A former pole dancing school in the heart of Wollongong has taken on a new identity as a creative hub, with hopes "art can creep out onto the streets", according to its founders.
Nestled off a Keira Street laneway, 130 Art Studios is an exhibition and teaching space, it houses a number of spaces for professional and up-and-coming artists, along with a variety of tools to become a communal maker space (so anyone can play with their creative side if they become a member).
"We've reinvented the space," said co-founder Orlando Norrish of the former Princess MeMe's site. "Quite often visual artists are in these quite hidden away factories, warehouses and industrial units where no-one knows where they are.
"One of the great things about that spot [on Keira Street] is it's so central and so visible and we can really showcase our works."
Norrish labelled 130 a "blank canvas to support and encourage the arts in Wollongong", with the ability to adapt to many creative ideas such as hosting arthouse film nights to jewellery exhibitions.
Meantime, the makerspace is kitted out with saws, welders, tools, benches and a "community of like minded people to share ideas", according to their website.
Norrish said 2021 had been another "full on" year and hoped the new creative hub would foster some positive creative energy for the new year.
We don't want to make a secret club.Orlando Norrish
The vision was to welcome artists of any shapes and sizes as opposed to being like a secret society out of the public eye, in an affordable environment to inspire each other and grow an artist community.
"We don't want to make a secret club, we want to make a place where artists can come and show their work, talk about their work," Norrish said.
"Whether it's music, poetry or painting or sculpture, or whatever, that's all something that we want to support."