Monday, September 1, 2008

Nicholas Building Open House

Cathedral Arcade on the ground floor of the Nicholas Building, Cnr Flinders Lane and Swanston st, Melbourne

The building's interior lightwell - a glimpse into the private studios leased by this diverse group of local artisans

The delicate work of jeweller Rhiannon Smith, who has a studio on the 9th floor (more shots below)

Last Friday at 5.30pm I was absent-mindedly browsing the net... and I found myself wandering over to the very lovely Craft Victoria Blog... and this is what I stumbled across:

"Open Studios at the Nicholas Building continues on its merry way tonight: Friday 29th August 5pm-9pm"

Agghhh! It took a few moments for my dopey Friday-night brain to realise that this meant the Nicholas Building Open House event was taking place right at that very moment(!)... so when the penny dropped, I grabbed my camera and wasted no time rushing out to the tram stop!

I must admit that shamefully, until last week I have never actually been inside the famed Nicholas Building in Melbourne's CBD. This stunning art deco building is a unique creative hub with a long tradition. It's one of the few remaining buildings in the CBD dedicated to the arts - it houses studios and exhibition space for artists, jewellers, writers and artisans of all kinds. The Flinders Lane area used to be home to many similar buildings leased primarily as artists studios, however most of these have sadly since been redeveloped and turned into apartments. Sad but inevitable I guess.

The Open House event last week saw a selection of studios on each floor of the Nicholas Building open to the public - visitors had the opportunity to see these incredible workspaces first-hand, and to chat to the artists about their work. What an inspiring place! There is just so much incredible, diverse creative work being produced within these walls. In addition, the views of Melbourne from each floor are amazing - check out the glimpse of Flinders St Station through Tim Fleming's windows on the 7th floor! Now that's a million dollar view :)

My favourite finds included Rhiannon Smith's stunning delicate jewellery and paper sculptures, Tim Flemings well-known 'flatland' figurines, and the beautiful letterpress studio of Carolyn Fraser... as well as many others... lots of photos below...

Visitors admire the beautiful work of jewellers Rhiannon Smith and Amina McPhee - *amendment - I must apologise I originally credited the beautiful silver flower pendant in the top image incorrectly - it is in fact the work of Rhiannon's studio partner Amina McPhee! My apologies!

Top - visitors get a closer look at the work of Rhiannon Smith. Bottom - delicately folded paper 'necklaces' are created from recycled envelopes for Rhiannon's upcoming exhibition 'Return to Sender' at Off The Kerb gallery in Collingwood. The exhibition runs from Sept 12 - Oct 8.

Tim Fleming's 'flatland' cut-out shapes line the shelves of his studio. How about that view!

Top - Tim Fleming chats to visitors about his work. Bottom - Tim's workspace. I always love a messy desk!

Printmaker Carolyn Fraser demonstrates her letterpress techniques to a crowd of curious visitors. Her space was stunning - a much bigger studio than many of the others, and filled with the most beautiful antique printmaking and letterpress equipment.

Top - some of Carolyn Fraser's work. Bottom - letterpress tools beautifully organised

The large studio space shared by painter/illustrator Tai Snaith, designer Nadine Treister, Jeweller Jasmina Krupic, Artist Emma Grace and photographer Jo Duck was very popular!

Tai Snaith's kooky illustrations and paintings

Tai Snaith - a little indecisive with her wardrobe choice for the evening :) cute!

Tai Snaith's colourful workspace

Top - the busy desk of jeweller Matt Vellacott. Bottom - simple, beautiful shapes in silver and ceramic by Matt Vellacott


  1. AArgh! If ONLY i had known and I wouldve got myself on the no.1 tram & been there in a flash!
    I have always wanted to have a looksee in that building! Arrgh! Im sure it wouldve been MUCH more interesting than doing nothing like i did!!

  2. I actually saw you come out of Tim Flemings studio and recognised you from the Craft City Melbourne interview. I almost went a little stalker and OHIIGOD you're Lucy from Design Files, but realised it might be somewhat scary. Although people looking at you like they know you but not saying anything is worse sometimes! Anyway I was looking forward to reading this post to see what you had to say.

  3. Wow! What a fantastic post and a great little peek into the studios of these fantastic artists! Very inspiring... I am glad I came across your blog, it is a great way to keep up with what is happening in Australia's creative hub for me up here in Brissie – sadly no jumping on no. 1 trams for me but your reviews give me great insight. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the posting, and all the pictures. The open house was a fab idea...Melbourne is a fantastic place for people who make stuff!

  5. i was with anna laura having a peek at the studios too. I was especially interested as I've just got myself a studio in collingwood and did my first days work in it today. Can't wait for it to start looking like some of those lovely studios!

  6. Thanks for all your lovely comments ladies! I truly appreciate your encouragement and all your valuable feedback. :)

    Camilla - I know I can't believe I nearly missed out! Must keep on top of these things! I promise I'll advertise this event in advance before the next one comes around!

    Anna Laura - I left a little comment on your site to say hello and to tell you how much this made me laugh! I was in a fluster trying to see everything and photograph everything.. so I was much too distracted to notice anyone! ha ha. Next time do say hello! :)

    Kim - thanks so much for you kind words! I am always thinking I should get up to Brisbane... there seems to be a bit of a buzz about design in Brisbane these days.. you've got Saturday in Design coming up soon too! Look forward to more Brissie design news from you!

    Sew Hum - thanks also for your lovely feedback - I know what you mean, Melbourne just seems like the most encouraging place for the arts... There is just such a supportive network for local artists and crafters! Aren't we lucky!?


  7. Wow Lucy, great photos! Tai's work is amazing, I think the graffiti she did alongside Fafi in Hosier Lane might still be there, it's super. Check it out!

  8. Thank Lucy – I had come across the Brisbane Indesign event a little while ago but there seems to be so much happening at the moment in Brissie and around Australia that it is hard to keep up sometimes and I had completely forgotten to add it to my list of events! So thanks for reminding me...

  9. Bridget - thanks so much for your comment :) Congrats also on your new studio! I'm sure it wont be long before it's looking as interesting and eclectic as these!

    Craft Vic - thanks so much for the comment and for being so supportive of my little blog :) The Nicholas Building event is such a fantastic idea - thanks for making it happen! Also I know that graffiti you're talking about in Hosier lane, but didn't realise it was Tai's! Now that I compare it to her smaller work I see the resemblance! Thanks for the tip-off! :)

    Kim Wallace - Yes make sure you get along to Brisbane SiD! And then post all your photos so we can all see! :) SiD is one of my absolute favourite events on the design calender... such a fun day. Keep us posted!

  10. Lucy, what a great post, and with lots of pictures. Makes me feel I was there. I really must get myself over there one day, I imagine it would be very inspiration. If I'd known that printer was there...

  11. Although I missed the Open House at the Nicholas Building, I have managed to have a peek in a studio as my sister is Rhiannon Smith!! Thanks so much for following these artists & letting the public know about their beautiful & intricate work!! Keep up the good work!

  12. greenolive - sorry it has taken so long for me to reply - thanks so much for your comment! Yes I was so excited to visit the Nicholas Building - it is a truly inspiring place, I couldn't help taking so many pictures!

    Jacqui - Thanks so much for your comment and kind words! I love Rhiannon's work! What a find! such beautiful, delicate pieces. The Nicholas Building is full of such incredible talent :)

  13. Hi Lucy,

    I'm a little late commenting on this post! Thanks for stopping by my studio: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    I was wondering: do you know Hercynia Silva in Clifton Hill? I think you'd like it.