Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents G
ran out of steam into an innovative,
While modernising the town is vital, he
adds, maintaining its rich industrial heritage
is just as important. Between 1904 and 1994,
the railway site was one of the State's biggest
industrial workshops, with a 3000-strong
workforce involved in manufacturing and
mending railway engines and rolling stock.
" ey made a great contribution to WA's
economy during the 1900s," says Kieran. "And
there were about 400 apprentices on board in
its heyday who learnt the skills to take them out
into the workforce. One of the things we (the
MRA) wanted to do as custodians of the site was
carry on this legacy."
In response, restorations to the two
Midland Atelier buildings have taken shape
with significant attention to historical detail.
is is best apparent in the machine room of
the Pattern Shop, where most of the equipment,
timber treatments and pattern archives have
been left in their original state. Even the old
signs that seem completely out of context
today, such as 'Don't wear neckties while
operating machinery', still adorn the redbrick
walls as a salute to days gone by.
"As soon as you step into the building,
you feel this immediate link to the past,"
says Malcolm. " ere are some lovely little
messages engraved into the bones of the
building like: 'I was here in 1963, good luck
to all those who follow me.' e pattern-
makers in years gone by were really at the
pinnacle of the trades, they were held in very
high esteem because they had to understand
wood and metal and interpret complicated
drawings. ey were very skilled artisans,
so us coming through behind them is really
Michelle Taylor, who's currently taking
photos in and around the old buildings, says
the Atelier site has been a constant source of
inspiration -- both in terms of its context and
the flow of ideas between designers.
"I love urban warehouse spaces," she
says. " ey're full of stories, they invite us to
question and explore. I'm constantly finding
new angles around the site, and it's also
interesting to see how the woodwork guys
have interpreted the space -- what they've
been influenced by. Some of them have
spotted different shapes and forms on their
way to work and built on that."
rough its overseas relationships and
residency programs, Midland Atelier will also
open up doors for cross-cultural exchange in
the workshops. Japanese furniture student
Yoshio Takagi says he's already been exposed
to a whole new set of skills, ideas and practices
during his 10-month stint at the Pattern Shop.
"To get to know beautiful designs that
have been created by the best designers in
Australia is very inspiring for me," he says.
"I've come to use a greater spectrum of colours
and woods -- WA timbers in particular -- and
see how they're used in different designs.
"I can also share and explain Japanese
aesthetics to my colleagues. My culture
incorporates a lot of bilateral symmetry in
original design, which makes the mind calm
or meditative. is is what I can teach them."
HARD YAKKA: Midland Atelier's technical manager
Malcolm Harris using the woodwork equipment. (below &
above right) The Foundry Building. A mezzanine will be
added to the building along with other renovations this year.
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