Our History


(formally Batemans Bay Arts & Crafts Society Inc)

In July 1983 well-known local artist, Ken Taber, held a six weeks oil painting course at the Batemans Bay CWA hall with a roll up of approximately thirty six budding artists. He repeated the course in September of that year and again in July 1984. The same artists turned up for more lessons. This prompted Ken to suggest forming an Art Society. Bettie Griffiths and Eunice Cole approached the Montague Arts & Crafts Society at Narooma to gather information re constitutions and the running and managing of a society so that they could start the Batemans Bay group.

On 24th October 1984 the first meeting was held with Bettie Griffiths being elected as the first President of The Batemans Bay Arts & Crafts Society Inc. During the years that followed several exhibitions were held in various locations. In May 1991 the society set up a workshop in the old Police Station and it was affectionately referred to as the Cop Shop Gallery. Sausage sizzles and exhibitions on the Court House corner were held to raise money for the running costs of both galleries. Sadly, the Cop Shop Gallery was closed in July 1993 due to work commencing on the new Police Station.

Finally, in August 1992, 28 Fenning Place was offered, free of rent, for the Society to display its work on a permanent basis. A lot of hard work was put in by members to acquire lighting and hessian covered boards to use as backdrops for their paintings. The craft was effectively displayed on bales of hay. The Bank of NSW building (at the time) was due for demolition and the society ended up with blue carpet for the floor.

1999 saw a dedicated band of workers cleaning out dark and dingy premises at 52 Sydney Street Mogo. They included Rhonda Lenon, Anne Viney, Sue Barr, Sheryl Miller and their husbands. Walls were removed, fluorescent lights installed, and a new paint job done to brighten things up. With the budget, being tight, they went to the local tip to obtain many items such as tables and display shelves. President Shirley McCleary ran a competition to decide on a name. The winner was June Lucre and eventually the doors of Wattlebark Gallery opened on Wattle Day the 1st August 1999 by Judy Vardon who was Mayor at the time. Rhonda Lenon was coordinator and presided over the care and running of the Gallery for many years.

Time has seen the Gallery refurbished and updated and in 2005 it won a small business award. The Gallery has again been refurbished in 2017 and has also had a name change to The Gallery.

Raffles have been continually run with proceeds going to various charities such as Snowy Hydro South Care, Moruya Hospital, Malua Bay Surf Club, the Bushfire Brigade, Mogo Zoo, Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter and many others. Laureen Phillips is the current coordinator, prior to Laureen, the role was held by Barbara Stewart.

CABBI as it is known, is now in its 34th year of operation with an expanding membership of over 100 painters and crafts people. Its members are dedicated to producing a high standard of work which can be witnessed at regular exhibitions throughout the year culminating in a major annual competition in the first week of January. This exhibition with over 300 paintings, masses of craft and interesting sculptures is judged by well-known and highly respected judges. Held at the High School, it is a large eclectic display by local talent and is a draw card for both Batemans Bay residents and the many tourists who visit the area at that time of the year.

CABBI organises, and runs many workshops for its members and non-members alike. Members meet on a regular basis for “Plein Air” painting at various sites in the area with guidance from Sheryl Miller; and, on Saturday afternoons from 1 - 4pm, we have social paining for members and non-members, with guidance from Laureen Phillips. For further detail, please contact The Gallery, Mogo on ph. 02 4474 2243.

We hold a general meeting on the 2nd Thursday of each month at The Baptist Church Hall (Surf Beach) and produce a monthly newsletter to keep our many members informed of proceedings.

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