History Of Brisbane Visual Arts Community

December 2009 

Christmas Party at Western Suburbs Clayworkers: Judy Hamilton meets Lena Tisdall and shares her idea for a Community Art Centre as a drop in centre for artists and the community with Library and meeting facilities.Judy fires off emails to Local, State, and Federal representatives for Indooroopilly regarding setting up of a Community Art Centre. All supportive but  no real help.Reconnect with Lena at the Paddington Art Precinct Walk – keeping on going with idea. No feedback from politicians.

During 2010 

Meetings with Bill from the Bookbinders Guild, Lena Tisdall, & Judy Hamilton at Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop in IndroCentral. Looked at the idea of using the Baby Health Centre on Coonan Street as headquarters. Judy was informed that the building was condemned and it was demolished in 2012.
Bill, LT, and JH examined facilities at Kenmore with a Men’s Shed. Not large enough. Bookbinders negotiate a lease for a “home”.

During 2011 

Lena attends meeting re use of heritage listed site in Yeerongpilly – old animal research centre.

Lena submits a proposal for the use of this site as a community arts centre.

Lena and Judy continue meetings at Gloria Jean’s.  Di Taylor attends the last of these meetings and her knowledge of procedures is tapped into and we decide to go public.


First group meeting at the Polo Club. Eight representatives from ATASDA, Scattered Arts, Embroiders Guild, Pastel Society and Sculptors Qld. Decided to have another meeting in December and invite as many groups as possible to attend.


Well attended meeting at the Polo Club. Decision to form Brisbane Visual Arts Community.

During 2012 

Enthusiastic meetings with Lena in the chair, held at Toowong Library. Lena and Di Taylor meet with the State Member for Tennyson Ward who initiates a rallying cry “No GoMA without Yeerongpilly”.
Inspection of the highly desirable site at Yeerongpilly reveals a sagging wall and a huge $2,000,000 to repair it.  Decision made to abandon the idea.

Lena and Di meet with Lorraine Gregory from the Brisbane City Council staff who is very supportive and guides Lena through processes. Alternatives to Yeerongpilly are advanced. Windsor School of Arts, Student Centre at old Morningside TAFE, Scout Hall at Weller’s Hill.


Begin the process towards Incorporation and the first groups to sign pay $100 towards start-up costs for BVAC. First groups to join the venture are Scattered Arts, ATASDA, and the Half Dozen Group of

Founding Member Status for the groups that joined before November.  These were Scattered Arts; ATASDA; Half Dozen Group of Artists; Samford Art and Craft; Australasian Porcelain Art Teachers
Qld; Qld Porcelain Artists Inc; Queensland Quilters; Silk Shed Studio Group; Watercolour Society of Queensland; Embroiderer’s Guild; Western Suburbs Clayworkers; Qld Spinners, Weavers, Dyers and Fibre Artists; Leather Crafters Association of Qld, Qld Bookbinders’ Guild; Fusions Clay and Glass Artists; Pastel Society of Australia; Sculptors Queensland.


Incorporation Achieved!

Lena Tisdall – President; Carolyn Foley – Secretary; Judy Hamilton – treasurer.
Steering committee Sue Ford, Di Taylor, Wendy Goode, Lyn Baxter, Tarnie Fisher (Tarnie designed the logo).


BCC offers the use of the old Wellers Hill Scout Hut for BVAC. Inspection of the premises arranged. Di Taylor and Lena view it from outside in rainy conditions and determine it looks fine except for the muddy grounds.

Agreement to enter into the lease arrangements, with the request to have the land around the building surfaced to combat the muddy conditions. Insurance for the building has been passed to the
leaseholder and remains the sticking point as this is new in insurance since the 2011 floods. Lena pays this as a loan because the lease application requires it.

November First combined art and craft Show for the group held in the Polo Club Basement. One of the wettest days of the year but BVAC made an overall profit of nearly $400.

During 2013 

March Lena met with council rep on site to receive the key and commence lease.  On entering the premises they discovered that a possum had fallen through the ceiling and there was also water damage in places. The key was returned and the council rep acknowledged that it would be their
responsibility to repair the damage.

May Repairs completed, the lease commenced and the insurance company adjusted the policy commencement date accordingly.

Sandra Evans successfully acquired a grant of $14,000 for the building works required to make the property suitable for our requirements, and these were completed during the year.

The first groups to rent spaces in the building were Ceramic Arts Qld (formerly Fusions), ATASDA, APAT, QPAI, WSQ, Scattered Arts and Qld Quilters.

Qld Quilters were the first group to commence running workshops to the hub, adding to the BVAC bank account.


Second combined art and craft show held in the Polo Club basement.  This one only
broke even so we decided not to repeat it.


Lena commenced discussions with Cherryl McIntyre (LCAQ) about an alternative venue and they attended an Art and Collectables show in West End as research.

During 2014 –


With just 6 weeks lead time, the Auditorium at Mt Coottha was booked for BVACs third
combined art sale and it was decided to advertise mostly via the internet.  This turned out to be very successful.


Seven groups chose to participate and the combined sales total made it very worthwhile.
At our first AGM Sandra (treasurer) reported that we were able to pay Lena’s loan for the insurance in full and also pay the current insurance bill.  We still had a positive bank balance as well.



During the year, work continued on improvements to the building.


Our second Pop Up shop at Mt Coottha had 14 participating groups and yielded more than double the May result in total sales.

During 2015 

May saw the third Pop Up shop with a 50% increase in sales from the previous year.

At our AGM Lena handed the presidency of BVAC on to Peter Rayson, who will take it to the next logical stage of the journey.


