Shellharbour arts hub: derelict building to be transformed

A derelict building along the train tracks at Albion Park Rail will become the creative centre of the southern Illawarra, if the Shellharbour City Art Society has its way.

The society hopes to convert the former dairy co-op on Creamery Road, just north of Albion Park station, into a thriving hub for artists’ workspaces, gallery exhibitions and art classes.

‘‘The space lends itself to art,’’ said society president Jeanette Riley-Clay.

‘‘We hope it can be a melting pot of culture in the southern suburbs.’’

Around 40 artists and supporters met on Thursday to inspect the building, with its high ceilings and a variety of wide open rooms. The idea to turn the building into an arts centre has existed since at least the 1990s, and Ms Riley-Clay herself has worked on the concept for two years, but she said they were closer than ever to turning the dream into reality.

‘‘We’re on the way to putting in a development application, and we’re looking for funding to help meet the building code,’’ Ms Riley-Clay said.

Up to $150,000 may be needed to renovate the site, and supporters on Thursday met representatives of the IMB building society to try to secure funding.

Artists from the southern suburbs said much attention was paid, and support given, to creatives in the central and northern suburbs of Wollongong, but artists south of Wollongong were often overlooked.

‘‘Shellharbour doesn’t have much space for artists to get together and make art,’’ said society treasurer Bettina Purdie.

Part of the building will also be used as a storage space for the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).

‘‘A place like this is just what we need,’’ said artist Kathy Karas.

‘‘Artists from around here often have to travel away from the area to work and exhibit.’’

The Shellharbour City Arts Society is now looking for funding to help secure and restore their part of the site.