By CAITLIN CROWLEY

TUCKED away on a second storey corner of the historic Rowes precinct, The Toowoomba Gallery still feels like one of the city’s best kept secrets.

But as co-owners Bec Statton and Niki Hall prepare to celebrate its first anniversary, it’s clear – the secret’s out.

“A really exciting thing is, we’ve noticed that there are people travelling to Toowoomba to see our art gallery, who are from elsewhere in Australia,” Niki Hall said.

“Yesterday I had two couples from Victoria, doing road trips. They stayed the night at Vacy Hall and they had dinner somewhere, they had breakfast and I said, ‘What brought you to Toowoomba?’ and they said, you!

“I was blown away to think that these couples had done a road trip and they’ve come to Toowoomba, injecting money into the town, visiting the gallery.

“They didn’t buy anything but they’ve looked and they might buy something online at some point. It’s just really exciting, putting Toowoomba on the map.”

If The Toowoomba Gallery’s wide variety of pieces and price points reminds you of Grammar Art Show, it’s no coincidence.

Bec Statton was the driving force behind the hugely popular event in recent years, and brought her passion for affordable, approachable art to the gallery venture.

“Art brings joy and we all could do with joy in our lives, particularly when things are tough,” Statton said.

“I had noticed that people wanted to buy art but often lacked the confidence to choose what they loved.”

“I wanted the gallery to provide a relaxed atmosphere that inspired bravery, allowing people to follow their heart.”

“Art for the heart” is how Niki Hall describes her vision for the gallery, adamant “art is for everyone”.

“There’s so much amazing art out there – to get that into Toowoomba and then to see our local community embrace it has been really incredible this past year,” Hall said.

“We’ve had pretty amazing sales in our first year, we’re really happy with how things have gone so we’re definitely here to stay.”

From a CBD pop-up store to its permanent home on Victoria Street, The Toowoomba Gallery has grown to feature more than 120 artists, from the Darling Downs and across Australia, plus Spain and Hong Kong.

Hall and Statton are also adding new events to the city’s cultural calendar, offering experiences people would usually have to travel to capital cities for.

They recently hosted a ceramics workshop and will be welcoming artists Kate Quinn and Emily Day to the gallery in September, for a new art, food and wine event coinciding with Carnival of Flowers.

Bloom at the Gallery” will include a morning yoga session, gourmet garden picnic and a floral still life painting class.

“Bec and I are really looking at what we can do to bring those things into Toowoomba,” Hall said.

“Don’t go to Sydney and Melbourne for an art experience, you can do it here.”

The Toowoomba Gallery is celebrating its first anniversary with a new exhibition called “Harvest” opening August 4th at 6pm.

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