Anika Cook of A Gently Unfurling Sneak works from her space in the River Studios complex, designed by Breathe Architecture.  Photos – Andrew Wuttke

River Studios complex, designed by Breathe Architecture.  Top left – the studio of Louise Lavarack.  Bottom – shared artists space, blurry person we think is Juliana Chin!

It’s things like this that make Melbourne AWESOME. 

River Studios is a 3 storey, 3000m2 warehouse in West Melbourne that has recently been converted into art studios for 75 artists.  The project has been developed by Creative Spaces - a  joint initiative of the City of Melbourne and Arts Victoria, who are trying to break the eviction cycle for inner city Melbourne artists by securing long term leases and converting them to art studios.  The building owner has also been instrumentally supportive of the project – and it’s win-win, because the warehouse was vacant for more than 20 years before this conversion!  Brilliant.

Amongst the many tenants of River Studios are high profile artist Callum Morton (who has taken the entire ground floor), painter Merryn J Trevethan, artists Rick Mereki and Jason Mildren, photographer Hana Davies, and many craft based businesses such as A Gently Unfurling Sneak and Gaye Abandon.

Breathe Architecture are the resourceful local firm responsible for the design and conversion of the River Studios space.  In keeping with his sustainable design ethos, Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture has cleverly recycled redundant building stock and other salvaged materials to create a brilliant new user friendly layout, on a super tight budget.  In his own words – ‘No budget but freaking awesome space.’  I hope he doesn’t kill me for repeating that. :)

Breathe Architecture have just won a well deserved Victorian Architecture Award for this project – the jury was suitably impressed, citing that ‘the new environment is relaxed, open and inclusive, private yet permeable’.  Yes yes I concur.

I must also thank Jeremy McLeod for bringing this project to my attention and supplying the great pics!  Love that, thankyou JM!  Thanks also to Anika Cook and Gaye Naismith of Gaye Abandon for the photo identification of the artists and spaces in these pics!

River Studios is not open to the public, HOWEVER, local artists might be keen to know that one large space has just become available in this award winning complex!  If you’re on the hunt for a new studio space, check out the info over here.

*Update – have just heard from Tessa at Creative spaces, and you’ll be pleased to know that River Studios is having an OPEN STUDIO event next Saturday the 30th and Sunday the 31st of July, from 11am to 4pm each day!  All the studios will be open and artists and the creative spaces team will be on site (with hot chai tea!) to welcome anyone looking for a sticky beak! (and who doesn’t love a sticky beak?!)

Recycled materials put to good use at River Studios

Bottom pic – graphic designer Jessica Pitcher

The space of artist Louise Lavarack – I quite love the posters which delineate each artists’ space!

Original exterior of the warehouse