River Studios

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 21st July 2011
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

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 21st July 2011


  • ari 5 years ago

    love it. LOVE IT! though…they should stain (a subtle tan) the plywood

  • Esz 5 years ago

    So cool! I wish I was so prolific as an artist that I would need a space like this :-) Would be so awesome to be able to splash paint and not worry about it getting on the walls.

  • Kirsty 5 years ago

    Also wishing I could justify such a space! Thanks for sharing this Lucy.

  • jas 5 years ago

    Love this space! It has creative written all over it too! (also loving the lack of white walls!!)

  • Margie 5 years ago

    aaarrrgghh it’s stuff like this that makes Melbs such an awesome place for nurturing creative talent… I hope someone at Sydney City Council is watching this space!!
    PS I met Anika at Finders Keepers this year – such a lovely eye she has…

  • Anika Cook 5 years ago

    Hi Lucy, thanks so much for the feature! River Studios is having an Open Studio on 30-31 July, 11am-4pm each day. Everyone is welcome, please come down and say hello!

  • Anika Cook 5 years ago

    Also Gaye and I have a stand at Design:Made:Trade this week… open to the public on Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Exhibition Buildings. Come and say hello there too!

  • handmaderomance 5 years ago

    what an incredible space! i love how it has come to life with the recycled building material. and to think it was empty for 20 years. thanks for sharing this with us lucy x

  • Fiona 5 years ago

    I wish we had something like this in sydney. what an amazing place to create and not feel quite so on your own. if anyone in sydney is reading this there is an amazing space that would be awesome in downtown brookvale complete with delivery dock…

  • Paula 5 years ago

    Well done Aleni from Creative Spaces for making it happen. What a clever cookie!

  • Paula 5 years ago

    ooops I mean Eleni!

  • sarah 5 years ago

    WOW x

  • Margo Carlon 5 years ago

    Fantastic find Lucy, I fell in love with the first pic, congrats to the Architect.
    Fabulous concept, love it, love it.
    Cheers Margo

  • NikkiG 5 years ago

    This is what makes Melbourne such an awesome city. I love this place.

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