Lynne Mowbray | Grafton Regional Gallery has farewelled it’s Director Jude McBean, who is retiring after 15 years in the position. Ms McBean first began at the gallery in 1996, working three days a week as the education public programs officer, working with two directors Leanne Willis and Susi Muddiman. In 1999 she saw the building of the extension to the gallery and in March 2003, became the Gallery Director. Ms McBean said that one of her passions over the years was the support and development of regional artists, which flowed into the development of the Gallery’s regional collection. “Our regional collection also grew to include historical works to tell the story of the visual arts in the Clarence Valley – our oldest being the three Bundjalung boondies and two ground stone tools,” Ms McBean said. “The development of the gallery’s collection is something I have loved – which includes the JW Lindt [collection] that was donated in 2004 and the Ken Done collection donated in 2008. Our regional collection also includes the work the Aboriginal artists who reside in Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr. “The presentation of the biennial prizes – Clarence Valley Indigenous Art Award which began in 2005 and the JADA our big drawing prize, is now worth $40,000, attracting more than 570 entries. “I always enjoyed travelling to the regional galleries mainly in Queensland and New South Wales to open and speak about the JADA on its tour. “I’ve also been involved with: the visual arts industry, nationally and regionally as president and later as treasurer of the Regional and Public Galleries NSW, a board member and then Chair of Arts Northern Rivers and a peer assessor with the Australia Council for the Arts. “Through my involvement, it’s enabled me to advocate for our regional artists and Clarence Valley culture. “Our volunteers have made it such a pleasure to work here – they work at the gallery, in reception, the garden and at events. “The Advisory Committee, Friends of the Gallery and The Gallery Foundation – have also been wonderful. It is just amazing what people do for the gallery and their community. I can’t thank them enough for their great support. “It is a good time to leave the gallery with the new business plan now in place and I know everyone will love and welcome Niomi Sands, who currently works at the Glass House Regional Gallery.