The Coalcliff Days exhibition showcases the significant contribution to both the Illawarra and Australian art scenes made by an artists and poets “colony” located at Coalcliff from 1979 - 1992. The Coalcliff site was established by Ken Bolton and Sal Brereton and was based in a miner’s cottage perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean. This local council sanctioned “squat” served as the site of a number of seminal “post-modern” poetry, film and art projects. Sal Brereton left in 1981 and Ken Bolton shortly afterwards. Alan Jefferies then ran the house until 1992 when the council reclaimed the land and bulldozed the house. Today there is no evidence of the Coalcliff spot having existed other than a vacant block of overgrown scrub.

Between 1979 - 1992 many artists, poets, musicians and film-makers were drawn to This Coalcliff house including:
Micky Allan, Ken Bolton, Sal Brereton, Kurt Brereton, Barbara Brooks, Pam Brown, Erica Callan, Laurie Duggan, Denis Gallagher, Alan Jefferies, Rae Desmond Jones, Steve Kelen, Kate Richards, Leigh Stokes and Tom Thompson.


A wide range of projects and publications were produced at Coalcliff including the influential new poetry magazine Magic Sam; as well as anthologies (No Regrets) locally screen-printed and produced poetry books including Sal Brereton’s Ideal Conditions, Ken Bolton’s Two Sestinas, Notes for Poems, Denis Gallagher’s Making Do and Pam Brown’s Small Blue View. Artist’s books included Kurt Brereton’s Hang-Gliding, We Are A Movie and Tyre-Pinch: The Cyclist’s Nightmare; Ken Bolton’s An Italian Drink, and the collaborative Xmas Corpses. A number of poetry readings were held in Wollongong; the film The Coalcliff by Kurt Brereton & Kate Richards (1981) and other super 8 home movies by Pam Brown and Kurt Brereton were shot at the time.

The exhibition focus is on the artworks, graphics, publications, films and posters. Poetry readings and artist talks accompany the show. Recent artworks have also been included to give an ongoing historical context to the show.

Importantly, these historical events and productions from the Coalcliff days have been told from the perspective of those people directly involved. As such, the art has been placed in a ‘lived’ context within the cultural history of the Illawarra. A second crucial objective of the show is to continue the ethos of those artist-led initiatives by producing a further publications featuring artwork, poems, films, historical essays and biographical material on the protagonists and events that took place over more than a decade.

Kurt Brereton (joint-curator)



Exhibition at Wollogong City Gallery April 9 - May 22, 2011

Opening April 15th

click on installation shots below to see larger size