Dare to Dream Again
Australia had its last recession in 1991. It was “the one we had to have”. The effects lasted for at least two years maybe three, because the psychological recovery takes time. It was also a time when the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery won The National Tourism Awards in 1992 and 1993.
It was from that recognition that I began to dream of a bigger gallery, purpose built to display furniture, sculpture and art.
Just across the street the 1887 house came up for auction. There was not much interest, or optimism, so I was able to purchase it.
I teamed up with good friend Maurice Barnes, publisher/editor of the Bungendore Bulletin Monthly and architect whose practice was aptly named La Mancha Design. If Maurice was to be Don Quixote I was content to be his Sancho Panza and together we would tilt at one big windmill, the Grand Wood Works Gallery.
Every month Maurice would do an all-nighter with whiskey and cigarettes getting the paper mocked up for the printers. The next morning a bleary eyed and slightly guff Maurice and I would go over the plans and sketches. This went on for over a year, it was one great adventure for both of us. It was good because it was our little secret. No people saying “you can't do that! How can you possibly afford that?” “Come on, get real.” Sometimes it’s okay to be a little deluded.
The plans were completed and sent to Council. At that time Bungendore had four Councilors and a Mayor, so the Development went straight through.
That was the easy part. Ah, the money. Now there’s reality. This is where you get beat up. The banks had virtually closed all lending due to the recession, certainly to someone like me. My accountants happened to specialise in working with artists and steered me to one local bank manager who had a flair for approving “interesting” projects.
Then another harsh reality: finding a builder. One builder said he could not quote on the project because his wife threw the plans in the fire and said if he took the project on she was going to leave him.
Feeling quite bruised and battered by this experience, finally good fortune came my way with a builder who did commercial buildings, had eight carpenters on his work force and needed the work. Sometimes a recession is a good thing, or can work in one’s favour. I ordered the Jarrah from Western Australia, Tasmanian Oak from Tasmania, windows and doors from Queanbeyan. We were ready to go.
The Jarrah was cut in early December and shipped wet to Sydney to be machined and shipped back to the gallery site, still very wet.
One week before Christmas 1993 the preliminary work began: trees were cleared and the site set out. In the first week of January 1994 the work began in earnest and continued six days a week without interruption for 16 weeks to open in late April. No security fences and no Hi Vis vests. All joints and shaping done by hand and power tools on sight.
The entire project cost $285,000. It ran a little bit over when I decided to make the stairs to the Octagon in Jarrah rather than Victorian Ash. I never regretted that.
DARE TO DREAM PART TWO
Over the past four years or so I have been involved in another project: to build gallery spaces next to the Wood Works Gallery as an example of good town planning, and with the aim of establishing an Arts Precinct.
I wish I could have teamed up with Maurice again but he has gone to far off worlds with windmills in the clouds . . .
Now with the realities of this world I need to find someone to purchase this DA approved concept and build a wonderful building to be a space for a flourishing of a future arts legend.
For Sale Expressions of Interest until the 24th April – Unless sold Prior! Check it our here.
Expression of Interest, please contact Dan Woodford and Rachael Monro at PRD National located just next to the proposed Bungendore Arts Building.
Land Size: 1560 sqm. Situated in the centre of Bungendore Village, next to the Bendigo Bank and the Wood Works Gallery/Café. This is a fantastic opportunity to acquire this 1560 square metre block with the option of purchasing a DA approval for a commercial building. The block currently has a 2 bedroom brick residence, which is tenanted for $340 per week.
The zoning for this block is B2 - Local Centre. The current DA that is in place includes a large arts centre hub with walk thru breezeway from the rear car park to the street. This building could also be used for multiple retail and or arcade style shops or office fronts.
There is a further option for the same retail footprint with two above floors for apartment living. Read more about it here.
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