Escape the city to find some art, coffee & food for the soul
Do you fancy a little day trip this weekend? A day trip where you will discover some art, some culture and some damn fine coffee and food? If yes, then buckle up people and head north to Maitland.
MRAG is housed in a beautiful old federation building that was originally the Maitland Technical College. Built in 1910 the original building has been joined by a very modern structure behind it to create extra gallery space and a cafe. The spacious gallery is located over two levels accessed by an amazing old cantilevered marble staircase. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and rarely bumped into any other visitors whilst wandering through the space.
The Maitland Regional Art Gallery is an awesome experience for the whole family. Firstly entry is free to the gallery. Their exhibitions are contemporary with a mix of historical. Presently they have 6 exhibitions showing ranging from Art Express (the best art works from the 2012 HSC art classes) to Margot Lewers (one of Australia's foremost abstract painters in the 20th Century). As well they have their own collection which is quite impressive for a regional gallery and it has a strong emphasis on works on paper for example etchings. Amongst their collection are works by famous Australia artists such as Sidney Nolan and John Olsen.
The Art Factory is a special space within the gallery for children. They have activities for kids to participate in every day in relation to the exhibition currently on display in the factory. The Art Factory is located right next to the café so you can sit and sip on your latte whilst watching your kids play in the factory.
On Sundays the MRAG hosts Free Art Sundays from 11.0am – 1.00pm. The whole family can get involved in creating mini masterpieces themed on current exhibitions in the gallery. The gallery also offers paid art classes on other days of the week, check their website for details.
The MRAG shop is fabulous, stocked with handmade jewellery, objets d'art and other lovely bits and bobs all of which are affordably priced. This is the perfect place to stock up on birthday gifts and gorgeous cards, or just a little treat for yourself. The shop is split into two spaces and I would suggest that you leave the kids in the Art Factory (with another adult) so that you can have a lazy wander through, as there are loads of breakables in easy reach of small fingers.
The café at MRAG is called Seraphine. It's a large space with seating inside and out. Their seasonal breakfast and lunch menus are delicious and their cakes are divine. Add to this some decent coffee and you have one fine café indeed. Let your inner Matisse appear whilst you doodle all over the paper table cloths. Seraphnine is open from 7.30am – 4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday. I would recommend that you make a booking as this café is a popular haunt of arty locals and tourists alike especially on weekends. Tel 0249347264.
Once you have finished make sure you take a wander outside in the grounds of MRAG as there are some very quirky sculptures to be found. If you decide to keep on wandering you will be surprised to find some gorgeous old buildings and homes, antique shops and smaller galleries located along the streets of Maitland.
So go on, get out of Sydney next weekend and enjoy some free art, fabulous coffee and fine food.