80 years in the making and still inspiring first-time visitors

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Just over a year after the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) opened its doors to the public, Development Manager and Fairley Foundation Deputy Chair Carmel Johnson is still delighted by the reaction of local visitors.

“I have worked in this community for quite some time and I just see people I know in the gallery and they say, this is their first visit to an art gallery, that’s so exciting!” Carmel said.

“Sir Andrew Fairley was the first Mayor of Shepparton and the first chair of the art gallery and was the person who probably initiated the gallery and with Lady Fairley gave the first gift for the first art prize in Shepparton almost 80 years ago now.

“That vision of providing every person in Shepparton with access to the arts has culminated in this award-winning building on the banks of Lake Victoria, which is really just beginning to realise its full potential as an arts hub at the centre of our community.”

The landmark four storey $47 million SAM building was completed in 2020 and hosts not only an extensive collection of ceramics and Indigenous art, but also an outstanding café, tourism information centre, art making areas and the Kaiela Arts Aboriginal art centre.

Development Manager and Fairley Foundation Deputy Chair Carmel Johnson and Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) CEO Melinda Martin

CEO Melinda Martin said the leadership of the Fairley Foundation in supporting and promoting the arts in Shepparton over so many decades had been critical in realising the dream of creating SAM as a landmark arts destination.

“There is a really important role of advocacy in the Fairley Foundations work, that goes above and beyond the donations that they make,” Ms Martin said.

“The capital campaign for our building, and campaigns that will enable us to take arts from this hub out into community, have been supported by many people from the community. The leadership of the organisations like Fairley Foundation in supporting the arts and the gallery over so many years is critical to an organisation like ours.

“Local people coming to SAM often are demonstrating pride in the Shepparton community when they bring their visitors and show off the brand new shiny building.

“We are also seeing many school groups come to SAM and then after kids have had a great experience here, they quite often convince their parents to bring them back, which introduces more people to the exhibitions that we have here.

“Others value the times when we have fewer visitors and for them, the quietness and serenity of the gallery improves their wellbeing – and there is an important role, coming out of COVID, for galleries like SAM to be able to support wellbeing.

“The gallery is also a magnet for tourism, which opens up additional economic and social opportunities within Shepparton and the space is flexible enough to enable us to create a whole range of new events to engage a greater number of people in future.

“SAM has opened up some really exciting opportunities to engage with Aboriginal artists and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

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Anna Turnbull


Anna Turnbull is a Goulburn Valley community-member, appointed trustee in 2019. She is a communications specialist with a Bachelor of Arts (political science). Working initially in newspapers as a reporter, she has gone on to develop her knowledge of the water industry and natural resource management through various media and communications roles in the Shepparton region.

Her past board roles include the Rodney Neighbourhood Steiner Kindergarten and Shepparton Arts Festival. Anna is a current board member for the Greater Shepparton Foundation.

Georgina Fairley


Georgina has been practising Architecture for six years, following completion of her Masters of Architecture in 2010. Her current focus is on design for community and learning in both metropolitan and regional areas. With interests ranging across a wide range of subjects, Georgina keenly seeks ways to engage with the world around her, from further education and attending local events to volunteering.

Andrew Mott


Andrew Mott has been involved in music education for 30 years with experience in both regional and metropolitan schools and across numerous government and independent school music programs. He undertook a two year stint in Michigan, USA, completing a Masters in Music. In recent years, he has served as Director of Music at Blackburn High School and as the Head of Music, Caulfield Campus, Caulfield Grammar.

He has a particular interest in the development of music ensemble performance and has worked in all areas across symphony orchestras to jazz big bands. In 2008 Andrew conceived and staged the 80th birthday celebrations for Australian jazz luminary, Don Burrows, which was filmed by ABC TV. He has also served as a member of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music Board and on the AMEB Examinations Advisory Board, representing government schools at various times. He continues to be active in the field of Australian music education and creating opportunities for young musicians.

Dr Fiona Phillips


Fiona is the daughter of Rosemary Hopkins (nee Fairley) and was appointed a Trustee in December 2013.

Fiona has taught in and through music in a variety of educational and community settings in regional Victoria. Her work with Early Years and Primary School practicing and pre-service teachers is significant and she currently holds the position of Associate Lecturer in Arts Education at Deakin University, Geelong.

Her research and scholarship has focused on the ongoing practices of exploring new pedagogies, to inform and facilitate change in Arts Education (Music) within a located, cloud-based and virtual teaching and learning environment. She loves to sing and help others find their voice.

Jim Freemantle AO


Jim Freemantle, a grandnephew of Sir Andrew and Lady Fairley, is a Company Director and former banker.

He has been the Chair and Director of a number of public, private and Government organisations over the past 15 years with a particular interest in the not-for-profit sector.

James is passionate about supporting people with disabilities, specifically through the provision of affordable housing and employment opportunities.

Terry Campbell AO


Terry Campbell AO is a great-nephew of the late Sir Andrew and Lady Fairley, for whom the foundation is named. Terry is Senior Chairman of Goldman Sachs, the global and investment banking firm. He is also Chairman of Australian Foundation Investment Company (AFIC) and Mirabooka Investments Limited.

He is a supporter of corporate social responsibility through contributions to community and charitable organisations. He is also a strong advocate of Australian Business Participation in the Arts, and is the Vice Chair of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation.

Carmel Johnson

Deputy Chair

Carmel Johnson has been living and working in the Goulburn Valley for more than 35 years. During this time Carmel has primarily worked in fundraising and community relations roles, and with her Special Education qualifications, served as the inaugural Principal of Verney Road Special School and later as Manager at Connect GV in Shepparton.

Carmel’s current role is Development Manager at SAM (Shepparton Art Museum).  Prior to joining SAM, Carmel led the GV Health Foundation for thirty years to ensure that the community of the Goulburn Valley was well served. Carmel was the inaugural Chair of the Shepparton Arts Festival and serves on a number of corporate and community boards. Carmel is Deputy Chair of the Foundation

Andrew Fairley AM


Andrew Fairley is a Commercial and Equity Lawyer at Hall & Wilcox in Melbourne. He has a long involvement with the philanthropic sector as both an advisor and trustee. He has been Chair of the Fairley Foundation since 1999 and is a great nephew of Sir Andrew Fairley. 

He is also Deputy Chair of the Mornington Peninsula Foundation. He is a past Chair of both the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, and the Luke Batty Foundation. 

He is Chair of Qualitas Limited, a listed funds manager with assets under management of $6.2B. He is also a Director of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. He is the Consul General for Finland in Victoria.