Without a friend

COFFS Harbour's Cartoon Gallery is Friendless following the disbanding of the Friends of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery organisation.

The group was dissolved at an extraordinary meeting on January 9.

The meeting attracted just eight people, including seven Friends, although the group still had a nominal membership of 32.

"There's just not the interest there any more, no one wants to do the work," said former Friends president Marilyn Cragg, who said the lack of interest was not an age-related problem.

Mrs Cragg, who is also a member of the Gallery's board of management, said the Friends' role had included catering for functions at the Bunker and promoting exhibitions at the cartoon gallery in shopping centres and other venues

Some former Bunker Friends are upset that the gallery has been hosting an increasing number of non-cartoon exhibitions, saying these contravene its original charter and put the City Hill gallery into competition with the region's commercial and regional galleries, as well as detracting from its unique status as a gallery dedicated to cartoons.

"It most decidedly should have cartoons in it," Mrs Cragg said. "We listen to the comments of people who visit. They are wanting to see cartoons and sometimes they don't see cartoons."

Former Bunker Friends secretary Liz Quinn said a lot of space at the Bunker space was given to other artworks, but acting curator, Louise Rawson-Harris, had taken the initiative to take out of storage some of the gallery's original cartoons which had not been seen and display them in the gallery in clear file folders.

She said the Bunker still had a very active and hard-working volunteer group.

Ms Rawson-Harris said under Coffs Harbour City Council management the Bunker had been changing its focus from being strictly a cartoon gallery to a community gallery as well, but the cartoons were not being pushed out.

She is planning to reintroduce reproduction cartoon sales, a calendar and postcards featuring the cartoons.

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