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World famous artist and activist Ben Quilty to present 'on why art matters' in Coffs Harbour

A group of art lovers from Coffs Harbour are still pinching themselves that Ben Quilty, one of Australia's most famous artists, has agreed to speak at their fundraising dinner on October 23.

The Friends of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery say it's a unique chance to hear from the man who is known for his activism as much as his art. Ben Quilty's work often responds to issues including human rights, the refugee crisis, Aboriginal representation and male identity.

In 2011, Ben's portrait of Margaret Olley famously won the prestigious Archibald prize. Soon after, Ben was in Afghanistan, commissioned as an official war artist to capture the experiences of soldiers. Ben advocated against the death penalty in Bali and supported Myuran Sukumaran prior to his execution in 2015. Today, Ben's major survey exhibition titled 'Quilty' is touring the country and is a retrospective of his critically acclaimed career.

In Coffs Harbour in October, Ben will be sharing his thoughts on art; why it matters and the potential to enrich communities.

The timing couldn't be better according to the Friends, who have been driving support for a new Regional Gallery, Museum and Library in Coffs Harbour as part of the new Cultural and Civic Space.

"We can learn so much from Ben who is not afraid to be brave and understands the power of art to drive change," says President of the Friends, Heather McKinnon.

Ben's position on the board of the Art Gallery of NSW, sees him working with some of the nation's top corporate leaders to develop the gallery and its engagement with audiences.

"This is the voice Coffs Harbour needs to hear now as we look at the potential benefits cultural investment can bring to our region and to our younger generation," Heather said.

Coffs Harbour's Surf Club Restaurant is the venue for the three-course gala dinner featuring music by Georgie Chorley's jazz trio. All funds raised going towards the purchase of new artworks for the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. Bookings and information at www.friendschrg.com.au

BEN QUILTY: On Why Art Matters

Wednesday, October 23, from 6.30 to 10pm.

Coffs Harbour Surf Club Restaurant & Bar.

Tickets: $135 Members; $150 Non-Members of the Friends; including dinner and drinks.

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