9 December 2022

Riverina Made: Wagga's Art Gallery Shop is sharing beauty this Christmas

| Chris Roe
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Art Gallery

The Wagga Art Gallery Shop includes a surprising array of gifts. Photo: Chris Roe.

Karin Züge Bruton reckons she has one of the best jobs in the world.

“I think not many people get paid to shop,” she says with a laugh and gestures to the beautiful collection of art, books, scarves and jewellery that surround her in the Wagga Art Gallery Shop.

“I’m always shopping for new things, always researching, always trying to find another fabulous Australian maker, always looking to support regional where we can.”

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As the retail operations officer Karin loves sharing what the gallery has to offer.

“I think sometimes people forget we’re here or don’t always think of us when they are looking for a gift, so they’re always so surprised by how many lovely things we have,” Karin says.

“We get quite a number of visitors that come in and say ‘I’m looking for something local to remember my trip to Wagga’, so we always make sure that we have a range of things and it’s a great way for us to support our local makers and artists.”

Karin Züge Bruton

Karin Züge Bruton gets “paid to shop”, finding amazing creations to sell at the gallery. Photo: Wagga City Council.

Everything in the store is a work of art, whether it’s finely made earrings, handmade toys, textiles, cards or exquisitely assembled wooden decorations and glasswork.

“A big focus for me is that something has a beautiful design and is sustainable and I like things that have a story. Our customers like things that have a story and they like to know a little bit about the artist.”

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The gallery maintains strong relationships with Wiradjuri and First Nations artists and sells local pieces through the shop.

“We have pieces from some amazing Wiradjuri artists like weaver Aunty Kath Withers, and some of this work can only be sold on Wiradjuri country,” she says.

As well as theming the shop for the seasons, Karin says they also try to reflect the exhibitions in the adjoining gallery.

“We’ve got a Wiradjuri exhibition at the moment and certainly next year is a year of environmental sustainability in the environment,” she says.

“So next year we’ve got amazing things coming, like jewellery that’s made out of coffee pods and plastic water bottles and things like that.”

As a former educator, Karin is passionate about children’s books and curates a unique collection.

“I’ve got a big interest in children’s books in particular and we try to find stories that you can’t necessarily find in other shops.”

As well as supporting local artists and sustainable makers, Karin says they work hard to ensure that the shop remains accessible.

“I think people do have the impression that coming into an art gallery, everything is going to be very expensive,” she muses.

“But of course, not everyone has loads of money for gifts so we try really hard to have a range of things from under $5 to $10 and then right up to something that might be aspirational.”

“We’re very thankful for all of our local people who come in and shop with us.

“We get a lot of visitors, especially around this time of the year and it’s always wonderful to be able to promote the gallery.”

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