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Alan Baker Art Gallery at Macaria

Home > Sydney > Art | Art and Craft Centres | Exhibitions | Free
by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published March 6th 2018
A generous gift from the Bakers and the Tegels
Having been to a number of art galleries throughout Australia and the world, I felt extremely privileged to be invited to attend the grand opening of the Alan Baker Art Gallery in historic Macaria Building in Camden, which will now feature the Alan D. Baker art collection.

Gary Baker is so passionate about his father's lifes work that the 200 strong crowd couldn't wait to get into the Alan Baker Art Gallery. Image by Gary Brown.

The official opening of the Alan Baker Art Gallery by the Mayor of Camden, Lara Symkowiak was the place to be. Image by Gary Brown.

This has come about through an idea that Gary Baker had put to Max Tegel, about putting together an art collection of Alan D. Baker works, which would represent a colourful portrayal of an artist's life in the 20th Century Australia, which had never been done before.

Gary and Melissa Baker have gifted a number of works by Gary's Father to the Alan Baker Art Gallery. Image by Gary Brown

Max and Nola Tegel are collectors of fine arts and they have gifted a number of Alan's paintings to the Alan Baker Art Gallery. Image by Gary Brown.

Both Gary and Max, along with their wives, Melissa Baker and Nola Tegel, set about going through their own extensive collections of Alan D. Baker's works, including seventy-nine drawings and paintings, which would depict a window into Alan Baker's work throughout the 20th Century.

Alan's tools of his trade are showcased. Image by Gary Brown.

This creative vision of having a dedicated art space in the Alan Bakers Art Gallery is a combination of a gift from the Bakers and the Tegels, which would not have been possible without the support and commitment of the Camden Council. The council, with the backing of Lara Symkowiak (Mayor of Camden), have invested in the restoration of the Macaria Building into an art gallery.

One could spend so much time looking at these wonderful paintings. Image by Gary Brown.

Whilst the gallery is a dedicated showcase of Alan Baker's works, it also provides an opportunity to connect local artists, foster future artists and promote art in Camden and the wider communities. The Alan Baker Art Gallery and the Macaria building will be available as a resource where school groups, sketch and artistic groups.

The Macaria building is an excellent example of a picturesque Tudor-Gothic residence of brick with stone dressings and wooden fretwork on the verandas. Its high-pitched gable roof with its brick chimneys and gable windows, double hung windows, ornate timber bargeboards, quoining stones and finials and pendants on the gables makes it stand out from the surrounding buildings.


A self portrait of Alan D. Baker, the artist. Image by Gary Brown.

Alan started painting at the age of 13 and showed the same talents as his brother, Normand (who won the Archibald Prize in 1937). During his days at Canterbury Boys High, he enrolled to study drawing at J.S. Watkins Art School. He left Canterbury High two years later to become a full-time art student.

At the age of eighteen, Alan entered the Archibald Prize competition and was a finalist 26 times from 1932 to 1972. Off those 26 times as a finalist, Alan had displayed 35 paintings - this in itself is a magnificent achievement.

Alan was also a finalist in the Wynee Prize , which is awarded annually for 'the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists' in 1969 and 1970.

Throughout his career as an artist, Alan painted thousands of oil and watercolour paintings, sketches and etchings and some of his works are hung in the New South Wales Art Gallery, the National Gallery - Canberra, Queensland Institute of Technology, the Hinton collection at Armidale, and many private and public collections here in Australia and overseas.

The collection of Alan's works that have been put together and hung in the Macaria Art Gallery is a collection that tells a story of life throughout the 20th Century through the eyes of a brilliant artist.

The works capture part of history from those early years as an artist living Sydney, during the Great Depression, WW2 in New Guinea, serving in the A.I.F, the tragedy of losing two of his sons in a boating accident on the Georges River, to then moving to the Oaks near Camden, NSW.

The heartbreaking image of one of Alan's sons, Brian. Image by Gary Brown.

Throughout his years as an artist, Alan travelled and painted throughout Australia with his family and Rex, the dog. He had a great love of the Australian countryside, visited the Flinders Ranges - South Australia, Central Australia, Longreach in Queensland, Northern and Western New South Wales. Alan and his family also had a holiday house on the south coast at Gerroa, where I first met Alan and Gary in 1968.

I can remember the times that I would be either surfing or fishing off the rocks around Gerroa and I would see Alan at his easel painting away, while Rex was exploring what he could roll in.

To me, as a fourteen-year-old, with not an artistic bone in his body, Alan was someone who could create something beautiful in my eyes. Only to sometimes say "I don't think that I really like this one, but I will hang it at Gerroa and see what I think about the next time I come down here."

A few weeks later, I would visit them only to find that the painting was now destroyed or Alan would have it back on the easel and in a blink of an eye would change the painting altogether.

Not long after I met the Bakers, Alan commenced tutoring an informal art group in Camden in in 1970. He gave generously shared his extensive knowledge and encouraged his pupils to have exhibitions. Many have become professional artists in their own right, including his son Gary.


As I walked in through the front door on the Alan Baker Art Gallery, I was taken back to my childhood memories of surfing and fishing at Gerroa. Could that be me in the painting No 6, "On the Beach"? Or maybe that's me in painting No 46, "Fishing" or painting No 48 "The Morning Tide Gerroa". One will never know, but I can only dream that I was a subject in one of Alan's paintings.

Could that be me? Image by Gary Brown.

Or maybe this one? Image by Gary Brown.

Throughout this marvellous collection, there are self-portraits, portraits of his father, his wife Marjorie, son Gary and many more. Plus, you will be able to view still life, landscapes, seascapes, life drawings and life paintings that were created during his life's work.

Gary Baker, at the age of 18, followed in his Father's footsteps and has become an artist in his own right. Image by Gary Brown.

Image by Gary Brown.

In the Alan Bakers Art collection, two of the seventy-nine works depict two of the twenty-four posters that Alan was commissioned to do for Tooths Brewery. One important commission from Tooths was to decorate with paintings, the dining rooms of the prestigious hotels such as The Greengate Hotel at Killara, Mansions Hotel at Kings Cross, The Great Southern Hotel at Newcastle and The Cecil at Cronulla.

One of the many posters that Alan created for the Tooths Brewery. Image by Gary Brown.

An exhibition of Australian Poster Art at the Powerhouse Museum featured many of Alan's works and he used himself and members of his family to pose for the advertisements.


The Alan Baker Art Gallery, in the Macaria Gallery, 37 John Street Camden is open Thursday through to Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Everyone is welcomed to come along and view these magnificent pieces of artwork done by an Australian artist, who is held in high esteem throughout Australia and the world.

NOTE: Group tours are available by appointment by phoning the Gallery on 02 4645 5191 during opening hours.

Alan and Marjorie watch over Gary as he shares his parents' love of painting with two visitors at the opening night. Image by Gary Brown.

As stated before, there are very few collections of this calibre of an Australian artist on display for everyone to see and it will be here for many years to come. Now is the time to go a check it out. You will be amazed!
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Why? The works displayed capture 60 years of the artist's journey.
When: 11am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday.
Phone: (02) 4654 7777
Where: 37 John Street, Camden
Cost: Free
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