About the Grace Cossington Smith Gallery

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery is a not-for-profit initiative run by Abbotsleigh, an Anglican pre K-12 Day and Boarding School for girls.

Our goal is to provide a compelling program of exhibitions and events that engage with a broad community of artists locally and nationally. The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery is committed to inspiring visitors, welcoming diverse audiences and serving the public through free admission..

The gallery provides a resource for teaching and lifelong learning for all, and engages with teachers and students from Pre-Kindergarten through Year 12, with a dynamic education program.

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery is located on the campus of Abbotsleigh, on the Pacific Highway at Wahroonga, NSW

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery and Abbotsleigh acknowledge the Darug or Darramuragal people as the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we are inspired by art, learn and teach. We pay respect to the past and present  traditional custodians and elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mission statement

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery is a not-for-profit program providing a dynamic annual series of exhibitions. Exhibitions and events aim to inspire our community of visitors to engage, create and appreciate the culture and richness of art. Each exhibition provides Abbotsleigh students and visitors with valuable learning experiences from a range of cultural, emotional and social perspectives in a wide range of subjects and concepts.


Our vision is to provide meaningful experiences and encounters through the Visual Arts. We aim for inquiry and imagination in our programming to contribute to the intellectual life of the region, and to serve the needs of a diverse public and the students of Abbotsleigh. We foster inclusivity, creativity, and community through the power of contemporary art.


Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984)

Marian Clarke, Abbotsleigh’s artistic and enterprising founding Headmistress valued an education in all aspects of life, not merely the academic. In her mind, an academic life in isolation without the sporting and artistic spheres did not create a well-rounded education and Miss Clarke sought to create this at Abbotsleigh, which was quite unusual at the time.

When Grace Cossington Smith attended Abbotsleigh (c1908-c1910), Miss Clarke had engaged the services of specialist teachers, among whom were three respected artists – Eirene Mort, Albert Collins and Alfred Coffey. Due to this, Grace found an unexpected artistic heritage at Abbotsleigh and a keen supporter in Miss Clarke.

Grace began drawing at Abbotsleigh but in 1909 she also studied drawing with Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo and in 1914 she started painting. Her oil painting The Sock Knitter,1915, in the Art Gallery of NSW, is considered a significant modernist artwork and was the first work that she exhibited. The Abbotsleigh cape can be seen hanging on the chair behind the subject, Grace’s sister Madge.

Grace is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost modernist artists and she was a brilliant colourist. In a 1965 interview she stated, ‘My chief interest, I think, has always been colour, but not crude flat colour, it must be colour within colour, it has to shine; light must be in it, it is no good having heavy, dead colour.’

Grace lived most of her life in her family home at Turramurra and her paintings of interiors and the Sydney Harbour Bridge have become iconic images in Australian art.



Vindin House

Originally known as Noris Laurin, Vindin House was built in October 1905 by the architect Herbert Samuel Thompson, after the land was purchased in March that year by Mr Harris Adam Curry and his wife, Esther. Harris was the President of the Land Appeal Court of NSW.

After Curry’s death in 1922, the estate passed to his wife Esther, who subsequently sold it in 1926 to Alice and Frank Hambridge. The Hambridges remained in residence until 1929, after which it was sold to Abbotsleigh for use as a boarding house.

Noris Laurin was officially renamed Vindin House in honour of Abbotsleigh’s first Chairman of Council 1924-1928, Walter Mullins Vindin. The Council minutes at the time said the name was ‘in grateful appreciation of the splendid service rendered to the school.’ Mr Vindin had died in 1928 whilst holding the position of Chairman.

Vindin House remained true to its original purpose as a boarding house until the boarders moved out in 2012, with the building being prepared for its next phase of life as an art gallery.



Director:  Mary Faith, MMuseumSt, DipArtEd

Gallery Coordinator: Lisa Jones, MVArts,  MFA, BA

Gallery Assistant: Corey Black



Advisory committee

(Honorary) Janet Laurence, artist

Rhonda Davis, Senior Curator, Art Gallery Macquarie University Art Gallery

Maisy Stapleton, formerly the Deputy Director of National Trust NSW, the inaugural CEO of Museums and Galleries NSW and former leader Regional Arts NSW. She is now a consultant and arts broadcaster on community radio

Abbotsleigh’s Director of Development


International Council of Museums

The Gallery supports the recent ICOM definition, 24 August 2022, Prague:

"A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing."