Vacant industrial lot upcycled to a busy art space and music venue

Castlemaine Art Gallery; Lot 19, Victoria

What I like about this project is the capable, can-do approach to building whatever you need, with what you have at hand.

Lot 19 entrance, Castlemaine
Lot 19 entrance; Castlemaine art gallery & performance space.

Mark Anstey’s low-waste philosophy; keen eye for recycled materials; and love of art and music has shaken up the industrial end of Castlemaine for more than 10 years now. Buildings have sprung up all over the property to house various projects, and Lot 19 has slowly become an integral part of the region’s art scene.

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How does he get away with so much building?

Apparently that’s one of the advantages of industrial zoning: adding sheds is easy. Obtaining the permits to put on ‘Castlemaine Music Festival’, a high-end roots music gem, is much more difficult but, somehow, grand ideas just seem to gel here.

Lot 19 has jokingly been called ‘Ugsalvat’ in reference to the 1930s artist colony Montsalvat in Melbourne. And it has been built in much the same way. One man has given his heart to a project larger than himself, and the spacious three-acre site has filled with hand-built buildings that solve the creative needs of a range of people. Modern materials may be starker than Montsalvat’s traditional ingredients, but the jumble of buildings here will weather with their own rugged charm.

castlemaine art gallery
Stage 1, Lot 19, Castlemaine.
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Sound box, Lot 19, Castlemaine.

Everything at Lot 19 has been carefully salvaged or recycled and Mark, a former nurse turned furniture maker, has travelled far afield to pick up free or cheap materials. It’s a testament to his self-taught design skills that the overall feel is playful and imaginative, and very evocative of Australia’s rural ingenuity.

Features include:

– A light-filled gallery/performance space that includes recycled flooring from the wind tunnel at Monash University; glass from a Porsche exhibition stand; and trusses from buildings at Flemington Racecourse
– A kitchen and outdoor cafe set amongst the gum trees
– Studio space for more than 20 artists ranging from big industrial sheds to neat upcycled school demountables
A whimsical, circular stage spilling from the back of an ancient truck (and another stage planned nearby)
– A very cute cottage-style sound and light box
– A forest of trees hand-planted around the property
– An old timber boat waiting to be upcycled as a stage green room
– A huge swimming pool tower ready to join the fray at some point
…and plenty of space for future projects.

castlemaine art gallery
Studios at Lot 19, Castlemaine

You get the feeling that Mark will never finish adding to Lot 19, but after 10 years of building he says it’s time to slow down, clean up around the edges, and put more time into running the business.

Useful junk, vision, and sheer hard work has provided a rural community with a sustainable arts hub that will continue to expand and evolve around it’s participants. We look forward to seeing what happens next.

ADDRESS:  Lot 19 Langslow Street, Castlemaine
PHONE:  Mark Anstey 0427 724 149

Note:  At the time of writing Lot 19 is only open to the public during events so keep an eye on the website for upcoming exhibitions or performances.

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