New gallery challenges perception of art

An Illawarra artist is encouraging people to move away from the traditional way of viewing art through a new gallery inspired by his own recovery from a workplace accident.

Matthew Gillett will officially open his gallery today at the Scarborough Hotel.

The hotel encourages viewers to roam freely throughout the establishment, discovering and discussing the art as they go.

"I wanted to avoid the stereotypical gallery feel, where people walk around silently with their hands behind their backs," he said.

Gillett said he encouraged open discussion of art in the same way he wanted to see stigmas around depression broken down through open conversation.

The concept has personal significance for Gillett, who found expressing himself through art helped his own depression after a serious workplace accident.

While managing a Sydney pub, Gillett was caught up in a brawl that resulted in a near fatal head injury.

He said the accident was the catalyst for him realising his passion for art.

"It led me to working out what is really important to me and what makes me feel better," he said.

The accident resulted in Gillett taking up art full-time.

It also inspired the concept behind his gallery.

"My art is as much about breaking down the barrier for other people to talk about art as it is for my own healing process," said Gillett.

He said the Scarborough Hotel was an ideal location for the gallery as it would expose people who wouldn't normally frequent galleries to art.

With up to 2000 people visiting the hotel each week, exhibiting artists will have their work shown to more people than an average gallery would enable.

Local emerging artists exhibiting at the gallery will also have the unique opportunity to showcase their work alongside both Australian and international artists.

In addition to Gillett's own works, the inaugural exhibition at the gallery will feature two South Coast artists, Mai Nguyen-Long and Rudy Kistler.

Matthew Gillett will open his new art gallery at Scarborough Hotel today. Picture: DAVE TEASE

Matthew Gillett will open his new art gallery at Scarborough Hotel today. Picture: DAVE TEASE