Kerrie Abello thinks the magic of art and culture could be one of the keys to the revival of Campbelltown’s main street.
The local visual artist, who has just opened a community art gallery in one of the funky arcades Queen Street is famous for, says an arts and culture precinct is needed now and not in 20 years.
“Last time I walked up and down Queen Street I counted around 12 vacancies, and thought, how good would that be if they were art spaces,’’ Ms Abello tells me when we meet for a chat in Bar Centrale, a café right in the heart of the main street.
“We all want art and culture here and how great it would be to have a precinct of art and culture right here in the heart of Campbelltown,’’ she says.
“It would bring a lot of people so the cafes and restaurants would be full and everyone wins.
“And what would be absolutely awesome – and I know a couple of artists who are really keen and I am not sure if they have approached the council yet – is to have more murals in and around the main street.’’
Ms Abello, who grew up in Campbelltown, was a finalist in the contemporary section of last year’s Fisher’s Ghost art competition, judged in November – the first time she had ever entered.
A couple of months earlier she took the plunge and leased the Meditation Space premises in City Arcade and launched Dragonfly Community Gallery.
Ms Abello offers the space for hire to artists to exhibit their work.
“It’s going OK, but we need to let more people know it’s there,’’ says Ms Abello.
“It up to the artist to run the gallery, when they open it to the public and promote it.
“I will promote them once a week on social media.’’
In one way or another, art has always been in Kerrie Abello’s life.
Attending Campbelltown Central Primary School, Kerrie Abello won an art prize in Year 6 and was invited to the Hilton where she met artists Ken Done and Jenny Kee in the late 1980s.
She went to Campbelltown Performing Arts High and stayed in Campbelltown until she was 23 before moving to Brisbane, came back for a couple of years, moved to Wollongong for around 10 years, and now “I’m back here again’’.
“My dad is an artist; he’s belief is you can’t make money from art, the starving artist thing, so he did a trade, as his dad told him to do, and he told me too,’’ she says.
“I always wanted to do art but never really had that encouragement at school, so I ended up becoming an accountant for a few years.
“But whatever I did in my life art was always there somewhere.’’
If you are interested in hiring the space in the City Arcade, contact Kerrie at email@example.com