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From Amy Tsilemanis and David McGinniss blogpost on hulballarat.org.au We find classrooms abandoned seemingly mid lesson, ‘Fight the TAFE Cuts’ written in whiteboard marker. It's at least 5 years since the TAFE cuts, right? Another giant screen, this time playing daytime television to no one. A photographic exhibition in a defunct café, all begging the very real question “Who are these spaces for?” Corridors, classrooms, empty. Enclosed glass walkways, connecting equally disused buildings. Occasionally a door is locked, so we don’t go there. Even more occasionally, an office has people in it. We don’t go there either. Our own office – Federation University’s Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History – is one of the few pulses of activity at SMB. Even so, you get the sense that if only we knew each other, there may well be a community of people in this strange pocket of Ballarat. It’s a mix of so many styles and atmospheres. Faded Victorian goldrush civic ambition – see the Botanical Gardens that stretch right up its eastern edge, slowly overgrowing, with neat signs describing exotic species. And its counterside, a sinister version of Victorian command and control – the immense bluestone and steel prison gates. Try overlooking those, I dare you. The neo-gothic modernism of the Old Technical Art School building, the towering red brick and glass that just has to be from the 1970s or 80s. Everywhere you look there’s something else to look at. I always feel a little bit lost. When I talk to people about this place, I usually get one of three reactions: “I love that place”…or… “That place used to be buzzing, but it’s so quiet now” …or… “where’s that?” I think there are a few reasons why, maybe, that it has such an ambivalent place in Ballarat’s urban landscape. Deep down, it’s a dead end, literally and figuratively. It’s the end of the road. You’re rarely on your way somewhere else if you venture this far down Lydiard St. So it needs a reason to draw you in there. And presently, there aint many of those. Just a perfect place for uninterrupted urban exploration and imagination. http://bit.ly/299d3aX

446 days ago

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