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Art crawl – Salamanca, Sullivan’s Cove and Wapping

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Sullivan’s Cove was the original landing site for the city of Hobart, established by Lieutenant Governor David Collins in February 1804. Bounded by Salamanca and Wapping it remains steeped in history and today is a hugely popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

A good place to start exploring is Hunter Street, built on top of Hunter Island and part of Hobart’s working port.  Make a beeline to the beautifully repurposed IXL jam factory.  Henry Jones owned and operated the jam factory from 1885 until 1926 although the waterfront warehouse itself dates back to 1804.  By the late 1990s the site had fallen into disrepair and was abandoned. Local architects Morris-Nunn & Associates then affected a stunning transformation, repurposing the site.  Today it is home to café’s, shops and Australia’s first dedicated art hotel, the five-star Henry Jones Art Hotel. The hotels’ art curator oversees a continuously changing exhibition of more than 400 contemporary works by Tasmanian artists. Although you can view the works in the online catalogue, you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to wander through the hotel’s public spaces and see the works in this extraordinary building.

Virtually next door to the hotel is Henry Jones Design with up-lit convict hewn sandstone walls and a splendid range of Tasmanian sculpture, one of a kind glass pieces, designer furniture and a wide variety of must have pieces. Next shop along is Art Mob, home to an extensive selection of Australian indigenous artworks with changing monthly exhibitions including paintings, sculpture, glass and fibre.

At the end of the Hunter Street is the University of Tasmania’s School of Art, housed in what must be the best location in the country.

A short wander over to the other side of the cove will take you past Hobart’s working port with is bustling fleet of fishing trawlers and ferries. On the far side of the Cove is Salamanca, one of Hobart’s most iconic areas, lined with a long row of simple Georgian sandstone warehouses built for the wharves in the 1830s. These mellow north-facing buildings once stored grain, wool, whale oil, apples and imported goods from around the world. Nowadays, you can wander under the heavy stone arches to find craft and design shops, jewellers, cafes, restaurants, galleries, bookshops and fashion boutiques.

Home to over 75 arts organisation, arts retailers and artists’ studios as well as the Long Gallery and the Peacock Theatre, Salamanca Arts Centre is a wonderful example of a repurposed future for the old warehouse buildings.

The fine art and design galleries that line Salamanca Place and Castray Esplanade will expose you to some of the island’s finest artists – the hardest thing will be choosing which works not to buy.  Pop in to Aspect Design, Colville Gallery, Despard Gallery, Gallery Salamanca,  Hammer and Hand, Handmark Gallery, Inka Gallery, Rebecca Roth Gallery, Spacebar Gallery and theartofsilver, stopping in at any of the cafes or wine bars for a reviver before plunging back into it.

Many of these galleries are part of the COLLECT Art Purchase Scheme – an innovative government program that offers 12-month interest-free loans to approved Australian residents to enable them to buy Tasmanian art. That might just make your decision a little easier!

Salamanca Square provides an opportunity to step behind Salamanca Place into the old quarry and here you’ll find the Hobart Bookshop, with its emphasis on Tasmanian books, poetry and literature, both new and second hand. And while you are in a literary frame of mind, check out the program at the Tasmanian Writers Centre where you could participate in their workshops, forums, masterclasses and readings.

You could easily spend the better part of a day around Salamanca but if you’ve still got time, wander up Kelly’s Steps to Battery Point, one of Hobart’s most historic suburbs and meander through the narrow streets in what is now one of Hobart’s most treasured suburbs.

Article published: 11 December 2014