We work hard at developing young and emerging artists from the local area,” Steve tells salt.
“It’s important that we’re not just a commercial gallery – we’ve always liked to work with our artists and develop them and have very much a two-way street – it’s important to have
One of the gallery’s most exciting new additions is Byron Bay-based First Nations artist Melissa Ladkin, who works specifically with ochres she collects and blends to create natural pigments. Karen and Steve travelled to Byron Bay to see Melissa at work and gain a deeper understanding of her art practice.
“We’ve got a real focus, going into the next few years, on including more First Nations artists in our portfolio,” says Karen. “But it’s very important to us that we do it absolutely right and make sure that it’s all appropriate.”
Karen says the diversity of tastes is one of the main things that gives The G Contemporary a distinctive edge.
“We’re constantly making contact with different artists and looking at different things, and we try very hard to have points of difference in the gallery,” she says.
“So, people will find something that maybe they don’t find in Melbourne, or maybe they don’t find on the rest of the Coast. There’s a real mix – it’s very eclectic, our tastes, so I feel like there’s something for everyone.”