Hands On Art is a History of Two Organisations


The Artist, Ian Reece begins running art classes at his house in Moore Street, Paddington, Queensland.


A group of women whose children attend Ian Reece’s art classes organise a children’s summer art program at the Indooroopilly State School. The success of the program leads to the creation of the Children’s Activities Group Association (CAG), and funding from the Australian Arts Council allows the newly formed association to appoint Ian Reece as its director.

1972 - 2005 

CAG (Children Are Great)

Ian Reece felt that children everywhere, particularly in remote and disadvantaged locations, should have access and opportunities to express their creativity.
For the next 4 decades Ian and his Artists travelled to isolated communities and remote towns, and schools throughout Queensland.


The Paddington Substation
A Home Found 

In 1985 with the help and support of David Hinchcliffe, a BC Councillor and artist, C.A.G. leased the decommissioned, and derelict Paddington Tramway Substation from the Brisbane City Council. Since that time the Paddington Substation has evolved from a staging, storage, and workshop for C.A.G. into the substation community art space. Up until 1985 C.A.G. had been operating from Ian Reece’s home in Paddington.


A Change of Name

In 1988 Ian Reece and his family moved to Yungaburra, North Queensland to work with Children on Cape York Peninsula and the far north. For a while the Children’s Activities Group had a southern and northern branch, but funding requirements resulted in the Southern branch of C.A.G. having to adopt a new constitution and name; Hands On Art, in May 1989.


The Children's Art Centre

Throughout the nineties Hands On Art continued touring remote and distant regions of Queensland, as well as running its Brisbane community arts program in Brisbane and surrounding areas. In the late 90’s Hands On Art tried to raise $200,000 to buy the old Paddington Fire Station next to the Substation for a Children’s Art Centre. The effort failed, but in 2000, in partnership with South Bank Corporation, Hands On Art opened a Children’s Art Centre at the end of the boardwalk in the South Bank Parklands.
The Children’s Art Centre, reputedly the first in Australia, enjoyed success in its first five years while continuing to provide outreach services to communities and schools in Queensland.


The Crash

In 2006 HOA was given two years notice that the Children’s Art Centre site at the end of the South Bank Board was to be redeveloped.
Then in 2007 Hands On Art was told it had lost its tri annual funding from Arts Queensland.
In December 2007 Board of Management voted to wind up Hands On Art. However, at a special meeting its member artists voted against the board’s recommendation. As a consequence the board resigned and an interim committee of 4 artists was elected to determine the organisation’s ultimate fate.


The Artist's Initiative
A New Hands On Art

In 2008 with little money in the bank the organisation, though much reduced in size and capacity, remained engaged in community art activities.
In 2009 HOA moved back to the substation that was now being run as a gallery. As a parting gift from South Bank, the South Bank Corporation donated a 1989 long wheel base van to the organisation. The van became the Art Bus providing the means to continue working with communities in and around Brisbane. 

2008 - 2018

The Artist's Initiative
A New Hands On Art


A New Hands On Art

From 2008 to 2018 HOA relied heavily on its volunteers to manage, maintain and develop its programs and services.
To maintain its volunteer program, HOA has an internal culture that values and respects every individual member, and their contribution to the organisation’s stability and growth. HOA has developed a cooperative and open style of management that encourages the exchange of ideas and assists artists develop projects, run workshops, and engage with the communities.
Since 2008 Hands on Art’s operating costs have been met entirely by the organisation’s own means by money raised through its programs and services.
However many of the organisation’s successful programs and projects have only been possible through the generosity of others, and valuable assistance from other organisations, and grants from the Brisbane City Council, the State Government, and Philanthropic Organisations.

In late 2018, Hands on Art merged with Communify Qld, with the intention of growing and expanding Hands on Art’s community connections and arts-based community reach. Communify’s mission is to strengthen the community’s capacity by responding to the diverse needs and interests of all its members. Communify’s merge with Hands on Art is a recognition of the core creative needs of communities, and together both Hands on Art and Communify will be able to strengthen the capacity of individuals and groups through creative exploration and experience.

Artists, Volunteers and Supporters

Hands on Art’s rich creative life is due to its artists, volunteers and supporters. Those who have worked for the organisation since 2009 have come from countries including, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, Columbia, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and USA.