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Canberra traffic means big business for south coast arts community

Lizette Richards and Paul Ware, of the Artery Gallery, Mossy Point. Photo: Jay Cronan Paul Ware, of the Artery Gallery, Mossy Point, says the gallery had become well known because it had been established for a long time. Photo: Jay Cronan

Lizette Richards, of the Artery Gallery, Mossy Point, says summer is the gallery’s big trading period. Photo: Jay Cronan

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The annual pilgrimage to the south coast means big business for local art galleries that pin their hopes on tourist trade.

For Paul Ware and Lizette Richards, the owner operators of the Artery Gallery, south of Batemans Bay in Mossy Point, it is also a chance to make up for quieter months.

“During winter we may only open two days a week but summer is our big trading period so we try to get work from as many local artists as we can,” Ms Richards said.

“I think people around here know that Canberrans have money and they know that they want to spend it while they are down here.”

Ms Richards said her gallery was often filled with tourists who wondered why local cafes were not open every day during December and January as they had money to spend.

The couple, who began the gallery as a hobby in 2002 to showcase local talent, have come to rely on the summer period to boost their sales. While managing full-time work in other professions and children at school, they have spent months acquiring stock and working with local artists.

“We like to have a range of things and prices because people tend to wander in and not expect to buy something,” Ms Richards said. “We have a lot of local honey and also some bigger works as well, like furniture and paintings.”

Mr Ware, who builds furniture for the store and sells photography, said this year’s winter trading period had been worse than normal and they were hoping for better success over summer.

“We thrive on the Canberra trade over summer,” Ms Richards said. “This winter has been dead although the last few winters have been OK, we got through them just fine,” she said.

“We never used to sell much in the lead-up to christmas but that’s changed too. We would go month to month as we’re not a big business, but our Januaries have always been good.”

The couple are also preparing to work every day until the end of March to maximise their sales.

“After the school holidays finish you get a lot of older couples who travel to the coast to have a summer without all the Canberrans around, so it’s still quite busy for us, Ms Richards said. “The water is warm until Easter and we try to have as much stock as possible.”

The arts community on the south coast has been building slowly in recent years with many galleries in Mogo, south of Batemans Bay.

“There are quite a few little galleries dotted along the south coast and we are quite well known because we have been here for so long,” Mr Ware said.

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