Public donation of art a unique way to celebrate life

There are many ways to celebrate the life of a loved one. One unique way, with a community outcome, is to donate an artwork to a public collection.

This is how the Lewis family chose to celebrate the life of Narelle Lewis at an event at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery on Saturday 26 January 2019.

Narelle worked as a lecturer at the former Newcastle College of Advanced Education in the early 1980s.

Peter Lewis said, “We wanted a special way to remember Narelle who was also an artist and a great supporter of the arts in the region”.

“My parents were frequent visitors to Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and Narelle would have loved this work and the idea of it going to a public gallery”.

The process of matching the family and an artwork is sensitive and Nicola Hensel’s* drawing Dark leaves resonated beautifully.

The work describes a time of reflection and sorrow, but also renewal. Nicola explained at the event: “The story of the work is best told, initially, in relation to its sister work From the sad morning to now (2005) (Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection), which Lake Macquarie borrowed for Meryl Ryan’s 2016 exhibition Earth Cry. I made Dark leaves as a companion piece for that show.”

“The two works reflect both a pivotal time and the subsequent understandings gained in their making that are now integral to my life and art practice,” she added.

“We are thrilled to have this new artwork by Nicola Hensel in the collection and to have made a firm connection with the Lewis family,” stated Gallery Director Debbie Abraham.

“A gallery acquires artworks through many avenues according to our policies, including purchase, commission, through the Federal Government’s Cultural Gifts Program and donations,” she said.

“The Lewis family donation is a beautiful way to link the community with their collection, and to pay tribute to Narelle as an artist and gallery supporter.”

The Gallery displays collection works in dedicated exhibitions, under the banner ‘Your Collection’ and in broader curated exhibitions in the Gallery. Works are also available for loan by other public galleries. “Dark leaves is a great addition to the collection and to our future exhibition program”, says Abraham.

For more information, please contact Debbie Abraham, on or Laura Wilson on t both on (02) 49210382