For a pleasant day trip from Brisbane, why not visit the beautiful Tweed Regional Gallery in the scenic northern New South Wales town of Murwillumbah, 30 kms south of Tweed Heads? Here, rooms from the Sydney home of beloved Australian artist Margaret Olley have been painstakingly reproduced, complete with cigarette stubs and mint packets alongside flower arrangements, artefacts and paint palettes. It gives a fascinating insight into the artist's life and loves.
Opened in March 2014, the rooms are on permanent display in the purpose-built section of the gallery. The centre was made possible through a donation from the Margaret Olley Trust and was developed on the expressed wish of the artist, who lived in the area as a child.
Entry is free. Visitors can walk around the recreated rooms, looking through windows at various points to glimpse the rooms as they were used and left by the artist. Olley's walking frame stands near her empty chair where she painted. The main room with adjoining living and dining rooms and kitchen are a riot of colour. Paints can be seen scattered through the rooms, even some in the blender in the kitchen. The exhibition includes draft sketches of artwork on the insides of cigarette packets and old tins used as brush holders.
Children would especially enjoy the interactive drawing activity on offer and the touch-screens explaining details about the contents of the rooms. A bonus till September 2014 is a display of a number of Olley's paintings ranging from works from the 1960s to before her death in 2011.
The gallery's other spaces hold various exhibitions throughout the year. There is also a shop selling art-related gifts and souvenirs.
Why not top off the visit with coffee and cake or light lunch at the Art Gallery Café which has spectacular views of Mt Warning and the Tweed River? Or you can make a day of it and go home via Kingscliff and have lunch at one of the many cafes along the coastal strip.