ALICE was tempted by a rabbit to enter into Wonderland and it could well be another literary rabbit that will tempt the people of Wagga into their own land of artistic wonder.
Rabbit Books is about to play host to the first ever solo exhibition by Wagga artist Sheree Ridley with the excitement building in the lead-up to the event.
Tucked away in Johnston Street, Rabbit Books is a bohemian bookworm’s delight mixing a new and second-hand bookstore with cafe, bar, and working art studio and gallery.
Owned by Tahlia Harrison and Vicki Keogh, they are looking forward to the exhibition.
“It is extremely exciting; this opening has been a few months coming,” Tahlia said.
“It is a chance to give back to our customers who have supported us from the very first day.”
Sheree Ridley is a self-taught visual artist who discovered a love of painting two years ago and was a finalist in the 2018 Lethbridge Small Art Prize. She has been influenced by the expressionistic work of artists such as Matisse and Carlos San Millan.
Talhia described the works that will be part of the exhibition as colourful, vibrant and quirky, with 40 pieces in a variety of canvas sizes all available for purchase.
“It is her artistic journey, influenced by her personal journey,” she said.
“This will be a great opportunity for a collector of art, or for someone who is looking to buy their first piece and start their collection.”
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Rabbit Books has been going strong after opening its art school in March and the doors to its café in April.
“Vicki and I discussed the concept for year,” Tahlia said. “One day she said ‘I’m going to open a second-hand bookshop’.
“I had been working in law and I said ‘there’s no way I’m not going to be involved, but if we’re going to do it let’s combine books with art, and add a bar and coffee shop’.
“With art, books, cheese and wine you can’t go wrong?”
The location has become somewhat of a community hub, attracting a mix of ages and backgrounds.
“No matter your age there’s a book to fascinate you or an artwork to inspire you,” Tahlia said.
“There is a good regular clientele base, including the art school, writers club and book clubs. It’s really becoming a nice sense of community.”
Having started with 90 boxes of books, there is now a plethora of reading matter available, all sorted and priced by hand.
“We get new things dropped in all the time,” Tahlia said.
“There is a good selection of rare and collectible books, such as first-account memoirs of World War I soldiers and signed books.”
Tahlia said being a working gallery and studio offers a new perspective on art.
“We often have people having coffee and watching a class,” she said.
“It’s not often you see a piece of work half done or just getting started. They can follow the progress of a piece of work, learning the processes of a painting being constructed.”
The Sheree Ridley: My Artistic Journey exhibition will be held from 6pm on September 1, with champagne available on arrival. There will be access to the bar, which will be serving cocktails that have been inspired by the artworks and served by barman, Mr Wright.
Sheree will be on hand and will explain her artistic journey
The night is open to the public, with a gold coin donation entry.
All money raised will go towards the Suicide Prevention Network.