Federal Hotel Bellingen's art space

Jackie Lee looks at the slightly sinister ladies on the wall
Jackie Lee looks at the slightly sinister ladies on the wall

Since 2007, Bellingen’s iconic Federal Hotel has been running art and craft exhibitions on the walls of its bistro area.

This not only brightens up the pub, it also gives local artists the opportunity to display their work in a highly frequented area for six weeks.

It’s been particularly important for up-and-coming artists with work ready to sell but limited funds to host a conventional exhibition.

To further support the artists, the Federal Hotel receives no commission on the sale of artworks.

For the last five years, the volunteer curator of Art Space has been Bellingen Public School teacher Jackie Lee, who is also an artist herself.

During her time as curator, Jackie has organised the exhibition of a wide range of artworks: from drawings, paintings, prints and photographs to relief sculptures, handmade teddy bears, and dolls. 

“It’s been very diverse,” Jackie said. “I will exhibit any sort of arts and crafts that Bellingen people do.”

She said one of the most rewarding aspect of organising the art exhibitions has been the opportunity to meet artists that practice across a range of materials and genres and to develop a network of friends within the artist community.

“There is nothing more exciting than seeing a new exhibition go up on the walls of the hotel and have the artist’s respond to seeing their work on display,” Jackie said.

But now, Jackie would like to focus on her own drawings and will be “hanging up the artworks” for the last time by the end of this year.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity to be involved with Bellingen Shire’s artists, but it’s time to focus on producing my own art and following my own creative path,” she said.

And so, the hotel is looking for a new convenor of works to replace Jackie. If you are an art lover and want to talk about taking over the role, call into the hotel and have a chat to manager Brett Nelson.

Jackie Lee with brightly coloured handmade dolls in the bistro

Jackie Lee with brightly coloured handmade dolls in the bistro