Monash University pilots ‘art tourism’ model to reinvigorate regional towns

Image: The ‘After Warracknabeal’ project will transform an unused court house into an ‘art hotel’, exhibition space and artist residency to draw in visitors and help reinvigorate the regional town. Image courtesy of Monash University Art, Design and Architecture/Studiobird.

Partnering with Working Heritage, Creative Victoria and Yarriambiack Shire Council , Monash University researchers will pilot an ‘art hotel’ model for reinvigorating regional towns by transforming an unused court house into an artist-in-residence space, where artists will live, work and exhibit.

The ‘After Warracknabeal’ project will host guests from December 2019. In between residencies, the building will be an art hotel available to the general public.

The Monash team, led by researchers in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture consists of Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer Architecture, Dr Tom Morgan, Lecturer in Architecture, Charity Edwards, Lecturer in Architecture and Dr Mark Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design.

Also collaborating on the project are astrophysics and astronomy academics including Associate Professor Daniel Price, Physics and Astronomy, Monash University and Dr Duane Hamacher, Associate Professor of Indigenous Astronomy & Science, School of Physics University of Melbourne.

The adaptive design and the historic character of the building will provide a visitor experience unlike any other in the region. The art hotel will be managed by Working Heritage and a local operator. The studio space will also provide the local community with a valuable new cultural facility for exhibitions and events.

The project aims to build the town and region’s visitor economy, stimulate community participation in the arts and creativity, and ultimately help classic regional Victorian towns, like Warracknabeal, live on for generations to come.

Visiting and local artists will explore the connections between Indigenous and settler heritage, and the Wimmera night sky.

We wanted to design the space around the Wimmera’s incredible star gazing, to explore our contemporary relationship to the night sky.

Dr Matthew Bird

“We’re keen to tap into the relationship between astronomy and art tourism. It’s about the further implantation of art and artists into agricultural towns.”

“This project builds on the successful development of the Silo Art Trail, where tourists drive 200 kilometres through the Wimmera Mallee, to admire large scale artworks painted onto grain silos, which are themselves unique landmarks on the vast plains of the Wimmera Mallee farmlands.”

The ‘After Warracknabeal’ project will offer an immersive art experience for visitors and is situated near natural attractions including the Pink Lake, the Little Desert National Park and the burgeoning stargazing site of Lake Tyrell. “We are excited to engage with the Warracknabeal community to bring this project to life,” Ross Turnbull, Executive Officer at Working Heritage said.

Follow the projects instagram page for updates.