Address: Clocktower, 111 Beaumont Street, Hamilton NSW 2303
Hours: by appointment
Property donor: Newcastle City Council
Launched: 17 August 2016
Who are you?
Hello, I am Edwina (Ed) Richards.
What do you do?
I take photos, and sometimes dabble in film-making, writing and photo workshops. I trained and worked as a writer/journalist after studying a B/Art Communications degree at Newcastle Uni and then a few years later did an (M/Art Photomedia UNSW College of Fine Arts). Full bio/exhibition history here.
What inspired you to get involved in Renew Newcastle?
I became involved With Renew Newcastle back in 2008 when it first began, co-founding an artist co-op/retail space in the mall known as ‘Make Space’. At that point in my life I was pregnant with my 3rd child and had recently returned to my hometown after 11 years away. I was deeply dismayed by Newcastle’s demise and motivated to do something (anything really) which would help inject some energy into the neglected inner city which had been the much loved playground of my teenage years. I loved the clarity of the idea and it’s DIY spirit from the get-go. It was a common sense solution to a problem that no-one else had really tried. The big picture of Renew Newcastle in 2016 is that it’s an internationally celebrated example of urban renewal and I’m proud to have played a tiny part somewhere in that along the way. But I really think I’ve stuck around Renew for so long in various roles for the thrill of the ‘little picture’ stuff – I’ve witnessed so many great stories and projects and people enabled in all sorts of ways by a bit of affordable space. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to experience that personally again with this project; the way a ‘room of one’s own’ instantly opens up possibilities and offers freedom to explore and play and get organised and collaborate with like-minds in ways impossible from my current home/work space.
What are you doing in your space?
I will use the office space to write, research and assemble personal and commercial projects, and to store/make props, sets and equipment. The studio I will use to photograph personal and commercial projects and to run the occasional maker-focussed workshop. In the darkroom I will possibly squeal a lot, because it has been many years since I have dusted off my enlarger and had the luxury of time and space to play. I intend to host small bespoke workshops here, in an attempt to pass on the sheer wonder of darkroom alchemy (particularly to the next generation who might miss it otherwise). I’ll also be using Clock Tower Studios as an organisational base for my current role with Renew Newcastle.
Tell us about the space – what was its previous use? Anything unique about it? Your response to the space?
The space is incredible – the afternoon sunlight streaming through the windows facing Beaumont St is pure magic. Our meeting room is in the ClockTower itself which is a replica of the original building lost in the Newcastle earthquake. For a bunch of time-based artists working with ideas of replication there’s a nice synergy there. We share an enormous natural light photo studio which overlooks the always entertaining James St Plaza and we are currently installing a communal black and white darkroom in one large tiled room which seems to have once been an industrial kitchen. The other side of the building is a rabbit warren of individual offices spaces turned into studios. I’m crazily excited about the staggering number of power outlets available and am in foodie heaven.
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