Story featured in Country Style Magazine, 2009
Jane Caraffi grew up surrounded by books on art history and recalls being “dragged” around London galleries while her school friends were off on exciting holidays.
It was only much later, on the other side of the world, that she came to fully share her father’s passion for art and to open her own gallery, Art on Cairncross, in the south Queensland town of Maleny.
Jane describes her initial move to the area as “pure happenstance”. Having trained as a nurse, she began travelling and reached Queensland in 1993. When she settled in Maleny, art supplanted nursing as a preferred occupation and she found herself running a gallery.
A shared interest in photography introduced her to Tony Gill, a former hospitality worker who had also turned to gallery management in nearby Montville. The shared interests blossomed into romance and marriage — and when the opportunity arose to buy their new premises and combine forces, the decision was simple. Maleny’s physical attractions would have played a part.
Set in lush, tropical bushland on the Blackall Range, the little town has breathtaking views overlooking the hinterland to the Sunshine Coast. “Within 45 minutes, we can be sipping lattes in Noosa’s Hastings Street,” says Tony, then adds that the big-city attractions of Brisbane are a mere 90 minutes drive south.
But the traffic is far from one way, with many visitors stopping at Maleny. Two popular restaurants flank Art on Cairncross, and Jane and Tony have noticed that after a leisurely lunch, few tourists can resist popping in. Some even walk away with a painting — “It’s amazing what a couple of glasses of chardonnay can do,” says Tony with a laugh.
The couple are passionate about the work they present and have developed strong relationships with its creators. The gallery has a stable of around 50 artists, many of whom live in the area. Nan Paterson is their doyenne, still — at 86 — producing exquisite oils and portraits to rival the two paintings she has hanging in the National Library of Australia.
Ceramicist Johanna de Maine is another local who has achieved national and international accolades, with one of her pieces being presented to Denmark’s Prince Frederik and Princess Mary as a wedding gift.
Aspiring to an international audience might have been futile in days gone by for a small regional Australian gallery. But as the internet shrinks the globe to a computer screen window, Art on Cairncross has built an impressive website that can connect with international buyers.
As Jane says, “The art produced in Australia is unique — there’s an incredible diversity of colour and clarity of light one doesn’t see in paintings anywhere else in the world.”
Art on Cairncross is at 3 Panorama Place, Cairncross Corner, Maleny, Queensland.
Telephone (07) 5429 6404 or visit Art on Cairncross
Copyright © 2009 Lois Nicholls [Story featured in Country Style Magazine]