AT THE age of 104, Trafalgar’s railway station building has a new lease on life.
Above: BBAA members and supporters cut the cake at the Trafalgar Art Space opening. Photos: William PJ Kulich, except "before" photos, supplied by VicTrack.
Unused and in a bad state of disrepair until earlier this year, the building has been restored and reopened as an art creation, exhibition and performance space for the Baw Baw Arts Alliance
The official reopening was held on Saturday with community members overflowing from one of the largest rooms in the building to watch proceedings. (And to grab a slice of cake.)
“It has lost some of its charm in how the ceiling was falling down, that was great,” BBAA president Anita George joked at the opening.
“We’re take grateful for everyone who has had faith in us. We’re a group of artists, we’re supposed to be a bit nutty.”
The alliance has run the successful and popular Yarragon Station Gallery for over a year now and Ms George told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen the Trafalgar Art Space will compliment the neighbouring town’s gallery.
Above: Anita George speaking at the opening.
“It won’t be the primary source, that will still be Yarragon, but we’ve been so popular the workspace needs to be bigger and this building is a fantastic workspace,” she said.
“[The big windows here are] great. It makes it look more like a home building, poor old Yarragon still has the wires on [its windows]. It lets in so much more light.”
Ms George said the restoration project, which was supported by VicTrack and the Trafalgar Community Bank and cost $435,000, was driven by the community and the space would be used as a drawcard for Melbourne artists.
“It’s a community thing and we’re all running ragged but something like this can invigorate us again,” she said.
“Our big art May event already has some funding to promote in Melbourne and bring [artists] down.
“[We have to] get the name into the other art groups in Melbourne, and [when you have a] high profile teacher it goes into all the notices down there.
Above: some of the people at the opening.
The Trafalgar site will be more activity-based than the Yarragon gallery, with planned uses including larger workshops and live music.
“When they asked us for ideas we tried to make it as broad as possible so we didn’t cut ourselves into certain little areas all the time,” Ms George said.
“[Regarding using the site for live music,] I’m actually saying anyone who wants to approach us. The main committee sort of does what they do and then you need someone who’s into music, and young as well, to get involved and invigorate us with ideas.
“We can’t continually keep coming up with them, we need other people and we need youngsters!”
The centrality of the site lends itself to community use, according to Ms George.
“The community has been pushing for it, and no wonder – look where it is! Walk down the main street and there you’ve got this thing straight in front of you!”
The BBAA is now eyeing a neighbouring brick building for storage of mosaics.
Trafalgar’s station building was the tenth in the state to be restored for community use in recent years. Its restoration included the replacement of flooring, internal doors, windows, re-stumping and more.
Below: photos of the station taken immediately before its restoration.
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