It's a little hard to believe, but it's been over two months since the grand opening of The Phantom Art Show at The Bunker Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour, and very soon the exhibition will be on the move once more.
Unsurprisingly, the team at the Bunker are a little reluctant to see it leave. Manager Margaret Cameron says, "we're sad to see it go, it’s been a bit of a blast!"
"We have broken most of our visitor records, and certainly the overall visitation for The Phantom Art Show has exceeded any previous single exhibition – over 1800 visitors which is pretty good for us!
"Visitors have loved the exhibition and been particularly complimentary about the whole presentation here.
"The presentation has of course enhanced the experience for them and also highlights the spectacular collection we have had on show. A couple of disappointed visitors that it wasn’t all about Phantom comics, but you can’t please everyone! I’ve loved hearing the ooohs and aaaahs that erupt from time to time right outside my door (you will remember the Gary Shead Phantom in a very intimate situation with his love)!!
"The works submitted for The Phantom Downunder Art Prize were displayed in shop fronts for a month. They are now in a dedicated space in the local shopping centre. I think the competition did a great job of raising interest initially and people have come just to see the winning entries."
It sounds like the merchandise associated with the Art Show at the Bunker has sold well. "We have only four of the Dick Frizzell T-shirts left and that only because we ran out of the larger sizes. [There are currently] two small and two medium left. Could probably have sold dozens if we had them in XL!!
“We still have a supply of Reg Mombassa T-shirts. Although the large sizes sold out quickly, there are still plenty of smaller sizes. We have almost sold out of the rings – 130 in total and only about a dozen left. Still have plenty of the prints, and have a good supply of the t-towels although we have sold a number of those. The big news was we sold the beautiful wooden ‘Game of Life and Death’ for $1500 so very pleasing for Peter Kingston [artist and co-curator]!
"[Hosting the Art Show] has been a magical experience, and both volunteers and visitors have got into the spirit of it. There are quite a few Facebook entries in our competition at this stage, will be interesting to count up just how many when it ends on Friday 12th May. Lots of people taking photos in the throne chair and having fun whilst doing it.
"It's been a very varied visitor demographic, from kids to oldies, male and female so he has an appeal across the ages it seems."
And so the Art Show at the Bunker comes to an end. Things are not slowing down for Margaret and team however, as they look forward to The Bald Archy Prize exhibition making its return to The Bunker Cartoon Gallery from 19th May 2017.
So where next for the Art Show? The answer lies almost 400km south along the Pacific Highway, to Newcastle.
It will appear at the Newcastle Art Gallery as part of their 40th birthday festivities; one of their first ever exhibitions was Ghost who walks never can die, a celebration of pop art inspired by The Phantom.
Co-curator Dietmar Lederwasch is particularly looking forward to bringing the Show to Newcastle, his home town. "We have been working on this travelling show for 4 years. The Newcastle exhibition will be the largest original fine art Phantom show ever with over 200 pieces and a memorabilia display.
"Two of the exclusive highlights for Newcastle will be original hand typed scripts with drawings by Lee Falk, author of the Phantom. Secondly, it will be the first time that a painting by American movie poster artist Drew Struzan will be displayed. This has been shipped out especially for the Newcastle exhibition."
The Phantom Art Show will appear in the Newcastle Art Gallery from 10th June - 20th August.