Bendigo Bank: A Credit to the Arts

Image source: Contributed

Move over Banksy, there’s a different kind of bank that has the art world talking. Bendigo Bank has gone gaga for gallery, proudly showcasing local artists inside local branches with new exhibitions regularly and retail pop-ups that are fee-free. Story by Bec Marshall.

Banks. Typically predictable, practical and ordinary spaces. No-nonsense places of business, where function overrides form. Isn’t it a surprise, then, to walk into a local Bendigo Bank branch and experience something unexpected or memorable while sorting out your finances?

Known for doing banking differently, and with a proud tradition of giving back to local communities, Bendigo Bank has embraced the innovative concept of dual-purposing its Tewantin, Cooroy and Marcoola branches as year-round gallery spaces to provide unexpected and memorable experiences for customers and opportunities for creative spirits.

Colleen Ginty is art liaison and curator of exhibitions in all three branches and can help us understand the link between a bank and art.

“The connection came from the question ‘What is the future of a bank branch in our community?’” Colleen said. “The reality is that more people are banking online, but there is still a need for personal banking so we see our bank branches predominantly as customer support centres and then we looked at what else the branch could be used for.

“We see art as an essential part of our community; the act of creating art, of appreciating art and, in some cases, earning an income from art. There is a mutual benefit to the artist who gets to display and sell their work in our branches and our bank benefits from ever-changing, visual feasts.”

Bendigo Bank does not charge artists to exhibit their work and does not take any commission on sales the artists make or insist that the artists are a customer of Bendigo Bank (but why wouldn’t you?!). The Tewantin branch also has a Retail Pop Up space that supports local makers and creators to pilot a new product, a retail concept to engage with a new audience.

Colleen said exhibitions were refreshed every 4-6 weeks with each new showcase changing the vibe of the branch and creating conversation amongst the staff and customers.

“And you don’t need to be a customer to come into the branches to look at the artwork – everyone is welcome,” she said. “The staff absolutely love how the space changes with each exhibition. It’s an opportunity for them to connect with customers as well as the exhibiting artists. A number of the staff have even purchased artwork.”

Colleen has locked in a sublime selection of First Nations’ artworks for a special NAIDOC Week exhibition series from the end of June to early August.

As one of the featured artists, Nikita Fitzpatrick said she was excited for the NAIDOC showcase at the Cooroy branch.

“I’ve got new works in the pipeline and I’m eager to show my new digital set and a few collaborative photographic works and installations,” she said. “The specific piece I’ve chosen tells the story of our people from all backgrounds standing together in solidarity to keep our stories relevant and alive by using the art form and knowledge to showcase togetherness and the pathways our ancestors carved for us.”

Nikita said she hoped to contribute to a conversation that was a continuous part of our education and history.

“I hope my art can create a beautiful escape for people to see our stories from a different perspective and understanding,” she said. “I’m a contemporary fascinations artist; second generation self-taught. I would love for people to want to learn more once they see my art and the message I’m trying to spread, which is love and connection.”

Bendigo Bank’s commitment to the arts extends even further to continue as Platinum sponsors of Noosa Open Studios for the second year.

Noosa Open Studios President Carol Watkins said Bendigo Bank’s sponsorship had been “a huge support” for the much-loved event, now in its ninth year.

“Bendigo Bank and Noosa Open Studios have much in common, being community focused organisations and I know many artists appreciate the support and the chance to stage exhibitions in the local branches.

“It gives them a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to Bendigo Bank customers and passers-by.”

Art in Action:

COOROY BRANCH: 4 – 30 July
Nikita Fitzpatrick, New Dreaming Art

MARCOOLA BRANCH: 25 June – 8 August
Zartisha Davis, Chilly Alma

TEWANTIN BRANCH: 5 July – 2 August
Mu’raay Mulcahy, Gaiungan Gallery

For information on the Retail Pop Up space:

Noosa Open Studios: 30 August – 8 Sept

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