ESC students Alivia and Charlie visited Jan Henderson at Grange Gallery in Eaglehawk’s main shopping strip to find out about Jan and her art, and what was happening with the gallery that she set up at the end of 2020.

Jan Henderson came to Eaglehawk from Melbourne over thirty years ago, in 1988 to set up her own hairdressing business. The business was originally across the road from where it eventually ended up, in the old Bank of New South Wales building on the corner of High and Victoria streets. Jan remembers arriving in Eaglehawk not knowing anything about the area.

When the bank building came onto the market, Jan purchased it and moved her salon into the downstairs area and lived upstairs. It was the perfect building for her business as it had a living area. Originally, up until the 1970s, as in any bank, the manager always had to live on the premises. You will often see old bank buildings like this where they have a house
attached or living quarters within the same building.

“When I came to Eaglehawk I remember thinking, there’s so much potential”

As Jan was getting older, and her children were growing up, she found that she had a bit of spare time on her hands, and realised that it may be nice to have something else to do. A girlfriend, who is a beautiful watercolor artist said one day, “come around and sit in my studio, and I’ll show you how to paint”. Jan thought that would be something fun to do, so took up the offer.

Jan’s friend showed her how to paint, step by step until she came to the
realisation that she actually had a pretty good grip on it.  She went home and played with it a bit more.   She started painting based on a watercolour technique and then experimented with pastel which was fun but messy. From there, Jan moved onto acrylic. These days she works mainly in acrylics because they’re very forgiving and you can do a lot with them.

In recent years Jan has been unable to continue her hairdressing because of arthritis and decided that if she couldn’t continue, she may be able to develop her passion for painting into some kind of business.  “Painting was pretty much a hobby, and I was pretty much self-taught. I grew up with a mother who was a high school art teacher and an artist herself, so I’ve got a fairly good grounding and a lot of resources to pull on if I need to ask any

“Always paint what you love”

We asked Jan what her favourite subject to paint was. “I have done a few cats, but I’m a horse person”. “My mum, who doesn’t paint anymore, always says to paint what you love, so that makes it very easy”.

After opening the gallery at the end of 2020 and running it for a while, Jan found that she preferred to work from home as she could concentrate more and get into the “creative zone”.  After freshening up the space with a new coat of paint, the ground floor is now up for lease (at the time of writing this story).  “It was a great opportunity for me to be able to showcase my artwork in a space that is busy with traffic, and is lovely, light, and airy. It’s lovely, it’s a perfect gallery space. It really is”.

“Why do I love Eaglehawk?, I could go on forever”.

Jan currently lives out of town on a few acres with her horses, but is still
thinking about her beautiful inspiring space in the old bank. “When I lived there it was fantastic. There was only a little bit of street traffic then.  It’s such a good space. I often think to myself if down the track when I’ve got no horses, and maybe only one small dog, I would come back here again, it’s a great space”.

“I’ve been so happy being in business here. It’s been an honour.  This building itself is such a lovely space to be in and I’m very grateful”.


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