MASTER STROKE: Kaye and Gene Kerner are building an art gallery in their Murgon home.
MASTER STROKE: Kaye and Gene Kerner are building an art gallery in their Murgon home. Michael Nolan

New Murgon gallery to make money and mates

TUCKED away at the back of Thorn St in Murgon, Kaye and Gene Kerner are busy at work.

Kaye is painting landscapes of the South Burnett bush, while Gene builds her a gallery to display and sell her art.

Until recently, the couple lived in the south-west Queensland opal mining town of Yowah, where they ran an small opal shop and art gallery, with the harsh channel country providing inspiration for Kaye's painting.

"Here that sort of thing won't sell, so she has changed what she's doing,” Gene said.

Gene reckons the local tourist market can support a few more art galleries.

"We have the grey nomads here, as you'd have in Yowah, and grey nomads are for the most part your market,” he said.

"There's a few local people that buy paintings but the majority of them are grey nomads,” he said.

The couple bought the house in April last year and were going back and forward between Yowah and Murgon while they got the house into a comfortably liveable state.

But now they call Murgon home.

"I'm 70 this year. I retired the year before last and we toyed with the idea of staying in Yowah and we've got grandkids over here and you think to yourself, 'How long do you want to live in the outback?'

"This place came up at cheap prices, so we bought it.”

Opening the gallery is as much about making friends and keeping active as it is about making money.

"When we came here, we went from having this shop that people went in and out of all the time saying 'g'day, how are you going?' and we found that we were getting bloody lonely.

"I'm 70 and people just don't come and visit you when you're older. We realised that our friendship group had started to shrink.

"I thought, 'Well, why don't we reopen the gallery here?' ”

Gene said as people age, loneliness and inactivity are what send you to an early grave and he still has plenty of things to do.

"When you're young, you don't think about those things, but when you're old you do.”

Of course, a little cash is always welcome.

"Kaye is a very good artist, we'll sell one painting a month,” Gene said.

It'll take a few months before the Kerners are up and running, so in the meantime they volunteer at the Kingaroy Art Gallery.

Kaye also has an exhibition in the Wondai Art Gallery that is running through March.

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