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Whats on @ Docklands Spaces in May

1 May 2014 | Posted in: News

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Whats on @ Docklands Spaces in April

3 April 2014 | Posted in: News

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Whats on @ Docklands Spaces in April

3 April 2014 | Posted in: News

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Alien encounter in NewQuay

12 February 2014 | Posted in: News

If you’ve wandered down Doepel Way recently, you might have spotted some interesting creatures lurking in the corners of a once empty shopfront. As seen in Docklands News

After seven years of vacancy, the shopfront has now come to life, with some interesting new tenants, in the form of large-scale puppets, visible through the windows.

Ampersand Studio is the newest Docklands Spaces project, with artists Joe Blanck and Felipe Reynolds moving into the space last month.

The pair have both had extensive careers in film, theatre, television and events in Australia and internationally.

Most recently, while working for Global Creature Technology, they were part of the team that designed and built the animatronic marionette puppet for King Kong: The Musical. Joe and Felipe’s plan for Ampersand Studio is to create an open studio exhibiting eclectic, local contemporary art and a place where people can meet the artists behind the work.

“The idea is to create a space for artists who think a bit differently and might struggle to be exhibited elsewhere,” Joe said.

According to Joe, the gallery will be a place were people can acquire progressive contemporary art as well has having bespoke pieces commissioned.

The space is already full of interesting artwork, including Phillip Millar’s The Alien Tourist, which can be spotted through the window.

Joe took the large-scale puppet for a wander around Docklands last month, coming across a children’s birthday party, to the kid’s delight.

Joe said he would be keen to continue with similar events as the studio establishes itself in Docklands.

He also said he was keen to collaborate with the other Docklands Spaces projects who have moved into vacant spaces in the area over the past year.

“I’m really excited and proud to be a part of it,” Joe said.

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of a new arts hub in Melbourne.”

Ampersand Studio is located at Shop 111, 401 Docklands Drive (enter via Doepel Way).

Artists pave way for urban renewal

19 September 2013 | Posted in: News

Where the artists move in, the people eventually follow As seems on artsHub

For artists, space that has been made available to them through the Docklands Spaces project – part of the Renew Australia initiative – means a quiet and cheap area to work. For locals, it is hoped that their presence will inject a little colour into an area which, tacked onto the end of Melbourne’s CBD, has become an empty corporate wasteland.

A perceived lack of ‘soul’ is an image problem the Docklands has long suffered. While there is no shortage of buildings in the area, there is no harmony with the natural environment. There are no trees and no grass and few visitors – conversely, there are numerous businesses that have been forced to close. The wheel no longer turns – both literally and metaphorically.

The Docklands Spaces program has enlisted creatives to rectify this issue, simultaneously providing them with affordable space in which to work. Commissioned by the City of Melbourne, MAB Corporation and Places Victoria, the project is a pilot initiative run through Renew Australia and seems like a win-win on all accounts.

Unused buildings are taken over by creative enterprises and social initiatives on a rent-free basis; there are several projects now taking advantage of the free space: The Front, The Revolution Project, The (F) Route Collective, D11 at Docklands, Studio Batch, Musk Architecture Sound, and the Food Court. A mixed bag of projects, and there is still room for more.

The Food Court is one space that has been enjoying some recent success; it has set up shop in a disused food court, nourishing artists through residencies and events.

Multidisciplinary arts organisation Aphids are the current artists-in-residence there and are developing a new work, Howl, a public event that combines music and performance and aims to examine the role of parades in our society. Aphids will use the space for planning, instrument building and general tasks that they would not otherwise have had space for in their office.

The Food Court’s Nicco Reddaway is passionate about the organisation’s role in the local community. Reddaway recognises the impact that the Food Court could have on the surrounding space.

‘If you want to create community you have to make friends with the locals,’ Reddaway told artsHub, explaining that the space has been built in a deliberate way to encourage passersby. Free wifi means that just about anybody can come in and work on their creative projects, and the space will soon have the most essential of creative fuel – coffee.

‘At the moment a lot of people just contact us if they want to come down and we have had people from different art collectives come and check it out because they’ve heard something about it, so there is the hope that more people will use it as a social space,’ she told artsHub.

Through a crowdfunding campaign launched in June the Food Court was able to raise the money to get everything up to scratch for opening and the result is a fantastic space, with the old Red Rooster signs covered with vines in homage to its past use.

Despite the social element to the space, Reddaway still recognises that it is first and foremost about the artists.

‘As an artist, to find relatively free studios is really hard. It can be almost as expensive as your rent sometimes, so that’s why we jumped on it, we thought it would be great for that reason.’

Lara Thoms, Artistic Associate of Aphids, agrees. ‘I think it is really fantastic that they are willing to take that risk in inviting all sorts of different artists to take over a little bit,’ she said.

‘Just being able to be here is kind of perfect because I think we share a similar ethos of collaboration, opening up projects to the wider community but still having that contemporary art background, so we’re not coming from social work or council community based work we’re coming from contemporary art involving people.’

While valuable, Docklands Spaces also faces something of a Catch-22 problem. Should the artists be too successful in injecting life and colour into the region, building owners could decide to take back their properties for more profitable ventures.

Reddaway told artsHub, ‘It’s just that there’s a big risk in the sense that, it’s almost like we don’t really have a contract, it’s almost like month by month, so if the developers came in and saw that someone was making the space work, they could say actually we want it back or we want to develop it into something else, so there is that risk in that sense. But these spaces were abandoned for all those years, so we have the feeling, they can’t really say that is the case…. but there is an indication that we could have this space for a while.’