Peter Rayson from Volunteers Queensland became President of BVAC in response to an ad by Lena Tisdall (President of BVAC). Peter had no experience of creative groups but accepted the challenge. BVAC held its first ever night-time opening of the Pop-Up Shop. Politician Steven Miles opened our first ever night time show, which was a great success. Catering by Kym Textor (QSWFA).


Wednesday workshops were organised and offered to members and others. Such interesting workshops as “Concertina Books”; “Mini Textile Brooches”; painting and decorating a porcelain cup in “Pen and Ink Porcelain Cup”; painting and drawing 15 century Acanthus leaf borders; and even learn “Machine Quilting for Beginners” were offered. Tickets for these workshops were sold through Eventbrite. Also, the Watercolour Society offered a series of interesting and informative workshops at The Hub. We were delighted to welcome international artist Christi Friesen from California who conducted a Polymer Clay Workshop in September.


BVAC held our first Open Day in honour of our 5th Birthday. Sadly, we didn’t attract the crowds we hoped for, but our “Wellers Hill Arts Hub” sign was fixed to the building. The first air-conditioning was installed at the Hub. Wednesday workshops continued. Peter represented BVAC at Government House at a reception for Queensland arts and Cultural Community through Arts Queensland.At our Christmas Pop-Up Shop, we trialled a barcode system. Much grumbling ensued about the work involved but everyone was amazed that we could see our sales in “real time”. Amazingly, we had at least $250,000 worth of items listed for sale at this Pop-Up and we managed to sell around $25,000 worth of crafts and art over the weekend. 


Our initial Pop-up shop coordinator, Cherryl McIntyre resigned, and Judy Hamilton took over as coordinator. For the first time, we used a slogan and declared we (and the public) were Spoiled for Choice at our first Pop-Up Shop for the year. The use of the slogan allowed us to promote the variety of arts and crafts on sale. Wendy Goode created a great floor plan for the Pop-Up and Gill Scott managed the barcode system. Sadly, BVAC’s journey towards getting mobility access came to a grinding halt. The cost of providing a ramp at over $100,000 was not within our reach, even with grants. On the other hand, we began to think of getting the floor upstairs resurfaced to lessen the noise penetrating the ground floor. 


The BVAC Art Prize. BVAC has wanted for some years to offer a BVAC Art Prize, but with member group Scattered Arts running a very successful “Art Competition” since 2014, we didn’t want to set up in competition. It was decided to support the Scattered Arts competition with a donation of the main prize, but to also set up the BVAC Art Prize in conjunction with the Scattered Arts Competition. Any member of a BVAC group, who entered the Scattered Arts competition was eligible for the BVAC Art Prize. In October 2019, BVAC was informed that the BCC would install a lift to increase access to our building. It had taken 7 years, but we had finally cracked it.


Mobility toilets (upstairs) and the lift were designated for installation. Details of the Scattered Arts/ BVAC 2020 Art and Craft Prize were finalised in February. BVAC registered to participate in the BCC Shop Front initiative. In April, we were shut down in response to the Covid Pandemic. We closed until May 31 and for the first time, our Pop-Up Shop had to be cancelled. In June, Judy Hamilton took over from Peter Rayson as President. Through the year, we continued to meet observing Covid restrictions. We finally got rid of the last of the reminders of the Hub’s previous life as a scout hut and dance studio. A hanging system for art works was installed, and the upstairs room painted. Pop-Up Shops were reorganised so that groups looked after their own sales. Getting the paperwork done to allow the event to go ahead went to the brink, but groups remained unaware of the drama.Insurance as an umbrella organisation for our groups was squashed by the insurance companies. The Scattered Arts/BVAC Art Prize was cancelled because of a lack of volunteers.


The BVAC Pop-Up Shop was moved away from the very competitive Mother’s Day time slot to a more mid-year (Christmas in July) sort of thing. This meant that BVAC was not front and centre for at least half the year. It is important for a group such as BVAC to retain a presence at all times, and to counteract our absence, in art matters,  we decided to hold an Open Weekend at The Hub to fill the gap. Groups were expected to highlight the activities of their groups to encourage people to join groups and to take up art as a hobby. Queensland Papermakers (through Sandra Pearce) instigated a “Build a Better BVAC” program which made us revisit our mission statement and consider what we wanted to achieve through BVAC.Sadly, our July Pop-Up Shop was a last minute cancellation because of a Covid lock down.BVAConnex had its first revamp since it began in 2012 with the arrival of Kerrie White as a volunteer editor. Fabulous new look – very professional.In November, we held our first “Thank You – Information Day” for our groups. There were 36 representatives from our groups who found out about what is behind BVAC. Many of our groups do not understand the significance of BVAC – this day was designated as a day where they found out. 2022Who could forget our call up to provide an art gallery for the Brisbane Home Show. We were unaware if the size of the space – eventually 49 metres x 12 metres. That is a big space and BVAC was given 3 weeks to organise. Everything but the hang of pictures was spot on. The hanging of the paintings fell to the well-practised team from Art West Community Gallery. Judy organised the rest.  There was no other group in Brisbane that could have undertaken this brief.2023A change of President as Susan Hoy from ATASDA stepped up as President and her objective was to improve professional development within our groups. Wonderful. Are you getting an idea of how being President works? You don’t change the whole thing; you concentrate on what interests you. Thankfully it is never the same, two Presidents running. BVAC has provided (free of charge to our members) a workshop on Curating that was well attended. BVAC has met the costs. The only repayment is that they repay their groups with their new knowledge.Susan has instigated a project that will deliver a ceramic sculpture to beautify the BVAC Hub. 




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