About Hands On Art

Engage with us and experience the full value of art in learning, creativity, and life.

Since 1985 our artists have been designing, planning, and running community art programs and events for groups, communities, organisations, and individuals to meet a variety of requests for art related activities and projects.

For us, art is valued as a means by which we can enrich our lives, promote self-discovery, and foster positive connections with other people, communities and nature.

Our dedicated artists provide creative and artistic experiences to change lives for the better.

View our programs and events to see what is available for children, youth, adults, groups and organisations or engage one of our artists to assist you with your own program or event.

Hands On Art is for everyone, everywhere.

We have artists available for your specific needs.

Engage our artists for;

  • School and Kindergarten projects and residencies
  • Care, Hospital, Welfare and community organisations
  • Local, regional workshops, and events
  • Murals and Public art works
  • Art classes
  • Assistance in planning and designing workshops and events
  • Exhibitions

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.


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.

Hands on Art is supported by 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 support of 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.


Brisbane City Council commenced renovations to our heritage listed Paddington Substation. This investment of funds from the Federal Government will preserve the building for generations to come and will improve the accessibility and functionality of our wonderful home. Works will continue through much of 2022.


Renovation works were completed to the home of Hands on Art, the Paddington Substation in October. 

The addition of a lift and all abilities bathroom increases accessibility allowing even more people to enjoy not only the beautifully restored building but also the programs and activities conducted inside. It has also become a fantastic community space to exhibit arts and crafts.

Jeff is an artist, innovator, writer and storyteller who loves wild places and creative collaboration. With decades of experience in children’s creative development and community arts, Jeff’s focus is developing outdoor spaces that stimulate creativity and develop connections between people, art and the natural environment.

Hands On Art's Jeff Cheyne

Hands On Art employs professional artists, but also enlists the services of emerging artists, students and interested community members.

Work experience placements and volunteers comprise a vital part of the company’s service delivery.

Talk to us about how you would like to get involved

and then…

Visit Communify’s website to register to volunteer

Working as a volunteer at Hands On Art offers the opportunity to be in a stimulating, creative environment, working alongside artists with a range of community groups, but particularly with children.

Wherever possible, we try to involve people according to their areas of interest and ability.

Volunteer duties can include assisting with:

  • Arts workshop preparation and delivery
  • Materials organisation
  • Gallery and workshop maintenance
  • Reception
  • People and information management
  • Publicity and marketing
  • Other administrative duties

The purpose of the Child Protection Act 1999 (QLD) is to provide for the protection of children.

The underlying principle of the Child Protection Act 1999 is that all children have the right to protection from harm.

Harm to a child is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. It is immaterial how the harm is caused.

Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect; or sexual abuse or exploitation.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all employees and volunteers at Communify have clear guidelines to assist them in responding to suspicions or allegations of harm to children accessing the service.

Our commitment to a child safe culture

Communify Qld offers a range of services that enable us to reach out, advocate, connect and inform. We work with a multitude of people in a range of programs to promote a diverse, socially just and inclusive community. A number of our programs enable us to work directly with families and young children.

In recognising that children are vulnerable to the actions of adults we embrace the following:

Statement of Commitment

Communify believes that all children have the right to a life that is free from harm. Our services that cater to children aim to provide an environment that is free from any type of abuse or intentional harm.  Employees and volunteers at these services are aware of their obligations under the law in regards to the welfare of children and at all times uphold their obligation.

Harm to a child is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. It is immaterial how the harm is caused. Harm can be caused by – physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect; sexual abuse or exploitation.

Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy

Communify Qld will comply with legislative framework outlined in the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 and Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening Regulations 2011 to keep children and young people safe.

In order to comply with the legislative framework, a child and youth risk management strategy must include eight minimum requirements. These requirements are:

  • Address the organisation’s commitment to creating a safe and supportive service environment;
  • Strengthen an organisation’s capability to provide such an environment;
  • Assist an organisation to manage any particular concerns with respect to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who are involved with the organisation, and
  • Promote the consistency of an organisation’s approach to risk management, both within the organisation and with respect to compliance with the requirements under the Act.

Further information

If you would like a copy of our Child Protection and Risk Management Policy or speak to someone about our policy please contact Communify Qld.

Download pdf: Our Committment to a Child Safe Culture

Privacy Statement

Personal information collected by Hands On Art is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act). Personal information is any information or an opinion that identifies you or is reasonably identifiable and includes sensitive and health information. Hands On Art will protect your information in accordance with the thirteen (13) Australian Privacy Principles. These principles govern how we can collect, use, store and disclose personal information, how individuals may access and correct personal information held about them, as well as ensuring the quality and security of your personal information.

Hands On Art has developed a Privacy Policy to protect your privacy. The Policy is available here or in hard copy on request. It contains more information about our responsibilities, your rights, the information that may be collected by Communify, and how it would be used.

Collection of Information

Hands On Art collects personal information directly from individuals or from their legal representative. Hands On Art collects information from clients and prospective clients in order to ensure that the most effective services are provided to clients.

If individuals do not wish to provide some or all of the information we request, we may not be able to provide them with the service they are seeking.

Use and disclosure

The primary purpose for collecting personal information from individuals is to provide services to community members, including planning, funding, delivering, monitoring, reporting on and evaluating our services. The kind of information we collect will depend on your relationship with Hands On Art (e.g. as a client, donor, business partner, employee, volunteer). A collection notice will be given to you setting out these uses at or close to the time we collect any information.

Access and correction of information

All personal information collected from individuals will be securely stored by Hands On Art and protected from unauthorised use or access. All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date. You have the right to read any personal information kept about you. Our Privacy Policy details the process for requesting access to your personal information and making a privacy complaint.

Overseas recipients

Hands On Art’s data is backed up within Australia. Personal information to web-based email addresses such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail could be stored outside Australia in countries which do not have privacy legislation comparable to Australia. Hands On Art will take steps that are reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles.

Further Information

If you would like additional information about how Hands On Art manages your personal information you may contact us on (07) 3510 2700 or  admin@communify.org.au . Alternatively you can complete a Compliment, Suggestion & Complaint form that is available on our website or from any of Communify’s locations.

View our Privacy Policy here

Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners

Committed to supporting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian people.

In keeping with the spirit of reconciliation, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands where Hands On Art works.

We wish to pay respect to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and acknowledge the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within our community.