Maitland Regional Art Gallery is starting the new year in style, with Free Art January launching a bumper schedule for the whole community to enjoy.
The Gallery is in the midst of 23 days of art making workshops, fun activities for the whole family, engaging and educating talks from artists across the region, and a series of exhibitions across the Gallery spaces.
One of the most popular regular events, Free Art Sunday, remains throughout January and the Gallery is excited to see people of all ages let their creativity run wild.
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The highlight of Free Art January is the famous Skywhales: Every heart sings project, which will take the community outside and up the road to Maitland Regional Sportsground for the inflation and flight of two magnificent, seven storey high hot air balloons by artist Patricia Piccinini.
Starting just before dawn and continuing through sunrise this Saturday 15 January, the community is invited to be at Maitland Regional Sportsground from 4.30am to witness the spectacle of Skywhale and Skywhalepapa as they come to life in the glow of the rising sun.
Gallery director, Gerry Bobsien said Free Art January is one of the flagship programs on the gallery's calendar supported through funding by our generous members and our education partner Cleverpatch.
"It's a wonderful month of art, community and creative fun. We're so excited to be working with the National Gallery of Australia to bring Skywhales to Maitland, and we can't wait to see everyone out bright and early to see the wondrous creatures take flight," Ms Bobsien said.
"On top of the many free offerings we have at the gallery throughout January, we're thrilled to be hosting the 2021 Archibald Prize regional tour right here in Maitland.
"It's the first time it's been to the Hunter for almost 10 years, and it's a great tourism opportunity to bring visitors to the city and for our community to see all of the finalist portraits up close," she said.
The 2021 Archibald Prize is an Art Gallery of NSW touring exhibition.
This is a ticketed event and runs from Saturday, January 22 to Sunday, March 6.
This year's winning painting, Peter Wegner's portrait of artist Guy Warren AM, will be joined by more than 50 other finalists for an unmissable exhibition right here in Maitland.
Bookings are essential for each Free Art January event, including Skywhales.
Head to the Gallery's website at www.mrag.org.au for more information and to book your place.
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